My aunt is the Thanksgiving chef of the family. And while year after year she gamely — and proudly, it must be said — prepares a turkey plus all the expected sides, she has remarked on more than one occasion, “Hours of work and it’s all over in 20 minutes.”
She’s wrong, of course: After the feasting, there’s a mountain of dishes to contend with (we all pitch in) and leftovers that need to find a home in a too-small refrigerator. And then a whole ’nother mess when it’s time for pie.
I love and appreciate all my aunt does. But not everyone has time, space or inclination (raises hand) to put together your traditional Thanksgiving meal. If you’d rather take it easy so you can enjoy rather than endure the holiday, let these local restaurants do the cooking and hosting for you. Just be sure to call ahead to make sure there’s a place at the table!
The 1901 (formerly La Dolce Vita)
740 S. B St., Oxnard
For many years, La Dolce Vita in Oxnard’s Heritage Square was a go-to spot for Turkey Day diners looking for delicious food in a charming atmosphere. Now under new ownership and rebranding itself as The 1901 (in reference to the date the building was constructed, and the speakeasy-inspired bar downstairs), the restaurant continues that tradition. For $65 a pop ($32.95 for children), the wide-ranging menu features mixed greens and grilled corn salad, asparagus, turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole — all prepared with a gourmet twist and served family style. Pumpkin pie and pecan bars for dessert are included.
Enzo’s at the Glen Tavern Inn
134 N. Mills Road, Santa Paula
With romantic lighting, early-19th-century style and atmosphere galore, Enzo’s at Santa Paula’s famous Glen Tavern Inn is a glamorous locale for a Thanksgiving banquet. The traditionally prepared feast includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and a carrot/broccolini medley. Just $29 per person, it’s also among the best deals in the county.
The Farmhouse at Ojai Valley Inn
905 Country Club Drive, Ojai
If money is no object and an epicurean experience is up your alley, consider the Thanksgiving Grand Buffet offered at the Farmhouse. This culinary extravaganza features locally grown produce, entrees from both land and sea, classic Thanksgiving Day options and gourmet desserts. The $175 price tag is not for slim wallets, but it is guaranteed to be truly divine . . . and includes unlimited wine, juice, soda, coffee and tea. Kids can join in for $60.
The Manhattan of Camarillo
2500 Las Posas Road, Camarillo
Upscale and groovy in an old-school kind of way, The Manhattan’s T-Day offerings are similarly stylish. Herb-scented stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry compote, Yukon gold mashed potatoes with gravy and roasted root veggies are accompanied by your choice of roast turkey or hickory smoked ham — all for $41 or $15 for kids. Turkey noodle soup, sweet potatoes with marshmallow, curried cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and several decadent desserts are all available for an extra fee. If you’re not feeling the turkey, you can select from a variety of meat, seafood and pasta entrees (prices vary).
204 E. Main St., Ventura
Enjoy Thanksgiving on the Terrazza at Peirano’s, which will set up festive seating on its lovely outdoor patio with views of the fountains and the San Buenaventura Mission in Downtown Ventura. The menu includes your choice of turkey with all the trimmings, lasagna, braised short ribs or a vegetarian option with a stuffed portobello mushroom. $48.99 per person, and all entrees include a garden salad. Kids can feast on a smaller turkey plate or spaghetti and meatballs for $19.99. Desserts (pumpkin pie, carrot cake, gelato, sorbet) are sold separately for $8-$9 per serving.