Somewhere deep down we all have a Norman Rockwell fantasy of sitting at a luxuriously appointed table while Grandma presents the big bird. Then we remember that last year we had to spend three hours washing dishes, our favorite nephew broke our heirloom china, and our not-so-favorite uncle prattled on about Jennifer Lawrence’s secret plan to turn us all into lizard people.
Thanksgiving should be about reflecting on what we’re actually thankful for, not about what we feel we are obligated to do. That’s why this year we are saving our knuckles the pain of grating three pounds of cheese and going to one of our favorite Austin restaurants instead.
Turkey day is all about comfort food, so it’s a no-brainer that downtown’s 24 Diner would want to get in on the game. The menu here will be all about carb-loading. Try the turkey leg confit or house-cured ham with dressing, mashed potatoes (regular or sweet), bacon braised collard greens, or Brussels sprouts. And, of course, finish off with pumpkin pie. $29. 10:30 am - midnight.
Apis Restaurant & Apiary
We can think of few more beautiful places to spend the day than at the beautiful campus of Spicewood’s Apis. Their prix fixe puts a contemporary spin on the classics with dishes like a heritage turkey served with turkey leg hash made with onions, shredded turnips and foie gras, sourdough stuffing, potatoes "Robuchon," cranberry and preserved orange sauce, green bean and shiitake mushroom "casserole,” and giblet gravy with brown butter. $70 for adults and $20 for children 12 and under. 11 am-3 pm.
Let’s face it — the best part of Thanksgiving is dessert. So you’ll want to leave some room after eating a brunch buffet of prime rib and turkey and sides like dressing and green bean casserole for the campus restaurant’s generous dessert spread featuring brown sugar apple bread pudding, Bourbon pecan torte, carrot cake truffles, and other treats. $68 for adults and $30 for kids. 10:30 am-2:20 pm.
Science has proven that the only surefire cure for holiday stress is a huge mimosa. The downtown hotel’s annual affair takes over the mezzanine once again this year for a lavish brunch featuring banana bread French toast, lemon poached jumbo shrimp, pumpkin ravioli, seasonal pastries, and turkey with all the fixings. $85 for adults and $40 for children, 10 am - 3 pm.
There’s no shame in ditching your mom’s soggy dressing in favor of a Friendsgiving at Goodall’s. Their buffet runs the gamut from traditional fare to more contemporary dishes like herb-roasted turkey breast, roasted king salmon, charred sweet potatoes, grilled acorn squash, a little gem lettuce salad, and baked shells and cheese. There will also be an assortment of pies so you can really express gratitude. $72 for adults and $25 for kids 12 and under with complimentary valet. 11 am - 8 pm.
Hyde Park Bar & Grill
For 23 years, dining at Hyde Park Bar & Grill has been an Austin tradition. Keep the good thing going at either location with a feast including turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberry relish. Don’t forget to end the meal with an optional $3.95 scoop of their famous Wom Kim’s peach pudding. $21.95 for adults and $12.95 for children. Vegetarian option available for $15.95.
Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Brunch is serious business at this recently-revived Austin classic. Chef Josh Thomas continues the hallowed tradition with an elegant buffet featuring Southern-inspired dishes like slow roasted Akaushi prime rib, sage-brined turkey breast, brioche French toast, and eggs Benedict. Adults each receive a drink ticket because one should never have to wade into Thanksgiving arguments unprepared. $85 for adults and $40 for kids, seatings at 11 am and 1 pm.
Fuel your nostalgia for bygone Thanksgivings at this retro diner from the team behind Winebelly. Options for your feast include smoked ham and turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, cranberry sauce, and more. 7 am-3 pm.
Second Bar + Kitchen Domain Northside
Scope out your Black Friday plan of attack by dining at the Second located in the popular shopping destination. The bountiful buffet includes a carving station with turkey breast; family style sides like sourdough sage stuffing, jalapeno creamed corn, and black pepper parsnip au gratin; a bar buffet with quiche Lorraine and smoked salmon deviled eggs, plus plenty of dessert bites. $38 for grown-ups and $19 for kids. 11 am-7 pm.
Celebrate the holiday ye old style with a trip out to Salado’s historic Stagecoach Inn. Their brunch buffet is full of indulgences like cranberry crumb muffins, turkey and dressing, beer can barbecue chicken, yams with candied bacon, and black eyed peas. For dessert, stretch your stomach with a pumpkin cheesecake with vanilla cream and pumpkin seeds and/or pecan pie with caramel. $39 for grown-ups and $16 for kids 12 and under. 11 am-3 pm.
Turkey is great and all, but no one has time for under-salted, dry shreds of meat. Instead, wrap that bird in prosciutto and happily gobble it up. The W Hotel’s on-site restaurant offers this in their prix fixe Thanksgiving meal, plus choices of kale and white bean soup, coffee-rubbed short rib, golden beet risotto, apple spice cake, and more. And the kids menu will keep your fussiest niece from throwing a hissy fit. $57, 11 am-8 pm.
Consider Visconte’s Thanksgiving dinner a debut party for chef Will Packwood’s new culinary direction at Hotel Granduca. The three-course feast features choices like sweet potato gnocchi with roasted corn, sage brown butter and pecorino sardo; heritage turkey with cornbread canederli, EVOO whipped potatoes, green beans, cranberry mostarda, and herbed vellutata; and wild mushroom gratin made with creamy polenta, black kale, chestnuts and apples. $65. 6 pm-10 pm.