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Moving the Feast

Some Area Restaurants Will Keep You Out of the Kitchen on Thanksgiving


Although Thanksgiving is the day for families and loved ones to gather and share a meal, no one has ever said it must be cooked at home. In fact, for the few restaurants choosing to serve on Thanksgiving, it's one of the busiest days of the year for eat-in and takeout.

"We always get a fantastic turnout every year," said Tom Simms, owner of Mimi's Cafe, whose nine Orange County locations are filled on Thanksgiving from the moment they open at 8 a.m. until they close at 7 p.m.

Mimi's serves a traditional turkey and trimmings meal (at an affordable $12.95 for adults; $5.95 for children), but the choices for those who want to eat out--or have their home dinners catered by a restaurant--encompass a whole lot more, from inventive offerings from some of Orange County's finest restaurants to a tandoori-style Thanksgiving meal and, of all things, a tofu turkey special at a Hare Krishna temple restaurant.

The most elegant Thanksgiving setting will be at Newport Beach's Ritz (880 Newport Center Drive; [949] 720-1800), which will serve a fixed-price ($37.50 for adults, $15 for children), three-course menu highlighted by choice of roasted turkey, broiled lamb, pork chops and grenadines of filet mignon.

Each dinner comes with traditional trimmings and a choice of appetizers--wild mushrooms, lobster bisque with scallops, butternut squash soup and an assortment of salads. A casserole of the Ritz's signature creamed corn will be served at each table. Dessert selections include pumpkin pie, but it may be hard to pass on the gingered raspberry creme brulee. Hours: noon to 9 p.m.

Newport Beach will be a particularly active Thanksgiving locale. Bistro 201 (3333 Pacific Coast Highway, [949] 631-1551) will offer two options: a limited menu, with choices of roast turkey, potato-wrapped salmon, pepper-crusted ahi, rack of lamb, prime rib and a "surf and turf" of prime rib and a lobster tail; and a brunch spread in the upstairs dining room, featuring many of the same entree items, glazed ham, side dishes and a host of desserts. The bay view here isn't bad, either. Menu items range from $24.95 to $39.95, and the brunch is $24.95 for adults, $12.95 for children 10 and younger (children younger than 5 eat for free). Hours: noon to 8 p.m.

Sister restaurants, the Yankee Tavern (333 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, [949] 675-5333) and Newport Landing (503 E. Edgewater, Balboa Peninsula, [949] 675-2323) will also offer a set menu of turkey, prime rib and salmon with all the trimmings (prices range from $19.95 to $25.95). Yankee Tavern will also feature its famous pot roast for $22.95, and given its New England ambience, it is one of the most popular Thanksgiving spots in the county. "We do about 400 dinners," owner David Salisbury said. So reservations are a must. Hours at both restaurants: noon to 9 p.m.

In addition, Newport Landing will offer a prepackaged take-home dinner for 12, which will include bone-in turkey breast and all the trimmings and dessert. Cost is $195, and delivery is available at an additional cost.

In Brea, one of the county's finest American-style restaurants, the spacious Cedar Creek Inn (20 Pointe Drive, [714] 255-5600) will feature dinner choices of oven-roasted turkey ($23.95), maple-glazed salmon ($25.95) and roasted prime rib with Yorkshire pudding ($27.95). Each comes with such traditional favorites as sausage cornbread stuffing, butternut squash puree, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie with cinnamon whipped cream. Hours: 3 to 9 p.m.

As take-out Thanksgiving dinners go, it's difficult to pass on the one prepared at Zov's Bistro (17440 E. 17th St., Tustin; [714] 838-8855). Zov's is one of the best Mediterranean restaurants in Southern California, and this flair is evident with this epic meal designed to serve 12 to 15. A roasted free-range turkey is stuffed with exotic mushrooms, leeks, smoked wild rice and black currants, and is accompanied with sage apple gravy. Side dishes include sweet potatoes with oranges and cranberries; Parmesan mashed potatoes; green beans with baby carrots, wild mushrooms and almonds; and a Stilton cheese and fresh herb salad. Dessert and rolls are included in the $295 package. Today is the last day to place an order.

If you're expecting to entertain a smaller gathering and want to spend less, Marie Callender's (13 Orange County locations) will feature three feasts, complete with dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, a yam streusel casserole, cranberry sauces, cornbread and, of course, a whole pumpkin or apple pie. One feast features a whole 10- to 11-pound turkey, an additional two or three pounds of sliced boneless turkey breast and four pounds of honey-glazed boneless ham. Prices range from $59.95 to $79.95. See the Marie Callender's Web site,, for locations.

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