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Top Gourmet Getaways for Thanksgiving Weekend

Plan a trip to one of these delicious destinations, and let someone else do the cooking for a change

Left to right: Sonoran Dogs at El Guero Canelo, Tucson / Wine at the Citizen Hotel, Tuscon / Lemon Tart, Sunshine Spice Cafe, Boise

Courtesy IT Public Relations; Courtesy The Citizen Hotel; Katilyn Turner Photography

Left to right: Sonoran Dogs at El Guero Canelo, Tucson / Wine at the Citizen Hotel, Tuscon / Lemon Tart, Sunshine Spice Cafe, Boise

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Travel and food go together like turkey and stuffing, so this Thanksgiving weekend, why not step away from the kitchen and let someone else do all the work? Whether you’re a fan of typical turkey day fixings, or you’re keen to spice up the holiday with new traditions and flavors, these five destinations across the U.S. will satisfy all cravings. Best of all — no dishes to do at the end of your stay.

Sunshine Spice Cafe in Boise, ID. Photo of interior and dish of dumplings

Photos by Katilyn Turner Photography

​Boise, Idaho

Few things are more contagious than the excitement of being in on a surprise, and the culinary and cultural landscape of Idaho’s fast-growing capital city delivers the feeling in delicious droves. Not only is Boise establishing itself as a craft brew and farm-to-table contender, it’s also home to one of the country’s largest Basque-American populations, which means food, culture and conviviality from this region in northern Spain and southwestern France flavor Boise’s bubbling international food scene.

​For an afternoon pick-me-up, tuck into the sweets at Boise’s first Afghan bakery, Sunshine Spice Bakery & Café, recognized this year by the James Beard Foundation in the Outstanding Baker category.

The foundation also zeroed in on three other local chefs. Among them is nominee Kris Komori of the reservation-only Kin (the restaurant is closed on Thanksgiving but open for dinner that Friday and Saturday if you can snag a reservation), whose culinary-innovation-meets-Idaho-ingredients fuse in epic five-course menus that change every month. A few reservations remain for the weekend, or drop into the cocktail bar (first-come, first-served basis) and nibble on housemade potato chips and onion dip and Aunt Mabel’s Mah Fry — a chicken or maitake mushroom patty with chili crisp dip and lemon. If you prefer to stick to turkey (or trout, an Idaho specialty), try Chandlers, an upscale steakhouse serving a three-course, prix-fixe Thanksgiving menu for $65 per person.

While you’re here: Visit the Basque Market for pintxos (Basque for tapas), wine and, at noon on Wednesdays and Fridays, rain or shine, paella on the patio. 

Stay: The pet-friendly Hotel 43 is connected to Chandlers and walking distance to dozens of restaurants downtown. 

Isa's French Bistro, on a downtown corner in Asheville, North Carolina, with people seated at outside tables, and other walking by.

RidingMetaphor / Alamy Stock PhotoSan Fran

Isa's French Bistro, on a downtown corner, Asheville

​Asheville, North Carolina

When a city refers to its culinary scene as “Foodtopia,” you know you’re in for something special. Asheville’s farm-fresh produce, solid craft beer scene, a drivable cheese trail and dozens of restaurants in a quaint and strollable downtown satiate food fans around the country. So much so, the online platform Yelp named Asheville the 2022 top foodie destination in America based on restaurant ratings from visitors. The James Beard Foundation took notice, too, and bestowed an Outstanding Restaurant award on Indian street-food den Chai Pani (closed on Thanksgiving but open all weekend, no reservations needed) and an Outstanding Hospitality award on Spanish tapas restaurant Cúrate (closed on Thanksgiving). If traditional fixings appeal, reserve a spot at Isa’s French Bistro, where a three-course feast will be served from 12 to 8 p.m. Or choose the Thanksgiving herb-brined turkey breast and sides at Hemingway’s Cuba.

While you’re here: Reserve tickets ahead of time to walk through the gardens of the North Carolina Arboretum at its spectacular Winter Lights show, open on Thanksgiving. 

Stay: In the heart of downtown, Hotel Indigo has 116 guestrooms, a fitness center and parking ($20 per night) for a convenient Asheville home base.

San Francisco's House of Nanking Chinese restaurant exterior

parkerphotography / Alamy Stock Photo

House of Nanking Chinese restaurant in San Francisco

​Chinatown, San Francisco, CA

Looking for something different? North America’s oldest Chinatown (established in the 1850s) is one of San Francisco’s most food-friendly neighborhoods, thanks to streets lined with authentic bakeries, dim sum joints, family-run restaurants and upscale dining rooms that pay homage to China’s diverse cuisine. Mister Jiu’s opened in 2016, and chef-owner Brandon Jew quickly earned the neighborhood a Michelin star. In June, he added a Best California Chef James Beard award to his trophy shelf. (The restaurant is open on Thanksgiving, Friday and Saturday. Reservations are hard to get, but check Resy for availability). Six floors above Grant Avenue, the sleek dining room of Empress by Boon (closed on Thanksgiving) serves artful Cantonese multi-course meals in a glamorous setting. Hot tip: Walk-ins can dine à la carte in the lounge under a stunning carved wooden pergola. The family-run House of Nanking (no reservations needed) is a San Francisco favorite, especially because the owners prefer to choose your dishes. Definitely try the house noodles and pork confit egg rolls. Chinese food emporium China Live (closed on Thanksgiving but open over the weekend) has a lively first-floor marketplace restaurant with seasonal specialties and mainstays, such as the popular pan-fried pork buns. Reservations advised.

While you’re here: Peace out and explore like it’s the 1960s in a painted VW Bus with San Francisco Love Tours

Stay: Atop Nob Hill, the Stanford Court Hotel’s 400 rooms are well-located to explore Chinatown on foot.


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Grand Ballroom, Bellevue Hotel, Philadelphia PA

Courtesy Bellevue Hotel

Grand Ballroom, Bellevue Hotel

​Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

When the James Beard Awards named 11 Philadelphia-area chefs and restaurants as semifinalists this year, the proof was in the proverbial pudding that the City of Brotherly Love is a worthy place to arrive hungry. Well-known for its cheesesteaks (and deservedly so), the city of roughly 1.6 million simmers with longtime favorites and new chefs seasoning the city with unique culinary style, from its beloved tomato pie to top-notch vegetarian and one of the nation’s oldest and largest public markets. For a sit-down that brings Pennsylvania heritage to the table, reserve at Elwood, where James Beard semifinalist chef Adam Diltz spins his country cooking roots of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage into white tablecloth elegance, served family-style every Thursday to Sunday. Reserve for the day of Thanksgiving, and he’ll have goose and turkey on the menu, serving dinner from 2 to 8:30 p.m. An added perk: Many Philadelphia restaurants, including Elwood, have a generous BYOB policy and no corkage fees. 

 While you’re here: Head to Benjamin Franklin Parkway, from just beyond City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art between 8:30 a.m. and noon to watch floats and see local dance groups and marching bands perform in the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country. Over the weekend, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is open, and it’s the only venue in the United States to host “Matisse in the 1930s,” showcasing more than 100 works by Henri Matisse, through Jan. 29, 2023.

Stay: The 165 rooms at the Bellevue Hotel bring old-world grandeur front and center, and a Thanksgiving Day buffet will be served in the XIX (Nineteen) restaurant dining room from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations required.

Two murals and a plate of Sonoran-Mexican tacos in Tuscon, AZ

Courtesy IT Public Relations

Murals and Sonoran-Mexican food in the city

​Tucson, Arizona

In 2015, Tucson became the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy designated in the United States, but the Sonoran Desert city has been dishing out its culinary tale for centuries. A tapestry of Mexican and Native American food sprawls across town, waiting to spice up your Thanksgiving, as do award-winning vineyards (Yes, Arizona has those too) such as Los Milics. No wonder Food & Wine magazine named Tucson one of the next great food cities this year. Bon Appétit magazine couldn’t resist naming Tucson’s Bata one of the best new restaurants of 2022. With most ingredients sourced from within 400 miles and a kitchen helmed by self-taught local Tyler Fenton, Bata has no availability on Thanksgiving Thursday, but the weekend looks promising. A good place to whet your appetite is along south 12th Avenue, home to the highest concentration of Sonoran-Mexican food in the city. Duck into La Estrella Bakery for Mexican sweets and homemade tortillas, or try tamales (a festive season tradition) at Perfecto’s, no reservations necessary. 

While you’re here: Two-wheel it with Tucson Bike Tours past colorful murals, through historic barrios and to some of the city’s best taco spots.

Stay: Brand new downtown, the Citizen Hotel has 10 chic rooms in a refurbished historic building. A daily complimentary wine tasting at 4 p.m. introduces guests to Arizona-produced elixirs.

A Sausalito, California–based freelance travel writer, Kimberley Lovato has contributed to numerous publications, including Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler and Virtuoso Life.​

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