Thanksgiving means tradition, so most restaurants are satisfied with serving a standard roasted turkey with all the canonical sides. A few take things in more interesting directions.
Deep-fried turkey, invented in Louisiana, has gained popularity throughout the United States, but it remains rare on menus. Brooklyn may be far away from Cajun country, but Jive Turkey, a restaurant and caterer in the borough's Clinton Hill neighborhood, deep-fries its birds year-round. Varieties include the Jamaican Jerk, the Cajun, and the Mexican Mole. Its takeout and delivery business naturally gets a huge boost around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Whole turkeys, most of which cost $54 the rest of the year, cost $76 around these holidays, but that doesn't prevent long lines from forming outside the small storefront.
Another Cajun turkey treatment—the deboned turkey, duck, and chicken dish called turducken—can be obtained at the restaurant of the man who may or may not have invented it (accounts vary), but who definitely introduced it to the rest of the nation: Paul Prudhomme. His K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, in New Orleans's French Quarter, serves this singular dish every year on Thanksgiving Eve for $15 (the restaurant is closed on the holiday itself).
For those who would rather get their turkey flavored with a bit of the frontier, there's Rawhide Steakhouse, a restaurant at Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass, a re-created Old West town an hour southeast of Phoenix. This restaurant's turkey comes with a stuffing made of cornbread, poblano peppers, and chorizo sausage, so it's not exactly a Pilgrim Special. The prix fixe menu is $24 for adults.
Lots of Italian restaurants are good at adapting their cuisine to the requirements of Turkey Day. At Alloro, which opened on Manhattan 's Upper East Side earlier this year, a $40 prix fixe for the day includes an appetizer of turkey meatballs covered in a veal sauce, and a main course turkey stuffed with prunes and served with pumpkin sauce.
Asian restaurants have the toughest time incorporating Thanksgiving into their cookery, but that doesn't mean that many haven't tried. Ishq, a glam Indian restaurant in Miami, gives its turkey a South Asian treatment by spicing it with fenugreek, cumin, cinnamon, ground coriander, and cloves. The accompaniments, Brussels sprouts and a sweet-potato soufflé, however, smack much more of Boston than they do of Bombay. (The prix fixe is $49.) More ambitious still is Takami, a Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles that this year made the bird bite-size by introducing a turkey sushi roll, gravy included. Check out our blog for a firsthand account of this less-than-natural pairing.
What unusual takes on the Thanksgiving meal have you found at restaurants? Tell us about them in the comments.