DOWNTOWN — Chicago's rich restaurant district ensures you can have a traditional (or far from it) holiday dining experience without ever having to fire up an oven.
We rounded up the superlative Thanksgiving restaurant options in the Chicago's central business district. Let Chicago's top chefs cook up your holiday feast this year, in their elegant dining rooms or bundled in a to-go bag.
Best Non-Turkey Bird
Party of one, or two? No need to share a turkey with randos. Ferris & Jack inside MileNorth Hotel (166 E. Superior St.) serves each guest an individual Cornish hen with stuffing, mushroom cream and a garlic potato purée as part of the restaurant's $40 prix fixe menu. Thanksgiving Day hours are 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Best Side Dish-turned-Dessert
Sweet potatoes usually have a reserved spot on the Thanksgiving table, but kids know the marshmallow topping, or other sweet additions, are often the dish's highlight. State and Lake Chicago Tavern (201 N. State St.) must have 5-year-olds as consultants, because their sweet potato cheese cake elevates the root vegetable to prime after-dinner treat status. Served with toasted cocoa nib marshmallow fluff and honey-preserved pecans, $9.
Best Holiday Breakfast
Think outside the box: Thanksgiving meals don't have to be served for dinner. Sixteen restaurant inside Trump Hotel (401 N. Wabash Ave.) trots out all the staples at their brunch buffet, served from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $148 per adult on Thanksgiving Day. Menu items include cider-braised poussin chicken with carmelized pumpkin, bay scallop gratin with a potato puree and toasted brioche, a carving station with turkey and prime rib, and a raw bar with sushi, scallops and oysters.
Best Seasonal Soup
Butternut squash is a Midwestern fall staple; Maine lobster isn't included in many soups around here. But the Loop's Filini amps up the seasonal soup with a heaping scoop of the stuff served salpicón (Spanish for "in a medley") with crème fraîche. Part of the 221 N. Columbus Drive. restaurant's $55 Thanksgiving menu.
Best Vegetarian Menu
Wine may be a top priority at Alpana Singh's Boarding House, but feeding their patrons is important, too, and they include vegetarians in that mix. Hence the River North restaurant's meatless four-course prix fixe dinner on Thanksgiving, available from 1-8 p.m. on Nov. 28 for $55 per person.
Best Holiday Bite
Short on time, but reluctant to miss the once-a-year chance to pile turkey, squash and cranberry sauce into a Thanksgiving magnum bite? Swing by Little Market Brasserie (10 E. Delaware Place) for their Confit Turkey Thigh Crostini: preserved turkey cooked in fat piled with butternut squash relish and cranberry mustard on bread. Part of the restaurant's $40 four-course holiday menu.
Best Non-American Holiday Fare
Thanksgiving may not be a Spanish holiday, but Christopher Columbus and his sponsor country's influence on the occasion can't be ignored. South Loop tapas restaurant Mercat a la Planxa (638 S. Michigan Ave.) nods to those origins with a four-course, 10-dish Thanksgiving menu for $65 per person. Want that Spanish influence in a holiday meal served at home? Forget honey baked ham: call ahead 48 hours for the whole roasted suckling pig, cooked with grilled green onions, herb-roasted fingerling potatoes, and rosemary white beans.
Best Traditional Dessert with a Kick
Right up there with the pumpkin-based version, pecan pie is a holiday staple. The customary assembly may inspire a food coma, but Weber Grill's chocolate espresso variety can kick the evening back into gear with a spike of caffeine. Part of the River North restaurant's $28.95 three-course Thanksgiving menu.