Thanksgiving in Sarasota
I would recommend the following, which, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, will be open for Thanksgiving: the Beach House (in Bradenton), (941) 779-2222; Bijou Cafe, (941) 366-8111; Cafe Baci, (941) 921-4848; Euphemia Haye (apparently they are only serving roasted goose, not turkey), (941) 383-3633; Fred's (in Lakewood Ranch), (941) 782-0899; Michael's on East, (941) 366-0007; Ophelia's on the Bay, (941) 349-3776; the Verona (at the Ritz Carlton, limited hours of 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., "ballroom brunch menu"), (941) 309-2008.
My mother, in her seventies, declined to cook and would not allow me to cook for her, although my hobby is cooking. (She "did not want a lot of fuss.") So for about eight years, we went out for Thanksgiving dinner in the Naples area, alone or with friends. Here's what I learned: go to the most expensive restaurant which you can find, serving Thanksgiving dinner (and most don't!). Even at very respectable mid-level establishments, which normally do a good job with dinner, you will find the chefs have resorted to turkey breasts, steamed or microwaved or reheated. The vegetables are limp and the stuffing flavorless. (I think that they are overwhelmed by the volume of people.)
To get a true roasted turkey, you have to go to the very top end restaurants. I like all of the restaurants above, but my first choice would have been Verona, the Ritz Carlton's flagship restaurant. My only concerns are the "brunch" designation (a buffet?) and the limited hours. Therefore, in descending order of preference, my choices would be Beach House, Ophelia's, Bijou, Euphemia Haye, Michael's on East, Fred's, and Baci.
I might rate Euphemia Haye higher, but hey (if you'll pardon the pun), a goose is not a turkey. (But gooses are good. You may not care.)
Cafe Baci is one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Sarasota, but I put it last on the list because it is more of a mid-priced restaurant and is the exception to my rule above to pick out the most expensive restaurants which you can, to get real roasted turkey, not some kind of turkey breast. I don't know what Cafe Baci does for Thanksgiving, so perhaps this is an unjust ranking. But I think so much of them that I put them on the list, even though they are reasonably priced!
Absolutely avoid restaurants that are going to charge you $12.95 for an entire Thanksgiving dinner. The more expensive, the better. Alas, you get what you pay for.
Also, reserve early! Now is not too soon! With the limited number of restaurants open on Thanksgiving, they fill up fast and there are few cancellations, compared to a normal Saturday night, or whatever. If you don't know how many are going to be in your party, I'd guess high and reserve now. If you have to cut down the number later, it won't be a problem for the restaurant. There will still be lots of people trying to get in.
Beach House Restaurant
200 Gulf Dr N, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
4001 S Tamiami Trl, Sarasota, FL 34231
5540 Gulf of Mexico Dr, Longboat Key, FL 34228
Michael's on East
1212 East Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34239