Thanksgiving is a time to feast with family, to yell at the football game, to gawk at the downtown parade floats, and to stress about burning the turkey. But it doesn't have to be! You can still bond with family and fret over football, but plenty of Chicago restaurants remove the stress of cooking by offering their own holiday menus. Here are 9 restaurant picks to indulge with this Thanksgiving:
Acadia (1639 S. Wabash Ave.)
Haven't you always wanted to eat Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant newly two-starred by Michelin? Well this year you can, thanks to Acadia's venerable holiday menu, offering an elevated approach to Turkey Day dining with a multi-course degustation on November 26. The five-course, wine-paired feast begins with chestnut soup, followed by spinach salad with smoked pork belly, onion, and mustard. Halibut is third, made with a lemon verbena crust, Great Northern beans, and cioppino. Turkey saltimbocca is an atypical version of Thanksgiving turkey, served with cornbread bread pudding and salt baked carrots. For dessert, it's sticky toffee apple cake with vanilla ice cream and smoked maple pecans.
There's also a kids' menu in place, featuring smoked cheddar mac 'n' cheese, wing dings, funnel cake, and popcorn ice cream. Seatings for the meal are available from 1:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. and the cost is $85 per person, or $135 with wine pairings.
Lockwood Restaurant & Bar (17 E. Monroe St.)
If it's an opulent, palatial setting you're looking for, look no further than Lockwood Restaurant & Bar inside the historic Palmer House Hilton in the Loop. This castle-sized property is going all out for both Thanksgiving options, featuring buffet specials for a casual option, or a four-course prix fixe dinner for something a bit more elaborate and formal.
The buffet is on deck November 26 from 11:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. in the lobby, or on the mezzanine from noon until 5:30 p.m. It costs $75 for adults, $68 for seniors, $37 for children four to 12, and free for those three and younger.
The four-course prix fixe kicks in at 6:00 p.m., available until 10:00 p.m. at Lockwood. It's $72 per person, or $32 for children four to 12. To give you a taste of what to expect, the buffet will include the likes of butternut squash soup, chilled grilled shrimp cocktail, smoked trout, pan-roasted halibut, mustard-glazed and clove-stuffed country ham, maple honey molasses roasted turkey with stuffing, sweet potato-marshmallow gratin, and desserts. For the prix fixe, dishes include butternut squash bisque, country pâté, artisan cheese and charcuterie board, turkey roulade, roasted pork shoulder pave, sides, and apple-pear cobbler.
Cafe Spiaggia (980 N. Michigan Ave.)
Start the Thanksgiving festivities early this year with a special feast at Cafe Spiaggia on November 19 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Unlike any other Thanksgiving menu you've ever tasted, this one is comprised of dishes made entirely of gelato or sorbetti. It's all the handiwork of pastry chef Melanie Diamond-Manlusoc, who has crafted a miscellany of flavors inspired by classic Thanksgiving dishes both savory and sweet. These include turkey with sage pizzelle; sweet potatoes and marshmallows; Brussels sprouts; green bean casserole; and spiced cranberry sauce. Dinner also includes wine pairings and tickets for the meal cost $50 and can be purchased here.
DMK Burger Bar (2954 N. Sheffield Ave.)
For something more casual and handheld, try the special Gobbler burger at DMK Burger Bar. It's a burger special all month long, offering a unique riff on traditional holiday flavors in one convenient burger. It's made with two turkey patties, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, celery, and housemade cranberry relish.
State and Lake Chicago Tavern (201 N. State St.)
Come Thanksgiving, State and Lake is upping the ante on tradition with a thoughtful special that seamlessly elevates each component of a staple holiday platter. It features garlic sage roasted turkey breast and confit leg with potato puree, Brussels sprouts, bacon stuffing, Meyer lemon-cranberry relish, and black pepper gravy. The cost is $28 per plate.
Brasserie by LM (800 S. Michigan Ave.)
One of the better bargains in town this year for a more traditional holiday prix fixe menu is Brasserie by LM. The South Loop staple has a tasting menu for just $35 per person, starting at 11:00 a.m. on November 26. Guests get choices for each course, starting with roasted chestnut soup or bitter greens salad for an appetizer. Entree options are roasted turkey roulade, fried ham steak, or roasted butternut squash risotto. And for dessert, there's pumpkin pie, apple and cranberry cobbler, or a cheese plate.
Tortoise Club (350 N. State St.)
There's nothing really more apropos about celebrating this most American holiday in the utmost of classic American restaurants. Tortoise Club is just the ticket, what with its regal clubhouse motif and its expansive all-American holiday buffet. The food is served from noon until 7:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving, brimming with options like brown sugar-brined turkey, celery root mashed potatoes, a seafood bar, house-smoked salmon, and apple-sage cornbread stuffing. Pumpkin mousse spice cake rolls and cranberry cheesecake are on hand for desserts. Pricing is $79 for adults, $25 for kids 4-12, and free for those under 4.
Tanta (118 W. Grand Ave.)
Think way outside the box this year by giving Thanksgiving a Peruvian accent. Tanta is offering its own South American spin on the holiday, featuring a slew of specials from November 20 through November 25. Courtesy of chef Jesus Delgado, these include roasted turkey leg confit with kabocha squash and fingerling potatoes ajiaco; crispy pork shank with baked sweet potatoes and cherries escabeche; and "aeropuerto Thanksgiving" with vegetable fried rice, raisins, noodles, crispy turkey scrambled egg tortilla, sesame sauce, and pickled vegetables.
Shaw's Crab House
(21 E. Hubbard St., Chicago | 1900 E. Higgins Rd., Schaumburg)
Both Chicagoland locations of this seafood stalwart are serving up a traditional Thanksgiving buffet on November 26 from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. The familial affair features a lavish spread for all appetites and ages, priced at $75 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and younger at the Chicago buffet, or $59 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and younger at the Schaumburg buffet. What makes this feast even better is that proceeds from the buffet benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Additional photo credits: Acadia, DMK Burger Bar