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Give Thanks for Great Local Chefs on Thanksgiving

If you are terrified by the thought of cooking Thanksgiving Dinner or simply want to add some variety to the traditional holiday fare, Edible Monterey Bay has you covered. Fresh, organic turkeys and Thanksgiving dishes featuring local produce are available pre-cooked throughout our area or you can book Thanksgiving dinner at many of our favorite restaurants. 

callout_thanksgivingLet’s start with the bird. Whole, free-range Diestel turkeys, with no hormones or antibiotics added, can be ordered stuffed and pre-roasted from Carried Away in Aptos and Wild Plum Café and Bakery in Monterey, as well as Whole Foods Markets in Santa Cruz, Capitola and Monterey. Stone Creek Kitchen in Monterey offers the same roast turkeys pre-sliced or in pieces for smaller gatherings. For something slightly different, Freedom Meat Lockers near Watsonville has fully cooked, home smoked turkeys that just need to be heated on the big day, while El Salchichero in Santa Cruz goes beyond turkeys with a selection of holiday guinea hens, goose, ducks and house made sausages for your stuffing.

If you want to take out the entire Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings, look no further than Aqua Terra Culinary in Monterey, which offers a $35 per person dinner and a deluxe $45 version, with all the trimmings and then some. Or try Wild Thyme Deli and Café in Marina where the $50/two – $240/ten to go menu features chef Terry Teplitzky’s fantastic “don’t call it gravy” turkey sauce. Carried Away in Aptos and Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola also offer the entire traditional menu from green beans to pie, while Stone Creek Kitchen has come up with some innovative side dishes that can be ordered separately. How about Sweet Potato Casserole with Pumpkin Seed Dill Pesto or Cheesy Curried Cauliflower?

When it comes to dessert, it has to be pie on Thanksgiving and the best ones are made with seasonal local ingredients. At Rio Grill in Carmel, Chef Cy’s wife Inga is baking up a storm, offering pumpkin cheesecake throughout the holiday season, as well as olallieberry pies and lemon tarts. Sweet Elena’s Bakery in Sand City is another choice for a wide selection of Thanksgiving pies from pumpkin to mincemeat. Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville may be our area’s most popular spot for holiday pies, they come in a dozen tasty varieties including olallieberry and pumpkin, but be sure to order in advance to avoid the long lines. Or think outside the box and try the Caramel Pear Spice Cake from Parker-Lusseau Pastries in Monterey. And no slice of pie would be complete without a scoop of ice cream. In Santa Cruz, seasonal specialties at the Penny Ice Creamery include Roasted Pumpkin and Quince Sorbet.

Eating out

Visitors and those who want to keep their kitchens clean may prefer to eat out on Thanksgiving Day and there are certainly plenty of options. Chef Tim Wood at the Carmel Valley Ranch is starting a new tradition with a lavish buffet from 11:30am-4:30pm at the Clubhouse, featuring baked oysters, apple cider brined turkey and unlimited mimosas. Seafood laden Thanksgiving buffets will also be taking place at TusCa restaurant at the Hyatt Regency in Monterey, at Stillwater Bar & Grill in Pebble Beach, which also boasts fabulous views over the 18th hole, and at the Monterey Plaza Hotel in Schooner’s Coastal Kitchen—where you can imbibe in an intriguing selection of harvest cocktails, including Harvest Tea Toddy, Harvest Ginger Burst and Salted Caramel Appletini. 

Screen_Shot_2012-11-12_at_6.19.26_PMChef Matt Bolton at Pacific’s Edge Restaurant at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands will be offering his inventive California coastal cuisine on Thanksgiving with a four-course feast served from 4-8pm. The main course features Rib Chop, John Dory AND Diestel Farm Turkey. Meanwhile, European-style Fandango Restaurant in Pacific Grove offers a choice of five delicious entrées for those who aren’t crazy about turkey from noon to 7:30pm. At Solaire Restaurant in the Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz, Chef Ross McKee is preparing a four-course tasting menu full of options including Foraged Chanterelle Mushroom Soup and Slow Roasted Prime Rib. He is even providing a thoughtful take home box of leftovers for a turkey and stuffing sandwich the next day.  

Finally, for the non-traditionalists among us, Lokal Restaurant in Carmel Valley is offering a Thanksgiving Eve feast on Wednesday, November 21st. Chef Brendan Jones is preparing what he calls an “awesome, creative, mind-blowing” 6-course menu with wine pairing for $65…which sounds just perfect for the chefs who have to work hard to feed the rest of us on Thanksgiving Day.


About the author

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Deborah Luhrman is publisher and editor of Edible Monterey Bay. A lifelong journalist, she has reported from around the globe, but now prefers covering our flourishing local food scene and growing her own vegetables in the Santa Cruz Mountains.