5 Houston Alternatives to a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

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A cold Thanksgiving day calls for hot pot, the ultimate communal meal.
Sometimes you don't want to eat a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes you destroy the turkey and all of your side dishes turn out to taste like broiled roadkill. And sometimes you just want to start a new tradition out of being non-traditional.

Here are five suggestions for anyone who wants something other than turkey and dressing this year, but still wants warm, filling food that's perfect to share with a group. (And, yes, al of these restaurants are open on Thanksgiving Day.)

Turkish: Hey, it's food from Turkey. What could be more appropriate on Thanksgiving than that? Head to Turquoise Grill (3701 Kirby, 713-526-3800) and feast on all manner of meats that aren't the boring bird: lamb, beef and even seafood. We recommend the Tandir Kebab -- lamb that's been cooked overnight in Turquoise Grill's brick oven and served with jasmine rice and baba ghanoush -- or a hearty and autumnal red lentil soup. You can view the restaurant's special Thanksgiving dinner menu here.

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Photo by Jeff Balke
Dusky, delicious dishes at Himalaya.
Ethiopian: There are few cuisines better for sharing with a group than Ethiopian food, traditionally served on a communal platter. Everyone takes turns swiping their share of dishes like doro wat and tibs with pieces of injera bread, with plenty of talking in between to make sure you're not zeroing in on someone else's desired bite of kitfo. Try Nazareth Ethiopian Cafe (6617 Chimney Rock, 713-218-9883) or this week's cafe review spot, Sheba Cafe.

Hot Pot: The weather will finally take a turn back toward the colder (and more seasonally appropriate) side of the thermometer on Thanksgiving Day. That means it's the perfect day for hot pot, another excellent communal meal opportunity. Head to Tan Tan (6816 Ranchester Drive, 713-771-1268), one of Houston's hot pot heavy hitters, and relax over a steaming pot of seafood, beef, noodles, veggies or whatever your heart desires: That's the beauty of build-your-own hot pots.

Wild Game & Wine: For a different type of adventurous eating than Vietnamese hot pot and Ethiopian food, how about a wine dinner hosted at Cova (5555 Washington Avenue, 713-868-3366) instead? The restaurant is hosting a five-course wine dinner on Wednesday, November 17 (so you could still do a regular Turkey Day if you so desired) that features dishes like Texas quail and venison paired with eight different wines from Columbia Valley. Call Cova for pricing and reservations.

Indian/Pakistani: Chef Kaiser Lakshmi has a knack for making anybody feel like family at his restaurant, Himalaya (6652 Southwest Freeway, 713-532-2837). The enormous portions of chicken biryani and Hunter's beef are made for sharing. And with exotic desserts like shahi tukra (the Indian version of French toast), you'll never miss that pumpkin pie.


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