I don't think I am out of line when I say that Washington is a town of workaholics. With their crippling workloads and often far-off families, for a lot of locals, the chances of enjoying grandma's green bean casserole this Thanksgiving are slim. Fortunately for them, the DC restaurant scene is equally hardcore -- dozens of area restaurants will remain open on the 27th, their staffs shunning friends and kin to serve you, the dining public. Below are my picks for Thanksgiving 2008 -- bear in mind, the OpenTable reservation status is based on availability at the time of the publishing of this article. Although, if OpenTable says that the restaurant is booked, you may want to try calling, because restaurants sometimes hold back tables.
For those looking for classic American fare in one of the classiest joints in town, Chef Daniel Giusti will be offering a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings for $54 per person. Considering the meals I have enjoyed here in the past, I am sure that the meat will be spectacular, and the desserts sublime... just don't forget your sports coat, as jackets are required.
Though I haven't had the pleasure, 2941 has a magnificent reputation for innovative cuisine, and has an undeniably great wine list, as recently confirmed by the Wine Spectator. The six course tasting menu looks particularly patriotic, featuring all the bounties of the east coast, including Maine lobster, Hudson Valley fois gras, and Maryland turkey. Damn!
In addition to its normal menu, M St's premier cute little French bistro will be offering a three course turkey meal for both lunch and dinner, for $19 and $26 respectively. I love the chicken frites here, so I imagine they can do wonders with a turkey.
Blue Duck Tavern
This relatively new addition to DC's thriving "American Cuisine" market has made its reputation on the merits of its fowl, fish, and duck fat fries. Expect copious amounts of decadent food at Blue Duck's holiday buffet (10 am to 4 pm), with the normal menu served thereafter, along with the chef's take on a turkey blue plate special.
Charlie Palmer Steak
Though I am a bit wary of chain steakhouses regardless of price, Charlie Palmer looks like it is going to be putting out quite the spread. For $65 a head ($20 per child), CPs offers a diverse menu, featuring a selection of six firsts ranging from sashimi to fois gras, and a selection of hearty main courses, including pheasant, turkey, venison, and even a pan roasted sea bass for the odd vegetarian out.
Open 12 to 8
101 Constitution Ave.
NW Washington, DC 20001
Reservations: Good availability. Make Reservation
Chef Geoff's is an obvious weekend choice for its obscenely well priced bar food and beers; for the holiday, it might just be the perfect choice for a group of friends to enjoy a casual Thanksgiving in the absence of home and hearth. Both uptown and down, CG's will be offering an array of festive soups and starters, along with the usual assortment of gussied up meats and fishes. If you plan to head up New Mexico Ave, sausage-brioche stuffed turkey will be on the menu.
Open 2 to 8
3201 New Mexico Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20004
Uptown: Make Reservation
Downtown: Looks booked. Make Reservation
While Michel Richard's cuisine is kind of the antithesis of mom down home cookin' (my mom never cooked with "g's"), he certainly has a pretty healthy spread out for the 27th. For $80 ($37 for children), Citronelle is offering a holiday buffet, including such classics as potato salad, lamb au jus, glazed ham, cranberry sauce, turkey, and the like. There are not a lot of places where I would spend $80 to try some guy's interpretation of baked beans and candied yams; Citronelle just happens to be one of them.
Open 2 to 7:30
3000 M St NW
Washington, DC 20007
Reservations: A few spots still open. Make Reservation
Clyde's will be open at all of its six area locations, offering a well priced traditional Thanksgiving meal at $23 a head. Given my experience with this DC area institution, expect authentic but unexciting food which will leave you plenty full, and a seat with an unobstructed view of Detroit and Dallas getting the crap kicked out of them.
Though one might imagine British food to be at odds with the spirit of our American holiday, I have little doubt that you carnivores out there would get over that juxtaposition real quick. Commonwealth will be featuring a prix-fixe roast beef and turkey dinner — featuring sweet potatoes, oyster-mushroom stuffing, and housemade pies — for only $25. Judging from previous experience, I expect the portions to be more than ample for the price, and the quality of the meats to be superb, though I suggest leave the vegans at home.
The first Thanksgiving in a new home can sometimes be a lonely experience -- not so for Tom Power at his new Shaw area digs, as Corduroy is already nearly completely booked for the holiday. Expect Power's usual commitment to freshness and innovation in his take on the classic turkey dinner, prix-fixe at $55 per person. Call now! Their menu is on their web site here.
The Manor House Restaurant
Okay, I've only eaten here once, but I can safely say that this little inn outside of Warrenton makes the best she-crab soup I have ever tasted. Period. The Thanksgiving menu looks outstanding, with several entrees featuring something-or-other confit, which as everyone knows is the best way to cook anything. The optional wine pairings actually look like a real deal, and feature some well thought out, esoteric wines, including a New York State Champagne, a Gigondas and a New Zealand Chardonnay. $72 Adults ($99 with pairings), and $25 for children.
Open 1 to 6
9245 Rogues Rd
Midland, VA 22728
Reservations: Good Availability. Make Reservation
Old Ebbitt Grill
DC's oldest bar and grill will be offering much the same menu as its brothers in the Clydes group, at the same low-low price of $23. Old Ebbitt stands out from its siblings in terms of ambiance and service. The OEG is easily one of the coolest restaurant spaces in Washington DC — being all cavernous and full of marble and dark wood — and I have always found that the level of service far surpasses the price. Incidentally, if you are planning a meal at home but are short on time, Old Ebbitt can hook you up with the sides.
Eschewing the prix-fixe route, chef Jeff Buben will instead feature a variation on his typical menu with an array of Thanksgiving themed dishes, including milk-poached Amish turkey breast, Southern-style cassoulet, and an assortment of pies and torts.
In the fratty and chain-driven neighborhood of Ballston in Arlington, Willow is a much loved oasis of good wine and quiet sophistication. On Thanksgiving, Willow will be offering a combination turkey dinner/ dessert and appetizer buffet for $75 a head (full menu here). For an additional $38, enjoy a selection of paired wines with each course -- I know the price sounds a little steep, but the bar and kitchen work phenomenally well together at Willow, so I'm sure the matches will be excellent.
For a (nearly) complete list of restaurants open on Thanksgiving, check out OpenTable's promo page here.