If you're heading to North Carolina for the Thanksgiving holiday, you might consider dining out or ordering take-out for some or all of your Turkey Day staples. Some of the state's finest restaurants open their kitchens to visitors for Thanksgiving Day, especially in the capital of Raleigh, but also in Durham 25 miles to the north and Chapel Hill 12 miles to the south. Many of the popular spots for the Thanksgiving meal are hotel restaurants, but a few favorite local restaurants serve up Turkey Day treats, too. All come with two requirements: Make reservations early, and arrive with a big appetite.
Crossroads at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill has an upscale Thanksgiving buffet-style brunch that includes a wide selection of foods including turkey, cured ham, stuffing, and a mashed potato bar, and fancier dishes such as poached shrimp and crab claws, spiced pumpkin soup, fig cake and more. Reservations are required, by phone or OpenTable, and cancellations require 72-hour notice.
The Millennium Hotel features a sumptuous Thanksgiving buffet with a large selection of delicious choices starting at noon. As with many of the establishments in and around Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill, Thanksgiving reservations sell out weeks in advance.
The traditional Thanksgiving buffet at the Fairview in Durham is very popular. Meals are served in the hotel's large and luxurious Presidents Ballroom. Every year, seats are claimed quickly, so try to make your reservation as early as September, when they open, if you want to secure your plates. All three seatings—noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m.—feature traditional favorites like hand-carved roasted meats, a selection of kid-friendly choices, and alternatives like citrus-glazed salmon, and many selections accommodate guests' special diets, like gluten-free.
If you're looking for vegan and vegetarian options for your Thanksgiving meal, Irregardless Café in Raleigh offers dine-in between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, and take out options that include standard Thanksgiving staples, so meat-eaters won't have to give up their traditional turkey dinner. There's even a repeat feast on Black Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. in case you're missing the next-day leftovers this year.
Herons at the Umstead in Cary is a luxury hotel with a well-known and attended Thanksgiving buffet. The hotel is famous for its traditional dishes along with the flavor-pushing favorites like roasted pears, truffle macaroni and cheese, beef short rib, and butternut squash soup. Reservations are available between noon and 6 p.m. but fill up quickly, and require a non-refundable deposit.