Thanksgiving is on Thursday, Nov. 24 this year, and Nosh has you covered with slews of East Bay-specific dining tips for the holiday. From the best pies to takeout ideas to restaurants open on the day, we have everything to make your Thanksgiving a success.
Every year at this time, I’m reminded how lucky we are to live in the Bay Area, with its multitude and variety of beliefs, interests and traditions.
Few holidays make that more apparent than Thanksgiving, when some of us sit down to a huge and turkey-centered feast, others of us just lean into it as a day off and still others toil to make sure the rest of us are served.
While most of us here at Berkeleyside, The Oaklandside and East Bay Nosh aren’t on the clock Thursday, we’ll all be spending the day in our own ways. Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving Day mealtime traditions that we’ll be engaging in this year.
Besides the relaxed fun of spending the day with dear old friends, my favorite part is after, when we get to steal away with something we call a “piescraper” or “piefait” — a slice of each type of amazing pie at the spread (thanks baker A.), stacked on top of each other, usually in a reused plastic yogurt tub. The object is to plunge the fork vertically through all the kinds of pie at once. — Nosh openings and closings columnist Joanna Della Penna
Every year for Thanksgiving we head to my father-in-law’s in Hillsborough. We’re lucky if he’s in the mood to make his carrot bisque as the first course (there have been years where it was noticeably absent): The soup is a gorgeous shade of orange and tastes surprisingly bright from a slight zing of ginger. It’s the perfect appetizer before the main heavy hitters of the night. — Nosh contributor Paulina Barrack
I always look forward to turkey jook or congee made with the leftover turkey carcass. The silky-savory porridge is a comfort food I grew up eating on the day after Thanksgiving. In 2020, I decided that my Thanksgiving table should include a dish of indigenous origin, so I started with Sean Sherman’s simple corn cakes recipe, and added mushrooms to it. I’m planning to do this again this year. They are a wonderful (and gluten-free) alternative to stuffing and make a great base for day after dish, turkey hash. — Nosh contributor Shirley Huey
It’s funny, Thanksgiving is some folks’ favorite holiday. I grew up in a family where Thanksgiving was certainly honored…family and friends gathered, we shared what we were thankful for, watched football, etc., though the whole “big and early dinner” thing was not part of it (at all). Depending on the year, we’d have burgers, or go to Chinese, or head to Las Vegas — basically anything but sitting down in the early afternoon to eat a feast of turkey and sides. True to form, this year, we’re barbecuing…at dinner time! — Cityside vice president, client partnerships Colleen Leary
My favorite thing to make is the cranberry relish recipe that is usually right on the bag: cranberries, orange sugar. Sometimes I’ll make it cooked, sometimes just chopped. Always glad to have some to go with leftovers because it just gets better and better. My favorite thing to eat, honestly, is a turkey sandwich with all the trimmings on the beach the next day. — Nosh contributor/Ms. Barstool Risa Nye
This year for Thanksgiving, I’m making my grandfather’s special: a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. (Don’t knock it until you try it!) I’m always thankful for the PB+P’s mix of sweet and salty, the perfect combination of flavors to accompany me as I head outside to climb some rocks. — Nosh contributor Madeline Taub
If I’m contributing to the meal, I make Chinese sticky rice (糯米饭). It’s my family’s comfort food and is a crowd pleaser. I have to make enough so that people can take “leftovers” home. — Cityside news platforms director Doug Ng
The weirdest thing I ever made for Thanksgiving: One year my brother and I made stuffing out of McDonald’s cheeseburgers. We bought half a dozen, chopped them up, mixed them with a bit of chicken stock, and stuffed them into the bird. The taste was strange and disgusting and delicious all at once. (We talked about doing it again with In-N-Out burgers, but never got around to it. Maybe this year!) — Nosh contributor Nathan Dalton
We don’t enjoy turkey, so Thanksgiving is fridge cleanse day. Out comes the electric hot pot stove and a can of likely-expired shasha sauce. From the fridge we scavenge ingredients — frozen cuttlefish balls, thinly sliced lamb, yam noodles, napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, lotus root, tofu skins — which we dip first into the boiling communal bone broth then into our own bowls of chili crisp and other condiments. As the hours pass the broth takes on the flavors of all the ingredients that have been cooked in it, as do our sweaters, which, by the end of the night, smell like peppercorns and meat. — Berkeleyside environment reporter Iris Kwok
Every year, after leaving Thanksgiving dinner full of laughter and love, I make a beeline home to prepare a personal post-feast stuffing, which I devour on the sofa, in front of my TV, all by myself. As I have neither a family of my own nor a dining room table fit for hosting, I’m at the behest of gracious hosts, one of them a culinary fancypants, who get almost everything right about Thanksgiving but the stuffing. My ideal starchy side is, like me, as pedestrian as possible — sopping with butter and stock and seasoned within an inch of inedibility, minus any sausage, chestnuts, bacon, oysters or fruit (dried or otherwise). If you too yearn for a back-to-basics recipe unsullied by California cuisine’s whimsy, Cook’s Country’s version is a solid place to start. — Nosh contributor Brock Keeling
Apple’s “Find My” app is making me miss where I grew up this year — I checked it earlier today to see where my husband had parked the car, and noticed that every human I follow is at my mom’s house in Indiana, where she’s probably already started assembling the ingredients for her wild rice pilaf with artichokes and mushrooms, my favorite Thanksgiving dish. It’s packed with savory, sweet and umami, and it tastes like the holiday to me — I tried to make it a few times about 25 years ago, when I first moved to the Bay Area, but it’s never tasted the same way it tastes in her rural kitchen. Instead, from my California kitchen I’ll make Matt Horn’s cheesy potato casserole, swapping the chicken soup for cream of mushroom, which everyone tells me tastes even better. (Confidential to MH: Even meat eaters make this claim, I’m just saying.) It’s even better the second day, so this year I started on it last night, and will pop it into the oven later today for a re-heat tomorrow. — Nosh editor Eve Batey
Featured image: Traditional Thanksgiving stuffing. Credit: Christopher Connell (CC BY-ND 2.0)