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Thanksgiving recommendations in the Raleigh area?

Last year we enjoyed the Thanksgiving buffet-style service at Heron's at The Umstead Hotel but found it a bit pricey at I think $80 per person (?) and perhaps not quite as incredible of an experience as we might have hoped at that price point. It's hard to put my finger on what exactly the issue was as everything was delicious but there was something missing.

Does anyone have any high quality Thanksgiving restaurant suggestions for the Raleigh / Cary area for this year? We would certainly consider Durham and Chapel Hill but would prefer Raleigh or Cary since driving is not our favorite activity. Thanks!

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  1. Eighty dollars per does sound mighty pricey to me, but I may have an idea what was missing. Probably the drunk uncles, bragging in-laws, the traditional side dish that nobody ever wants to eat, the gluey gravy and cranberry sauce with the ridges still visible, and the nasty fights over politics. In other words, you were missing family.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rockycat

      Hahaha, almost but not quite. ;)

      I'm usually the one who cooks the Thanksgiving feast so I will refrain from throwing myself and my cooking under the bus in that way! (But you did hit the nail on the head regarding stress from relatives, I'll give you that!)

    2. (I hate to reply to myself but there doesn't seem to be an edit option that I'm aware of, so, sorry!)

      No suggestions, really?! I can't imagine we're the only family in the Triangle not cooking on Thanksgiving.

      Maybe this is a better question to pose then - between Il Palio in Chapel Hill and The Fairview Dining Room at the Washington Duke Inn in Durham, which is better (in general, not specifically at Thanksgiving)? We have not dined at either and recognize that both will more than likely be served buffet-style for this holiday, so I'm sure it's not quite an apples to apples comparison but it would be nice to hear from some local Chowhounds who have eaten at both or either. I've read past posts and checked on Yelp (*gasp!*) and both appear to be well regarded so the choice between the two is a bit tough.

      Oh, I'll throw this out there too, we are also potentially considering Four Square Restaurant in Durham for their 3-course Thanksgiving dinner, however we haven't eaten there in a few years and the last few times we have gone were a bit hit or miss so we're a little hesitant but if anyone has any recent Four Square experiences to share, they would be welcomed too.

      Thanks again!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Erika RollerGirl

        All right I just do Chapel Hill as I always go out with my parents for Thanksgiving (I'm a vegetarian..lol) Carolina Inn is consistantly good if you're keen on traditional turkey served buffet style, great atmosphere if you book in the proper dining room, service and food.. I've been to Elaine's (okay), Acme was just plain bad. Never been to Il Palio, so I cannot say.

        1. re: Rory

          Since Acme seems to go through cycles I thought I'd give my 2014 experiences. I attended a birthday dinner there in January. I also was there for Mother's Day brunch. Both times the food was quite good and enjoyed by my group. Service was also good although it did take a long while to get our bill processed on Mother's Day but they were slammed. Based on those visits I would be pleased to return.

          I think Acme is my hosts choice for Thanksgiving this year. If so I'll report back.

          1. re: meatn3

            I had dinner at Acme some months ago but it was delicious, so I'm interested in your report.

        2. re: Erika RollerGirl

          Most Thanksgivings we've gone out of town (LulusDad is a professor, and it just makes sense to use that time when both Lulu and her dad have time off as travel time). One year we did Carolina Inn, and we'll be doing it again this year. Pretty much the basics of what T-giving entails, and in a nice atmosphere.

          Last time I was at ACME it was *really* bad. I used to be a fan. It must have been over a year now. Any recent reports?

        3. I have heard good things about Margaux's Thanksgiving service although I have not had it. The price and the menu looks good though!


          I've only had Thanksgiving at one restaurant in the Triangle. Unfortunately it closed a year or so ago...

          1. I don't know about quality but why not try the Triangle Vegan/Vegetarian Thanksgiving? Are you looking for something traditional?

            2 Replies
            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

              it's very cool, I've been dying to go. I think it's the biggest Veg Thanksgiving in America!

              1. re: Rory

                Yes the person that heads it up lives in my neighborhood.

            2. This might be too far away, but the Granary at Fearrington Village serves a sit-down prix fix Thanksgiving meal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ksbee

                Fearrington was definitely one of the top considerations but we'd like to stay closer for now. We may do that next year (or I may cook again), depending on the circumstances.

              2. Have you thought about the Angus Barn? I don't eat there otherwise--I don't eat steak, & the Barn is not really my style, but their Thanksgiving is actually fun. Big crowd, good cheer, & homey/tasty traditional turkey day spread. But it does book up quickly, so check now if you're interested.

                1. I've been to Il Palio for special occasions before, but not Thanksgiving. I've always enjoyed it very much.

                  I've been to Carolina Inn for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and it was just OK - I like their regular dining room service much better than the holiday spreads.

                  1. We did the Thanksgiving buffet at the Washington Duke Inn in Durham last year. It was SPECTACULAR.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: HitBullWinSteak

                      Thank you! I think this is the one we are going to this year. We are looking forward to it!

                    2. Please share your thoughts about where ever you ended up.
                      Hope it was good!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: meatn3

                        We went to The Fairview Dining Room at the Washington Duke Inn in Durham for our Thanksgiving and enjoyed our meal overall however I'm not sure that we will be making this our new Thanksgiving venue of choice in the future.

                        The service was extremely amicable, the buffets well stocked, the food was well prepared and for the most part pretty traditional other than a few items which seemed a bit more Southwestern than normal (cumin roasted beets, roasted poblano chowder, and a few other cumin-filled dishes). The only complaints regarding the food would be that some items (especially the stuffing) were extremely over salted and some of the desserts were insanely overly sweet (and I'm no slouch when it comes to enjoying desserts or salt for that matter).

                        Now that I have something to compare Heron's to, I think my group was in agreement that Heron's was of higher quality food (and the price was only $10 higher) but the atmosphere was perhaps not as festive as we would have liked. I think part of it comes down to the fact that Thanksgiving is a holiday perhaps best enjoyed in the company of one's home rather than a corporate affair experienced at a restaurant.

                        I'm not sure what next year will bring for us but if we do again decide to eat out, we may take the completely unconventional route and hit up Captain J's (or someplace similar for Chinese instead, (at least if I have any say in the matter!)

                        1. re: Erika RollerGirl

                          Our Thanksgiving plans fell through & instead we had it at home but ordered everything from Weaver St. Market. We'd ordered the cooked turkey breast and full vegetarian dinner (sides which serve 5-6) and everyone loved it. The turkey was extremely moist, the sweet potatoes delicious and not overly sweet, the roasted vegetables firm & tasty, the stuffing delicious, cranberry sauce amazing & everyone preferred the vegetarian gravy which really was first class. I was initially very sceptical but I recommend this to anyone who doesn't want to cook but wants the full meal. It was great!

                          1. re: Rory

                            just wanted to bump the thread as Weaver St Market has the forms for Thanksgiving orders; I've put mine in; finally we're all happy.

                      2. In the same ball park as the OP, the WaDuke is doing a $72 meal. The price for children 6-12 is $25. Under 6 is free. The menu reads as such... I have no affiliation with the establishment or workers at the WaDuke...

                        Gather together with family and friends to give thanks over an elegant Thanksgiving buffet at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. This festive meal with all the trimmings takes place Thursday, Nov. 27 in the Presidents Ballroom with seatings at noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Each seating features classical piano tunes played on the Inn’s baby grand piano.

                        Executive Chef Jason Cunningham and his culinary team are cooking up succulent herb-roasted Joyce Farms heritage turkey and slow-roasted garlic and rosemary rubbed steamship of Angus beef as the centerpieces for this popular holiday meal. Highlights also include Old Bay-spiced chilled shrimp, smoked Scottish salmon and spice grilled Atlantic salmon as well as roasted and chilled fall vegetables. Guests can also expect traditional seasonal offerings like squash soup, cornbread dressing and gravy along with artisan-cured North Carolina meats and cheeses, locally inspired salads and not-so-traditional sides. The feast will offer plenty of vegan and gluten-free holiday meal options and the children’s buffet will delight little ones with favorites such as chicken fingers, fruit salad, mac and cheese and tater tots. But for the kid in all of us, the Inn has a special treat planned by welcoming diners to satisfy their sweet tooth in its Thanksgiving open “pastry kitchen” display including an ice cream sandwich station. Start your Thanksgiving day in the Inn’s Rotunda with spiced cider, coffee and hot chocolate as seasonal aromas lure you into the ballroom for a unforgettable Southern Thanksgiving meal. Cost is $72 per adult, $25 per child 6 to 12 and children under 6 are free. Reservations available now at eventville.com. For more information call 919.493.6699.

                        The Vista Restaurant will also serve breakfast on Thanksgiving during its standard 6:30 to 11 a.m. restaurant hours. The Bull Durham Bar will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight serving its full fall seasonal menu plus the addition of special Thanksgiving items.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          Rant Alert (insert sound of screeching siren and please run away now)

                          <children’s buffet will delight little ones with favorites such as chicken fingers, fruit salad, mac and cheese and tater tots>

                          Sweet Julia Child!!! How, in the name of all that is edible, can they gleefully advertise that they are serving FAST FOOD to your children and expect you to not only think that it's a wonderful idea - after all, your child will be "delighted" - and have you think that it's worth $25, to boot?

                          Not only will my child NOT be delighted, this parent will be pretty darned ticked off. Enough, enough, enough with even decent restaurants thinking that young people need to be fed kiddie food/fast food/junk food.

                          Ugh. The smoke coming out of my ears right now is enough to heat the entire office!

                          Rant over. Thank you for your attention. You may now resume your real life.

                        2. Last year, One in Chapel Hill did a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. They might be repeating that. Call to check?

                          1. I'm not sure if anyone realizes or cares that this post was initially made in 2013 (it's helpful to others regardless of the date I imagine).

                            This year we're going much more casual by heading to Dean's Seafood in Cary for their Thanksgiving buffet. It looks to be a good time and we have been impressed with their Sunday brunch offerings so we decided to try out their Thanksgiving.

                            I do like the idea of One Restaurant in Chapel Hill for the future and will definitely keep that in mind for next year.

                            The Washington Duke Inn experience last year was good but the upper hand by far goes to Herons for their Thanksgiving buffet.

                            I will also agree with the poster who said that feeding children junk food is abominable and at $25/child I would insist my hypothetical child would eat from the main buffet personally. The thought that children aren't interested or able to eat normal adult food is a topic for another thread however I find it insulting for restaurants to dumb things down for kids.