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Where to Find a Hassle-Free Thanksgiving in Orange County

Here’s where to go when you want to be a guest at your own dinner party.


Vaca is offering a whole turkey with sides and trimmings. Photo courtesy of Vaca
 

It’s the most important meal of the year for Americans. When we sit down to partake of the Thanksgiving feast, we expect a groaning board chockablock full of roasted turkey, spectacular sides, trimmings and treats. It’s really too much pressure for a home cook to organize, even if you’re just the traffic cop at a potluck.


Why leave it up to chance? If you love to dine out, do so and let somebody else deal with the dirty dishes. For those who like to host, get it to-go and heat it up at home.


Here’s a roundup of restaurants that will ride to the rescue no matter what your tastes. Dinner times are for Thanksgiving Day; takeout meals are fully cooked so you can just heat and eat.


Dine with a Water View

If your family likes an extravagant spread, make reservations at the Balboa Bay Resort. From carving stations filled with turkey, ham, ribeye and rack of lamb, to a stunning seafood display and hearty sides, everything will be served buffet style so it suits all appetites, from picky kids to grownup gourmands. And, of course, there will be an array of decadent desserts. The meal comes with complimentary valet parking and a wine tasting with each adult reservation.


When: Seating noon-4 p.m. Nov. 23

Where: 1221 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach

Cost: $120 for adults; $60 for children ages 3-12

Contact: 949-645-5000


PHOTO 1: At Balboa Bay Resort, the Thanksgiving feast comes with a waterfront view. PHOTO 2: Carving stations with meats and an array of decadent desserts like these, will be part of an extravagant spread at the Balboa Bay Resort. Photos courtesy of Balboa Bay Resort

 

Any closer and you’d have to swim. That’s Driftwood Kitchen’s motto about its breathtaking ocean view. At this feast, there will be Diestel turkey with all the sides and fixings, but if the smell of salt air makes you hungry for seafood, they’ve got that too. Ora King salmon fillet and seared diver scallop entrees will be offered on the buffet as well as a seafood station. Visit the charcuterie and cheese spreads – starters include roasted autumn California vegetable salad, butternut squash soup, and more.


There will also be a station filled with kid-friendly foods. For grownups who would rather not have turkey, they’ll be carving roasted Greater Omaha prime rib. A parade of holiday desserts will include cookies as well as pecan, apple and pumpkin pies.


When: The buffet will be served from 1-7 p.m. Nov. 23

Where: 619 Sleepy Hollow, Laguna Beach

Cost: $125 per person; $25 for kids 12 and younger

Contact: 949-749-6367


Looking for Something Different?

Bored with the same old menu every Turkey Day? Try traditional dishes with a New American spin at The Mayor’s Table. Chef Riley Huddleston has an intriguing lineup starting with appetizers such as his Not Your Grandmother’s Ambrosia with farmer’s cheese, squash and pomegranates or Persimmon Dream with the seasonal fruit prepared three ways.


Huddleston’s Heritage Turkey with whey brined breast, confit leg and smoked thigh is served with cranberry sauce, black truffle gravy and brioche stuffing. Or choose flat iron steak with a special “72-hour sauce” instead. Desserts include heirloom pumpkin pie or Farmer’s Market Tarte Tatin.


When: Reservations available 1-8 p.m. Nov. 23

Where: 3300 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach

Cost: $89 for adults; $40 for children ages 12-6; free for kids under 6

Contact: 949-662-6160.


The Mayor’s Table will offer traditional dishes with a New American spin. Photo courtesy of The Mayor’s Table
 

Skip the turkey and put some spice in your life. Royal Khyber will be serving contemporary Indian classics like tandoori lamb, fish and chicken as well as vegetarian dishes.


When: Open 5:30-9:30 p.m. Nov. 23

Where: 3800 S. Plaza Drive, Santa Ana

Contact: 714-436-1010


FOR THE WINE ENTHUSIASTS

When the wine is front and center on your table, you’ll want to go where there’s expert service and a deep-dive list. The Winery restaurants in Tustin and Newport Beach will be offering a three-course prix fixe menu with special dishes that are entirely wine friendly.


Choose from starters like Harvest Salad; heirloom tomatoes with burrata; butternut squash bisque or pumpkin-ricotta ravioli. Main course offerings include maple-glazed free-range turkey with all the sides and fixings; jumbo white shrimp with risotto; zinfandel braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes and veggies or apple-brined stuffed roasted pork loin with sweet potatoes, apple-cherry stuffing and haricot verts. Two special desserts finish the meal: streusel pumpkin pie and chocolate cheesecake.


When: Dinner will be served noon-8 p.m. Nov. 23

Where: 2647 Park Ave., Tustin; 3131 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach

Cost: $85 per person in Tustin; $95 per person in Newport Beach; both locations will offer a kids menu for $30.

Contact: 714-258-7600 (Tustin), 949-999-6622 (Newport Beach)


The fun starts even before dinner when your waiter pours wine from an award-winning list with 2,750 bottles. On Thanksgiving day, Selanne Steak Tavern will present a three-course dinner and wine lovers can enjoy matching dishes to their favorite vinos. Choose from butternut squash soup with duck confit; poached pear salad with buckwheat honey goat cheese croquet; the signature beet “ravioli” with herbed goat cheese; or Caesar salad with brioche croutons to start. Entrée selections include maple glazed Kurobuta ham; a 12-ounce prime ribeye roast with Montreal seasoning, creamy horseradish and cabernet jus; or Slow Roasted Mary’s Farm Heritage Turkey Breast with house cranberry and marsala jus.


Sides are served for the entire table: glazed butternut squash; duck fat fried Brussels sprouts; French and romano bean casserole; baby carrots in lavender honey with crumbled goat cheese and 15-year-aged balsamic; Yukon potato puree; and brioche stuffing with winter fruits and candied walnuts.


The restaurant’s new executive pastry chef Rebekah Eastman will present a seasonal dessert selection.


When: Dinner will be served from noon to 8 p.m. Nov. 23

Where: 1464 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach

Cost: $145 per person; $40 per child (ages four to 12), exclusive of tax and gratuity.

Contact: 949-715-9881


IN AND AROUND SOUTH COAST PLAZA

The Water Grill will offer an à la carte menu plus a three-course Thanksgiving prix fixe.


When: Dinner will be served 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 23

Where: 3300 Bristol St., Costa Mesa

Cost: Three-course Thanksgiving menu is $68; $24 for children under 12 (excluding tax and gratuity).

Contact: 949-208-7060

The full dinner menu will be offered as well as a Thanksgiving turkey entrée with all the sides and trimmings at The Capital Grille. Pumpkin cheesecake for $12 makes a sweet ending to the meal.


When: Dinner is from 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Where: 3300 Bristol St., Costa Mesa

Cost: $50 per adult for Thanksgiving entrée, $20 for children 12 and younger (exclusive of tax and gratuity).

Contact: 714-432-1140

A three-course Thanksgiving dinner and the full menu will be served at Morton’s The Steakhouse. Pumpkin cheesecake with sea salt caramel will be available for dessert.


When: Dinner will be served from noon to 8 p.m.

Where: 1641 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana

Cost: $59 per person (excluding tax and gratuity).

Contact: 714-444-4834


HOST WITH THE MOST (Take-Home Feasts)
“Top Chef” contestant Amar Santana is offering a deluxe take-home meal that includes a whole turkey with sides and trimmings. Photo courtesy of Vaca

How awesome would it be to tell your guests that a “Top Chef” star prepared your Thanksgiving dinner? Amar Santana, first runner up in 2015 and fan favorite on the 2023 World All Stars show, is offering a deluxe “family feast” take-home meal from Vaca restaurant that includes cream of forest mushroom soup, a whole turkey with Italian sausage cornbread stuffing, bourbon maple glazed yams and more sides and trimmings.


Choose from pecan, pumpkin or apple pie, or cheesecake for dessert.


When: Preorder by Nov. 16. Pickup Nov. 22 between 2 and 4 p.m. at Vaca

Where: 695 Town Center Drive, Suite 170, Costa Mesa

Cost: $540 excluding tax, serves 6

Contact: 714-463-6060


Why not grab a to-go holiday dinner from a go-to restaurant for dinner and drinks? Hendrix Restaurant and Bar has a Thanksgiving feast ($350) that will feed 8-10 guests. It starts with Parker House rolls and a little gem salad with goat cheese and candied beets. The kitchen crew will prepare a whole roasted turkey and sides of Yukon gold mashed potatoes, apple-fennel stuffing, green beans and heirloom carrots along with cranberry sauce and turkey gravy. Choose traditional pumpkin or apple pie for dessert.


When: Place orders by Nov. 20; pick up your meal curbside between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Hendrix will also offer a dine-in buffet from 2-7 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Where: 32431 Golden Lantern, Laguna Niguel

Cost: $85 per person; $19 for kids 12 and younger with a special kids station set up.

Contact: 949-248-1912


Take the headache out of hosting with a holiday meal from Zov’s. The turkey dinner for 12 to 15 guests comes with nine fixings and sides such as wild mushroom and jasmine rice stuffing, mashed potatoes, maple glazed yams, cranberry citrus relish and more. Choose from pumpkin, apple crumb or pecan pie. (You can also just choose sides and more ala carte if you’re already preparing a turkey at home.)


When: Pick up orders from Zov’s Tustin location on Nov. 22 from 1-5 p.m. Orders must be placed by 2 p.m. on Nov. 18.

Where: 17440 E. 17th St., Tustin

Cost: Sliced boneless turkey breast dinner is $595; whole turkey dinner is $695.

Contact: 714-838-8855 ext. 22, or taleene@zovs.com


Zov’s will pack up a complete dinner for 12-15 guests to serve at home. Photo courtesy of Zov’s
 

Greenleaf Kitchen & Cocktails and The OC Mix have got you covered whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving or a holiday cocktail bash. Main entrees such as roasted salmon fillet or red wine braised short ribs and full course feasts are available on their catering menus for as few as six guests. They’re also whipping up batched cocktails in seasonal flavors like pomegranate margarita or blackberry mule so you don’t have to tend bar.


When: The Holiday Catering Menu is available through Jan. 1. Orders must be placed at least 48 hours in advance of delivery or pick-up. For Thanksgiving Day, order by Nov. 20.

Where: 234 E. 17th St., Suite 100, Costa Mesa; 3321 Hyland Ave., Unit C, Costa Mesa

Cost: Thanksgiving feast is $250. Batched cocktails are $75 per dozen drinks. Entrees, sides and appetizer prices vary.

Contact: catering@eatdrinkgreenleaf.com; 949-200-3950 (17th St.), 714-862-2480 (Hyland Ave.)


Imagine Thanksgiving without the guilt. Seasons 52 has you covered with calorie counts posted online for all its dishes. Order a Green Box and you’ll get salad, turkey gravy, mashed potatoes, brioche-sage stuffing and more. For dessert you’ll receive its signature “mini indulgences” parfaits in pumpkin pie flavor.


When: Preorder by Nov. 20, pickup Nov. 22 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Where: 3333 Bristol St Suite #2802, Costa Mesa

Cost: The Green Box serves 4-6 and is $225, excluding tax. Seasons 52 will also offer a dine-in menu at $40 per adult for Thanksgiving plate, $18 for children 12 and under (excluding tax and gratuity)

Contact: 714-437-5252


Green Box from Seasons 52 includes its signature “mini indulgences” parfaits in pumpkin pie flavor. Photo courtesy of Seasons 52
 

Don’t forget the bread! OC Baking Company fills the bread baskets of some of your favorite fine dining spots, so why not pick up the good stuff from this outstanding bakery for your holiday dinner at home? There are typically rolls of all kinds, crusty loaves, sweets and more. Master baker Dean Kim will host a pop up and gather other food vendors. You’ll often find olive oil, quiches and other goodies at these events.


When: Sale starts at 8 a.m. on Nov. 22 and continues until everything’s sold out.

Where: 1960 N. Glassell St., Orange

Contact: 714-998-2253.


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