By Jeff Kronenfeld, November 2020 Issue.
In the play A Woman of No Importance, Oscar Wilde quipped you can forgive anyone after a good meal, even your family. Whether your holidays are political slugfests, beatific reunions or sloppy Zoom nightmares, the meal is what brings us together. Planning any kind of safe gathering during a pandemic isn’t easy, and that’s without adding a homemade feast to the to-do list. For those not culinarily-inclined, cooking for even a small group can be the source of considerable stress.
Luckily, many Valley restaurants are ready to serve as your holiday heroes, albeit with aprons in lieu of capes. Are you looking for a meal made with only locally sourced and organic ingredients? Is someone in your quarantine bubble vegetarian or vegan? Or maybe you’re hankering for some classic comfort food to fill your belly and soul? Whatever dietary restrictions or cravings have got you sweating in the kitchen after midnight, worry not.
We’ve compiled this list of six restaurants offering to-go feasts so that you can focus on what really matters. Plus, you have the added bonus of knowing your hard-earned fiat currency will help a local business and its workers stay afloat during these trying times. This year let someone else pack your cornucopia full of piping-hot happiness and try to abide if not forgive that one uncle we all dread being seated next to.
While there are many pretenders to the title of grill master, few if any more deserve it than George Frasher. This East Valley meat impresario provides everything you need for a classic Thanksgiving feast save for the awkward small talk. Three sizes of smoked turkey are available at Frasher’s Smokehouse: small (10-12 pounds for $45), medium (16-18 pounds for $65) and large (22-24 pounds for $85). These birds are soaked in brine for three days before getting barbecue sauce massages and a trip in the smoker. They come ready for transport and with easy reheating instructions. Frasher’s also offers whole or half pit hams at $130 and $80 apiece.
Frasher’s has all the fixings available, too, including stuffing, collard greens, garlic mashed potatoes, corn, candied cranberries topped with toasted walnuts, and roasted acorn squash. This last dish is puréed and can go toe-to-toe with any pumpkin pie, which Frasher’s also sells. There is also gooey cake made from a cherished family recipe. George has two other restaurants as well, including the fiery Mrs. Chicken and Frasher’s Tavern in Old Town Scottsdale.
2. Hint of Soul
Lynn Minor’s meteoric rise in the Phoenix culinary scene is all the more incredible because of the timing. Her soul food catering company went from side hustle to brick-and-mortar restaurant faster than you can say Crown Royal peach cobbler, which happens to be one of four luxurious desserts Minor is offering this year. The others are a seven-flavor pound cake, a lemon pound cake and a caramel cake. As far as fowl, Hint of Soul offers roasted chickens for $55, stuffed roasted chickens for $75 and Cajun-roasted chickens for $65. If bird isn’t your word, Honey Maple hams can be had for $55.
In terms of sides, there are everything you might expect to see on a happily packed holiday table. Of course, this includes Minor’s seven cheese baked mac, as well as garlic mash, dressing, collard greens, garlic butter green beans, yams, and cornbread. An added bonus to ordering here is you might bump into Brittney Griner or another Phoenix Mercury star, given that Hint of Soul is something like the squad’s unofficial soul food purveyor.
We detailed Persepshen’s almost extremist commitment the DIY ethic — and the mouthwatering results they produce — way back in the pre-COVID-19 month of February, 2020. While COVID-19 has changed much in the intervening months, it hasn’t changed the locally sourced delicacies served up by Jason and Katherine Dwight, Persepshen’s founders and co-owners.
This year they’re offering Thanksgiving Eve Family meal specials for dine-in or to-go, as well as pies good enough to make even the best bear break bad. The meal consists of a charcuterie board, wood-fired pizza, salad and four overloaded chocolate chip cookies. Persepshen’s charcuterie boards are literal works of art so beautiful it almost hurts to ruin them with my grubby fingers. Since the restaurant only works with what’s in season, the specific makeup of the boards varies, but they will include three dry cured salumis, a pate, a terrine, three seasonal pickled vegetables, blueberry ginger jam, IPA mustard and sesame seed lavosh bread. The meal is $65 per person, and don’t worry, it’s a whole lot of food for the money.
As for the pastries, they’re baking pumpkin and apple crumb pies. The pumpkin will have a graham cracker crust and bourbon maple Chantilly made from organic Vermont maple syrup and Peralta Bourbon from Tempe’s own Adventurous Stills. And, of course, the gourds are local. The apple crumb pie will have a ridiculously flaky dough crust packed with local organic apples topped by candied nuts crumbs.
The Farish House’s unique blend of French cuisine with an American twist is the perfect way to turn your Thanksgiving meal to 11. Owner and head chef Lori Hassler crafts dishes as decadent as they are wholesome. She can’t help you with the turkey course this year, but when it comes to sides and pies, she’s got your back.
First, you can’t go wrong with The Farish House’s roasted duck fat fingerling potatoes. Another Farish house staple on the holiday menu is the Le Mac, a delectable orgy of aged gouda and Tillamook sharp cheddar melted into a French béchamel topped with lemon zest, parmesan brittle and parsley. A second fancy spin on spuds are the Potatoes D’Auphinois, which are scalloped potatoes drenched in a buttery garlic béchamel and completed by a grana Padano crust. For something green, there are the roasted brussels sprouts with caramelized bacon-onion-cranberry-golden raisin relish and walnuts.
If you are not drooling yet, then the roasted beets, sweet potatoes, squashes, okra, carrot, and turnips laced with North African spices should wake up your salivary glands. Last but not least is the sweet corn brioche bread pudding, a stuffing stuffed with Vidalia onion, flecks of sweet red pepper, freshly grilled corn, and a hint of ginger. Three kinds of pie are also available: Hatch Apple Crostata with cheddar-brown sugar streusel, a red chile pecan pie and a bittersweet chocolate tarte.
Squalls, L.A. traffic and even a global pandemic can’t keep Chula Seafood’s small armada of fishing vessels in port for long. If you want sustainably harvested seafood for your Thanksgiving, then your voyage ends here. They have live lobsters for preorder, oyster stuffing kits, smoked fish platters and smoked fish bagel bundles. Of course, they also have loads of other fresh fish and seafood too. Both the Phoenix and Scottsdale locations boast glass cases filled with a veritable rainbow of tuna, salmon, halibut, scallops, and other saltwater treats. Chula is the perfect place to help keep a pesky pescatarian from causing a splash.
When it comes to vegetarian and vegan cuisine, nowhere is quite as verdant as this Valley favorite. Chef Damon Brasch and the rest of the Green team are serving up cruelty-free fare to go for what they have dubbed ThanksLiving. On the menu is seitan turkey breast with “giblet” gravy, though no giblets were harmed in the making. For your voluminous holiday carbs, they offer organic cranberry stuffing with toasted walnuts. Roasted garlic smashed potatoes, smoked paprika organic sweet corn, fried brussels sprouts and local artisan breads round out the meal. Dessert is a winter berry organic oat granola cobbler. If you preorder now, all this can be yours for only $27.50 for adults and $12.50 for kids.
Another one of the Valley's stellar options for vegan dining, Whyld Ass, offers a gluten-free Thanksliving menu. A pumpkin, green chili, and mushroom soup is the starter. A stuffed veggie and lentil loaf with rosemary gravy is the entree, and starters include a broccoli casserole and mashed yams with walnuts. Preorders are available for pick-up from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on November 25 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on November 26. Adding some extra tastiness to the menu - the restaurant is donating 15% of all sales to the Goats with Horns Animal Sanctuary.