Orphan Thanksgiving Cornucopia
Your guide to the perfect orphan Thanksgiving in Austin including restaurants, hotels and beyond
If you’re an “orphan” staying in town for Thanksgiving, take comfort in knowing you are certainly not alone! In fact, you might say Austin is a pretty accommodating place for orphans to reside. In addition to the residential potlucks and open houses that are probably filling your Facebook feed, there’s plenty to do all over town. Leave it to CultureMap to round up some of the best ways to spend your Turkey Day.
Why wait for the November 28? There’s lots of feasting to be done before then. Micklethwait Craft Meats will be serving a turducken-focused dinner while screening The Royal Tenenbaums at The North Door on Friday, November 22. (To jog your memory, a turducken is a chicken stuffed inside of a duck stuffed inside of a turkey.) $20 tickets can be purchased online.
Plan a staycation.
The newly renovated boutique Hotel Ella (formerly the Mansion at Judge’s Hill) is rolling out a Thanksgiving package, which includes accommodations in one of their Michael Hsu-designed guest rooms, plus Thanksgiving dinner for two and breakfast the next morning at Goodall’s Kitchen & Bar — or via in-room dining. Pricing begins at $355.
Take a cooking class.
Gateway Guesthouse offers its Fearless Feast cooking classes a day or two before holidays. The Thanksgiving class will take place on Wednesday, November 27, 10 am - 3 pm. For $195, participants will participate in the hands-on class and learn how to make an entire Thanksgiving feast, from turkey to pie, and leave with enough for two. Not only that, their Gravy Boat Hotline provides any last minute assistance needed for the final touches done at home the next day.
This will be the 23rd year of Thundercloud’s Turkey Trot, an annual Thanksgiving morning run/walk that has raised $1.8 million for Caritas since they started it in 1991! Register online for a five-mile run or the one-mile walk or simply come to support, enjoy the live music at the Long Center and enter the raffle for a 2014 Honda Accord.
Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill is teaming up with Operation Turkey for the 13th year in a row to feed Austin’s homeless on Thanksgiving Day. Register online to volunteer at any of their three locations by cooking, sorting donations, packing food to-go or delivering meals between 8 am and noon on Turkey Day. Kids not only welcomed, but encouraged.
For the third year in a row, Jack Allen’s Kitchen is joining forces with Mobile Loaves and Fishes to provide a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless at First Baptist Church of Austin downtown on Monday, November 25. Register online for volunteer slots — only a few are still available!
Brunch it up.
There’s certainly no shortage of decadent brunches in this town, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Kick back and relax at the 1886 Cafe at the Driskill, TRIO at the Four Seasons, The Carillon, Green Pastures or Lakeway Resort and Spa (featuring live music and a petting zoo for kids), to name a few. Call for reservations and more details.
Watch football — live or barside.
There are still plenty of tickets left for the the annual Texas Longhorns-Texas Tech Red Raiders showdown at the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Though the game starts at 6:30 pm, you can bet campus will be mobbed with of tailgaters all day, smoking turkeys and tossing the pigskin.
Eat an early feast (see brunch, above) and head to one of the local bars showing football (call ahead to confirm hours, but most open at 11 am or 2 pm), such as the Texas Chili Parlor, Easy Tiger, Black Sheep Lodge, Posse East, Scholz Garten and all Third Base locations.
Take part in a cinematic feast.
The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz will be showing the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy on Thanksgiving Day while serving an equally epic seven course meal. Dishes and optional drink pairings range from fresh hens egg with crispy bacon, grilled mushrooms and rosemary-seared orange Canella with a blood orange mimosa to grilled New Zealand lamb T-bone chops with cherry pepper cabernet reduction, mashed potatoes and roasted baby carrots with Guinness Stout. Tickets ($94 for food/$129 for food and beverage) are still available online.
Ditch the dishes.
Not cooking for a crowd? Skip the shopping, the ingredients and the dishes and take advantage of any of the drool-worthy dinner spreads around town.
From 3 pm until 9 pm, Trace at the W will be serving a four-course prix-fixe menu ($64 a person) featuring such items as a French cauliflower and caramelized pumpkin soup, duck confit risotto, turkey breast stuffed with turkey leg confit and pumpkin cream cake with thyme ice cream and cream cheese.
Hudson’s on the Bend is rolling a menu that would make anyone thankful, with a la carte plates like espresso-rubbed smoked elk backstrap with Gulf coast crab and a chipotle lime beer blanc and seared foie gras over grilled brioche topped with candied fruit compote and drizzled with balsamic fig glaze. Call for reservations.
Russian House has partnered with Austin Children’s Shelter for Thanksgiving this year. Anyone who makes a turkey donation to benefit children in the community will be privy to unlimited turkey at their dinner event, which runs from 4 pm until supplies run out. Make a reservation through OpenTable.
Goodall’s Kitchen & Bar will have a Thanksgiving menu available for lunch from noon to 3 pm and for dinner from 4 pm-7 pm. Dishes include pumpkin ale butternut squash bisque, sea salt crusted prime rib of beef, brown sugar caramelized sweet potatoes and more. Call ahead for a reservation.
Hyde Park Bar & Grill will be open on Thanksgiving dinner for its 19th year in a row, featuring a traditional and well-priced feast between 11 am and 7 pm.
Starting at 10:30 am, 24 Diner will be serving a Thanksgiving dinner of turkey leg confit, house-cured ham, green beans with citrus and pecans, housemade pumpkin pie and more for $24. Reservations not accepted.
III Forks is serving a four-course traditional, Thanksgiving feast 11 am - 6 pm, featuring including spice rubbed turkey, tenderloin tomato soup and Maker’s Mark pecan bread pudding ($44.95).
DIY without the "D or I".
Plenty of places around town are making specialty items for order and pick up — perfect if you’re serving only a few or if you want to supplement your sides with a main dish (or vice versa).
This year, Dai Due is making porchetta, mincemeat, turducken sausage, duck confit boudin and more, plus all their usual accouterments: escabeche, cornichons, preserved lemons, pickled beets and a rainbow of sauces and chilies. Orders must be placed by 5 pm on November 21 for pickup November 22-24.
Lucy’s Fried Chicken is taking orders for 18-20 Cajun-style turduckens for $90. To jog your memory, a turducken is a chicken stuffed inside of a duck stuffed inside of a turkey; at Lucy's, these are also layered with chorizo cornbread stuffing. Place an order at the Burnet location by November 20 for pick up by November 26 with cooking instructions and gravy included.
Freedmen’s is making Thanksgiving super easy by offering entire precooked meals for 6-8 guests ($85) or 12-16 ($150). Each spread includes smoked turkey, sausage stuffing, giblet gravy and bourbon cranberry sauce. All orders must be placed by Sunday, November 25, and picked up after 4 pm on November 27 or 28. For more information, check out their Facebook event page.
Sullivan’s Steakhouse is offering an array of sides to go (for pickup on Wednesday, November 27), available in three sizes — to serve 1-2, 3-6, or 7-8 people. Advance ordering required.
The Omni Barton Creek will offer its annual Thanksgiving Day spread, which is also available to go for for six ($295) or 10 ($435) people. Orders must be placed by Friday, November 22, and picked up between 11 am and 2 pm on Thanksgiving.
Reserve a smoked, roasted, fried or jerky turkey from Hoover’s by calling 512-479-5006.
Hyde Park Bar & Grill is currently taking orders for a 12-14 Cajun fried turkey ($55, feeds 5-8), which comes ready for warming in an oven bag and instructions. They’re also offering Wom Kim’s Peach Pudding to go with fresh cream ($14.95, feeds 4-6). Call 512-899-2700 to place an order for pickup on the November 26 or 27 at Hyde Park Bar & Grill South.
Central Market, Whole Foods and Wheatsville all carry a wide array of sides, main dishes and desserts for pickup or preorder and pickup. Whole Foods offers a whole meal for four for only $59.99, and you can bet that turkey comes with no antibiotics, no added hormones,and no animal byproduct in its feed. In fact, all their birds have passed their rigorous 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating.
Be as vegan as you please.
Having fewer people at Thanksgiving means not having to appease everyone else’s meat-loving preferences. As in: You can have your Tofurkey and your NadaMoo, too! Plus, each year, there are more options for vegans around town.
The ever-charitable and karmically charged Amala Foundation is hosting a vegan Turkey Day potluck with projected movies and a dance in its beautiful Sanctuary Yoga studio, 4:30 pm-9 pm. For more details, visit the Facebook event page.
Counter Culture will feature a Thanksgiving-style vegan menu on the November 27 and 28. Track their updates on their Facebook page and call to RSVP. Meals to go may also be ordered by Monday, November 25.
Mr. Natural will be hosting its annual vegan feast the day before Thanksgiving, with lots of to-go vegan and gluten-free pies for sale. Both the Happy Vegan Baker and Capital City Bakery are taking orders for desserts ranging from pumpkin cheesecake to chocolate cream pie.
Get your Thanksgivukkah on
Starting the day after Thanksgiving and running through the next seven days of Hanukkah, Salty Sow’s Chef Harold Marmulstein will be running specials inspired by both Thanksgiving and his Jewish heritage. Look for smoked salmon sweet potato latkes, kasha, beef shoulder with fried egg, chicken galatine and pumpkin mousse in a jar.
There’s no better reason to treat yo’self to spa time than extreme gluttony followed by a shopping frenzy. That’s all hard work! The AWAY Spa at the W Austin is featuring a Black Friday Rebound package, which includes a signature 75-minute massage, Refuel scalp treatment, and pedicure (120 minutes, $175 from November 29 through December 7).