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Choosing a Thanksgiving turkey dinner to go

I am looking to order a Thanksgiving turkey dinner to go for 8 people. SFgate had an article on the possible choices in San Francisco and I was hoping that someone could share his/her experiences with any of these. Or if anyone knows of other options, those would be welcome as well. Thanks much for your help!

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

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  1. Not specific to Turkey Day fare, but here is my experience with the prepared foods at several of the places on the list:

    A.G. Ferrari. I've never been happy with any of their prepared foods (salads, sauces, pastas, etc.) here. Short on flavor, often overcooked. Sandwiches are good. I'd give a pass to anything else.

    Andronico's. Some of the prepared foods are pretty good. Nothing amazing. Often overcooked. Always ask to taste before committing.

    The Pasta Shop. Generally excellent. You will pay for that excellence, but you won't be composting leftovers.

    Safeway. Prepared foods are what you'd expect from a giant chain. Basically, they're mixing the canned/packaged ingredients for you. Salads tend to have LOTS of mayo/oil, and they are very sweet.

    Whole Foods Markets. Varies from market to market, but can be disappointing. Food LOOKS pretty, but is sometimes prepared poorly. As in their produce department, focus is more on food that looks great, and less on food that is in season or has great flavor. Still, it's not canned/frozen. Larger/more upscale branches tend to do a better job in the kitchen. I've had good soups, but often been disappointed by grain/pasta/veg salads. For the price, I'd go to the Pasta Shop.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lexdevil

      Thank you very much, lexdevil! This is very helpful.

    2. Bi-Rite's prepared foods are great. Same goes for the Pasta Shop.

      1. I've gone to Andronico's a couple of times in the past few years. The sides were very good and freshly prepared. Also the turkey was moist after the reheat, even the breast. The turkey was once advertised as free range. The first time around got the dinner because my Dad had surgery and it was a big hassle reducer. I was pleasantly surprised and went back a few years later. I'd give a B+ overall. Bottomline: except for immediate family, no one knew it was a prepared meal.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ML8000

          Another Andronico's plus: If you choose your location wisely, the lines will be shorter than your usual holiday lines. The University Ave. location is my go-to stop the night before turkey/Christmas/whatever. They'll have the item I forgot to get, they'll have other upscale goodies, and they will not be swamped.

          1. re: ML8000

            Thanks, ML8000!

          2. I'm not sure about the rest of the meal, but at the Richmond Costco today I noticed Fra'Mani organic buttermilk mashed potatoes ($8.39 for 40 oz.) and Diestel turkey gravy ($7.59 for 40 oz.).

            5 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Thanks much, Robert!

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                They are going to offer a brined, seasoned, uncooked? turkey (possibly Diestel) starting Nov. 18.

                1. re: oaktowngirl

                  Has anyone tried this brined turkey from Costco? I asked about fresh turkeys in general on another thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/666664) and am really curious about this item.

                  1. re: meghanb

                    We had one tonight. I liked it. It was easy to make, I had to add stock while it was cooking as there were no pan juices! It took longer than I expected, nearly three hours and not quite done for a 10#lb bird. My husband felt the anise in the rub negatively affected the gravy he made from the pan drippings. I would buy and make it again, he wants to brine and prep everything himself. YMMV. The mashed potatoes were okay, definitley veering toward gluey. The polenta was good, very straight forward. We bought the Fra' Mani gravy but did not use it as it was a huge package for just the two of us. I really like that the polenta package has 2 smaller packs inside. The other products (Beef Zinfandel, Penne) are buckets of food. Good quality, tasty food, but much harder to manage for a smaller household when you have to make everything all at once. (I know, it is Costco.)

                    1. re: oaktowngirl

                      Brined turkey is always bad for gravy making, even when you brine your own. I think it's just the price you pay for the brine produced moistness.

              2. I have yearly experience at Saul's and they are consistantly excellent ... pricy but excellent. Everything ... turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes and various other sides are very good. Ohh ... I forgot about the stuffing ... two types and both tasty. Nice gravy as well. Again $$$$ but one of the few times I feel it is worth it. Better dessert elsewhere though. Pick up a Crixa or Beckmann's pumpkin pie.

                I've never done a whole turkey though. Usually I'm eating out on Thanksgiving and I want day after 'leftovers' so there's a mandatory stop at Saul's every year.

                Since the Chronicle article and this thread mentions places outside the city of SF, Insalata in the North Bay has a take out TD menu (pdf file)
                http://www.insalatas.com/events/thank...

                Anyone tried it?

                1 Reply
                1. re: rworange

                  Thanks, rworange!

                2. The Contra Costa College culinary program is offering turkeys with cranberry sauce, stuffing and a pie for $25. My MIL is placing two orders. I'm not sure what to expect, but I'll report back.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Glencora

                    The turkeys were better than a lot of home-cooked versions I've tried. They reheated well and even the white meat was moist. The sides were very much what a decent home cook would produce. The $25 per turkey included a bowl of cranberry sauce (bit tart), a quart of good-enough dressing and a fine apple pie. (We added a veg., salad, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie.) No fancy ingredients, not "Bay Area" food, but straightforward, and a great value. It seems like a nice student-run program to support, especially if homemade can't happen, for whatever reason.

                    Edit: A tray of small round rolls was also included in the price. I didn't try them, but they seemed popular. There were 15 of us, including 4 teenagers, and we had leftovers of everything but pie.