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Nov 8, 2010 07:29 AM

Starting to despair about Thanksgiving dinner for picky family

Let me start by saying that I think I've read every Thanksgiving thread on this board (and there are a lot!) There were tons of good suggestions and I looked up many of them, but am having a hard time finding a place that meets the specifications of my family of 5. Can anyone help?

We need to find a restaurant that:
- Serves a somewhat traditional Thanksgiving dinner
- Also has vegan options
- Has some degree of atmosphere (not a diner)
- Will not cost more than $20 per person (including tax and tip; no drinks)

Family members have vetoed my usual inexpensive Chinese and Indian standbys. I'm aware of how restrictive this is. That's why I'm asking Chowhound for help! My top two choices, Northern Spy and Westville, are closed on Thanksgiving. But don't tell me the only option is McDonalds, because I've found a few places that might work:

6th Street Kitchen
Spring Street Natural
Cafe Mogador
L'Express Bouchon
Table 12
Alphabet Cafe

Any thoughts on any of these places, or suggestions for other inexpensive Thanksgiving options that are also vegan-friendly?

Cafe Mogador
101 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

249 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10003

Spring Street Natural
62 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

6th Street Kitchen
507 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

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  1. Yikes, $20 including tax and tip?

    How about Friend of a Farmer?

    Or Penelope?

    Veselka might also work, it's technically a diner but has a lot more atmosphere than most.

    This is in Brooklyn, not sure if it's vegan friendly, but it looks pretty reasonable for what you get:

    Friend of a Farmer
    77 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

    1. The price point is perhaps the biggest drawback. I wonder if the places you've identified will offer a sub-$20 menu on T-giving Day? Places like Friend of a Farmer that kathryn mentioned offer T-giving Day dinner at an "all-inclusive" price typically higher than their typical non-holiday menu and over $20 pp. including tax and tip. I'm not sure of viable options beyond ehar has already been mentioned, but be sure to check if the places you consider are restricting their menus for T-giving. Good luck, both with food and with family!

      Friend of a Farmer
      77 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

      7 Replies
      1. re: 280 Ninth

        before tip and tax yr per head cost will probably run about $16.00 per

        why so little?

        Thanksgiving dinner in NYC = expensive

        1. re: pbjluver

          Thanks for the helpful answers so far! Indeed, the price point is a major hindrance. You asked why so little- the aforementioned family is from a place with a very low cost of living and even $20/pp is a major splurge for them. We will all be chipping in but I think they will feel uncomfortable at a place where they'll be thinking about the cost of every mouthful. (As you can imagine, they don't visit NYC often!)

          Yes, most of the prix fixe holiday dinners are out of our price range, so we are probably looking at only an entree per person. A couple of the places I listed are offering special menus a la carte, so we'll be able to order something holidayish without doing the full prix fixe dinner. Penelope looks like a great option. I had Veselka in mind too, but that's where I took them the last time they visited!

          Maybe I should consider cooking dinner at home!

          1. re: brighton312

            Why do you think you couldn't do one of the nicer "diners" in Manhattan? If anything, wouldn't they feel more comfortable at a place that didn't appear to be too pricey? I don't know them and you do, though.

            Also, Bubby's is doing a "set your own price" Thanksgiving meal:

            1. re: kathryn

              I have never heard of Bubby's- that looks like an interesting option.

              They would definitely feel more comfortable at a place that doesn't feel too pricey, but I wanted it to have at least a bit of special-occasion atmosphere, which is why I ruled out most diners. But you're right that the nicer ones would certainly work, like Veselka. I'll search threads for other nice diners.

              1. re: brighton312

                Since Bubby's is "set your own price and donate some money to charity," perhaps they would feel less comfortable about others chipping in.

              2. re: kathryn

                Agreed - the Mansion Diner might be a good option. Much nicer atmosphere than Veselka.

                144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                Mansion Diner
                1634 York Ave, New York, NY 10028

              3. re: brighton312

                I too think a diner would be best. Choose one that's close to you and that you've been to before and that will make it more homey.

            1. brighton312, here's an option that might work: Order the mains already cooked from a reputable vendor like Fairway or Whole Foods or some such place, make a few side dishes, and host at home....that way you have the pleasure of the meal without overly much expense or work.

              2 Replies
              1. re: 280 Ninth

                Gourmet Garage is doing traditional Thanksgiving dinners - $199 for 8 people, that's a tad over your $20 mark but might work for you. Plus they've got 6 locations so it would be convenient.

                1. re: bronwen

                  That is a great idea and would be a good option for us if it weren't for the space constraints of our apartment (Dinner would literally have to be standing-room-only!) Unfortunately we cannot host at home this year, which is a shame because Fairway or Gourmet Garage sound like great and affordable options. Thanks for your input.

                  Updates on my search: Taking into account all the diner recommendations, I looked into the Polish diner Polonia in my neighborhood. They will have a turkey and stuffing prix fixe (price tba) that might be a good option.

                  I called Penelope and they will be closed that day. I called Bubby's and was told they won't really have any vegan options to speak of, so I will have to rule that out. Friend of a Farmer has a fantastic-sounding prix fixe that is unfortunately $49.95.

                  The search continues! (any other ideas, keep 'em coming!)

                  110 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

              2. If anyone else is looking for Thanksgiving ideas, here are a few I've come across:

                Spring Street Natural has a prix fixe that sounds amazing, at $35 ($27 for vegetarian options.) Appetizer choices are stuffed mushrooms, seafood risotto, or roasted beets and goat cheese. Entrees are two preparations of free-range turkey, scallops, lamb shank, pumpkin ravioli, and a few more.

                Chez Le Chef is having a prix fixe that sounds good, but reviews of the place are pretty polarized... I don't know if I'd want to risk it.

                Polonia is serving a 5-course Thanksgiving dinner for $50. There's a catch: they're not serving turkey... they're only serving ostrich! Yup, ostrich egg appetizer, a couple more courses, then ostrich steak for entree. I hope someone eats this meal and posts about it.

                Spring Street Natural
                62 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                110 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

                Chez Le Chef
                127 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016