Don’t have time to cook? Have no interest in cooking? Maybe you tried and failed miserably and need a last minute change of plans. Or it could be that you’d rather surround yourself with strangers that are probably better company than a certain uncle.
Whatever—there are many Thanksgiving dinner options at Monterey County restaurants, hotels and community centers. Here are a few:
Estéban Restaurant: The warm spot inside Casa Munras Hotel offers a four course dinner with all the trimmings. There’s also a vegan option. Or if you prefer to eat at home and catch the games—the Cowboys rule!—you can order and pick up the feast. 3-8:30pm. 700 Munras Ave., Monterey. $70; $30 children 12 and under. 324-6773.
Portola Hotel & Spa, Grand Ballroom: It starts with plates of cured meats, cheese and local produce. There are bowls of peel and eat shrimp and more. Then it’s on to the carving station where you can load up on free range turkey, prime rib, glazed ham and all the trimmings. For dessert, try pecan (yum) or pumpkin (meh) pie, cookies and other goodies. Noon-7pm. 2 Portola Plaza, Monterey. Adults $64.95; Seniors 65 and older $49.95; Children 6-12 $25.95; Children 5 and under are free. 649-7874.
Peter B’s Brewpub: More from the Portola, this time with TVs for watching the Cowboys. And the also ran games. It’s a more casual setting and a simpler meal, though still with plenty of turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, as well as green bean casserole. The pub’s regular menu is also available all day. 4-11pm. 2 Portola Plaza, Monterey. $18.95. 649-7874.
Jacks Monterey: It’s also in the Portola Hotel, which is doing up Thanksgiving big time. This is a three course meal billed as traditional. Yes, that means green bean casserole and cranberry sauce to go along with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. And your choice of pecan (yay) or pumpkin (why?) pie. 11:30am-10pm. 2 Portola Plaza, Monterey. $44.95. 649-7874, reservations are required.
The Sardine Factory: Chef Bert Cutino and his team prepare a four-course prix fixe dinner that starts with butternut squash soup and proceeds through the turkey to dessert, which is your choice. There are also limited a la carte dishes available, as well as a children’s menu. 1-8pm. 701 Wave St., Monterey. $53.95; Seniors 62 and over $50.95; Children 6-12 $25; Free for children 5 and under.
The Whaling Station: The classy steakhouse turns a nice deal on its turkey dinner—just $29.95. Maybe that’s because the restaurant will also keep to its regular menu during opening hours (4-8pm on turkey day) and it will be difficult for guests to ignore all of that aged prime beef. 4-8pm. 763 Wave St., Monterey. 373-3778.
TusCA Ristorante: The Hyatt Regency’s restaurant readies a buffet through the day and a prix fixe meal in the evening. The buffet has pretty much all you need—soups, salads, plenty of shellfish, a carving station and a pasta station. The dinner is three courses and gives you a choice of turkey or prime rib. Buffet 1-5pm, dinner 6-9pm. 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey. Buffet: $60; $26 children 6-12; Free for kids 5 and under. Dinner: $45. 657-6675.
California Market at Pacific’s Edge: If you want dinner with a view—not of a glorious flatscreen—this is the place. They call the first service brunch, so there’s an omelet station and bar for bloody Marys and mimosas. Dinner drops the omelets and mimosas, but there’s a carving station and cold seafood station. Brunch 11am-2pm, dinner 4-8pm. 120 Highlands Drive, Carmel. $95. 620-1234.
Carmel Valley Ranch: The turkey is brined in apple cider. The sage and other herbs in the stuffing probably come from the resort’s herb garden. The pumpkin filling in the pie definitely does. There’s giblet gravy, mashed potatoes—the fixin’s work. The dinner also has a number of activities to occupy the kids, including a balloon artist. Call for times. 1 Old Ranch Road, Carmel Valley. $85; $40 children 6-12. 626-2599, reservations required.
Roux: There are seatings at 4:45pm and 7pm, so that’s two chances to sample chef Fabrice Roux’s take on Thanksgiving. His prix fixe menu includes such decadence as Focaccia Carmelized Onion Pear, Turkey Ballotine and Lemon Cheesecake. So it’s something a bit different. Two seatings. 6 Pilot Road, Carmel Valley. $100. 659-5020.
Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette: An extended brunch buffet is on offer at Salt Wood. There’s a station with sides like chestnut stuffing and crisped Brussels sprouts. Fresh veggies are available, as well as an array of desserts. But the action is at the carving station, with options like turkey (of course), smoked salmon, smoked ribeye and a tray of shellfish. 11am-6pm. 3295 Dunes Drive, Marina. $68; $34 children. 883-5535.
Free for active military
Bull and Bear Whiskey Bar: The pub is hosting a complimentary Thanksgiving dinner for active military members. The meal will be on Thanksgiving at 3pm, followed by karaoke (maybe a few cadences?) Reserve your spot by phone or through the website and come hungry. 479 Alvarado Street, Monterey. 655-3031.