Originally published in the LA Weekly food blog, Squid Ink.
Don’t let anyone call you slacker for not cooking on Thanksgiving. Instead, Thanksgiving, our super-food-obsessed American holiday, is the perfect opportunity to explore a new restaurant and cuisine, or perhaps indulge in an old favorite. (Added bonus: No traffic!) With cuisines ranging from Mediterranean to Italian and Chinese to Polish, this town offers a cornucopia of delights. Maybe one of the ten restaurants we’ve selected — all serving special Thanksgiving dinners, and located around Los Angeles — will strike your fancy. Turn the page for our list, and be sure to call for reservations.
10. Canter’s Deli
Cuisine: Jewish delicatessen. Vibe: At 80-years-old, Canter’s is a dependable deli and classic L.A. landmark — ideal for an un-fussy Thanksgiving. Menu: Canter’s keeps it traditional — “just what you’d have at home,” says a staffer. That means turkey, potatoes, peas, yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. (If you’d like, the vast regular menu is available as well — Matzah ball soup, multi-layer sandwiches, corned beef, brisket, baked goods…) Price: $15.95. Hours: 12 a.m.-12 a.m. No reservation necessary. Info:419 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District, (323) 651-2030.
Cuisine: Eastern Mediterranean. Vibe: Hip and boisterous with stylistic nods not to Egypt but to Old Hollywood — like the bigger-than-life image of silent film actress Thedra Bara as a tantalizing Cleopatra. Menu: A pomegranate champagne cocktail paves the way for a six course “Cleopatra’s Feast.” First, the mezze, including harissa-buttered popcorn, couscous croquette, and stuffed grape leaves. Then the Thanksgiving staples — stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans and salad — but with foreign twists such as cumin, Moroccan spice, and more harissa. The turkey is roasted with preserved lemon and za’atar, a spice blend, then served in apple-cider gravy. (Or choose leg of lamb with pomegranate and rosemary jus.) You could end with pumpkin cake, but why not choose baklava? Price: $65; $32 for children; free for ages under 5. Hours: Three seatings at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. Info: 1717 Vine St., Hollywood; (323) 962-1711.
Cuisine: American. Vibe: Yacht club-esque, including the sea views. (Gladstone’s has glamorized since a recent change in owners. No more peanut shelled-floor!) Menu:Highlights from the four course menu include butternut squash bisque topped with crème fraiche, turkey with jalapeno cornbread stuffing, mushroom risotto, sweet-potato soufflé, and cauliflower puree. On the sweet side, options include chocolate panna cotta and cognac-roasted apples with salted caramel ice cream. If you’re hankering for seafood, the regular menu will be available as well — oysters, crab cakes, mussels, and more. Price:$45; $25 for children under 12. Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Info: 17300 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades; (310) 454-3474.
|Valentino Herrera, Trippy Food|
|roasted turkey with brown turkey sauce and rice at Hop Woo|
7. Hop Woo
Cuisine: Chinese. Vibe: The pastel colors and curtains of crystal-like beads make Hop Woo a touch classier than other local standbys such as Master Chef and Full House. You’ll find comfortable booths and large tables, tanks of live seafood, and TVs playing Chinese music videos. Menu: A special menu designed for ten people will offer seven turkey-centric courses from nuggets to moo shu. The star is Hop Woo’s much admired roast turkey — prepared like Peking roast duck, and filled with rice instead of stuffing. Price:$138. Hours: 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Info: 845 N. Broadway Blvd, Chinatown; (213) 617-3038.
Cuisine: French-Californian. Vibe: White-tablecloth dining in a converted storefront that retains a homey ambience. Menu: Chef Joe Miller’s creative, produce-driven Thanksgiving is prix fixe, but after starting with butternut squash bisque, you can choose among four options for each course. Like duck liver mousse with bacon served with fig jam and purple mustard. Or seared scallops with sunchokes and Brussels sprouts. You can order turkey for the entree, of course, or heritage pork with sweet potatoes, monkfish with pumpkin gnocchi, or mushroom and vegetable strudel. A pumpkin bar with chocolate sorbet is just one way to end the feast. Price: $54; $20 for children. Hours: 1-9 p.m.Info: 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice; (310) 399-5811.
|Locanda del Lago|
5. Locanda del Lago
Cuisine: Northern Italian. Vibe: Rustic elegance in a spacious building on the Third Street Promenade. Menu: The pilgrims didn’t land in Italy, but can’t we pretend? Try items such as fontina cheese ravioli, monkfish wrapped in pancetta, stewed cabbage mixed with cannellini beans, and roasted turkey stuffed with sausage and chestnuts complimented by cranberry compote. Put a spin on typical pumpkin pie with an Italian crostata di zucca. Price: $49 for three courses; $59 for four courses; $10 – $28 for a la carte items; $18 for wine tasting. Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Info: 231 Arizona Ave. Santa Monica; (310) 451-3525.
Cuisine: Polish. Vibe: Cozy like your Polish grandma’s parlor, and a world away from the strip mall just outside. Menu: Polka promises a hearty Thanksgiving complete with kielbasa. Begin with one of the restaurant’s excellent soups before the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and vegetables, including slightly sweet carrots cooked in honey and curry spices. For dessert choose between pumpkin or apple pie spiced with cinnamon, or a “surprise” dish — Polish, of course. Price: $30. Hours: 3-7:30 p.m. Info: 4112 Verdugo Road, Highland Park; (323) 255-7887.
|The Proud Bird|
3. The Proud Bird
Cuisine: American. Vibe: Sprawling restaurant decked out with aviation memorabilia, including the WWII combat planes (both real and replica) dotting the grounds. Menu:Could a restaurant called “The Proud Bird” be any more appropriate for our foodie holiday? Sip champagne, then pick and choose from a mammoth buffet — turkey, prime rib, ham, seafood, pasta, salads — while watching (and hearing) the planes land at LAX just outside. Price: $40; $15.95 for children ages 3 -11. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Info: 11022 Aviation Blvd. Westchester; (310) 670-3815.
|seafood pasta at Taix|
Cuisine: French. Vibe: Old-school, elegant, and comfortable. Think booths, brocade, and chandeliers. Menu: Escargot with your turkey? Mais oui. Or perhaps cassoulet instead of the bird? At Taix, an L.A. institution established in 1927, you can give your Thanksgiving a French twist. Choose between a table in the fancy dining room or in the laid-back lounge with its leather booths and recliners. Price: $29.95 for entrees with dessert; $6.95 and $13.95 for a la carte hors d’oeuvres. Hours: 12-8 p.m. Info: 1911 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles. (213) 484-1265.
|Guzzle & Nosh|
|prime rib at Tam O’Shanter|
1. Tam O’Shanter
Cuisine: Scottish. Vibe: Quaint, old-timey tavern. (The restaurant is 90 years old!)Menu: Prefer prime rib over turkey? Tam O’Shanter is for you. You can pick from four cuts off the a la carte Thanksgiving menu, each served with Yorkshire pudding, fresh horseradish, and mashed potatoes. Or have it both ways — add a slice of prime rib to your turkey for only a few extra bucks. Osso bucco, pan roasted duck breast and salmon are options too. You’ll find stuffing and veggies among the side dishes, but go for the “Scotch Rarebit.” Price: $6 – $44 for a la carte items. Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Info: 2980 Los Feliz Blvd. Atwater; (323) 664-0228.