Thanksgiving is the holiday where friends and family gather around to enjoy a traditional meal and to say thanks for the innumerable blessings in their lives. … Okay, it’s a little stickier than that.
Thanksgiving: The naked truth
Thanksgiving is also the holiday where a handful of “lucky” family members spend a marathon 19-plus hours in the kitchen prepping, sweating, cooking, plating, presenting, and serving only to have Uncle Buck say that the turkey is dry. (Author’s note: We haven’t seen Uncle Buck since.)
The family, who are all dressed up like they’re about to attend the royal wedding, gather around the same dinner table where your husband and kids ate Flintstone Fruity Pebbles in their underwear the morning before. Since no one has been allowed to eat for the past 12 hours (because so help you if they’re not starving to devour every morsel of the meal, which is ample enough to feed the population of Guam), everyone is stuffed within half an hour.
Chairs scrape against the floor as “certain family members” (*the men) shuffle off to the to the couch to ultimately fall asleep in front of the TV with their pants shamelessly unbuttoned.
Meanwhile, the second part of the marathon commences: the cleanup. This part of the festivities (which is consequently when the good wine comes out of hiding) also includes various family members either trying to reclaim coveted serving platters or trying to pass off leftovers on unwilling recipients. “But of course you should take this nine-gallon drum of pickled beets home, Vanessa. All alone in that little apartment of yours, you need something to eat for the next year!” Thanks, Mom. You’re getting an application for an AARP membership in your stocking. Again.
I realize you just read that envisioning a big Home Alone-sized family. Now picture how it really is with my family. My family is small (seriously, there are five to six adults (if my brother comes), a baby, and a three-year-old), but this scenario is our family meal. We really do fix enough food to feed Guam. Nobody wants the leftovers. The only addendum is that my mom and my grandmother don’t drink, so I’m the only one handling that aspect of the “cleanup” (chores, am I right?). Anyway, I digress ….
But seriously, we’re thankful for restaurants that open on Thanksgiving
Despite this somewhat colorful painting of America’s tastiest holiday, it really is the most wonderful time of the year, because I wouldn’t trade those hilarious gripe-worthy memories for the world. However, there are times where everyone needs a break. There were many an Easter holiday where we skipped the fanfare of cooking and went out to eat, and everyone was much, much happier for it.
After single-handedly handling the bulk of the cooking for the past two years while pregnant, I, for one, am ready to pass the torch to the professionals. Literally. I want professional chefs to handle the job this year. Thankfully, there are a handful of delicious restaurants along the Alabama Gulf Coast that are more than happy to handle the menu and the cooking and the cleanup, so all you (or I) have to do is dapper up and show up.
Mobile restaurants serving Thanksgiving Dinner in 2016
The Crystal Ballroom at the Battle House Hotel
Presented by the Trellis Room, the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa‘s Thanksgiving brunch will be served from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and covers all of the bases with this glorious menu:
- Two salad options: Spinach made with baby spinach, cranberries, apple, bacon, Asher bleu cheese, and a white balsamic vinaigrette, and Caesar made with baby kale, marinated olives, shaved parmesan, house-made croutons, and classic Caesar vinaigrette
- An antipasti display with: Marinated and grilled vegetables, imported cheeses, cured meats, sausages, house made pickles, and jams with French bread
- A carving station serving: Herb-roasted turkey with turkey gravy and cranberry sauce or hickory smoked prime rib with demi-glaze and horseradish sauce. Both items are served with garlic mashed potatoes
- Side dishes include: Cornbread dressing, roasted and glazed root vegetables, mushroom and green bean casserole, braised turnip greens and cabbage, pecan and brown butter wild rice, and cane syrup candied local sweet potatoes
- Desserts to be served are: pumpkin pie with house-made marshmallow and pralines, milk chocolate-chai tea crème brûlée with cranberry-white chocolate biscotti, and apple tart with oatmeal pecan streusel and house-made caramel
The buffet is $62 per adult; children ages 6-12 are $31 each, and children under six eat free. Call (251) 338-5541 for reservations.
A Thanksgiving revival at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel
An equally palatable Thanksgiving brunch is to be had at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile. The brunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. There will be live entertainment, champagne, and complimentary parking for guests. The menu is equally titillating with savories like:
- Salad and Soup Station
- Fall pumpkin bisque
- Medley of autumn salads
- Fresh, seasonal fruit display
- Old world cheese display
- Gulf Coast Seafood Table
- Colossal shrimp
- Gulf Coast seafood ceviche
- Oysters on the half shell
- Smoked crab claws
- Chef-Inspired Entrees
- Slow-roasted turkey
- Bourbon glazed ham
- Pecan crusted Gulf fish with cranberry salsa
- New Orleans style seafood etouffee
- Southern style shrimp & grits
- Seared chicken breast with sage butter sauce
- Squash ravioli with brown butter sauce
- Traditional Sides
- Sweet potato casserole with caramelized marshmallows
- Red beans & rice with red eye gravy
- String beans with crispy onions
- Cornbread cranberry stuffing
- Southern style collard greens with smoked turkey necks
- Oyster dressing
- Whipped potatoes with southern style gravy
- House made cranberry relish
- Bread & rolls from around the world display
- Breakfast Bites
- Ultimate omelet station & waffle station made to order
- Belgian waffle with fresh fruit compote
- Bananas foster
- Create your own signature omelet
- Conecuh sausage & Applewood smoked bacon
- Assorted Pastries & Dessert Display
Adults dine for $42, seniors (55 and older) dine for $46, and children 6-12 dine for $17. Children age 5 and under fine free. Reservations are required; call (251) 415-3092 to reserve your spot.
Fairhope restaurants open on Thanksgiving 2016
Between Mobile and Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is the beautiful community of Fairhope. Characterized by moss-draped oak trees, winding scenic roadways along Mobile Bay, any Thanksgiving meal had in Fairhope will transport you to an era when elegant dining was a cultural norm.
Three course meal at The Fairhope Inn & Restaurant
Located on South Church Street, The Fairhope Inn & Restaurant will serve a three-course meal comprised of a first course, an entrée course, and a dessert course. There is also a special kids menu.
- Two first course options:
- Roasted butternut squash soup with Andouille-sage dumpling and crème fraîche or
- Fall field greens with grape tomatoes, granny smith apples, candied walnuts, and gorgonzola tossed in honey-truffle vinaigrette
- Three entrée course options:
- Roasted turkey with a Conecuh sausage stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and haricot vert
- Bacon wrapped pork tenderloin with cranberry-bourbon demi, whipped sweet potatoes and asparagus
- Paneed red snapper with shrimp creole over rosemary roasted fingerlings and haricot vert
- Three dessert course options:
- Pumpkin cheesecake, warm caramel, and spiced whipped cream
- Baldwin County pecan pie with vanilla bean ice cream
- Tahitian vanilla bean crème brûlée
The children’s menu has the option of a small turkey plate or fried chicken tenders served with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans with a dessert of vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate sauce.
The meal is served from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The three-course meal is $42 per person, and the children’s meal is $19 per diner. Call (251) 928-6226 for reservations.
A grand dining experience at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa
Colloquially known as “The Grand” the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa will serve a Thanksgiving buffet for guests of the hotel and for visitors on Thanksgiving Day. The extensive Thanksgiving Day buffet menu includes:
- Soups & Salads
- Italian Wedding Soup
- Butternut Squash and Bacon Soup
- Butter Lettuce Salad with goat cheese, candied pecans, jicama, carrot, and a smoky orange-cilantro vinaigrette
- Spinach Salad with red onions, dried berries, sliced almonds, and an apple-thyme vinaigrette
- Mixed Green Salad with herbs, tomato, cucumber, feta, and a champagne vinaigrette
- Hearts of Romaine Salad with garlic croutons, shaved parmesan, and Caesar dressing
- Pear and Smoked Blue Cheese Salad with candied pecans and creamy vinaigrette
- Chilled Shrimp Remoulade with baby arugula
- Quinoa and Baby Kale with roasted grapes, avocado, feta cheese, and roasted root vinaigrette
- Orange-Cardamom Pickled Baby Carrot with radish, goat cheese, celery leaf, and fennel crunch
- Seafood Gemelli Pasta Salad with tarragon citrus vinaigrette
- Devilled Eggs with pork belly and blue cheese, Tabasco and gulf crab, pickles and mustard
- Orange-Vanilla Cranberry Relish
- Displays & Stations
- Tropical Fresh Fruit
- Pickles, Vegetables, and Artesian Breads
- Local and Artisan Cheeses including poblano pimento cheese with candied pecans, gorgonzola dolce with Armagnac infused prunes, and local goat cheese with pepper jelly
- Peel and Eat Shrimp, Crab Legs, Alabama Oysters, P.E.I. Mussels, Little Neck Clams with caramelized lemons, horseradish cocktail, and miso mustard
- Heirloom Turkey and Game Birds with giblet gravy
- Pecan Smoked Tomahawk Prime Rib with sauce béarnaise and bordelaise
- Black Hills Farms Ham with clove and sorghum glaze and fruit mustards
- Carolina Gold Rice Pilaf
- Green Bean Casserole
- Alaga Can Syrup-Glazed Garden Roots
- Whipped Buttermilk Potatoes
- Roasted Brussels
- Bill-e’s Traditional Cornbread Stuffing
- Third Coast Oyster Stuffing
- Butternut Squash Gnocchi with brown butter, sage, and pistachio
- Red Chili Molasses Sweet Potato with melted marshmallows
- Buttermilk Pie
- Chocolate Covered Strawberries
- Fruit Tasters
- Grand Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
- Double Chocolate Mousse: White chocolate pudding and chocolate croutons
- Nonna’s Rice Cake: Whipped mascarpone and cinnamon caramel
- Lemon Meringue Tart: Basil syrup, blueberry cream
- Spiced Apple Cake: Goat cheese frosting and browned butter caramel
- Browned Butter Pumpkin Cake
- Bananas Foster Station
Hotel guests will dine in the Grand Dining Room. The lunch buffet will run from 11:45 to 2:00 p.m. Lunch for non-hotel guests will be served in the Grand Ballroom from 10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The dinner buffet will be served in the Grand Ballroom South from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. The adult buffet is $67.95 per person; the buffet for children ages 5-11 is $33.95. Call (251) 928-9201 for reservations.
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach restaurants open on Thanksgiving 2016
Whether you live near the beach or are on vacation during Thanksgiving at Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, worry not … there are plenty of places (like Jesse’s Restaurant) that host Thanksgiving that will make you feel like you’re at home (minus the days of prep work and the mess). Two of the most diverse are covered here.
Hangout and enjoy Thanksgiving
The Hangout in Gulf Shores is one of the Gulf Coast’s most iconic venues. Their Thanksgiving Day buffet will be served from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The menu will feature:
- Salads: Gulf Shrimp Salad and a greens and veggies salad
- Sides: Scalloped potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cornbread and Conecuh dressing, carrots and peas, mashed potatoes, collard greens with bacon and raisins, green beans and baby turnips with roasted pearl onions
- Staples: Turkey, biscuits, and gravy, and “mom’s dressing”, and roasted round of beef with au jus and horseradish cream
- Desserts: Pumpkin or apple pie with whipped cream (served table-side)
- Kid–Friendly: Chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese (adults are welcome to it, too)
The buffet is $26 and $14; children under 6 dine free. If you’re craving a meal out but don’t want Thanksgiving food, the regular menu is served from 4:00 p.m. to close. Call (251) 948-3030 and hit extension 500 for reservations.
Fishing for a delicious meal
Led by award-winning Chef Bill Briand, one of the Gulf Coast’s best restaurants, Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina, will serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal once again this year. This year’s buffet menu includes:
- The stars: Turkey and roast ham
- The sides: Roasted shallot mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, pancetta macaroni & cheese, and green bean casserole
- The dressings & sauces: Sausage dressing, giblet gravy, homemade cornbread, mama’s sausage dressing, oyster Tasso & cornbread dressing, house made cranberry sauce
Desserts will also be included in the buffet. The buffet will be served from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Reservations are filling up quickly, so call (251) 981-7305 soon to reserve your spot.
Remember that reservations for these swoon-worthy Thanksgiving meals are filling up fast, so call quickly to book a Thanksgiving meal you’ll be most thankful for because you can skip the prepping, cooking, closet drinking, cleaning, and stressing and get right to the good stuff. The only drawback is that your father-in-law won’t be allowed to unbutton his pants at the table, and honestly, that’s only a draw back for him. Everyone else will be super thankful that he can’t.
Craving a new tradition in your holiday plans? If so, check out the VisitSouth website and discover why Thanksgiving (and the holidays in general) are a great time to plan a trip to the fabulous cities of the Alabama Gulf Coast.
All photos courtesy of Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Resort Collection