The Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving Dining in DC
Dean & Deluca Georgetown
Things are really buzzing in our nation’s capital this Thanksgiving, and not just because of the election. People in the nation’s capital work long hours and squeeze in shopping for their Thanksgiving meal whenever they can.
There’s a chill in the air, the leaves have turned into glorious canopies of crimson, russet, gold, and burnt umber, and you can almost hear the sound of marching bands in the distance. Football jerseys are visible everywhere, for the pros and college boys, and Americans revel in the celebration of a uniquely American holiday.
We are lucky to live in a diverse city with more than 170 foreign embassies, the World Bank, IMF, and people from every corner of America, with dining options that are just as diverse. There is even more to be thankful for this year with our exploding restaurant scene. Go posh at a Michelin-starred restaurant, make a reservation at one that deserves a star, find eateries that offer global and fusion cuisines, or sample traditional fare, too.
The Thanksgiving menu lends itself to individual culinary expressions of what being American means, and the range of side dishes and menu interpretations means everyone can share their culture, history, and food in harmony.
I know that not everyone is a turkey fan, so there are suggestions for other proteins on the plate, restaurants for every price point, and places where you can get your gourmet fix to go.
Note: This is a busy time of year so make a reservation, place your orders, confirm if prices include tax and gratuity charges, and verify menus to ensure you won’t be disappointed.
A Break From Tradition
If you prefer something different for Thanksgiving, we have a few suggestions that include fantastic food that’s packed with flavor and spice.
DBGB Kitchen and Bar
If you are in the mood for French that’s more country than fancy, head to DBGB Kitchen and Bar from Daniel Boulud. The menu includes turkey but also a few French classics like coq au vin, too. They are offering an à la carte menu with entrées between $25 and $35.
Not in the mood for a huge spread and want to try something different? Nazca Mochica, a two-story Peruvian spot that’s putting a new twist on Peruvian classics, offers innovative tapas, ceviche, and pisco drinks. The restaurant’s Thanksgiving dinner menu includes a three-course prix-fixe menu that combines some Thanksgiving classics with Peruvian ingredients. The price is $65 per adult with an additional fee of $25 for complementary wine pairings. The kids’ menu, for those under 12, is $25.
Texas Jack’s Barbecue
Good barbecue is scarce in D.C. so consider heading to Texas Jack’s Barbecue in Arlington to savor a feast of barbecue classics from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday. The prix-fixe prices are $27 per adult, $10 for children 10 and under, and everyone at the table must participate. The menu includes smoked turkey, brisket, St. Louis-style spare ribs, and sausage with sides like mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, collard greens, and stuffing. Choose from pies like apple crumble, chocolate chess pie, or pumpkin for your sweets. Reservations may be limited.
Feel like something Asian for Thanksgiving? Consider Zentan and its tasty Japanese-influenced menu.
The new chef is young and talented, and this holiday, he is preparing comfort food like Japanese fried turkey and turkey ramen, but you can also order a selection of sushi items from the sushi bar. The restaurant is serving supper from 4 to 8 p.m. and you can choose from a range of à la carte item or sample the Kuidaore experience for $45 per person.
Dine Well for Less
Some diners like to live well but pay less so we found some incredible dining options that offer fantastic dining for a reasonable price.
Go modern and chic this year and make a beeline for 701 Restaurant in Penn Quarter. Executive chef Benjamin Lambert’s food is always inventive, and he is serving an inspired three-course, prix-fixe holiday menu priced at $55 per person. Look for standouts like butternut squash soup with chestnuts, pumpkin seed granola, and crème fraîche; grilled pork chop with couscous, gooseberries, and tomato sauce; Atlantic salmon with shiitake, clams, scallions, and coconut broth; and cauliflower shawarma with sesame hummus, yogurt, and lavash. Be sure to make a reservation so you don’t miss the live jazz duo performing during the meal.
Jardenea at Melrose Hotel
If you want a bit of Parisian ambience in D.C. this Thanksgiving, head to Jardenea. We just adore this hotel restaurant. They have a spiffy new chef and this year are offering a Thanksgiving Day brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Depending on your taste preferences, you can order the brunch menu à la carte or opt for the traditional Thanksgiving menu that includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy for $28 per person. Be sure to order one of their stellar cocktails — it’s the perfect way to begin the meal.
The Oval Room
It’s not every day you can go posh and still eat for the D.C.-cheap price of $55 or under, but that’s exactly what’s on offer at one of our favorite fine-dining restaurants: The Oval Room. Executive chef John Melfi never disappoints, and this Thanksgiving his three-course menu for $55 per person is a steal. Some favorites to try include the foie gras crème brûlée, red Bourbon turkey with oyster cornbread stuffing, pan-roasted duck breast with Parmesan polenta, and several wonderful desserts.
Fantastic Frugal Fare
Frugal doesn’t mean cheap and not everyone can or wants to blow their entire paycheck on Thanksgiving dinner. Not to worry; there are still a few places in D.C. where you can order a good meal and pay less than $40 per person.
The Black Squirrel
They’re back! The Black Squirrel is again serving its popular $10 all-you-can-eat buffet. Count on a huge crowd as folks dive into roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy. The food is served at noon and is usually gone by 8:30 or 9 p.m. but the bar stays open until midnight.
Save some money and make the trek to Old Town Alexandria to enjoy the Thanksgiving buffet at Blackwall Hitch from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For just $38 per adult and $19 for kids under 12, the menu includes fresh dishes prepared with Atlantic salmon, shrimp, and other seafood as well as traditional turkey fare, ham, and sides — plus cakes and pies.
Sometimes it’s fun to make every effort to impress and dine in splendor — and each of the choices in this category let you do just that, in posh surroundings, too.
Blue Duck Tavern at Park Hyatt Washington ( Michelin *)
Fresh from the farm drives the chefs at Blue Duck Tavern, and on Thanksgiving Day the Michelin-starred hotel restaurant is offering its à la carte breakfast menu from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. and then encouraging guests to “brunch into dinner,” which is available from noon until 8:30 p.m. Guests opting for the Thanksgiving, three-course holiday meal can enjoy seafood selections as a starter or choose seasonal salads, breads, meats, and cheese followed by a choice of plated entrées and side dishes that highlight local produce. For the finale, a tempting display of holiday desserts is available, and pricing for the meal for adults is $110 per person, $55 for children six years of age and up, and children under age six eat free.
If you want posh food in a more casual atmosphere, consider the Blue Duck Lounge, which will offer its à la carte dinner menu from 6 to 10:30 p.m. Night owls will like the lounge later on because it is offering select holiday market dishes from 10:30 p.m. to close. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling (202) 419-6755.
Fiola (Michelin *)
Exquisite attention to detail is what marks the food at Fiola, and for Thanksgiving that’s what’s on the menu with dishes like Tajarin ham ragu, Canary Island branzino, lobster ravioli, and pumpkin and pecan torta tempting diners. Turkey and some traditional ingredients are also on offer and the prix-fixe menu is $90 per adult and $45 per child. Find out what one of D.C.’s first Michelin-starred restaurant chefs is offering, and let us know what you think.
Plume (Michelin *)
Feeling presidential yet? If so, dine at Plume in the Jefferson Hotel this Thanksgiving. Their three-course dinner menu is priced $105 per adult and $48 for children 12 and under and includes a selection of modern takes on classic fall dishes, including sweet yellow corn gnocchi, roasted chestnut gougeres, Organic Path Valley Farms turkey with apple chestnut bread stuffing, and red kuri pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving on the Fly
If you’re more of a homebody (and we don’t blame you), supplement your meal with these ready-to-eat dishes. (Or swing by a few shops to create a perfect feast with no fuss.)
Ya’ll got a craving for a Southern Louisiana take on the sides and desserts for Turkey Day? Then chef/pastry chef David Guas is the person you want to know. Funky, fun, and packed with fantastic food is what Bayou Bakery is all about. This Thanksgiving they are offering down-home sides like collards, cornbread, deviled eggs, mac and cheese, pimento cheese, and a mess of pies and other sweets. Just call them and pick your goodies up by 1 p.m. tomorrow.
Dean & DeLuca
Dean & DeLuca is helping make the holidays easy with their versatile menu that offers traditional and new dishes for everyone from turkey fans to meat alternatives, as take away or a fully catered feast. Avoid kitchen duty and focus on the parades and football games on TV by ordering a range of gourmet items like:
- Seasonal soups like butternut squash soup with honey crisp apples and fall spices
- Turkey with thyme and sage rub
- Comforting vegetables and sides such as mashed sweet potatoes with Madagascar vanilla and natural brown sugar; roasted Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, parsley, garlic, and shallots
- A sweet variety of seasonal pies like pumpkin, pecan, and apple
Ham is as much a part of Southern Thanksgivings as turkey, and HoneyBaked Ham makes it easy. Available to order in Maryland and Virginia, its stores also sell fully cooked roasted or smoked turkeys, side dishes, and desserts.
Don’t spend hours shopping at the grocery store spend hours more cooking at home for Thanksgiving. Order complete meals from Safeway, and pick up all the goodies by Thursday, or earlier if you are pressed for time. While they have them in stock, complete meals for four to six people include a choice of turkey and trimmings for $40, ham for $50, and prime rib for $70.
Want to eschew standard grocery store fare in favor of take away? Head to Wegmans. It offers great choices at every price, and you can find gourmet cheese and other foods at its Maryland and Virginia locations.
Whole Foods Market
Each Whole Foods Market location offers different Thanksgiving options, and many in the DMV offer complete Thanksgiving meals. According to the Whole Foods website, you can “reserve your turkey plus order meals, entrees, and party must-haves online and then pick them up at the store.” Orders can be placed in person at each store, over the phone, or online.
Go fancy and to go by heading to the famed Willard Hotel for their Willard on Wings Thanksgiving Takeaway. Their special feast will feed four big eaters or six normal people for $320 (comes with a 10- to 12-pound turkey) or enough for eight to 10 for $425 (comes with a 18- to 20-pound turkey) plus the sides you know you crave like gravy, cranberry sauce, four other side dishes, freshly baked rolls, and a selection of pies. To order, just call (202) 637-7350.
Vegan and Vegetarian
Finding great vegan and vegetarian food is hard most of the year, but it’s especially difficult when the main dish is turkey. The list of vegan and vegetarian options is growing, albeit slowly, so luckily this year it won’t be as hard to find options if you need alternatives to meat-centric dining. Think outside of traditional American cooking for restaurants that serve meals for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. We’ve included any turkey-centric dishes available, if you still need help convincing your grandparents.
Ashok Bajaj’s latest concept, a street food eatery called Bindaas, has vegetarian options a-plenty on its menu and is also offering an exotic take on turkey with turkey malai kebab. Made with marinated and grilled diced turkey and served with smoked butternut squash, makhani sauce, and cranberry pulao this special is only $16. Guests may also order from the complete à la carte menu during dinner, which is from 5 to 10:45 p.m. Valet parking is available beginning at 6 p.m. For reservations, call (202) 244-6550 or visit the restaurant’s website.
We are devoted fans of both Rasika locations in D.C. and can always count on chef Vikram Sunderam to prepare an incredible meal. Everyone, vegan or not, can enjoy a lovely Thanksgiving supper, and both locations are also offering special turkey dishes in addition to the à la carte menu.
Rasika West End’s special turkey dish is a flavorful turkey cutlet made with spiced ground turkey coated with panko breadcrumbs, cooked on a tawa, and served with chili cranberry sauce, cumin butternut squash, and tamarind Brussels sprouts. The featured turkey entrée is priced at $20, and the complete a la carte menu is also available on Thanksgiving Day. Rasika West End will be open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Valet parking is available during lunch and dinner service for $8. For reservations or additional information, call (202) 466-2500 or visit the website.
Rasika in Penn Quarter
Rasika in Penn Quarter is the original that started it all, it is offering a flavorful turkey stew, which is turkey breast simmered in coconut milk with curry leaves, ginger, and green chili accompanied by smoked butternut squash kootu, Brussels sprout poriyal, and cranberry rice. The special turkey dish is priced at $20, and you may also order from the complete a la carte menu on Thanksgiving Day. Rasika Penn Quarter will be open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Valet parking is available during lunch and dinner service for $8. For reservations or additional information, call (202) 637-1222 or visit the website.
Still want more options? Check out First Class Vegetarian’s website. They have a guide to vegan and vegetarian restaurants around the globe and in our neighborhood.