thanksgiving eat out

Friendsgiving on the Town

Tis the season to treat your friends to a festive dinner out.

Ashley Breeding Current Guide, Restaurants

thanksgiving eat out

The besaola with arugula, roasted cauliflower, and tagliatelle con fiori at Birba.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MOLLIE KIMBERLING

The next best thing to Thanksgiving spent with family is a wholesome meal shared among friends — some might argue, the latter is even sweeter. That’s why we love the idea of Friendsgiving: gathering with your favorite people to give thanks after all the family hoopla subsides. With so much home-cooking happening during the holidays, forgo the potluck and make a reservation somewhere special instead.

Birba

Palm Springs

Homemade pizzas and pastas star on the menu at this down-to-earth alfresco destination. The tagliatelle con fiori, with sweet squash blossoms and salty pancetta, is the perfect comfort food pick. For something a bit more passable, order the roasted cauliflower appetizer (tossed with capers, Parmesan, chili flakes, and a squeeze of lemon), the bresaola classica (thin slices of air-cured Italian beef and arugula), and Nonna’s spicy meatballs (made with Berkshire pork and grass-fed beef). Don’t overdo it — you’ll want to save room for lemon olive oil cake for dessert. birbaps.com

Del Rey

Palm Springs

A central fireplace ignites a cozy vibe at Villa Royale’s dimly lit, Spanish-inspired restaurant, Del Rey. With such diverse flavors on the menu, you’ll want to order several dishes to share. Try the datiles rellenos — delectable dates wrapped in crisp bacon and drizzled with a cider glaze — and the pan con setas, a savory flatbread topped with slices of red onion, mushrooms, Manchego cheese, and (optional) prosciutto. delreypalmsprings.com

Le Vallauris

Palm Springs

At this French institution, executive chef Jean Paul Lair focuses on tradition. That’s why you’ll feel right at home on Thanksgiving — even if your home isn’t a historical landmark like La Vallauris. While it may not be what you’d expect to order at a fine Parisian restaurant known for caviar service and favorites like baked duck confit terrine, every November, Lair prepares a highly anticipated spread of roasted turkey, steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes, puréed yams, cranberry sauce, and of course, gravy. “The gravy is what makes the dish so pleasing,” the chef shares. “Everything comes together because of this.” levallauris.com

La Quinta Cliffhouse

La Quinta

A cliffside location with a birds-eye view of the valley and an extensive bar menu make this upscale-casual restaurant a sought-after spot any time of year, but especially during the holidays like Thanksgiving. Grab a table on the patio and order a variety of “small” plates to sate your group — from oysters and prawns to fried burrata, garlicky Saltspring mussels, and a fresh cantaloupe salad with crisped prosciutto. Craving something heartier? The braised short ribs, served with scalloped potatoes and baby carrots, come in a full or half portion. laquintacliffhouse.com

cavaindianwells
At Cava, try the calamari with a kick , the flatbread, and the beet and butternut salad.
indianwellsrestaurants
Cava

Indian Wells

This Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa restaurant serves California-style farm-to-table fare with a welcome side of Santa Rosa Mountain views. Savor the fall harvest with the fig and prosciutto flatbread — topped with punchy pecorino, fresh arugula, and a bright balsamic glaze — or the roasted beet and butternut squash salad, dressed with wildflower honey vinaigrette. For a more traditional appetizer with a slightly spicy twist, the kitchen tosses the calamari with Espelette and banana peppers and pairs it with garlic aioli to dip. renesmeralda.com

Porta Via

Palm Desert

There’s something about the warm wood interior and plush velvet seating at Porta Via that feels extra inviting in autumn. Same goes for their butternut squash tortellini (bathed in white wine, sage, and cream) and brick-pressed roasted chicken, plated with an herb-forward rosemary and citrus sauce. For a lighter bite to share, look no further than the chilled seafood selection, which spotlights seasonal oysters, blinis with Imperial Ossetra caviar, and a decadent Maine lobster cocktail. portaviarestaurants.com

Willie’s Modern Fare

Rancho Mirage

This concept restaurant crafted by serial restaurateurs Willie Rhine and Chad Gardner offers innovative, seasonal dishes in a cozy midcentury setting. The fall menu features a smattering of starters and mains — a gorgeous charcuterie board, tomato tartare with capers and sprouts, and slow-braised rabbit with herbs, mushrooms, and fingerling potatoes are popular picks. However, if you plan to dine out on Thanksgiving Day, you’ll want to reserve seats for the four-course holiday special. The prix-fixe meal begins with a “first impression” of shrimp en croûte, followed by your choice of soup or salad, an entrée (roasted turkey and other nontraditional options), and a sweet finish. williesrm.com

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