Thanksgiving in NYC is an unusually high-spirited time of the year. You’ve got the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Friendsgiving festivities and eating lots and lots of best pie. Even though your tiny apartment alone is a good enough excuse to not host a big dinner, what makes dining out even better is that some of the city’s best restaurants in NYC are open on Thanksgiving (some serving turkey, others not so much). See a list of our favorites below.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Thanksgiving in NYC
Best restaurants open on Thanksgiving
The old-world charm of well-worn communal tables, dangling copper cookware and flickering lamps may help explain why a 20-year-old restaurant is still tough to get into on a Saturday night. Seasonal produce shapes the menu of executive chef Joel Hough. Dunk the warm country bread in Umbrian olive oils produced exclusively for Il Buco. You’ll have no trouble finding a wine to match your meal; Il Buco’s list is one of the city’s best.
Ousia, a Greek-focused Mediterranean concept from the family-owned and operated Livanos Restaurant Group, brings an intimate shared dining experience to Manhattan for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Celebrating the rich traditions of Mediterranean cuisine in the form of shareable plates, Executive Chef Carlos Carreto crafts memorable meals packed with beloved Greek flavors. Our comforting interpretations of classic recipes arrive at the table in a format that encourages communal dining among friends and family. Director of Operations Kamal Kouiri, who oversees the wine program, complements the chef’s creations with a similarly Greek-centric Mediterranean list accompanied by a selection of innovative cocktails and craft beers.
New York's French-food revival is alive and well—2014 will see the debut of Keith McNally's Gallic bistro, Cherche Midi; Dirty French, from the blockbuster Torrisi team; and this provençal outfit from Carlos Suarez, who's behind Greenwich Village's splashy Bobo and Rosemary's. Koren Grieveson—who nabbed a James Beard Award for her soulful work at Chicago's Avec—serves as chef de cuisine, collaborating with Rosemary's toque Wade Moises on a Mediterranean-hopping menu laced with North African and Middle Eastern influences. Earthy dishes include ratatouille tarte; za'atar-spiced grilled lamb with yogurt vinaigrette; and a bouillabaisse en croûte with monkfish, baby octopus and rouille. Colorful tagines, employed for dishes like chicken with bulgur and harissa, line the shelves of the rustic space, walled with hand-painted tiles.
Dumbo continues to take flight. In addition to the recent openings in Empire Stores along the waterfront, this self-described “Eastern Mediterranean” newcomer has planted itself on John Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park, with views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, the East River and lower Manhattan. Some big names are behind the project: Julian Brizzi (Rucola, Grand Army Bar), Noah Bernamoff (Mile End Deli, Black Seed Bagels) and Joe Campanale (Fausto), with executive chef Garett McMahan (Perilla, Bouley, Baccarat Hotel) running the kitchen. Watch for dishes inspired by coastal locales like Beirut and Sicily, with meze and larger entrées like grilled lamb saddle and wood-roasted chicken. But the star, obviously, is the feast-your-eyes vista.
Tom Colicchio’s restaurant set the trend of eateries “deconstructing” their menus (meaning it's up to you to order your protein, veggies and starch separately), but there’s little to recommend this enterprise. The price of a meal mounts with alarming velocity, and the food isn’t always worth the cost. Dry medallions of guinea hen plus limp white asparagus and al dente grits with fishy prawns add up to an underwhelming yet pricey meal. Then there’s the joyless setting, where patrons sit in near-silence and watch each other chew. Hardly fine dining, no matter how you put it together.
In a culinary landscape increasingly dominated by meat-free fare, steakhouses find themselves in unchartered waters. Relevancy – and appeal – are no longer a given, but establishments like American Cut rise to the challenge. Now in its second Manhattan location on E 56th Street, Marc Forgione’s successful chain delivers an indelible steakhouse experience with thoughtful, contemporary dishes that deliver mass appeal.
The Upper West Side has recently been making a run at culinary relevance, and John Fraser’s new spot, Dovetail, quickly joins that smallest of elite (Telepan, Barney Greengrass, Ouest)—restaurants that could actually justify a special trip. Fraser knows the local scene (most recently, he was the chef at the decent Compass), but brings formidable experience from regions that might be considered far afield in a Saul Steinberg worldview (the legendary French Laundry in Napa Valley, the undersung Snack Taverna in the West Village).
Geoffrey Zakarian’s clubby gem is a throwback to New York’s fine-dining heyday—a place built for conversation and a languid meal. While chefs around town focus on being seasonally nimble, the veteran toque labors hard to create signature dishes, working and reworking until each one’s a keeper. Timeless expense-account fare includes lushly marbled foie gras torchon served with pureed quince and Concord grape jam, and a supple pine-nut–encrusted lamb saddle cooked optimally pink from end to end.
The Wythe, Williamsburg’s first blockbuster hotel, might seem to some like the beginning of the end for the neighborhood—Soho entering its shopping-mall phase—with its rooftop bar drawing long lines on the weekends, its hot scene of a ground-floor restaurant packing in pilgrims from across the East River. And it might have been, if not for the man behind those eating and drinking establishments. That restaurant, Reynards, and its upstairs sibling, the Ides, are the brainchildren of Andrew Tarlow, a restaurateur as responsible as any for Brooklyn’s culinary ascendancy.