Eating Out: Let restaurants do the work on Thanksgiving

The Fresno BeeNovember 24, 2013 

Last week I told you where you can buy a premade Thanksgiving meal to reheat at home. But if you really don't want to lift a finger in the kitchen, several restaurants are serving up their own Thanksgiving feasts Thursday.

This is not a comprehensive list, so if you have a favorite restaurant, give it a call and see if they're open. Reservations are a must on this busy holiday.

School House

If you're looking for a different setting for Thanksgiving, dining in a historic former school might fit the bill. The School House Restaurant & Tavern — which some of you may know as the former Sherwood Inn restaurant — is serving a Thanksgiving meal in its 1921 building.

Diners can choose from a two-course meal for $34 or three-course meal for $42. That includes turkey and traditional Thanksgiving sides. The restaurant will also offer some of its signature dishes, including the popular mahi mahi dish served with pumpkin puree, baby spinach and bacon.

Elbow Room

The Elbow Room restaurant in Fig Garden Village is a good option if you have someone in your family who wants a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but also others who might not be that excited about turkey.

The restaurant — which is open from noon to 8 p.m. — has a special menu that day. Traditionalists can get a turkey or ham meal with mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie and some other side dishes for $24.99. A combo turkey and ham meal costs $28.99.

But the Elbow Room also will have about 15 regular menu items for those who don't want turkey, including the ever-popular steak sandwich, seafood and vegetarian options such as pasta.


If you're looking for the best cuisine around, Erna's Elderberry House Restaurant is the only five-star restaurant in the Central Valley and it's open for Thanksgiving.

Bring your appetite if you go here. The fixed-price menu — $98 for adults and $45 for children — is huge. You can see the whole seven-course menu online at, but the main dish includes a roasted free-range turkey and roasted venison loin with green beans and local almonds.

Both meats are included because that's what pilgrims and Native Americans ate at the first Thanksgiving, says chef Jonathon Perkins, who researched the event. About 90% of the vegetables on the menu come from local farmers at the Vineyard Farmers Market, he says.

Save room for dessert. There's a spiced butternut squash flan served with walnut-bourbon ice cream and blackberries and also a honey-chocolate gateau (cake) made with caramelized Bartlett pears and a port wine sauce.

The meal is served from 2-6 p.m. and Erna's says it can accommodate vegetarian and vegan diners.


If you're looking for Thanksgiving with grand views, there are several options at restaurants in Yosemite National Park.

On the valley floor, The Ahwahnee will be serving local organic turkey, butternut squash soup and something called a "chocolate dome" for dessert. The meal is served from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Prices are $91.10 for adults and $32.75 for children 6 to 12.

Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is serving Thanksgiving dinner in the Mountain Room, with a choice of turkey, ham, halibut, prime rib or a stuffed portabella mushroom. The meal is served from 3-9 p.m. and costs $49.95 for adults and $24.95 for children 6 to 12.

If the Yosemite Valley floor is too far to drive, the Wawona dining room is a bit closer and is serving Thanksgiving meals from noon to 9 p.m.

It will have all the traditional food, along with new dishes such as spiced apple & brown sugar roasted pork loin and Angus beef roast prime rib.

Prices are $49.95 for adults and $21.50 for children 6 to 12.

Reservations for all three restaurants can be made by calling the reservation line at (801) 559-4935.

Even closer is the Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp, which is serving a Thanksgiving buffet in its Grand Ballroom with live music and visits from Santa. Main dishes include turkey, steak, bacon-wrapped game hen and a whiskey-glazed ham, and kid options include pizza, burgers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The cost is $39.95 for adults, $31.95 for seniors and $15.95 for kids ages 4 to 12. The buffet is served from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The Sierra Restaurant and Embers restaurant, also at Tenaya, will begin serving in the afternoon until 9:30 p.m. Prices vary, and options include turkey, buffalo short rib, and island-spiced half duckling.

An ice skating rink is scheduled to open the day before Thanksgiving on the Tenaya grounds.

For reservations, call (877)-247-9241.

Mimi's Cafe

Mimi's Cafe is offering a three-course dinner, including turkey breast or dark meat. Diners get a choice of French onion soup, corn chowder or pumpkin bisque soup, salads, all kinds of Thanksgiving sides, and pumpkin or pecan pie.

The dinner costs $16.99 for adults and $8.99 for kids. The restaurant will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Marie Callender's

Marie Callender's is offering a complete Thanksgiving dinner, including turkey or ham, all the sides and pie. Prices are $19.99 for adults, $8.99 for kids.


The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6431, or @BethanyClough on Twitter. Read her blog on

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