Thanksgiving Day dinners for one, two or for the whole family get a lot easier to plan if you decide to go to restaurants, do takeout or try home delivery. Whether it’s a big bird, savory sides, gluten-free dishes, desserts or holiday cocktails, let chefs and restauranteurs, Black ones nationwide, do the cooking, and pouring, for you.
Houston – Davis Street at Hermann Park
Every Thanksgiving, esteemed chef Mark Holley welcomes diners into his swank, homey restaurant. “It would be a disservice to our guests to not share this holiday with them,” he says. There’s a tantalizing main attraction. “The turkey is star. Brined for two days in apple cider, the sugar creates the most unbelievable caramelization.” The sides shine, too. “My late mother, Vivian, made the most divine four-cheese, ooey gooey mac and cheese. Never steered far from her recipe.” And Holley aims to please. “When guests embark on our journey of flavors, I hope it reminds them of a happy Thanksgiving memory.”
Menu: A three-course meal of NOLA-style charbroiled oysters, gumbo, and lacquered duck
Chef’s suggested drink: Hot bourbon cider
Dessert: Lemon chess “mile high” pie
New Orleans – Compère Lapin
When James Beard Award-winning chef Nina Compton welcomes guests to her NOLA eatery on Thanksgiving, she offers them a new way to celebrate the holiday through food. “I grew up in St. Lucia and didn’t experience a Thanksgiving dinner until a culinary school roommate introduced me to the tradition. Since then, I’ve been taking classic dishes and putting my Caribbean twist on them,” she says. “My jerk sweet potatoes are a staple on my Thanksgiving menu.” Folks who gather love her bicultural food and hospitality. “You’re breaking bread with the people near and dear to you,” she says.
Menu: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. lunch includes butternut squash soup, mojo roasted turkey leg and creamed collard greens
Chef’s suggested drink: White burgundy
Dessert: Pecan pie
Baltimore – The H3irloom Food Group
Baltimoreans can shelter in place and feast too thanks to chefs David and Tonya Thomas. “We started H3irloom Food Group during the pandemic. Our Thanksgiving Day meals made things a lot easier during those difficult times and we’ve been serving the community ever since,” they say in a joint statement. A surprising house specialty? “Our signature sauerkraut. A classic German dish brought here by immigrants.” Everything made is from the heart. “We hope our customers experience the warmth and love we produce with our food.”
Menu: Order by Nov. 14 to pick up by Nov. 21 for a whole spatchcocked turkey, Berbere spiced lamb pot roast, and the H3 Signature mac and cheese
Chef’s suggested drink: BYOB
Dessert: Spiked apple cider pound cake
Houston – The Warwick
When chef Jabril Riddick and culinary director and co-owner Rob Wright throw a Thanksgiving brunch, foodies come in droves. “Houston is a major transplant city; many people may be displaced from their families on Thanksgiving,” says Wright. “We want them to partake in family holiday tradition here.” To make them feel at home, he encourages guests to try Mama’s carrot cake. “My mother and those who came before her perfected the recipe,” he says. Another staple is the Wright family’s deep-fried turkey. “It’s moistened by our signature brine, finished off and smoked in-house.”
Menu: For catering, takeout and brunch, try the Hawaiian glazed ham, brisket, and garlic truffle mashed potatoes
Chef’s suggested drink: Mistletoe martini
Dessert: Caramel bread pudding
San Antonio – The Jerk Shack
Jerk cuisine for Thanksgiving? Why not! Chef Nicola Blaque, an Army vet, was on a mission. “We always ate Jerk chicken at every holiday, birthday party or celebration and I wanted to share something a little different than the normal Thanksgiving offerings with my customers,” she says. Her mom’s Caribbean cuisine and cooking for the masses overseas on a small outpost in Afghanistan influenced Blaque’s culinary ambitions and customer base. Armed forces members flock to her for Jamaican-flavored Thanksgiving meals to go.
Menu: For the catering, pick up and in-house menu available until Thanksgiving Day eve, there’s jerk chicken, rundown shrimp, jerk lamb chops and orange glazed yams.
Chef’s suggested drink: Jamaican sorrel
Dessert: Jamaican rum cake
San Francisco – Eko Kitchen LLC
Chef and owner Simileoluwa Adebajo has fond memories of a pivotal Thanksgiving meal. “It’s one I had as a child, before we moved to Nigeria,” she says. “My mom’s family came over, the table was full of Nigerian and American dishes, and it made me grateful to be Nigerian American.” Now Adebajo’s African-influenced dishes reflect her culture on the American holiday. “I’m hosting a meal pickup because not everybody loves the stress of cooking on Thanksgiving day.” What they will love is her sweet fried plantain lasagna. “It’s a gluten-free delicious take on lasagna.”
Menu: Thanksgiving Day pickup meal sampling trays include jollof rice, honey bean porridge, palm oil stewed spinach, fried sweet plantains, smoked pepper goat meat and chicken suya.
Chef’s suggested drink: Zobo (Nigerian hibiscus flower drink)
Dessert: Puff puff (sweet donut hole sprinkled with sugar)
Miami – Red Rooster Overtown
If you’re looking to commemorate the big day in an upscale but community-friendly environment, this outpost of Marcus Samuelsson’s famed Red Rooster is quite welcoming. This year RR is calling their festive occasion of joy, fine food, great drinks and fun people “Friendsgiving.” This is where locals, stylish crowds and travelers will gather, in the historic Black neighborhood of Overtown, Miami’s Harlem, where people are truly grateful to eat Samuelsson’s unique version of comfort food.
Menu: The prix-fixe menu includes rooster caesar salad, smothered curry turkey wings and grilled street corn.
Chef’s suggested drink: Brownstoner
Dessert: Chocolate bourbon pecan pie
New York – Melba’s
Famed restaurateur Melba Wilson gives credit where credit is due when it comes to the flavors she cooks up for the holidays. “My Grandmother, Amelia Pressley Davis, taught me how to cook simple fresh food, especially around Thanksgiving,” she says. “[It’s] an occasion when we’d focus on our culture, history, similarities and embrace our differences.” Thanksgiving at Melba’s brings comfort, joy and legendary culinary treats. “The macaroni and cheese does not disappoint,” she says, adding, “The chicken and waffles is what I beat Bobby Flay with.” Wilson has a Thanksgiving Day wish for everyone: “Cherish the memories of a good Southern home cooked meal!”
Menu: The prix-fixe menu for three seatings includes oven roasted turkey and sausage stuffing, wine braised short ribs of beef and Lowcountry collard greens.
Chef’s suggested drink: Brown Estate wines, apple cider mimosas
Dessert: My grandma’s sweet potato pie