Dinner at Balsan (Dan Peterson/For RedEye )
If you've ever stared down a raw turkey in your kitchen sink, dining out for Thanksgiving may have crossed your mind. Some of us can't simply stroll out of the grocery store, into the kitchen and whip up an entire holiday meal that does justice to this month's cover of Food & Wine magazine. And frankly, some of us don't really want to. If you're seeking a twist on the classics, some global flair, or you just want someone else to take care of Thanksgiving this year, take your pick from this list of turkey masters.
1639 S. Wabash Ave. 312-360-9500
This minimalist South Loop restaurant is dressed to impress with white upholstered chairs and soaring ceilings, not to mention some truly gorgeous presentations--yet it manages to feel cozy and intimate. This season, Acadia serves up a modern spin on the classics.
On the table: This four-course masterpiece boasts some contemporary pizazz, beginning with a butternut squash soup with lime, coffee "croutons" and matsutake mushrooms, followed by chef Ryan McCaskey's take on a frisee salad, still in the works. (Brown butter powder? Cranberry gel? You'll have to wait till Nov. 22 to find out.) Finally, turkey roulade with prosciutto, herbs, and lobster stuffing. Top it off with a squash and chocolate tart. Thanksgiving accomplished.
Price: $60 adults ($25 additional for wine pairings) and $25 for kids
Reservations available: 2 p.m.-7 p.m. Walk-ins welcome.
3471 N. Elston Ave. 773-583-3066
Owned by two Irish musicians, this Avondale pub is as authentic as it gets. Famous for its steamy stews and shepherd's pie, Chief O'Neill's knows comfort food, and it does a mean Thanksgiving at an affordable price.
On the table: Take your pick from roasted turkey breast, Cajun-spiced prime rib, braised lamb shank, or a medley of veggies coupled with salad and soup. Toast the meal with a glass of Con O'Prosecco, a holiday cocktail made with Concannon Irish whiskey, black currant syrup, prosecco and a bruleed lemon twist.
Price: $22-$30 adults, $12.95 children
Reservations available: Seatings at 1:30, 3:30, 4:45, 6 and 7 p.m.
IF YOU LIKE SPICE
10 W. Hubbard St. 312-527-4060
If you're lukewarm on the same old turkey, the line-up at this River North restaurant will make you do a double-take thanks to Latin and Indian flavors mingling with classic American Thanksgiving dishes.
On the table: This five-course prix-fixe includes fenugreek- and black cardamom-smoked turkey breast with cumin-glazed yam and lentil stuffing, chorizo-bean feijoada (stew), spiced cranberry chutney and pumpkin-cardamom tres leches cake with a cool shot of horchata. And if your socks aren't knocked off yet, a vegetarian rendition of the meal is also available.
Price: $55 adults
Reservations available: Noon-8 p.m. Walk-ins welcome.
SOUTH FOR THE WINTER
5347 N. Clark St. 773-275-5725
Chef Paul Fehribach doesn't kid around with Thanksgiving. It's tradition, and tradition means a lot to a southern Indiana boy who grew up cooking family heirloom recipes with his mother. That's why everything from bread to jelly to sauce is made from scratch at his quaint and cozy Andersonville restaurant.
On the table: Dinner starts with a relish tray featuring Kentucky beer cheese and salt-rising bread. After that, fill up on hearty dishes such as potato knepfles (rustic German dumplings) or the Charleston she-crab soup, deep-fried turkey and coconut cream cake for dessert.
Price: $48 for adults and $20 for kids
Reservations available: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
LUXE FOR LESS
11 E. Walton St. 312-646-1400
This bistro may be tucked away in the Gold Coast's posh Waldorf Astoria hotel, but the multi-course dinner slated for Thanksgiving service is surprisingly affordable. Expect a relaxed vibe and seasonal ingredients that only a farm-to-table restaurant can dish out.
On the table: Chef Herve Cuyeu is holding a contest with his kitchen staff to determine whose presentation of the Waldorf salad will make it to your table this Thanksgiving, and that's just the beginning of this three-course prix fixe. Chose from brown butter-braised diver scallops with fennel foam or whiskey- and coriander-cured salmon, and chose again between citrus-roasted turkey and cinnamon sugar-glazed country ham. That is, if you can.
Price: $60 for adults and $30 for kids
Reservations available: 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. A la carte menu offered 7-11 a.m. Walk-ins welcome.
DINNER IN ITALY
221 N. Columbus Drive 312-477-0234
If you don't believe that there is such a thing as too much Italian food—or Italian wine—than this restaurant inside the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel is your best bet. Expect Italian-inspired dishes and a wine list with more than 100 vino options.
On the table: Start with butternut squash soup with royal trumpet mushroom or arugula salad with shaved parmesan and cider vinaigrette. Roasted turkey breast is up next, unless you'd prefer an Italian-style pan-roasted white fish with artichokes, fingerling potatoes, and soppressata. Finish with sweet potato pie, or apple pie with vanilla gelato. And give thanks for Italy.
Reservations available: Noon-8 p.m.
Hannah Greene is a RedEye special contributor. firstname.lastname@example.org | @redeyechicago