Clockwise from top left: Pumpkin pie from Bang Bang Pie Shop, chateau potatoes… (Lenny Gilmore / RedEye )
Let's not cook and say we did. If you're hosting or attending a family Thanksgiving—or the buddies-only version, Friendsgiving—dinner this year, that might be what you're thinking about now. If the idea of brining your own turkey or bringing a made-from-scratch dish to pass isn't worth the hassle (or gamble, if cooking isn't your thing), look to these eight restaurants catering to the cooking impaired and time-crunched by offering Thanksgiving dishes to-go. Whether you're looking for a traditional turkey and sides or a pie that everyone (including your vegan friend) will eat, place your order now so the only thing you'll have to stress out about next week is football scores.
West Town Bakery & Diner
1916 W. Chicago Ave. 773-904-1414
Order deadline: Nov. 23
Pastry chef Chris Teixeira doesn't like canned cranberry sauce, so he's making his own cranberry jam from evaporated cane juice, local cranberries and a little red wine. The result is a topping that's not too sweet or tangy. The vegan-friendly bakery is also selling pumpkin, apple-pecan and apple-cranberry crumble pies made using tofu instead of eggs ($22.95-$24.95) and 36-packs of dinner rolls that features a mix of brioche, pretzel, wheat and potato rolls ($15). "People are already stressed out enough during Thanksgiving without doing baking," Teixeira said.
435 N. Clark St. 312-610-4200
Order deadline: Nov. 25
For its first Thanksgiving, the River North restaurant is offering a $179 dinner for eight to 10 people that includes smoked turkey, three side dishes and a pie. For a vegetable side option, chef Doug Psaltis created his own spin on the traditional green bean casserole that features sauteed green beans tossed in a Cajun-spiced mustard vinaigrette and topped with onion crunch. It offers "all the great pleasures of green bean casserole without some of the guilt," he said. There's also the dessert-like sweet potato fluff, which is made with roasted sweet potatoes that are whipped with brown butter and nutmeg, topped with marshmallow fluff and then with a touch of brown sugar to give it some crunch. As an added bonus, the restaurant will donate $40 to Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign for every dinner sold.
Bang Bang Pie Shop
2051 N. California Ave. 773-276-8888
Ordering deadline: Nov. 25
If you don't think it's Thanksgiving unless you've had a slice of pumpkin pie, this beloved Logan Square bakery has you covered. Bang Bang's version ($22) is made with locally farmed pumpkin and vanilla and features a made-from-scratch vegetarian graham cracker crust. Other options include apple crumble ($26) made with Michigan apples and cinnamon, or chocolate-pecan pie ($26) made with dark chocolate and fresh maple syrup.
Eleaven Food Company
54 E. Ontario St. 312-202-0899
Order deadline: Nov. 25
The River North bakery has your whole dinner for five covered with a $175 package including carved organic turkey, three sides, butternut squash soup, gravy, cranberry sauce, bread and a pie. "The owner and I found that in the urban Chicago area, a lot of people don't cook, but still had people coming over for Thanksgiving and don't have a lot of options," said marketing director Kripa Narayanan. "We thought it would be a great idea to put the whole meal in a ready-to-go package." If you're just on the hook for dessert, $25 buys you two pies. You can also prepare for an especially hungry table by picking out some extra sides for $15 each; options include candied carrots and yams and cornbread stuffing with dried fruit.
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House
58 E. Oak St. 312-888-2499
Order deadline: Nov. 27
This Gold Coast restaurant offers serious flexibility with the size of its to-go side dishes for Thanksgiving. Order servings for one to eight people of dishes such as chateau potatoes ($11.50-$29) hand-whipped with butter, milk and green onion; or maque choux corn ($10.50-$26) cooked with onion, bell peppers, smoked ham and a bit of cream.
1433 W. Montrose Ave. 773-281-2888
Order deadline: Nov. 25
It's a deliciously good sign that this Ravenswood cafe has sold out of its Thanksgiving to-go package for the past two years. You can order brined and butter-roasted 12-pound Amish turkey ($75) stuffed with onions, celery, apple, oranges, sage and thyme, plus sides inspired by chef Nick Schmuck's childhood favorites, which include green bean casserole ($23), mashed potatoes ($18) and turkey gravy ($18). "We're not trying to be fancy or deviate too far from the norm," he said. "We're trying to give people a real traditional Thanksgiving."