GOBBLE 'TIL YOU WOBBLE
Even with the most convincing of propaganda, the truth will out. Look at Norman Rockwell’s iconic 1943 painting “Freedom from Want.” Sure, the Thanksgiving scene seems idyllic as a family excitedly waits for the turkey to be carved. But zoom in on the family matriarch. No doubt cooking the feast left her completely worn out.
Nowadays, it doesn’t require hours in the kitchen to bring on smiles. Smart San Antonians can breeze through the holiday with no fuss by booking reservations at one of the local restaurants open on Thanksgiving Day. Now, if only Rockwell’s famous cook had had a smartphone.
Ambler Texas Kitchen
Downtown’s Hotel Contessa received culinary adrenaline last year thanks to chef Mike Collins’ finesse with Lone Star flavors. This year’s Thanksgiving prix fixe is no different, with classics like pan gravy reinvigorated with luxe ingredients like foie gras. Get in the festive spirit with a brown butter and sage Old Fashioned, then dive into salmon, ham, turkey, or prime rib. 5-10 pm. $85+.
Biga on the Banks
One of Alamo City’s fondest traditions is roaring back this year as chef Bruce Auden and his team prepare to wow locals with another New American Thanksgiving. Traditionalists are well-covered with prix fixe choices like ribeye or turkey, but guests can shake things up with red snapper, scallops, or grain-stuffed squash. Even pickier kids are covered with pasta and marinara. 5-10 pm. $75 for adults, $30 for kids 12 and under.
Should the Cowboys lose to the Giants on November 24, it will be easy to find comfort in this River Walk eatery’s hearty fare. The three courses include turkey with all the fixings or ever-popular prime rib. A slice of pie and a couple of blackberry brambles will inspire some cheer. 5-9 pm. $65.
Yes, this San Antonio classic dazzles with savory Thanksgiving specials like a fried chicken basket or hickory smoked ham. Yes, the mashed potatoes and green bean casserole served alongside are a taste of home. However, nothing on the menu is as mouthwatering as the justly famous pies. Pick banana cream, pumpkin, apple, Texas pecan, cherry, or chocolate icebox. Better yet, waddle out after eating all six. 10 am-3 pm. $26.95 for plates, $3 per pie slice.
This upscale chain is known for its seafood, but guests shouldn’t sleep on the sides. Its all-day Thanksgiving special comes with plenty of them, from brioche sage stuffing to French green beans with sun-dried tomatoes. There’s also turkey, of course — made fancier when it’s slathered with pan gravy with a mirepoix brunoise. 11 am-8 pm. $47 for adults and $17 for kids.
Four Brothers Southern Provisions
A newcomer to the downtown scene, Four Brothers balances tradition with contemporary flavors. Get your gobble on with a three-course meal showcasing slow-roasted turkey breast with wild rice stuffing pilaf and goat cheese stuffing. A sweet ending is ensured with pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap tuille or pecan pie served à la mode. 11:30 am-10 pm. $65.
Why wait until dinner for the Turkey Day feast? Lauded chef Steve McHugh is starting the day with an astounding Thanksgiving brunch. Choose your own adventure with breakfast staples like ricotta pancakes, made-to-order omelets, or cinnamon rolls, or carve some turkey to go with cajeta-glazed carrots. The Hang Up Your Spurs cocktail — a heady mix of rye, rum, and amaro — is de rigueur before a long afternoon nap. 7am-3 pm. $75+.
There’s no need to save the pumpkin for dessert at the Mokara Hotel and Spa. Its in-house restaurant is going gaga for the gourd with a velouté bisque and tarts with Chantilly cream and pecan brittle. In between, diners can relish in a sweet tea-brined turkey served with garlic potatoes Robuchon (a swanky mashed potato for those who don’t keep up with French chefs). 5-10 pm. $65.
Reservations are going quickly at Hotel Emma’s signature eatery. No wonder! Chef Jorge Hernández is a wunderkind whose resumé includes a stint at José Andrés’ lauded Minibar. The Thanksgiving menu includes roasted turkey breast, buttery mashed potatoes, cranberry gelee, and more ($65). Additional sides include charred green beans with pecan macha; sweet potato gratin; Parker House rolls with honey butter and sea salt; and a selection of house made pies at $12 per slice. Hotel Emma is open from 7am-8pm.