Do You, No Guilt: 10 Reasons Why It's OK to Go Out to Eat on Thanksgiving

Do You, No Guilt: 10 Reasons Why It's OK to Go Out to Eat on Thanksgiving

Julia Brenner
Nov 2, 2016

Dining out on Thanksgiving has evolved in a big way over the past few years, and many restaurants are now offering sumptuous buffets and gorgeous holiday-themed prix-fixe menus. If you find yourself daydreaming that it might be nice to kick back and relax this year instead of slaving over a stove, dining out might be a great new twist on your holiday.

A 2014 consumer survey by the National Restaurant Association found that 15 million Americans stated they were planning on dining at a restaurant on Thanksgiving, while a quick Google search of restaurants open on Thanksgiving yields a bountiful cornucopia of options (sorry but the awful pun was begging to be included).

Long story short, lots of people are opting to eat out on Thanksgiving. Feast your eyes (ok, that was the last one, I promise) on ten reasons why dining out could be a nice change of pace and change of scenery.

Shaw's Crab House in Chicago offers a family-friendly Thanksgiving buffet.
(Image credit: Shaw's Crabhouse)

To enjoy a meal with holiday ambiance when you're unable to make it to a loved one's home.

Whether it's our work schedule, inability to travel, personal issues, and on it goes, there are some years when it's just not possible to make it to a loved one's home on Thanksgiving. But here's the great news: Your metropolitan area (and even many not-so metropolitan areas) is dotted with eateries that are prepped and ready to help you celebrate. So don't hesitate to book a table for one, two, or a group, then get gussied up and enjoy the bounty of the holiday!

The Dutch in SoHo offers a family-style Thanksgiving meal.
(Image credit: The Dutch)

To have a low-stress Thanksgiving meal with loved ones.

Maybe there's some weird argument between relatives over who-knows-what and you can't have Thanksgiving at the usual house, or maybe grandma's stove is acting up, or no one can arrive in time to do all the meal prep—or maybe you and your family just don't feel up for making a big dinner this year but still want to have a nice dinner together. Consider a family outing to a restaurant. Many hotels and restaurants create special Thanksgiving Day menus, which can be the best of both worlds: a delicious and festive meal in a holiday setting and a chance to relax and enjoy it.

The Thanksgiving menu at Freeman's in NYC is a good bet.
(Image credit: Freeman's )

To have a low-stress Thanksgiving meal with your chosen ones (aka framily).

We are not all Norman Rockwell paintings and Thanksgiving Day can take shape in many ways, sometimes with family and sometimes with framily, aka friends that have become family. Don't hesitate to get some of your favorite crew together or join with others and do it up at a local restaurant. Good cocktails, good food, and good friends: that's something to be thankful for.

Louisville's Proof on Main offers a southern-inspired Thanksgiving Day menu.
(Image credit: Proof on Main)

If you're traveling.

If you've opted to use your Thanksgiving break to travel, take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner in a new restaurant—maybe a fine dining spot adjacent to a hotel, or maybe the 24-hour diner that happens to be open. Regardless of which direction you steer, it's guaranteed to be a memorable part of your Thanksgiving experience on the road.

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill in Austin offers a Thanksgiving buffet.
(Image credit: Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill)

To savor time with others.

Thanksgiving Day meal prep takes a lot of time—and while it is often enjoyable, it may feel like you're spending a lot of time away from those you love. If this is a concern, then dining out is a great option to give you back some precious time with those you may not see very often—time you'd otherwise spend shopping, cleaning, chopping, stirring, and then more cleaning.

The Pikey in Los Angeles offers a Thanksgiving-inspired menu.
(Image credit: The Pikey)

If it's physically easier.

For those of us with loved ones who have mobility issues or health concerns, the business of attending get-togethers in a home setting (accessing front stairs, small doorways, cumbersome bathrooms, etc), can be stressful, uncomfortable, and sometimes not possible. This can also be the case for those typically responsible for hosting Thanksgiving; there may be a health issue that is making hosting duties more difficult this year. In these situations, dining together at an accommodating restaurant can relieve a lot of stress, allow family to convene in a cheerful, holiday setting, and allow those with additional physical needs to enjoy a lovely Thanksgiving meal with loved ones.

Adele's in Nashville offers a special Thanksgiving menu.
(Image credit: Adele's )

If it's more economical.

The fixings to make a Thanksgiving dinner add up! Dining out may actually be more financially reasonable. While researching this topic, I discovered there is a whole range of price points for a Thanksgiving meal. Some restaurants offer prix-fixe menus (ranging from $30 pp—$95 pp), while others offer a la carte specials, and yet others offer a standard menu with a few available holiday options.

Bluestem Brasserie in San Francisco offers a prix-fixe menu for Thanksgiving Day.
(Image credit: Bluestem Brasserie)

Because many restaurants and hotels have wonderful prix-fixe menus.

I guarantee that if you do a little research on Thanksgiving Day menus at local restaurants, you'll come away feeling hungry and happy about your decision to dine out. Many restaurants pull out all the stops to create beautifully executed traditional menus or unique spins on traditional cuisine. I mean, I love my mom and aunties to pieces, but our family's spread doesn't usually include smoked duck gumbo; sweet potato cappelletti with pecan, parmesan and chestnut honey; or bourbon pecan tart.

Portland's Andina offers a Peruvian three-course prix fixe Thanksgiving Day menu.
(Image credit: Portland Food Journal)

Because you want to try something a little different this year.

The above picture is from Andina in Portland, OR, which serves a traditional Peruvian prix-fixe menu on Thanksgiving. What better day to celebrate our diverse cultural fabric than Thanksgiving?

75 Chestnut in Beacon Hill offers a special Thanksgiving Day menu.
(Image credit: 75 Chestnut)

Because it's fun!

Getting dressed up and going out to eat is a great time! Add in festive ambiance, a special menu, good conversation with people you love (or at least like), and a chance to relax and enjoy it all—that is a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving.

Three cheers for thinking outside of the box and three cheers for all those who work in the restaurant industry.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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