Where To Eat Out On Thanksgiving Plus The Great Stuffing Debate

in Life, Memorial City, Uptown, Downtown, Dine

Originally featured on Boulevard Realty's Rediscovering Houston blog.

Are you looking to take some of the stress out of the holidays? Or perhaps that 16 pound turkey is still in the freezer (oops, I meant to take it out…no really!). The good news is that many of our city’s restaurants are here to help. Over 75 restaurants in the Houston area will be open on Thursday and ready to serve up a proper Thanksgiving meal. But how do you choose?

All the restaurants on that list will serve traditional Thanksgiving fare in one form or another. Turkey, check. Stuffing, check. Wait, not so fast, what is traditional stuffing? Should it be prepared in the bird, out of the bird? Do you call it dressing or stuffing?  Should it be made with white bread or cornbread? Sweet or savory? Giblets or no giblets? Stuffing is such a divisive issue I’m surprised it’s not plank in a party platform.

Die-hards out there will insist that stuffing is prepared in the bird and dressing in a pan. However, with the advent of Pepperidge Farm Stove Top Stuffing that argument is out the window. Since you may run across “giblets” in your stuffing or gravy, giblets are “edible offal”, typically the gizzard, liver, heart of the turkey. (For first time turkey bakers, you can typically find these jewels in a sealed bag in the cavity of the turkey.) Aren’t you glad you know?

For me, growing up it was: dressing, cornbread base (savory not sweet), baked in a pan, had chicken parts like drumsticks and wings sticking up in it, and if it had giblets in it or in the gravy I didn’t want to know about it. For my husband it’s also dressing, but with bread crumbs and cubes of white bread as the base. Since we are both from southern states that’s not a differentiator. (Hailing from Virginia he also insists on salt-cured ham which you can’t even get in Houston, but that’s another story.)

We decided to take a poll to get to the bottom of it and here are our results:

At Thanksgiving dinner, do you eat stuffing or dressing?

  • Dressing: 66.7%
  • Stuffing: 33.3%

Should stuffing/dressing be made with bread or cornbread?

  • Cornbread: 83.3%
  • Bread: 16.7%

Regardless of the results, traditional stuffing/dressing is obviously whatever you grew up eating. Here are a few of my favorite restaurants that will be open on Thursday and if it helps you choose, the type of stuffing they will be serving.

Be sure to call for a reservation!

024 Grille

Let the Thanksgiving stuffing smack-down begin withcrispy pork belly and Texas cheddar cornbread dressingbeing served at 024 Grille in Memorial City. This will be part of an amazing buffet spread including herb citrus roasted turkey breast, herb crusted prime rib and breakfast favorites such as andouille sausage and fingerling potato hash and cooked to order omelets. They will have green bean and shitake mushroom casserole and, separately, fried onion strings, so if you feel the need to recreate Mom’s green bean casserole, go for it. Also catching my eye on their menu, Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings. I will also be signing up for the “complimentary mimosa” upon arrival.

10 a.m.–1 p.m.

Adults–$55

945 Gessner Rd, 77024

281-501-4350

Table

Receive a decided advantage in the race to find parking for the Uptown Tree Lighting Ceremony if you dine at Table on Thanksgiving. They have complimentary valet parking and you can walk right out the front door after dining to join the party. Table will be serving a 4 course meal including Jardinier Soup and a choice of appetizer. The entrée will be roasted, grain fed, free range organic turkey served with chestnut wild mushroom stuffing and half a dozen other traditional sides. Finish with Pumpkin Pie or Bourbon Pecan Pie (served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce-yum!) and you have a pretty traditional Thanksgiving meal without having to do dishes. (Remember to enter the parking lot from South Post Oak Lane as Post Oak Blvd will be closed.)

11 a.m.–8 p.m.

Adults–$70

1800 Post Oak Blvd, 77056

713-439-1000

Artisans

For a French twist on your Thanksgiving meal, dine out at Artisans and enjoy a five-course meal.  Should you choose roasted turkey breast over the wild rice crusted black cod or Chairman’s Reserve pork tenderloin entrees, you will have gateau de giblets (aka giblet dressing) as one of the accompanying dishes.  Other items on the menu include sweet potato soup, jumbo lump crab & corn cake, and port braised short ribs. I have to admit though that they had me at dessert with a choice of pumpkin “opera” case, spice ganache, or bourbon ice cream pecan log.

11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Adults–$75

3201 Louisiana St, 77006

713-529-9111

Spindletop

If you take your turkey with a view, Spindletop in the Hyatt downtown is a great choice. Along with your dinner you get a 360 degree view of Houston from their revolving restaurant. They are offering a 4 course dinner and will be serving garden sage cornbread and cashew dressing with their herb roasted free range turkey, roasted mirepoix gravy, seasonal fall vegetables and roasted sweet potato and poblano gratin. Other entrees choices include slow braised beef shortribs, grilled salmon and vegetarian ravioli. For dessert, try the pumpkin cupcake or strawberry cheesecake, or maybe the ginger marquis or chocolate napoleon—how to choose?

12 p.m.–4 p.m.

Adults–$65

1200 Louisiana St, 77002

713-375-4741

Sullivan's Steakhouse

Sullivan’s nod to traditional Thanksgiving fare is a four course prix fixe menu that includes a starter, choice of soup or salad (I always go with the lettuce wedge), hand carved turkey with sweet onion apple sausage dressing and cranberry relish, two sides, and dessert (I say go with the crème brulee). They will also be serving from an à la carte menu that includes much of their usual mouth-watering fare.

12 p.m.–8 p.m.

Adult price fixed menu–$39 or à la carte menu

4608 Westheimer, 77027

713-961-0333

Brennan's

For a mix of traditional and Creole cuisine head to Brennan’s for their three-course Thanksgiving menu. Choose from a variety of delectable dishes including their signature snapping turtle soup, lobster stuffed Texas flounder, hunter’s honey roasted duck and flaming bananas foster. If you stick with the “Texas creole roasted American turkey”, it will be served with jalapeno & crushed corn pudding (in lieu of stuffing), molasses roasted sweet potato & pumpkin puree, french beans, cognac giblet gravy and cranberry “jubilee” chutney. Don’t forget to snag a praline on the way out, they’re to die for.

11 a.m.–7 p.m.

Adults–$60

3300 Smith Street, 77006

713-522-9711