You know how we’re all supposed to keep a couple blankets, a shovel, meat glue, and flares in the trunk in case of an emergency? Well, I can't help you with those emergencies, but I can help if your Thanksgiving goes pear-shaped.
Let’s say your oven goes out, your dog snags the turkey, or, um, your husband runs off with the turkey . . . and the turkey delivery guy. What, pray tell, then?
Simple. Say good riddance to the oven, the dog, or the husband, and hit something from this list of my favorite places for a last minute Thanksgiving out.
1. Nye’s Polonaise I rang Nye’s and a nice lady answered the phone: “We always offer a nice turkey plate, it’s usually pretty quiet. We have some dinner music.” Live music? “Of course dear, that’s what we do.” How did I not know that the amazing Nye’s—with the sing-along piano playing, the Polish beers, the polka room, the booths fit for Frank Sinatra in his prime—did Thanksgiving, and with a live band to boot? So give me your orphans, your would-be Rat Packers, and your polka lovers because a super-cool, yet homey, Nye’s turkey day awaits. 112 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-379-2021, nyespolonaise.com
Nye's Polonaise Room
2. Monte Carlo A Warehouse District stalwart since 1906, the Monte Carlo mixes pin-up glamour with bartenders who could care less if you’re on your seventh wife or millionth Twitter follower. There's no turkey and stuffing plate, but a cold martini, a rare steak, and those famous chicken wings will make you forget you woke up this morning to the drone of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. As it will be on Christmas and like 100 holidays from now, the Monte Carlo is open regular hours, and serving its regular menu. Count on it. 219 3rd Ave. N., Mpls., 612-333-5900, montecarlomn.com
3. Common Roots In an ultra rare calendar quirk this Thanksgiving coincides with the first night of Hanukkah. And in celebration of Thanksalatke, take the day off of cooking and hit Common Roots. The all-local south Minneapolis cafe with the great cult beer selection and fantastic lattés will be serving potato pancakes and a turkey and sage bread pudding (that is, a moist stuffing) with poached eggs and cranberry sauce from 9 a.m.—2 p.m. Why eggs, exactly? Because it’s a brunch crowd and, heck, why not? Best yet, should you love Thanksalatke so much that you want to celebrate it again and again Common Roots will be serving that menu from Wednesday though the weekend. 2558 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-871-2360, commonrootscafe.com
4. Smack Shack Newish North Loop lobster hut Smack Shack is staying open regular hours (3 p.m.—1 a.m.) on both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. So why not start a new tradition of demolishing a five-pound lobster and a bottle of Champagne for Thanksgiving? Or an oyster po-boy and a beer? Because, hey, you gotta figure those coastal Pilgrims were eating lobster every time they weren’t eating a turkey. 603 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-259-7288, smack-shack.com
5. Dim Sum at Yangtze or Pagoda Dinkytown It's urban and cool to go out for Chinese on major holidays, right? Well, do Chinese Thanksgiving right with the southern China city-staple dim sum; that glorious meal during which you consume a seemingly-endless parade of precious little difficult-to-make treats from dumplings to custard tarts. With the groaning bounty and endless possibilities, throw enough tiny dishes on the table and it starts to feel very Thanksgiving. And, thanks to Yangtze in St. Louis Park and Pagoda in Dinkytown you've got two quality dim sum options this Thanksgiving. Yangtze (open from 10 a.m.—2 p.m.) offers a lovely, home spun spread, everything is home made and home spun. Meanwhile, Pagoda Dinkytown is open later (10 p.m.), is far cheaper, and has some really great options such as the salt and pepper octopus, which is beautiful, crisp, tender, and spicy. Yangtze, 5625 Wayzata Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-541-9469, yangtze.us; Pagoda, 1417 SE 4th St., Mpls., 612-378-4710, pagodadinkytown.com
The best of the rest: First off, never forget that all the hotels have to be open, and there are a lot of great restaurants—Cosmos, Manny’s, Marin, JJ Astor in Duluth—in hotels. For gluten-free, vegetarian, and other diet-restricted folk, French Meadow is doing special meals all day, and they offer the traditional turkey spread too. And, if none of those appeal, Open Table has a list of all sorts of other places offering Thanksgiving Day specials and hours.
Whichever shape your Thanksgiving takes, I hope it’s a happy and tasty one, and you remember it fondly . . . Even if the dogs eat the turkey and you end up eating 5 lbs. of lobster instead.