Delicious Thanksgiving Dinners in the Big Apple

By: Brian Diedrick
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, NYC
After you watch the Macy's parade, head out into the city for Thanksgiving dinner.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Do you slave in your kitchen every Thanksgiving, cooking all day? Does your entire family count on you to provide the food and entertainment? Would you love to spend the day having someone else do all of the work for you: the cooking, the serving and cleaning the dishes? If you answered yes, then put your cookbooks and old family recipes away. This year, head to New York City.

In this article, we'll look at some restaurants where you can get a traditional Thanksgiving meal, as well as some restaurants that provide a unique holiday dining experience.


Thanksgiving Dinner At Fraunces Tavern

If you're looking to reflect on America's history during your Thanksgiving meal, you couldn't ask for a better venue than Fraunces Tavern. Housed in one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan, this establishment was a favorite of revolutionary leaders, including General George Washington, who delivered his famous officers' farewell address in the tavern's long room. Today, the Fraunces is both a restaurant and museum, with numerous rooms throughout the three-story building open to the public.

New York City blanketed in snow.
Fraunces Tavern is in downtown Manhattan.
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The restaurant, after closing for a few years in the late '90s, was renovated and reopened under a partnership headed by New York restaurateur Mike Rakusin (Sweet Basil, Chelsea Cafe). Worried about the need to dress up in your revolutionary finest? Don't be. In "the spirit of freedom and independence," the Fraunces doesn't enforce a dress code. The Fraunces is located in downtown Manhattan at 54 Pearl St.

Another option is the well-known New York landmark Le Cirque. This French-Italian restaurant, a favorite of celebrities, has circus artwork and is located in the heart of midtown. It features a three-course fixed-price menu for Thanksgiving. Be sure to book your reservation in advance.


A Different Kind of Dinner

New York Harbor
Have dinner on a cruise in New York Harbor.
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Thanksgiving Dinner Cruise 

Visitors to the Statue of Liberty and commuters on the Staten Island Ferry know what a pleasure cruising New York Harbor can be. As enjoyable as those rides are, they can't compare to a fuller navigation around Manhattan Island. Care for a side of stunning scenery with your bird? A Thanksgiving dinner cruise is for you. For reservations, contact one of the three main players dominating the city's dinner cruise circuit: Bateaux New York, Spirit Cruises or World Yacht.

Bateaux's ship, docked at Chelsea Piers, has floor-to-ceiling windows, surprisingly good food and a pretty decent band. On Thanksgiving Day, you can choose a lunch cruise or a dinner cruise. Alcoholic beverages, taxes and gratuity aren't included. Free-range turkey stars on the entree list for both cruises. Vegetarian options are also available.


Spirit's large boat, also docked at Chelsea Piers, features a buffet-style Thanksgiving Day lunch cruise. Alcoholic beverages and taxes aren't included in the price.

And finally, World Yacht is located at Pier 81 on W. 41st. St. They're offering a lunch cruise as well as a four-course dinner, music and dancing. Like the other two lines, beverages, taxes and gratuity are extra.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Raw food served at Pure Food and Wine, New York City
Pure Food and Wine will be seriving a Thanksgiving meal of completely raw, vegan food.
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On a holiday dedicated to slow-roasting an enormous bird, vegetarians have more or less drawn the short end of the wish bone. Fortunately, for the meat-abstaining set, New York City has no shortage of excellent restaurants in which to enjoy a vegetarian Thanksgiving feast.

Counter, located at 105 1st. Ave. in the East Village, offers a $65 Thanksgiving prix fixe meal. You can also get an optional wine pairing with each course for an additional $35. Want to pick your own wine? The restaurant has over 50 organic wines from which to choose.

The Candle Cafe has two locations on the Upper East Side: The original at 1307 3rd Ave., and the new place, Candle 79, at 154 E. 79th St. Both spots will be open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Voted "New York Naturally's" Restaurant of the Year in 2005, Candle is planning a special, organic/vegan Thanksgiving menu this year. You can choose your dishes a la carte, or opt for a prix fixe menu.

Pure Food and Wine, at 54 Irving Place, is probably the best known "raw food" restaurant in New York. It'll be offering a special Thanksgiving meal made completely from raw, vegan components. Last year, the "turkey" was a sage-marinated-and-rubbed Portobello mushroom. Also, the restaurant's popular 126 E. 17th St. takeout location will sell complete Thanksgiving meals the week leading up to the holiday.


A Foreign Thanksgiving

Little Italy, New York City
Not all restaurants in Little Italy are open Thanksgiving Day, but you can find a few.
Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

Little Italy Thanksgiving

Most of the best Little Italy restaurants are family-owned establishments, so it's no surprise that it's hard to find an open restaurant in the Mulberry St. vicinity on Turkey Day. A few good spots remain lit on the holiday. Here are a few suggestions.

Il Cortile (125 Mulberry St.) is open Thanksgiving Day and offers a classic Little Italy experience. The humongous, ornate dining room is decorated in a Roman-garden style. The copious plant life, statues, white columns, fountain and giant skylight will have you reciting Julius Caesar in no time. Fun as interiors can be, you're paying for the food, which, thanks to chef Michael DeGeorgio, is above average.


The upscale Novella (191 Grand St.) will be offering a special turkey dinner prix fixe, in addition to chef Vincenzo Pezillo's regular menu.

After dinner, if you're ready for round two on desert or looking for a Friday morning sweet, stop by La Bella Ferrara bakery (108 Mulberry St.) for a pastry ( open until midnight).

Chinatown Thanksgiving

Those in the mood for a Chinese meal for Thanksgiving dinner will be happy to know that most restaurants in Chinatown remain open during the Thursday holiday.

To stray completely off the turkey track, Ping's Seafood (22 Mott St.) is a great place to start. The Hong Kong-style seafood dishes here are super-fresh -- what you see in the restaurant's tank is what you get on your plate -- and deliciously executed.

Chinatown, New York City
Chinatown offers up Thanksgiving dinners that have nothing to do with turkeys.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Joe's Shanghai (9 Pell St.) is famous for its soup dumplings -- be sure to order a round of both the pork and the crabmeat varieties before your main meal.

If affordable but tasty is your goal, try New Green Bo (66 Bayard St.). The decor is no-nonsense and the cuisine comes from coastal Shanghai. The deep-fried eel and the scallion pancakes make excellent holiday comfort food.

Finally, Chinatown Brasserie (380 Lafayette St.) is located a bit North of Chinatown itself, but you should still consider it in your dinner plans. The dining room is gorgeous, and the chefs do Thanksgiving right. They prepare turkeys in their custom-built Peking duck oven, producing a perfect, crisp, brown skin texture. Don't miss the turkey spring rolls and baked turkey buns either.

For dessert, pay a visit to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (65 Bayard St.) and give thanks that China invented ice cream.

For more information on New York City, Thanksgiving and related topics, check out the links on the next page.


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