Not every Thanksgiving has to involve an impromptu overnight at your packed hometown airport, a fight with your sister at the Des Plaines Oasis, or finally hitting absolute rock-bottom and making a phone call to the Food Network Turkey Hotline.
Chicago has lots of great restaurants that serve Thanksgiving dinner (with varying degrees of traditionalism), and our guide has you covered for a number of different scenarios – particularly the main one, i.e., forcing your family to eat in public so they can’t get into screaming fights about religion, politics, or whether or not you spoiled the latest Netflix show by mentioning a tiny detail from episode 8. Thank us later, after you’ve taken an extra-long nap since you didn’t have to do any dishes.
This upscale Gold Coast spot is a great place to pretend you’re a celebrity in the 1950s. Servers wear tuxedo jackets, there are giant booths (including the actual “Booth One,” which has a working rotary phone), and the dining room is decorated with black and white photos of people in fancy clothes. The prix fixe menu includes a choice of turkey or Beef Wellington, plus traditional sides. We’re pretty sure Frank Sinatra would have gone for the beef, but you can always call his ghost on the phone and ask.
The meal: $55 prix fixe
There’s no need to get on a plane to Vegas for Thanksgiving (provided that’s something you were considering), because you can just go to Hub 51. This upbeat, party-type restaurant in River North is a great place for a celebratory meal with friends. The Thanksgiving buffet here has classic dishes like turkey, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole, but also other things like short ribs and grain salad, so no one in your group should have trouble finding something.
The meal: Buffet, $49.95
RPM in River North can be a scene, but it always delivers on food and service, making it a safe bet if you want a somewhat trendy experience. Count on seeing some expensive prix fixe upgrade options – and go ahead and add truffles and caviar to the coal roasted crab, parmesan risotto, and turkey prepared two ways, as long as you can put it on your corporate card. Charging Thanksgiving to your corporate card is probably not something you should do, but if you’re here, there’s a good chance your boss is making you work over the holiday weekend anyway.
The meal: Four-course, $90 prix fixe
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
You can come here for a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner, or you can come here for some delicious crab with a pile of hashbrowns ordered a la carte. It’s a free country, as that annoying kid from homeroom loved to tell you in fifth grade.
The meal: Family-style, $54.95
Shaw’s Crab House
Another place to come for crab. Sure, they also have a Thanksgiving buffet with turkey and tenderloin. But you should really be focusing your attention on the seafood: crab legs, salmon, crab cakes, and a full-on raw bar. It’s what Shaw’s does best, and you can fit a lot of oysters in your purse.
The meal: Buffet, $75
Bub City is where you want to be for a Friendsgiving-y Thanksgiving – when you want to get drunk and eat too much, but also not go broke. They specialize in barbecue, so in addition to sweet potatoes and stuffing, you’ll be eating brisket and/or smoked turkey. Their “giddy-up” fries (nachos made with waffle fries) may sound obnoxious, but they still taste really good – and if you make it to late-night, there will be karaoke. You’ve been warned.
The meal Buffet, $34.95