A Last-Minute Guide to Thanksgiving Dining Around DC

Where to find reservations, ready-made dishes, pies, and more.

Restaurants like Kapnos prepare a la carte dishes or whole holiday spreads (pictured). Photograph by Greg Powers.

Thanksgiving is almost here, but don’t panic if you don’t have the turkey—or any plans at all. Whether you’re going out, preparing a feast, or tasked with a potluck dish, we’ve found plenty of last-minute options.

If you want to go out:

Look beyond tradition

Traditional American restaurants tend to book up early—though it doesn’t hurt to check for openings at downtown spots like Vidalia and Woodward Table. Better yet, get more adventurous with the cuisine.

A few examples: Rasika West End serves their regular menu, plus a holiday special of spiced turkey meatballs cooked biryani-style with fragrant rice, served with butternut squash kootu and cranberry raita. Bibiana’s three-course Thanksgiving menu mixes traditional ingredients with Italian flavors. Over at Brasserie Beck, the hearty Belgian-style a la carte menu includes mussels alongside cider-brined turkey.

Keep it very casual

A number of restaurants and bars offer cheap and fun service on Thanksgiving, no heavy-lifting required. Black Squirrel’s all-you-can-eat buffet includes turkey, pot roast, and more for only $10, which you can pair with seasonal beers. Smoke and Barrel’s “Tom Hanxgiving” menu ($20 per person) stars four kinds of turkey and side dishes inspired by Tom Hanks’s movies (You’ve Got Kale, anyone?)

Celebrate beyond the Thanksgiving table

In the days leading up to holiday Jack Rose Dining Saloon invites you to “Drink Your Thanksgiving Dinner” with a five-course cocktail menu inspired by the traditional meal–turkey-washed whiskey, baked bean syrup, pecan pie bitters, the works. Order drinks a la carte ($10) or a full flight ($45) from Monday, November 23rd through the 25th.

On Friday the 27th, head to BLT Steak for leftover-stuffed popovers filled with turkey, cranberry chutney, gravy, and other day-before goodness. If you can’t get enough Thanksgiving pastries, Milk Bar’s stuffing croissants are available through November.

If you want to stay in:

Yes, you can prep for Thanksgiving in less than a week following this handy guide.

Opt for a heritage turkey

The meat of heritage breed turkeys is typically richer and more flavorful than factory-farmed alternatives–and there’s still time to find one. Here’s where to get your bird. Note that the latest ordering deadline is Monday, November 23.

Do Friendsgiving right

Spending the holidays without relatives? Here’s how to have a great Friendsgiving, whether you’re a host or a guest. Hint: No one ever means it when they say “just bring yourself.”

Don’t show up empty-handed

If you’re going to be a guest this year, here are some fun ideas for easy-yet-awesome host gifts. Procrastinator-plus: they’re all available at Whole Foods.

Grab tasty sides from restaurants—or the whole turkey.

Kapnos, Del Campo, and BlackSalt are a few of the many top restaurants offering chef-y sides and even full Thanksgiving feasts to-go.

Get a chef to fry your turkey

Medium Rare hosts its annual Free Turkey Fry on Thanksgiving. Bring a completely thawed, 8 to 10 pound turkey to the restaurant’s Capitol Hill/Barracks Row location between 11 am and 2 pm, and let the chefs fry it for you. They’ll also keep things festive by serving hot cider, and playing the Macy’s parade on TV.

Skip baking and let DC’s top pastry chefs make the pie.

Order pies and other sweet treats to-go from the city’s pastry masters, like sweet potato cheesecake from Bread Furst, pumpkin Mallomar bites from Co Co. Sala, and house-made sorbets from Ris.