The days leading up to and following Thanksgiving are the busiest travel days of the year in the U.S. Millions of Americans pass through airports and embark on interstate road trips for one day of giving thanks and eating turkey. Those heading in the direction of Washington, D.C., are in for a treat because the capital city (and nearby neighborhoods in Maryland and Northern Virginia) is simply brimming with restaurants serving up elevated versions of the traditional feast.
From prix fixe menus to buffets and turkey à la carte, you can find something to satisfy any palette and budget in Washington, D.C., this Thanksgiving. Eating out on this food-driven holiday, after all, is commonplace. After the pumpkin pie digests, perhaps you'll even be in the mood for a Turkey Trot (or, rather, just to watch one) or to go on a walking tour of Christmas lights around the city (by the way, there are plenty). Don't forget to make a reservation to ensure you get your comfort food fix on the big day.
Unlike other towns that all but close down for the indulgent, autumnal holiday, Washington, D.C., is alive with the aroma of roast turkey and all the subsequent activities. 2019's top picks include:
- BLT Steak DC: This popular steakhouse is known for being hearty, so you know you won't be leaving hungry. Choose between three entrees (turkey, prime rib, and cod) and a slew of appetizers, sides, and desserts for $82 per adult.
- Bourbon Steak: Located inside the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, this restaurant will offer a sophisticated take on Thanksgiving fare (oysters, crab cakes, and truffles are all part of the menu) for $125 per adult.
- Carmines: This legendary New York City Italian restaurant offers a turkey to feed six to eight people (trimmings included) to enjoy in the dining room or at home. It's $250 per family either way.
- Central: Michel Richard's French-American bistro does a three-course meal for $60 per adult. In addition to the standard turkey and gravy, entrees include hanger steak, duck leg confit, and saffron risotto.
- Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse: A standard three-course, prix fixe menu with all the traditional fixings for $60 per person.
- Georgia Brown's: Southerners will find a little taste of home at this elegant and soulful neighborhood haunt. Have your baked macaroni and cheese and collard greens in-house or to-go.
- The Lafayette at The Hay-Adams: This historic Hay-Adams restaurant has one of Washington's most prestigious addresses. Have your turkey with a view of the White House, Lafayette Square, and St. John's Church (the "Church of the Presidents")—an unforgettable and quintessentially Washington, D.C., Thanksgiving experience for $130 per person.
- Lincoln Restaurant: All things in this modern and artsy eatery are inspired by the late Abraham Lincoln (even the floor, which is covered with pennies). Thanksgiving here looks like a roasted pear and pumpkin soup, herb-crusted prime rib (or country-style turkey if you're a traditionalist), butternut squash gratin, and roasted fruit.
- The Mansion on O Street: Now, here's a quirky one you probably wouldn't find at home: You can enjoy a Thanksgiving feast, then tour the famous Mansion on O Street (100 rooms, 70 secret doors, and enough to keep you entertained for hours). Tickets are $70 apiece.
- Rasika: Opt for an exotic kind of Thanksgiving (green bean korma, onion sage pulao, and cranberry roti) at this upscale Indian restaurant in Penn Quarter and the West End. At only $22 per person, it's also one of the cheapest in town.
- Spirit of Washington: Every year, the beloved Spirit of Washington serves up Thanksgiving staples while cruising its guests down the Potomac River. Now if that's not a patriotic holiday, then what is?
- Washington Plaza Hotel: Head here for a traditional buffet featuring slow-roasted turkey breast, honey-glazed oven-baked ham, seasonal sides (including sausage and apple stuffing, sweet potato casserole, and more), and dessert as well with options like pecan, pumpkin, and apple pies and fruits and cakes.
From National Harbor to Potomac, Chevy Chase to Rockville, Maryland's Capital Region features plenty of exciting fall activities, attractions, and festivities over the holiday. Although a little more residential than Washington, D.C., this area of Maryland is home to many top-rated restaurants, several of which will be open for Thanksgiving. Book your meal at:
- Comus Inn at Sugarloaf Mountain: Enjoy a holiday buffet complete with herb-seasoned stuffing, oven-roasted turkey, and a wide selection of desserts at this cozy restaurant in Dickerson. Make your reservation as soon as possible because it fills up fast.
- Mrs. K's Toll House: In Silver Spring, a classic holiday buffet awaits in this cozy country inn. $50 per adult will get you a home-cooked meal like grandma used to make.
- Old Anglers Inn: What could possibly be more festive than having your Thanksgiving meal by a crackling fire? This picturesque inn in Potomac will be serving up a three-course prix fixe holiday menu complete with locally-sourced ingredients.
- Pienza Marketplace: Located in the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor—right on the Potomac—Pienza will be serving a Thanksgiving brunch that merges morning mainstays (sausage and eggs) with classic Turkey Day fare.
- Normandie Farm: A farm-to-table take on the traditional smorgasbord, Normandie Farm's Thanksgiving buffet features more than 40 dishes for a $52-per-adult price.
During the week of Thanksgiving, Northern Virginia celebrates the season with a variety of community-oriented events—charity runs, free holiday meals, festivals, and even a few parades. A number of restaurants in Falls Church, Tysons, Alexandria, and the surrounding area will be open on Thanksgiving Day, including:
- 2941 Restaurant: This Falls Church restaurant serves three festive courses (for $75 each) with a waterfront view of Fairview Lake from almost every seat in the house.
- Bastille: Alexandria's favorite French restaurant offers a three-course, prix fixe Thanksgiving menu for $65. Be sure to book your table well in advance, though, because this popular spot is likely to reach capacity.
- Blackwall Hitch: Eschew the traditional turkey for roast beef (or not, if you'd rather stick with the timeless poultry choice) at this neighborhood joint. Every year, Blackwall Hitch hosts local bands on Thanksgiving, too.
- Carlyle Club: Another Alexandria establishment that offers musical accompaniment to its holiday feast. Here, you can eat your turkey and listen to Satin Doll Trio play smooth jazz at the same time.
- Gadsby's Tavern: Have your stuffing and cranberry chutney in a historic tavern this Thanksgiving holiday. This place was once frequented by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
- Tysons Corner at the Ritz Carlton: Head over to the Ritz Carlton in McLean for Thanksgiving Day brunch featuring brunch favorites (with a fall spin) for $119 per person.