The turkey. The stuffing. The mashed potatoes. The sweet potatoes. The gravy. The cranberry sauce. The corn. The green bean casserole. The pumpkin pie. The apple pie.
And, of course, the absolute exhaustion.
All of these elements go into creating the perfect family Thanksgiving dinner, and if you have a giant kitchen with multiple appliances and a small army of sous chefs, perhaps it can be pulled off without having a mental breakdown. But for the rest of us, between cooking the food, keeping the drinks flowing and trying to avoid getting into a political argument with your conspiracy theory spouting uncle, the whole thing can be a really overwhelming experience.
So why put yourself through it? If the point of Thanksgiving is about being thankful, why not head out to a local restaurant and be extra thankful that you don’t have to deal with the stress of hosting the holiday? Here are our picks for some great spots in South Jersey to enjoy a lovely meal on Thanksgiving Day — and remember — inviting Uncle Bill is optional.
Atlantic City Country Club: The elegant, upscale beauty of a country club makes for a lovely setting for a Thanksgiving dinner, and that is precisely what you get at Atlantic City Country Club. This year, they will host a Thanksgiving dinner buffet featuring a long list of Turkey Day favorites including a carving station with roast turkey and prime rib, stuffing, mashed potatoes, a vegetable medley, baked mac ’n’ cheese, sweet potatoes with caramel sauce and much more, plus a full array of desserts. Three seating times are available starting at noon. Prices are $49 for adults, $19 for kids ages 3 to 12 and free for kids under 3. Reservations are required. Atlantic City Country Club is located at 1 Leo Fraser Drive in Northfield. Go to ACCountryClub.com.
Guy Fieri’s Chop House: One of the best and most underrated restaurants in town, Guy Fieri’s Chop House inside Bally’s Atlantic City will take guests on a trip to Flavortown as they host the Real Deal Turkey Dinner, a four-course holiday meal that will feature roasted butternut squash soup with Jack Daniels mascarpone and spiced almonds; a Sonoma salad with mesclun spring mix, balsamic dressing, bleu cheese crumbles, craisins and honey almonds; a citrus and herb-roasted turkey with an andouille sausage brioche stuffing, whipped Yukon gold potatoes, glazed yams and bacon-onion green beans along with a choice of homemade pumpkin or apple pie for dessert. Cost is $36 per person. Reservations are required and can be made through OpenTable.com. Bally’s is located at 1900 Pacific Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to BallysAC.com.
Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill: The first of two Gordon Ramsay restaurants on our list, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill is located inside Caesars Atlantic City. Although its theme is heavily British, the Pub will nonetheless be serving a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner with a menu consisting of a five-spice butternut squash soup, roasted pear and stilton salad; a main course of roast turkey with candied sweet potatoes; and a choice of classic pumpkin pie or apple cider cheesecake for dessert. Cost is $45 per person. Caesars is located at 2100 Pacific Ave in Atlantic City. Go to CaesarsAC.com.
Romanelli’s Garden Café: Those who aren’t into the prix-fixe concept will enjoy an a la carte Thanksgiving dinner at this popular Galloway restaurant. The menu features scrumptious appetizers such as stuffed mushrooms, filet carpaccio and prosciutto burrata, while the main course includes a traditional Thanksgiving dinner complete with herb stuffing, mashed and sweet potatoes, gravy, coleslaw, green beans and cranberry relish for $26.99 (kids Thanksgiving dinner is $10.99). Non-turkey lovers may enjoy less traditional items such as surf and turf ($33.99), Virginia baked ham ($21.99) and veal rollantini (29.99.) Romanelli’s Garden Cafe is located at 279 S. New York Road in Galloway. Go to RomanellisGardenCafe.com.
Nero’s Italian Steakhouse: A steakhouse isn’t usually what you picture when you think of Thanksgiving, but hey, sometimes it’s fun to switch up your traditions! And this year they have a delicious feast prepared for Thanksgiving. It starts with a sherry cream lobster bisque followed by a frisee-basil roasted heirloom salad, each of which serve as superb warm-up acts for the main course: Hand-carved turkey complete with the holiday sides of stuffing, French beans and cranberry. Desserts are the same as at Gordon Ramsay Pub: A choice of pumpkin pie or apple cider cheesecake. Cost is $45 per person. Caesars is located at 2100 Pacific Ave in Atlantic City. Go to CaesarsAC.com.
Chelsea 5 Gastropub: It doesn’t matter what day it is, a trip to Tropicana Atlantic City’s Chelsea 5 Gastropub always feels like a special occasion with its sheik style and magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ocean, but for Thanksgiving they are really pulling out all the stops. Their incredible holiday menu is available for $39 per person and will offer diners the ability to customize their meal to their liking. First course choices include a Caesar salad, butternut squash soup or local produce-based Chelsea House salad. All guests can enjoy Nicholas Farm roasted turkey served with herb gravy, cornbread and chorizo stuffing and macaroni and cheese alongside a tangy-sweet Jersey cranberry sauce. Those dining will have a choice between buttermilk or sweet mashed potatoes. For dessert, options include a tart Meyer lemon cheesecake, traditional pumpkin or apple crumb pies. Tropicana is located at 2831 Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Go to Tropicana.net.
Greate Bay Country Club: Somers Point’s Greate Bay Country Club will serve as a “Greate” place to celebrate Thanksgiving 2021 as they will offer a full Thanksgiving buffet from 1 to 5 p.m. While roasted turkey is on the menu, guests will have a variety of proteins to choose from, including both ham and prime rib, along with salmon, chicken and shrimp dishes. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as everyone in your party will enjoy a long list of soups, salads, sides and gourmet desserts as well. The cost is $49 per adult and $19 per child ages 4 to 12. Reservations are required. Greate Bay Country Club is located at 901 Mays Landing Road in Somers Point. Go to GreateBay.com.
Gordon Ramsay Steak: For a truly upscale Thanksgiving meal, it’s hard to top Gordon Ramsay Steak inside Harrah’s Resort. Things begin with a chef-selected amuse bouche of foie gras mousse, Jersey apple and crepe chip preparing guests for the exquisite meal to come. First course will feature a butternut squash soup adorned with goat cheese and arugula, followed by a balsamic and prosciutto burrata. The main course served will be a classic turkey dinner complete with croquettes, green bean casserole, turkey bacon, chive cornbread and cranberry compote. A rich pumpkin lava cake will be served as the perfect ending to a luxurious and thankful evening. Cost is $95 per person. Harrah’s is located at 777 Harrah’s Blvd. in Atlantic City. Go to Caesars.com.
Rum Point Crab House: Maybe you love the idea of getting together with family, but you just don’t love turkey? Rum point Crab House at Harrah’s has got you covered. For a thoroughly nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner, they will offer a creative and tantalizing menu. Creamy butternut squash and crab dip accompanied by sweet potato chips will start things off, while beets and brown butter scallops with pumpkin ranch and Seckel pear will follow, offering seasonal tastes with a seafood base. The turkey will be substituted with stuffed flounder, along with oyster stuffing and a familiarly delicious green bean casserole. A banana rum cake will round things out perfectly for dessert. Cost is $79 per person. Harrah’s is located at 777 Harrah’s Blvd. in Atlantic City. Go to Caesars.com.
Harbor Pines Golf Club: Picturesque and serene, Harbor Pines Golf Club provides a relaxing and sophisticated environment to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. Overlooking the 9th hole of their sprawling golf course, guests can indulge in a Thanksgiving buffet from 1 to 5 p.m. Highlights include roasted turkey, spiral ham, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, herbed stuffing, roasted vegetables and an assortment of fresh-baked pies, cakes and pastries. Cost is $44.95 for adults, $15.95 for children ages 6 to 12. Children 5 and under eat free. Reservations are required. Harbor Pines Golf Club is located at 500 St. Andrews Drive in Egg Harbor Township. Go to HarborPines.com.
Renault Winery: Few spots in our area can boast the charm and beauty of Renault Winery. The space is cozy and inviting and offers the ideal setting for a holiday meal. This Thanksgiving, they have once again pulled out all the stops with a family-style dinner that is sure to impress. Guests can expect an artisan bread basket with whipped butter and cranberry sauce to start things off, followed by a harvest salad, roasted free range turkey with rosemary gravy and a bounty of sides to choose from, including roasted yams with brown sugar glaze, whipped potatoes, white cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese, stuffing, green bean casserole and roasted Brussels sprouts with onions and bacon. A grand table of desserts will close out the meal. Cost is $49 per adult, $20 for children ages 3-10. Reservations are required. Renault Winery is located at 72 N. Breman Ave. in Egg Harbor City. Go to RenaultWinery.com.
Cape May County
The Reeds at Shelter Haven: Perhaps the most stunning resort in Stone Harbor, The Reeds at Shelter Haven offers a gorgeous bayside backdrop for your Thanksgiving dining experience. A traditional Thanksgiving buffet will be offered from noon to 6 p.m. with highlights to include roasted turkey, slow-roasted prime rib, crispy local haddock, cider-braised pork shoulder and much more. Cost is $48 for adults and $24 for kids 12 and under. Reservations are required. Guests can make a weekend out of it, as the hotel will also be hosting various holiday events beginning Friday, Nov. 26, including their annual tree lighting. The Reeds at Shelter Haven is located at 9601 Third Ave. in Stone Harbor. Go to ReedsAtShelterHaven.com.
Beach Plum Farm: Farm to table has been a catchphrase in the culinary world for a while now, but those looking for the literal version of this concept will be overjoyed at the Thanksgiving experience at Beach Plum Farm. A truly unique multi-course, family-style BYOB dinner built around home-grown heritage turkeys and the seasonal harvest of the farm itself, expect unique twists on all of your favorite Thanksgiving staples served in an atmosphere that you will remember for years to come. One seating only at 4 p.m. Cost is $125 per person. Reservations are required. Beach Plum Farm is located at 140 Stevens St. in West Cape May. Go to BeachPlumFarmCapeMay.com.
Union Park: The grand and majestic look of the exterior of this beachfront restaurant offers a bit of man-made beauty to match the natural gorgeousness of the seascape it faces. This year their Thanksgiving dinner runs from 2 to 7 p.m. and features a three-course prix fixe menu. Highlights include tuna tartare with seaweed salad, pineapple relish, mezcal, avocado crema, guajillo chiles and a tortilla crisp; burrata with heirloom tomato, prosciutto and balsamic crema; and no fewer than nine entrée selections, such as scallops served with a wild mushroom risotto, tomato bacon jam and basil oil; and short ribs with a roasted garlic au jus, gremolata, balsamic onions, carrots and potatoes, among others. And yes, a traditional turkey dinner is available as well. For dessert, guests can select from such sinful sweets as crème brulee, pumpkin cheesecake and apple cobbler, or opt for ice cream or sorbet. Cost is $75 per person and there is an option for a children’s turkey plate for $50. Reservations are required. Union Park is located at 727 Beach Ave. in Cape May. Go to UnionParkDiningRoom.com.