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. And if you prefer to eat Thanksgiving dinner in the comfort of your own home (family not included) check out our list of Chicago Restaurants With Thanksgiving Takeout Specialst
Note: We’ll be updating this list often as more restaurants release their Thanksgiving specials, so check back.
When a restaurant has a tasting menu option called “I Don’t Give A F*ck,” it’s probably a way more fun place to be than our aunt’s house in Naperville. Maple and Ash is a steakhouse in the Gold Coast, and it’s over-the-top in the best way, with chandeliers, candelabras, and huge velvet booths. During the holiday, they’re serving a family-style meal with things like truffle roast turkey breast and turkey roulade, plus a la carte options. Which you should give a fck about.
The meal: Family-style, $70
This is the sister restaurant to Maple and Ash, and it’s in Bucktown. And just like your sibling who moved to Portland after college, Etta is trendy but a little more laid back. The space is airy and very family-friendly (you’ll see high chairs, and no “f*cks” on the menu here). The food is excellent, and on Thanksgiving, they’re having turkey with sides (like a bolognese stuffing) and pumpkin pie for dessert.
The meal: Three-course prix fixe $85
Unlike most of your family get-togethers, The Smith will offend the fewest people possible. That’s what this River North restaurant’s wide-ranging menu is designed for, making it an excellent choice for taking out visiting relatives who don’t always agree on everything. The holiday dinner includes three different turkey options (braised, roasted, and a pot pie), and even the most chronically malcontented in your gene pool should be able to find something on the menu. Assuming everyone is still talking to each other by the end of the weekend, you might as well also come here for Sunday brunch.
The meal: Three-course $72
Prime & Provisions
There are plenty of people who travel into the city for Thanksgiving, and you might be going to dinner with some of them. If that’s the case, Prime & Provisions is a good option. This steakhouse does a huge dinner (with the usual turkey and turkey-adjacent suspects), and its Loop location means it’s full of tourists trying to get as close as possible to Black Friday sales, and business-type people working through the holidays.
The meal: Family-style, $79
You can come here for a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner, or just 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, $64.95
Another place to come for crab. Sure, they have some Thanksgiving specials like turkey and stuffing. But you should really be focusing your attention on the regular menu: 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: Regular menu with a la carte Thanksgiving specials
This restaurant in Lincoln Square is offering Thanksgiving for dine-in. Come here for Southern classics like smoked turkey, cornbread stuffing, mac and cheese, and sweet potato pie. And since they’re also offering Thanksgiving to-go, maybe pick up a second dinner for Friday, too.
The meal: Three-course $40
We’re aware that they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in France. But if they did, we imagine it would look a lot like the holiday dinner happening at Bistronomic, a French restaurant in the Gold Coast. It’s a three-course prix fixe meal with turkey breast and stuffed turkey legs, a foie gras terrine, and short ribs. This place is nice but still casual, making it easy to pretend you’re in a quaint French village. And that you’re not getting up at 3am tomorrow to stand in line for a flatscreen TV.
The meal: $75 three-course prix fixe
The Lobby at The Peninsula
If Willy Wonka catered your Thanksgiving brunch, it would look exactly like this. The Peninsula has a four-course brunch with buffet items that’s completely over-the-top, very expensive, and pretty f*cking awesome if you’re ready to go all out. You can expect elaborate holiday decorations revolving around a theme - like “apple orchard” or “The Mayflower” - as well as an absurd variety of food stations manned by people good at politely ignoring how much you’ve piled on a single plate. You’ll find everything from Peking duck, a seafood station with caviar, and a whole room dedicated to different desserts.
The meal: Four-course meal with brunch items, $277
The main design elements of the Cherry Circle Room (in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel) are dark wood, overstuffed leather chairs, and a huge fireplace - so it reminds us of a fancy turn-of-the-century hunting lodge. They clearly think you can never have enough turkey because they offer it two ways - turkey leg confit or turkey roulade - along with traditional sides like mashed potatoes and green beans. The restaurant is small and located on the second floor, so you won’t even notice you’re eating in a hotel. What you will notice is the strong urge to adopt an English Setter, or at least play a rousing game of Duck Hunt.
The meal: Family-style
Ok hear us out: Frontier is closed on Thanksgiving. That said, they are available for you to have a Friendsgiving all November long. The family-style meal includes smoked turkey, cornbread stuffing, sweet potato pie, mac and cheese, and basically anything else that you love about actual Thanksgiving.
The meal: Family-style, $39 (minimum six people)