When considering Thanksgiving meal preparation, astronomer Carl Sagan always springs to my mind. “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch,” the late scientist famously said, “you must first invent the universe.”
Sagan, of course, was talking about the cosmic connections between matter and the origins of all things. But preparing Thanksgiving dinner from start to finish — especially given the year(s) we’ve all had — feels about as easy as firing up a big bang. Luckily for us, the East Bay is packed with restaurants, caterers and markets serving up whole galaxies of excellent turkey, savory stuffing, all manner of potatoes and more. These small businesses have invented the universe for you, you just need to warm it up on Nov. 25.
Please note: This is not an all-comprehensive list, as reading about every East Bay restaurant with a Thanksgiving menu would leave little time to enjoy the season. Please consider this roundup a starting point, inspiration or just a reminder that you don’t have to do everything on your own. This holiday is supposed to be fun!
Are you looking for Nosh’s 2021 guide to the East Bay’s best Thanksgiving pies? Look no further.
Comfort food haven Rick & Ann’s Restaurant and its catering arm, Ann’s Catering, has a menu of individual full meals for $40 (turkey breast, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, sides and a pumpkin tart), dishes sold by the quart, a full Mary’s turkey that’s already roasted ($130) and appetizers like deviled eggs and lobster bisque.
The local chain of specialty markets is an East Bay Thanksgiving standby, with bountiful menus of dishes like caramelized leek and winter squash quiche, a roasted Mary’s turkey breast for four, and family-size trays of cornbread stuffing, blistered beans and rolls. Its locations in Berkeley and Rockridge have the basically the same menus (as long as supplies last) so choose the location that’s closest to you — but if you’re opposed to crowds, head to Berkeley, a Market Hall spokesperson says, as by Thanksgiving week the Oakland market gets pretty jammed.
What you should know: Preorders should be placed two days before pickup, which runs from Monday, Nov. 22 – Wednesday, Nov. 24. for Rockridge Market Hall (menu), order online or call 510-250-6001; for Berkeley (menu), order online or call 510-250-6001.
Rockridge Market Hall, 5655 College Ave., Ste. 201 (at Keith Avenue), Oakland; Market Hall Foods on 4th 1786 Fourth St. (between Hearst Avenue and Virginia Street), Berkeley
This local mini-chain specializes in French soul food, which for Thanksgiving means full meal kits with a brined turkey you roast at home, whipped potatoes, beans, andouille-cornbread dressing, thaw-and-bake biscuits and much more. To feed 2 to 5 people, the kit is $165, to serve 8-12 it’s $330. No substitutions are allowed, but add-ons are welcomed — additional sides are available, and you can even add in a meat thermometer if you’re new to the turkey roasting game.
What you should know: Preorders are open now, choose a pickup day of Tuesday, Nov. 23, or Wednesday, Nov. 24. Brenda’s will contact you to confirm an exact pickup window. Cooking instructions and a foil roasting pan are included in every order, make sure to plan for between 1-3 hours to get that turkey fully cooked.
Brenda’s, 4045 Broadway (near 41st Street), Oakland
Communitē Table serves comforting and homey dishes year-round, so they’re a reliable pick for the Thanksgiving holiday. They offer complete, heat-and-eat dinners to serve two ($70) or six ($170) that include the breast and thigh of a Diestal turkey (served blessedly sliced), biscuits, focaccia stuffing and cauliflower and Brussels sprout gratin. There’s also gravy, cranberry sauce, and a sweet potato pie.
It’s a seven-course feast at Daughter’s, at a nice $69 per person. Turkey is in breast form, brined and roasted, and the stuffing is a chestnut/sage/sourdough version. There’s also a baked squash with black olives, garlic mashed potatoes and cranberry-orange sauce.
What you should know: Preorder deadline is Friday, Nov. 19, but they warn that they could sell out sooner. Pickup is on Wednesday, Nov. 24.
Daughter’s Diner, 326 23rd St. (near Webster Street), Oakland
The tamale stars at mother/daughter Guerrero restaurant La Guerrera’s Kitchen are ready to cover your Thanksgiving table with packets of meaty, veggie and vegan joy. Frozen, pre-cooked tamales are available for preorder now, and they’re offering a Thanksgiving dinner special for $150 that includes a dozen tamales, a Two Chicks in the Mix pie, additional desserts and drinks, and two heaping containers of their house-made salsa.
What you should know: Preorders must be placed by Friday, Nov. 19 (but are likely to sell out before then), for pickup on Wednesday, Nov. 24, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
La Guerrera’s Kitchen, 468 8th St. (near Broadway), Oakland
It’s year No. 2 for Mockingbird’s Everything But the Bird menu, a self-explanatory lineup of the best (don’t @ me) part of the Thanksgiving meal. A la carte offerings like salty fried Brussels, green bean casserole and cornbread stuffing are portioned to serve four — order enough, and you might not even miss the turkey.
Chef Mica Talmor’s Thanksgiving menu is sprinkled with the Eastern Europe/Mediterranean influence that’s made her restaurant an East Bay destination. There’s (among many options) a stuffed turkey breast roulade, Moroccan-style Phyllo pie, shaved Brussels sprouts with butternut squash and brandied cherries or a sweet potato cheesecake with candied ginger.
Both locations of Oakland grocery and restaurant Rocky’s Market have pretty much everything else a holiday celebrant could want, including mashed yams with marshmallows, two types of stuffing, sprouts and pies. If you’re dying to be on turkey duty, they have raw Diestel birds or — if you’re feeling daffy — muscovy duck.
What you should know: There’s no posted deadline for orders on Rocky’s Thanksgiving page, but items appear to be selling out swiftly so act fast. Pickup is available at both locations; make sure you’re choosing the right spot when you place your order online.
Rocky’s Market Brooklyn Basin, 288 Ninth Ave. (at the Ninth Avenue terminal), Oakland; Rocky’s Market Oakmore, 1440 Leimert Blvd. (near Arden Way), Oakland
Featured photo: Market Hall/Instagram