For most people, Thanksgiving is a time to spend with loved ones enjoying a rich and plentiful meal of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and near-endless sides. However, not everyone in the country enjoys their magnificent meal from the comforts of home. According to Eater, an average of 14 million people eat Thanksgiving dinner at restaurants every year. If you’re among those people, and you live in Texas, then there’s little reason to fret. Several pockets of Austin’s culinary arts scene are open on Thanksgiving, ready to serve up warm meals and good times for anyone without a table of their own. Here are just a few of those diners and eateries to be thankful for this year:
1. Hoover’s Cooking: As far as Thanksgiving goes, it’s hard to argue with the warmth and rich flavors of the traditional turkey meal. Barring that, though, Hoover’s is as good of a substitute as they come. First opened in 1998, Hoover’s serves up tried-and-true Southern cooking, and for this Thanksgiving, the team of chefs is delivering a custom menu made entirely from scratch. To begin, guests can choose from one of a half dozen or so entrees, like smoked ham steak, Jamaican jerk chicken, Cajun pork roast, grilled Portobello grit cakes and, of course, oven-roasted turkey. And since no meal is complete without sides, you also have the option of mashed potatoes, buttered carrots, mustard greens or candied yams. Plus, the meal includes cornbread, cranberry sauces, a Caribbean fruit salad and a squash medley. At $19.49 per person, this buffet-style meal is a veritable Turkey Day deal.
2. Maggiano’s Little Italy: Generally speaking, Italian isn’t your go to meal choice when it comes to a proper Thanksgiving. But even with a somewhat limited range of options this year, Maggiano’s Little Italy is worth a visit for anyone seeking out a great holiday meal. This semi-upscale chain has locations across the U.S., but the Austin restaurant, located in the luxurious Domain shopping center, is an especially beautiful example of the mix of class and Old World Italian charm that Maggiano’s tries to purvey. And even without serving up oven-roasted turkey, Maggiano’s still has to plenty to offer hungry Thanksgiving guests. For an appetizer, why not try one of the signature flat breads, like chicken sausage or margarita? Maggiano’s also has a huge selection of signature pastas, like the chicken-heavy Rigatoni D or the rustic chicken and shrimp al forno. While there’s no apple or pumpkin pie available, end your meal with a warm apple crostada or creme brulee.
3. Onion Creek Grille: Joseph Carrejo is the head chef at the Onion Creek Grille, a casual-elegant restaurant located in the posh Omni Hotel in downtown Austin. According to the restaurant’s website, Carrejo has a rather earnest and simple approach to his culinary work: “Cook with your heart, and your food will have a soul.” And whether in the Art of Breakfast buffet, or the a la carte lunch and dinner selections, the food at Onion Creek Grille definitely has that distinct sense of soul. Not only does it have that heart and energy, but the menu for the Grille is also among the more diverse offerings for Thanksgiving meals. Dinner guests can enjoy dishes like The Cowboy – a pepper-crusted bone-in ribeye served with roasted root vegetables and au gratin potatoes – or the Brick Chicken, boursin whipped potatoes paired with charred cauliflower and golden raisins. The grille also has traditional salmon, meatloaf and scallops platters.
4. Flying Saucer: In someways, Thanksgiving is as much about giving thanks as it is about celebrating friends and family. And while some folks choose to do so with their loved ones over a plate of pan-seared turkey, others opt for a celebration that might involve a few spirits. If you’re among the latter Thanksgiving crowd, then you may want to park your seat at the Flying Saucer pub this Nov. 26. Located on East 47th Street, the Flying Saucer is actually a family friendly place, with minors welcome until 9 p.m. each night. That’s plenty of time to enjoy an alternative Turkey Day celebration with one of the pub’s signature dishes. That includes the Hippie Hollow – a custom pita plate with cucumbers and jalapeno vinaigrette – a smoked turkey and ham sandwich called the Space Club and a spicy take on the Reuben sandwich. Since it is a bar, you can also enjoy the Saucer’s huge selection of beers, like the 512 Nitro Pecan Porter, the Beerworks Black Thunder or the extra zesty Delirium Argentum.