For many years we did a grand buffet here at The Cool Water Ranch on Thanksgiving Day. It was a glorious thing and has given us many happy memories, which is all we have of it now.
Going out on that day was a sacrilege to even think about, but we have seriously considered it now for a few years. I guess dining out on a holiday really started to take root in a serious way shortly after Katrina. Lots of people in the Food Show audience began asking the questions: Where to go? Who is open? Buffet or not? It was then that Tom began to compile lists of places open on the holiday with menus and hours, etc.
After inheriting the business, the first thing I noticed was how much Tom really did. I knew he worked pretty much 18 hours a day but I finally understood what it took to generate the sheer volume of his output.
We have not continued with this practice because he also worked the phones to generate information. Thankfully there are very active PR people who send us information, and it is from this that we are compiling a much-abbreviated list. (NOTE: Restaurateurs with or without PR people are welcome to send us what you are doing via email: email@example.com)
These restaurants are only a small portion of the many now serving Thanksgiving. The restaurants mentioned below are in no particular order, They range in price point from a bargain to expensive, and all are recommended in one way or another. And we will have more on the website as the holiday approaches.
Our very favorite of the ones we are recommending is Trenasse. Tom has always referred to this place as the “Oyster Hub of New Orleans,” but there is much more than oysters here. Jim Richard, the tastemaker of this operation hails from the Lafayette area, and the food here is really delicious in that deeply-rooted bayou way, with an environment to match. The vibe here is outdoorsy with a heavy Louisiana imprint, and the name Trenasse says it all. I just want to be here to eat the delicious food of this region. But these guys are fun and creative too, and are much-awarded for their creativity. There are very modern things here as well, with a fresh take on the classics. Grab a spot, this will fill up quickly. 504-680-7000 trenasse.com
Another favorite in the bargain category is the understate- but-delightful Maple Street Cafe. Here is food that can best be described as Mediterranean-meets-New Orleans. The food is impossibly simple but sublime. 504-314-9003 maplestcafenola.com
Couvant is offering a three-course pre-fixe menu for $65++/kids $35++. They have a special offer for you: Bring a canned item for Second Harvesters Food Bank on Thanksgiving Day and they’ll trade you a cocktail. Chef Ryan Pearson has serious bona fides, working in restaurants in France and New York. The food here is very good, but service is spotty. This one could be a fabulous sleeper or something less. 504-324-5400 couvant.com
Another relative newcomer in the hip category is Josephine Estelle, who offer Thanksgiving in their self-described South-meets-Italy style. The pre-fixe here offers Leek Tagliatelle With Trumpet Mushrooms, Lump Crabmeat and Chard, Roast Joyce Farms Turkey Breast With Andouille Cornbread Dressing, and Pumpkin Cheesecake. $70pp. You can also order ahead for takeout to serve at home.
And Seaworthy is offering a Friendsgiving for Thanksgiving night. 504-930-3071 seaworthynola.com
For more classic fare, the Ralph Brennan Group has got you covered for the holiday. Brennan’s is offering a three-course pre-fixe menu for $75++/12 and under $35++
Ralph’s on The Park also has a more affordable three-course pre-fixe for $65++/12 and under $21++.
We had chef Knute Mjelde on the Food Show (airs weekdays 2-4 990AM) recently, and he confessed to a mild obsession with the cooking of his wife’s family. Coming from Nordic roots, our simple and deeply-flavorful food has enchanted him since his first taste of gumbo. This will be a good one, trust us. ralphsonthepark.com @RalphsOnThePark
Red Fish Grill has a prefix menu from 11-5 on Thanksgiving Day for $69.95++/kids $19.95 for kids 12 and under, with 2 and under free.
But the buffet at Red Fish Grilli is back after a few years hiatus! Expect to see fan favorites like Shucked Oysters and Blue Crab Ravigote in Phyllo Cups as starters, carving station staples like Roast Turkey and Roast Prime Rib of Beef with Horseradish Cream and Au Jus, entrees like Wild Mushroom and Shrimp Pasta, vegetable sides like Maple Roasted Fall Vegetables with Pecans and Thyme, and Steen’s Meringue Sweet Potato Casserole. Desserts will include various Cheesecakes, Crumbles, Bread Puddings, and others. redfishgrill.com @redfishgrill
Another buffet well worth the drive, and price, is at the Houmas House. Dining under the oaks makes this one the one of atmosphere is a thing. Lots of food choices with glamorous and lavish everything. Do this once at least. It’s an experience. All-inclusive. Adults $119.03/kids 6-13 $68.91