THANKSGIVING DINING GUIDE

Where to go in Houston on Thanksgiving: New restaurants and surprises

Get an Italian-American feast at Carmelo's. Photo by Jenn Duncan

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Making Thanksgiving dinner may be a beloved tradition in some families, but not everyone wants to spend a rare vacation day prepping and cooking a meal that will be devoured in 30 minutes. For those who are cooking, we wish you nothing but success. 

For others, we offer a few suggestions for places to dine. As always, the options include some new establishments serving Thanksgiving for the first time, as well as some fancy-pants hotel feasts that are worth a splurge. This guide even offers a few options for turkey haters; maybe spicy tuna hand rolls are a better fit. 

Act quickly. Reservations book up fast. If all else fails, never forget that select Pappas Barbecue locations are open until 6 pm.   

New this year

Bloom and Bee
The Post Oak Hotel restaurant brings its signature fresh and locally inspired take to Thanksgiving dinner. For $65, guests can enjoy a four-course meal featuring butternut squash bisque with maple cream, candied pecans, pumpernickel croutons and chive oil; fall salad with kale, Brussels sprouts and seasonal greens, dried apricot, green apple, crispy shallots, Stilton blue cheese, and champagne vinaigrette; a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings; and a variety of miniature desserts. The restaurant is open from 11 am to 8 pm Thanksgiving Day and reservations are recommended. 1600 West Loop S.; 346-227-5139

Bosscat Kitchen & Libations
Open from Noon to 7 pm, the Highlight Village spot has a Thanksgiving feast perfect for parties large and small. The menu includes heaping helpings of two proteins with salad, family-style sides, and dessert for $45 ($55 for three proteins; $15 for kids 12 and under). Choose from maple-bourbon brined turkey, brown-sugar baked ham or dry-aged roast beef; green bean casserole, pecan-crusted sweet potatoes, cornbread stuffing, winter spiced cranberry sauce and more; and desserts like apple cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream. Best of all,   co-owner John Reed, executive chef Peter Petro, bar director Matt Sharp, and managing partner Tai Nguyen will be serving diners while celebrating with their own families, given the experience a personal touch. They’re also offering half-off all bottles of wine and $5 Texas draft beers all day. Reservations are encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome. 4310 Westheimer Rd.; 281-501-1187

Carmelo's Cucina Italiana 
This Memorial-area restaurant may be an institution, but it has a new spirit under owner Ben Berg (B&B Butchers) and his brother, chef Daniel Berg. Priced at $45 ($20 for kids 11 and under), the three-course, prix fixe menu includes choices like butternut squash soup and pumpkin ravioli to start; turkey or bourbon-glazed ham as the entree; four vegetable sides for the table; and pecan pie, pumpkin pie, or apple crumble for dessert. Call 281-531-0696 to make a reservation. 14795 Memorial Dr.

The Classic
Thanksgiving is super laid back here, with a three-course, pre-fixe menu for $40 per person. The menu includes Red Kuri Squash Soup served with gluten-free croutons and vegan herb crema, maple-glazed turkey breast, and herb-crusted roasted butchers cut with red wine au Jus, all of which are served with butter whipped potatoes and smoked turkey gravy, fall market vegetables, and challah dressing. Hazelnut and cranberry sauce is available upon request. Dessert options are sweet potato layered cake served with orange-cranberry jam or Mom’s Chocolate Cake with fudge pecan icing and vanilla ice cream. 5922 Washington Ave.; 713- 868-1131

Eunice
The newly opened Cajun Creole brasserie near Greenway Plaza is serving a four-course, prix fixe Thanksgiving menu from 11 am to 6 pm. Starter options include roasted oysters, fried quail, and cajun duck poppers. Continue with chicken and sausage gumbo, butternut squash bisque, or a butter lettuce salad. The five entree options include turkey with all the trimmings ($58), Gulf shrimp and grits ($56), the signature Duck Duck Rice ($59), a grilled ribeye ($69), or drum with blue crab ($64). Finish with one of four desserts. Reserve online or by calling the restaurant. 3737 Buffalo Spdwy.; 832-491-1717

Jonathan’s the Rub
Offering a dine-in option for the first time, the Memorial Green location offers a deep-fried turkey meal ($45 per person) or a beef tenderloin meal ($65 per person). Both come with green bean casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, cornbread stuffing, and rolls. Dessert is a choice of Snicker’s or pecan pie, pumpkin cheesecake, or the Chocolate Blackout Cake. Dinner is available from 11 am to 5 pm on Thanksgiving Day. Reservations are encouraged and can be made online, but walk-ins are welcome. 12505 Memorial Dr., Suite 140; 713-808-9291

Mastro’s Steakhouse
The popular Uptown spot goes old school for the holidays, offering Chateaubriand carved tableside with Bernaise and peppercorn sauces on the side. Available for $115, the center-cut roast augments the restaurant’s steak and seafood menu. Pumpkin Spice Warm Butter Cake has been added to the dessert. It’s made with pumpkin and seasonal hard spices, topped and baked with pumpkin pie spiced cream cheese, finished with caramelized raw sugar, and served with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and homemade whipped cream. Mastro’s is open from 1 pm to 9 pm Thanksgiving Day and reservations are recommended. 1650 West Loop S.; 713-993-2500

Roka Akor
Open from 3 to 9 pm on Thanksgiving Day, the Japanese steakhouse offers a tasting menu for $75 per person. The first course is mizuna salad with roasted beets, chopped candied walnuts, goat cheese, and orange supreme; the second is butternut squash soup with bacon bits; the third course is miso-braised short ribs, while the fourth is grilled honey miso-glazed turkey with ginger yuzu cranberry sauce served with mashed sweet potato and shiitaki gravy. For dessert, select from caramel apple cheesecake or pumpkin spice crème brulee. Reservations can be made online. 2929 Weslayan St.; 713-622-1777

Tris
The Woodlands restaurant’s chef Austin Simmons put together an action station-style lunch for Thanksgiving Day. Among the selections are Jimmy Evans shrimp cocktail, Fairytale Pumpkin Soup, roasted beet and goat cheese salad, traditional roasted free-range turkey, honey-chipotle-glazed spiral ham, kimchi barbecue glazed roasted filet of sturgeon, roasted prime rib, cornbread stuffing, sweet potato mash, roasted carrots with a blood orange glaze, pumpkin pie tart, Tris chocolate cake, and Tris pumpkin pie. The cost is $59 for adults, $25 for kids six to 12 years old, and free for diners under five. Reserve via Open Table or by calling the restaurant. 24 Waterway Ave.; 281-203-5641

Fancy hotel feasts

The Hotel Granduca Ristorante Cavour
There’s a taste for everyone on the Uptown hotel’s buffet, which includes an array of salads, cheeses, pastas, and seafood. But you’ll also find tasty traditional Thanksgiving offerings like turkey and all the trimmings, along with some incredible desserts. Available from 11 am to 3 pm on Thanksgiving Day, the cost is $85 for adults and $40 for children. 1080 Uptown Park Blvd.; 713-418-1000.

Lucienne
Thanksgiving dinner is available between 11 am and 2:30 pm in the Hotel Alessandra’s airy, chic Lucienne restaurant. The three-course meal is $55 per person, and guests can choose from a first course of crab cakes, pumpkin and ginger soup, or a date and goat cheese tartlette. Main course items are roasted turkey breast, roast beef, or Gulf red snapper. For dessert, select from a double crust apple pie or chocolate bread pudding. Call for reservations. 1070 Dallas St.; 713-242-8540.

Quattro at the Four Seasons
Available from 10 am to 3 pm, the extensive brunch menu offers a raw bar, carving station, appetizers, main courses, and desserts, as well as special selections from the hotel's lobby bar Bayou and Bottle. Among the options are a thyme-crusted leg of lamb, stuffed chicken, honey-glazed Virginia ham, tri-colored potato au gratin, grilled asparagus, lemon-scented calamari, Corona steamed mussels, a sushi station, Caprese salad, dark chocolate almond cake, cranberry-orange trifle, pumpkin pie – and, of course, traditional roasted turkey. In addition to a bountiful spread, the price includes coffee, Bloody Marys, and Mimosas. The cost is $110 for adults and $49 for children. Reservations can be made online or by calling the restaurant. 1300 Lamar St.; 713-267-4700

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Watson's accusers appeared on Real Sports on Tuesday night. Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images.

HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’s heavily promoted and much anticipated examination of Deshaun Watson’s legal mess involving alleged sexual misconduct shed little new light and merely presented a summary of well worn he said/she (x22) said accusations and denials.

The episode debuted Tuesday night on the premium cable service and will be repeated dozens of times throughout the week on HBO’s platforms. Check your local listings for times and channel.

The segment was hosted by Soledad O’Brien who presented compelling face-to-face interviews with two of the quarterback’s accusers: massage therapists Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes. Their stories were detailed and graphic. Both cried during the interviews.

Solis: “As I’m working, he deliberately grabs himself and put his penis on my hand. I pulled my hand away instantly and I started crying. I told that I’m done. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Solis said she felt threatened when Watson, before leaving the session, allegedly told her: “I know you have a career to protect, and I know that you don’t want anyone messing with it, just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.”

Solis added, “That’s when I got really scared because that sounded like a threat to me.”

Hayes: “He wanted me to kind of make a V motion in his pelvic area. I just kept massaging and did what he asked, until his penis kept touching me repeatedly as I did it.”

Hayes said that Watson had an orgasm, which she said was “mortifying, embarrassing and disgusting.”

O’Brien asked Hayes why she continued to have contact via email with Watson after their encounter.

Hayes: "I wasn't sure what he was capable of. He could've physically assaulted me. He could've bashed my business, so I had to protect myself and my business the best way I saw fit. Did I ever see him again after that? No. Did I give him the runaround? Yes."

O’Brien pointed out that two separate grand juries in Texas heard criminal accusations against Watson and neither found enough evidence to indict him.

Solis and Hayes, and 20 other massage therapists have filed civil suits against Watson. The cases aren’t expected to reach a courtroom until next March. Both sides could reach a settlement before then which would effectively shut down any legal action against Watson. However, both sides say they aren’t interested in any pretrial settlements. That’s what they say now, anyway.

After being banished to the sidelines for the 2021 season by the Houston Texans, Watson signed a historic, 5-year fully guaranteed $230 million contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Hayes said she feels Watson “is being rewarded for bad behavior." Solis said, "It's just like a big screw you. That's what it feels like. That we (the Browns) don't care. He can run and throw, and that's what we care about.”

Watson currently is participating in preseason workouts with the Browns and, at the moment, is cleared to play the upcoming NFL season.

That is unless the NFL suspends Watson for some, most or all of the 2022 season. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league is nearing completion of its independent investigation into Watson’s case and will reach a decision “shortly,” probably this summer. The NFL and NFL Players Association mutually agreed to have former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson decide whether or not Watson violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy and what discipline should be handed down if he did.

The Browns are scheduled to play the Texans on Dec. 4 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

O’Brien said, while producing the Real Sports piece, she tried to interview Watson, his attorneys and the Cleveland Browns for their side of the story. All declined.

During a press conference in March to announce his joining the Browns, Watson denied any inappropriate behavior with the massage therapists.

Watson: “I never assaulted any woman. I’ve never disrespected any woman. I was raised to be genuine and respect everyone around me. I’ve never done the thing that these people are alleging. My mom and my aunties didn’t raise me that way.”

Leah Graham, a member of Watson’s legal team, sat for an interview after O’Brien’s segment was complete.

Graham: "It's 22 women. It's one lawyer. There's only one lawyer who was willing to take these cases. And as we know from Ashley Solis’ deposition, Mr. (Houston attorney Tony) Buzbee was not the first, probably not the second or third lawyer she went to, but he was the only one to take her case. Why? Not because it had merit, but because he would use these cases to increase his social media following and quite frankly to get on shows like this one.”

My reaction after watching the Real Sports segment? We weren’t in the room when the massage therapists worked on Watson. We weren’t in the grand jury room when evidence against Watson was presented. We don’t know what happened. We don’t know what will happen if these cases go to trial.

Until then all we have is one big, lurid, embarrassing mess. In American courtrooms, defendants are presumed innocent. That’s often the opposite in the court of public opinion. We’ll just have to wait while the wheels of justice grind painfully slow.

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