Although Thanksgiving dinner has a home-cooked history, not everyone wants to stuff a bird or boil cranberries — let alone deal with all those dishes. According to a 2016 survey from the National Restaurant Association, one in 10 U.S. residents planned to dine out on turkey day.
Thanksgiving is "the busiest day of the year" at Simon & Seafort's, according to Chris Hockett.
"People don't feel like cooking. We see a lot of families," says Hockett, one of the restaurant's managers.
Finding anything like a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is a little tricky here in Anchorage, where many restaurants give their employees the days off. But a handful of places do plan to serve The Bird.
From garden-variety gobbler to herb-roasted tom turkey with bourbon cranberry sauce, here are some opportunities to feel really thankful about not having to wash a single pan. (Note: Reservations at some of the places listed below can fill up fast, so call ahead and call early to reserve your spot.)
Where to stuff yourself
Are you one of those people for whom Thanksgiving means "eat until you can't walk"? If so, check out the buffet offerings at:
Golden Corral: Regular and smoked turkey, with traditional fixings and sides like cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, sweet corn pudding and green bean casserole, plus three kinds of pie (pumpkin, apple and pecan). Some of the regular buffet items will also be available. Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Prices range from $7.99 to $16.99, depending on age. (4520 Union Square Drive, 907-563-9000)
China Lights: Turkey, ham, snow crab, crawfish, baked salmon and kalbi short ribs plus the Asian buffet. And yes, you really can have all the crab legs and crawfish you want. Pile that plate! Open noon to 8 p.m. The cost is $22.99; for kids under 11, it's their age plus $1.25 (e.g., an 8-year-old's meal will cost $9.25). (9220 Old Seward Highway, 907-522-5888)
The Lakefront Anchorage: Although it's billed as a Thanksgiving brunch, it runs through 4 p.m. Choose from turkey, prime rib, peel-and-eat shrimp, salmon Olympia, fancy side dishes and numerous brunch items — but why limit yourself? Get some of each! Just leave room for pumpkin or pecan pie and other desserts. The buffet opens at 11 a.m. and reservations are required. Cost: $49.99 adults, $25 for those ages 6 to 12, free to kids 5 and under. (4800 Spenard Road, 907-266-2249)
The traditional touch
Meals by the plate instead of by the wheelbarrow are available at:
Simon & Seafort's: The restaurant will serve roasted free-range turkey from the Diestel Ranch, with stuffing that includes chicken-and-apple sausage. Mashed potatoes and gravy, of course, plus fresh cranberry relish and vegetables. The a la carte desserts include house-made pumpkin and pecan pies, plus the usual Simon's sweets. Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The cost is $32 for adults and $8.95 for children. (420 L St., 907-274-3502)
Cattle Company: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, steamed broccoli, sweet potatoes, broccoli, fresh cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie will be served from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Cost: $21.99 adults, $9.99 for kids 10 and under. (300 W. Tudor Road, 907-562-2844)
Leroy's Family Restaurant: The Thanksgiving plate at this 24-hour restaurant will be turkey, choice of mashed potatoes or yams, vegetables, and a choice of soup or salad. (2420 C St., 907-279-6162)
Jackie's Place: Turkey dinner with usual side dishes and pie for dessert will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (92636 Spenard Road, 907-274-3211)
Denny's: Hey, they're always open — and turkey is on the menu. Many a hard-working citizen who doesn't get Thanksgiving off, or who has been pressed into long retail hours on that increasingly consumer-crazy day, will wind up here. (2900 Denali St., 907-276-0536; 3850 DeBarr Road, 907-337-1311)
Village Inn: See "Denny's," above. (4403 Spenard Road, 907-243-6009; 1130 E. Northern Lights Blvd., 907-279-6012; 720 W. Dimond Blvd., 907-344-0010)
Interested in more sophisticated fare? You can make a day of it (or an overnight trip?) at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood.
The super-rich Thanksgiving buffet includes things like turkey with bourbon cranberry sauce, prime rib, maple-glazed ham, beef tip and Gorgonzola mac 'n' cheese, citrus poached shrimp and king crab, charcuterie, assorted cheeses, pumpkin bisque with lobster and crème fraîche – and that's just scratching the surface.
Hourly seatings will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. and reservations are recommended (call 907-754-2237). The cost is $54 for adults, $25 for ages 6 to 12, free for children 5 and younger. Note: A 20 percent gratuity will be added.
Closer to home, Sullivan's Steakhouse will serve a three-course prix-fixe menu from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. The cost is $39 for adults and $19.95 for ages 12 and younger. (320 W. Fifth Ave., 907-258-2882)
The turkey comes with a sweet onion, apple and sausage stuffing. Starters and sides include shrimp and lobster bisque, butternut squash soup, garlic horseradish mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole with pecan crust, shaved Brussels sprouts with caramelized onion and smoked bacon, creamed spinach and buttered shallot green beans.
P.S. You can pick from the regular menu if you don't want turkey.
Donna Freedman, a former Anchorage Daily News reporter and reviewer, blogs about money and midlife at DonnaFreedman.com.