The Thanksgiving List

All You Can Eat

Thanksgiving loses a little bit of its magic each year for me. Turkey and dressing no longer materialize on the table, and the reality of cleaning the house, buying food, orchestrating it to perfection, and stress stress stress takes its toll. Then there are relatives and disputes about who’s having whom over this year and simply having to see people that you spend the better part of the year avoiding.

So I’m rebelling this year. I’m not going to any family member’s house, and nor I am even going home. I’m staying here in Austin, and I’m going out for Thanksgiving. And I am not the only one.

photo / xybermatthew 

Each year, more and more people eat out on Thanksgiving, and each year, more restaurants are open. Some places offer expensive gourmet traditional dinners while other places offer more “creative” and cheaper options. If you’re staying in town this year, here are some options for any taste and budget.

Luby’s always offers standard turkey fare for a fair price. If you normally patronize Luby’s, this is your place for Thanksgiving. They will no doubt be serving Turkey, but I hope they still serve fried fish, fried okra, and macaroni and cheese, because that’s what I’m thankful for.

Hill’s Cafe on South Congress is a safe bet. They do comfort food correctly: large portions and gravy everywhere. That’s why I would trust them with my Thanksgiving feast. Hill’s will be serving one of the most traditional menus out of the other establishments on this list. If you’re a Texan looking for a homestyle meal, this is your place.

Hoover’s cooking is popular any night of the week and is packed on Thanksgiving. Two friends of mine go there with their families every year. I get the impression that it is a tradition for many Austin families. This comfort-food restaurant will serve up a delicious southern style Thanksgiving meal. This is my pick for southerners.

Kerbey Lane Cafe (South Lamar) will, as always, be open on Thanksgiving. Normal menu items will be available in addition to turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce.

The Four Seasons offers a pricey and doubtlessly tasty meal. Reservations have unfortunately already filled up. Consider booking ahead for next year. If their meal is anything like their burger, it will be worth every penny.

Those restaurants are my top picks, but there are many more places that will be open. Such as:

  • The Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz
  • Doña Emilia’s
  • McCormick & Schmick’s
  • T.G.I. Friday’s in the Radisson Hotel
  • Truluck’s
  • Threadgill’s
  • Hyde Park Bar and Grill
  • The Driskill Grill
  • Katz’s
photo / Philip Kramer Showdown 

While many of the above options sound good, I’ve decided to celebrate Thanksgiving at my favorite place in Austin, the Texas Showdown Saloon. They will have a full spread, all for free. I think this Thanksgiving will be one of the best in a long time. Good friends, cheap beer, and free turkey. Now that’s something to be thankful for.