11/14/2012 12:00:00 PM

SF Thanksgiving Dining Guide: Where to Eat Out on Turkey Day

Sharing a Thanksgiving meal at home is as American as Norman Rockwell’s famous "Freedom From Want" painting - but let’s face it, life has gotten a tad bit more hectic since those halcyon days. The next best thing to a home-cooked meal, arguably an even better one if you’re typically the designated chef, is a Thanksgiving out on the town at one the city’s top restaurants. So drop the martyr shtick, stop making those shopping lists and start making reservations. Unlike at home, at these joints you can’t just pull up an extra folding chair to squeeze in two more guests. Check back later for our Thanksgiving recommendations in the East Bay, South Bay and North Bay.

The Traditionalists

Burritt Tavern:
Charlie Palmer’s Downtown American will be turning out a classic three-course Thanksgiving meal revolving around a lemon-thyme-roasted turkey, two kinds of stuffing and a slew of traditional sides, followed by a spiced pumpkin tart (5:30-10 PM, $75 per person, with optional $50 wine pairings, 415-400-0561).

Bluestem BrasserieAt this SoMa brasserie, the three-course holiday meal begins with passed hors d’oeuvres, followed by a dinner that consists of butternut squash soup, harvest salad and a choice of traditional Niman Ranch wild turkey roulade or a sustainable bouillabaisse seafood stew, culminating in a slew of fresh pie options. The Thanksgiving meal will be served in the main dining room and in the lounge, where contrarians can opt for a burger instead (2-8 PM, $75 per person, 415-547-1111).

Presidio Social Club: Keep it casual with a meal that doesn't veer too far off the well-trodden path at this retro-looking Presidio haunt, featuring a three-course prix fixe menu with a family-style main course of traditional roasted turkey dinner served with classic stuffing, cranberry sauce, pickled beets, pea-and-bacon salad, mashed potatoes and gravy (Seating from 12-5:30 PM, $49 per person, $30 optional wine pairings, 415-885-1888).

One Market: At this homey New American by the Embarcadero, chef Marc Dommen will be turning out a three-course prix fixe menu featuring dishes such as a roasted Willy Bird turkey with cornbread stuffing, root vegetables and shallot-thyme gravy (1-8:15 PM, $59 for adults, $25 for kids under 12, 415-777-5577).

Bistro Boudin: If you can get past the touristy location, this sit-down restaurant of the famed sourdough bakery will be offering a scream of a deal for a traditional Turkey Day dinner with all the fixings. Offered in addition to the bistro’s menu, the Chef Special Menu features roasted turkey with apple, sourdough and turkey sausage stuffing, cranberry chutney, mashed potatoes and gravy and roasted carrots and squash for only $24.95. The price does not include dessert, but you can add a slice of warm caramel crumble apple pie with vanilla gelato for $5.95 (11:30 AM-9:30 PM, 415-351-5561).

The Foodie Splurge 

Michael Mina: At his Downtown eponymous eatery, Michael Mina is collaborating with executive chef Ron Siegel on a four-course menu that includes a main choice of either heritage turkey with fancified fixings, black-truffle-poached turbot or Black Angus rib-eye with maitake mushrooms. Shareable sides for the table and dessert options such as a butternut squash spice cake, caramel apple or chocolate pot de crème finish off the meal (4:30-9 PM, $125 per person, optional beverage pairings for $75, 415-397-9222).

Ame: If you’re the type who thinks the traditional turkey meal is for the birds, consider celebrating the holiday at this New American restaurant Downtown in the St. Regis, where chef Hiro Sone plans to supplement his regular menu with a Thanksgiving-inspired five-course tasting menu that includes, among many things, sheep-milk ricotta gnudi in forest mushroom consommé with matsutake; confit of lemon fish with clams; and roasted quail with cornbread dressing, followed by pecan pie with pumpkin ice cream and whiskey-caramel sauce to cap it off (4-8 PM, $94 per person, $67 for optional wine pairings, regular dinner menu will also be available, 415-284-4040).

RN74: At this Burgundy-inspired SoMa wine bar, the three-course prix fixe will include seasonal starters such as cauliflower panna cotta with Maine lobster and preserved Meyer lemon and butternut squash soup; main course choices will be mountain arctic char and a grilled center-cut prime beef rib-eye. Wash it all down with some amazing wines ordered off the train station–style board (4:30- 9:30 PM, $74 per person or $120 with wine pairings; 415-543-7474).

Americano: Chef Kory Stewart will be serving a traditional family-style Thanksgiving feast, but the offerings are anything but ordinary. Think wild mushroom soup, heritage porchetta and smoked turkey roulade for the mains, and his well-known candy-cap-mushroom pumpkin pie for dessert (2-7 PM, $96 per person with optional wine pairing for $25, 415-278-3777).

Mixed Company: Vegans, Vegetarians and Flexitarians

Millennium: Downtown’s vanguard vegan in the Hotel California will present a completely vegan five-course prix fixe like no other - we’re talking a choice of wild mushroom torte or a roasted butternut squash served with a slew of sides such as caramelized brassicas, cardamom-scented cranberry-quince relish, black-eyed pea chow chow and pecan-chocolate pie with ginger-rum ice cream for dessert. Personally, we’re excited by the bar’s pumpkin pie bourbon and bitters cocktail (2-8 PM, $65 per person, $28 optional wine pairing, $32 for children under 12, 415-345-3900).

The Plant Organic Café: This classy eco-friendly waterfront eatery on the Embarcadero will be serving both plant and animal matter for the holiday, offering guests on both sides of the aisle a four-course prix fixe with vegan and gluten-free options (Embarcadero location only, 3-8:30 PM, $55 per person for both menus, $25 for children under 10, 415-984-1973).

Brasserie S&P: The Mandarin Oriental’s newest restaurant isn’t wasting any time making friends. The kitchen is serving two different four-course Thanksgiving meals, one traditional (turkey or pork loin), the other a vegan gluten-free tofurkey option, with all the trimmings. Bonus points for starting early and running late (4-11 PM, $75 per person with optional $45 for wine pairings, 415-986-2020).

Lark Creek Steak: Don’t be fooled by the name, this Downtown Traditional American in the Westfield Centre will be serving a varied three-course prix fixe that kicks off with hot mulled apple cider, and offers a choice of starters and four main-course options - turkey, prime rib, bacon-wrapped ahi tuna or butternut squash risotto - to accommodate all diners and diets (1-7:30 PM, $59 for adults, $25 for children 12 and under, 415-593-4100).

Epic Roasthouse: For a Thanksgiving dinner with a view, head to this Embarcadero chophouse where chef Jan Birnbaum will prepare a sumptuous four-course menu showcasing classics as well as luxe starters like lobster ravioli with caviar, followed by a choice of main courses that work for any diet - prime rib, wood-oven-roasted turkey, pan-roasted salmon or wild mushroom ravioli. It's all followed by desserts like spiced quince bread pudding and a pumpkin custard charlotte. For those who enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers, the EPIC Turkey Sandwich with “The Works” will be available for $20 (12:30-6:30 PM, $85 per person, $45 for additional wine pairings, $40 per child 12 and under, 415-369-9955).


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