A Fuss-Free Thanksgiving

Restaurants and shops to make your Thanksgiving great.

It's that time of year again. Luckily for us, dozens of restaurants, markets and grocery stores in Bethesda stand ready to lend a hand, or even cook your meal, this Thanksgiving.

Maybe you don’t want to cook, hate to cook, afraid to cook, or can’t fit a turkey into your oven…whatever the reason, there are several local restaurants serving memorable Thanksgiving meals, or places where you can buy ready-made versions.

There are also local markets where you'll find the supplies you need to make that feast yourself. So, be thankful--you live in Bethesda.

Preparing a Feast for your Family

Whole Foods

With four kinds of turkey dinners –organic, vegan, traditional or prepped-and-ready for the oven turkey—Whole Foods has high quality ingredients. Their ready-made Thanksgiving dinners come with sage stuffing, homestyle mashed potatoes, cranberry orange relish, turkey gravy and your choice of two of vegetables (creamed spinach, sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, etc.) or homestyle casseroles.

If you’re planning to cook your own turkey, Whole Foods has a gourmet brining kit that helps create the juiciest turkey meat. The kit includes a turkey brine mix, ziptop brining bag, herb rub and directions. Or buy one of Whole Food’s signature glazes available in apple thyme or bourbon.  Once you’ve got the meal under control, pick up one or two of Whole Foods' freshly-made pies, desserts, appetizers and rolls.


Balducci’s has online ordering mastered. Sit down at your computer, then check off amounts you need of each part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Go pick it up on Thanksgiving day (or the night before). I have heard the pick-up is crowded and chaotic so consider arriving very early and plan to reheat. Balducci's makes bountiful party platters, and their bakery stocks a variety of pies. Balducci’s sells wine, so it’s truly a one-stop shop for the Thanksgiving cook.

Safeway on Bradley Boulevard

The sparkling, new Safeway awaits the Thanksgiving shopper. Fresh produce, abundant choices of turkeys and turkey breast, prepared side dishes and a bakery with a large selection of pies. You can even order and have your groceries delivered to your home! Can you tell that impresses me? If you haven’t yet perused the aisles of this LEED approved (that means environmentally friendly building certification) grocery store, this might be the time.

Trader Joe’s

This store always surprises me with new products, and the prices can’t be beat. Trader Joes is calling their Thanksgiving supplies, “The Food Pilgrimager,” and they’re selling turkeys with no antibiotics or growth hormones, raised on a diet of 100% vegetarian feed. The turkeys come brined (with salt – Kosher salt is used for Glatt Kosher birds) and sell for $1.99 a pound. They also sell Tofurkey, for the vegetarian in your family, along with fresh cranberry sauces, gravy and stuffing mixes.

Spring Mill Bread

I’ve never found a better apple pie than the ones  from Spring Mill bakery. They are filled with four pounds of tart granny smith apples covered by the most delicate crust. They are called “double stuffed;” though pricey at $23.95; they are worth it. Spring Mill also sells pumpkin pie and several puffy rolls--for the family with a particular palate.

Capital Beer & Wine

This new beverage boutique on Norfolk Avenue across from Rock Bottom hosts regular wine tastings on Thursday evenings, and the knowledgeable service you receive at Capital Beer & Wine can steer you to perfect pairings for your Thanksgiving meal. This store sells hard-to-find craft beers, growlers, and a wide selection of specialty wines, including sulfite-free and sparkling. The prices are very competitive, especially for the level of service available.

Farm Markets

To buy produce and meats from area farms, visit Bethesda Central Farm Market this Sunday. Distillery Cider Works is offering tastings of their Thanksgiving cider, and you can pick up their variety of fresh-picked apples for pie making. Ayrshire Farms is selling organic turkeys. Two Acre Farm offers locally produced stuffing, wild rice mixes and After-the-Feast Soup Mix. Upper Crust recommends you preorder their pies and breads; they have Pumpkin, Chocolate French Silk, Pecan, Pear Frangipane, Cranberry Apple, and Traditional Apple. The Market sells lots of ready-to-eat dishes too, from Cava Mezza, Patisserie Poupon, Betty’s Chips and Salsa, Sababa Falafel and Old Smoky Barbeque to name a few.

Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market is open Saturday, Sunday and Wednesdays, where you’ll find a cozy indoor market with fresh produce, baked goods, ready-made meals and decorative wreaths.

Dining Out on Thanksgiving

Where can you gather the family and friends for Thanksgiving dinner and leave the shopping, cooking and cleaning up afterward to someone else? There are several restaurants serving traditional and some less traditional Thanksgiving meals in Bethesda. These restaurants recommend you contact them directly for reservations or try Open Table:

Assaggi Mozzarella Bar
Serving an a la carte menu all day as well as a three course Thanksgiving Special Menu-$39 for adults, $15 for children: Choice of starter, main turkey entrée and choice of dessert.

Brasserie Monte Carlo
For the last eleven years, Brasserie Monte Carlo has served a three-course “Holiday Affair” for $35/pp, from 12:00pm until 8:00 pm. The chef is cooking seabass, duck, turkey and filet mignon.   

Daily Grill
The Daily Grill offers Slow Roasted Prime Rib, Sweet Butter Roasted Turkey, and Pumpkin Creme Brulee as specials.

The Irish Inn at Glen Echo
Three course fixed menu including fall beet salad, traditional turkey dinner, pumpkin pie and many other dishes. $37.50 pp adults / $20 pp kids. 12pm-6pm

Legal Sea Foods
Would you like some options apart from traditional turkey dinner and sides? Legal Seafood is serving everything from stuffed turkey to stuffed lobster. Check the menu for more information.

McCormick & Schmicks

Traditional three-course Thanksgiving dinner for $23.95 and $7.95 for children including choice of pumpkin or apple pie.

Old Angler’s Inn

A three course Thanksgiving feast for $49.40 pp. Dine at Old Angler’s by a roaring fireplace. Chef Palermo is serving non-traditional dishes including lamb shank, sturgeon and scallops, along with turkey.

Ruth's Chris Steak House
Reserve your space this Thanksgiving for a traditional 3-course meal for $34.95 ($12/children), or enjoy their signature sizzling steaks.

Vegan Thanksgiving

The Vegetarian Society of DC hosts its annual Thanksgiving meal for vegans. From 12 noon -4 p.m., the event has a keynote speaker; the cost is $55 for members and $58 for non-members. Check to see if dinner is sold out. At the Hyatt Regency Bethesda on Thursday, November 27, 7400 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda.


If you’re like me and always need to re-read the directions before you cook a turkey, check out the safety information from Giant Food.


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