(Thanksgiving to-go includes delicious Edwards’ ham biscuits from Chef Kevin Sharkey at 1608 Craft House in Virginia Beach.)

By Marisa Marsey

I can’t blame infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci for squashing big family gatherings at home this Thanksgiving. Even without a raging pandemic making the insertion of a table leaf unwise, dining out at the holidays has always been a sage idea. Here are just some local options – from lavish hotels to lovely indie restaurants to laidback hangouts – that set our sweet potatoes yammering.

Founders Inn (Thanksgiving and Christmas) 

“The Holidays are not cancelled, and they remain an important tradition for our community,” says Melissa Georges, director of sales & marketing at this seasonal sine qua non. She concedes that 2020’s “may look a little different” starting with a socially-distanced Thanksgiving Day Buffet (11 am-7 pm, $38.95/adults, $18.95/children 5-12, free/4 and under). A manager will invite tables to the buffet at staggered intervals and single-use wax paper sheets will be used to manipulate utensils. To-go dinners (turkey or Yankee pot roast including sides, dessert, and bottle of wine/$60 serves two) may be picked up on November 25 or 26. While the petting zoo, Grand Illumination, and Teddy Bear Tea had to be scrapped, Breakfast with Santa goes on (December 12 and 19 at 8 am/$29.95) as well as Evening with Santa (December 15 at 6 pm/$18). Lap-sitting is out, but Saint Nick will jollily stand behind the couch where guests will be seated for photos. Then come Christmas Eve Dinner Buffet (4 pm-9 pm, $39.95/adults, $19.95/children, free/4 and under) and Christmas Day Brunch (10 am-4 pm, $39.95/adults, $19.95/children, free/4 and under) in Swan Terrace and Virginia Ballroom. tapestrycollection3.hilton.com/tc/founders-inn-and-spa 

Tides Inn (Thanksgiving and Christmas) 

At this serene Northern Neck waterside resort only an hour and a half from Hampton Roads, “We have seen an increase in visits due to people’s desire for wide open spaces, outdoor recreation, and socially-distanced stays,” says Jason Trollip, managing director, inspiring an array of merriments including themed workshops in the new Maker Space and Chef’s Kitchen like pie-making on Thanksgiving eve (1 pm-3 pm). Take your pie with you or have it delivered to your dining table the next day during Thanksgiving Buffet (11 am-3 pm, $85 adults/$38 children), a sumptuous spread with a carvery, chef action stations including shrimp & grits and build-your-own macaroni & cheese, and local Rappahannock oysters shucked to order, or Thanksgiving Dinner (4:30 pm-9 pm, à la carte). There’s even a kids autumn-themed painting workshop on T-day (2pm-4pm). Magical Christmas plans are afoot, for while Tides Inn typically closes after Thanksgiving, it will stay open through the holidays and January for the first time in its 73-year history. tidesinn.com/offers 

Blue Talon Bistro (Special orders for Thanksgiving)

From the French-inspired kitchen of chef/owner David Everett, Thanksgiving dinners for four with leftovers ($125) includes turkey breast, mashed potatoes w/gravy, green beans, house-made dark meat brioche stuffing, and house-made cranberry relish. Pecan and pumpkin pies are an additional and worthy ($15). 757-476-2583 for more info. NoV. 23 at 5 PM is cut-off for orders. 

Mermaid Winery (Special orders for Thanksgiving)

Virginia’s first urban winery is offering Thanksgiving Day packages serving four people with options Chardonnay & Herb Roasted Turkey ($75), Turkey & Ham ($80) and Burgundy Brown Sugar Glazed Ham ($85). Sides include Fall Harvest Salad, Corn Pudding, Parmesan Truffle Mashed Potatoes, Smoked Gouda Mac n Cheese, Green Bean Casserole, Charred Honey Carrots, Pumpkin Cheesecake, and a bottle of red or white vino. More at mermaidwinery.com

1608 Crafthouse (Special orders for Thanksgiving and Christmas) 

Though closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, chef-owner Kevin Sharkey and his crew will roll out an array of delectable items to enjoy at home such as charcuterie, country ham biscuits, tomato pie, and cinnamon rolls. Order by Sunday before Thanksgiving or Wednesday before Christmas. Pick up the day before each holiday. 1608crafthouse.com

The Butcher’s Son (Thanksgiving) 

When this popular, local chop house showcasing antibiotic-free, hormone-free, humanely-treated meats, debuted in Chesapeake in 2015, being open Thanksgiving day wasn’t in the plans. “But we got so many calls about it, we decided to do it,” says Nicholas Clark, managing partner, proving it never hurts to ask. But this turkey day (at Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, established 2017), in lieu of the traditional buffet, there will be a plated, three-course prix fixe (11 am-6 pm, $55/adults, $15/children) with entrée options including sirloin with creamy horseradish sauce, pineapple glazed ham, and turkey breast plus trimmings. Dessert is a flight of three sweets – pecan ganache, pumpkin pie, brûléed cinnamon apple crisp – like a mini-buffet coming to you. “That was the idea,” says Clark. Everyone gets some of everything.” Curbside/to-go orders also available. butcherson.com

Le Yaca (Thanksgiving) 

Given Ben Franklin’s penchant for turkeys and France, celebrating in Le Yaca’s charming French milieu seems downright American. Both Williamsburg and Virginia Beach locations will serve a three-course prix fixe (noon-8 pm, $60/adults, $25/children) featuring filet mignon, halibut, crab cakes or, naturellement, roasted traditional free-range turkey au jus with homemade meat stuffing, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, green beans, and cranberries. Add-ons include escargots. Curbside/to-go orders also available. leyacawilliamsburg.com

Cooper’s Hawk (Thanksgiving) 

The regular menu as well as a limited Thanksgiving menu will be available at the Virginia Beach branch of this restaurant/winery chain (11 am-9 pm), perhaps the ideal place to settle the debate when it comes to turkey pairing: Pinot Noir? Viognier? Another flight! chwinery.com/locations/virginia/virginia-beach

Vintage Tavern/River Stone Chophouse (Special orders for Thanksgiving and Christmas) 

Snuggled in one of Vintage’s warm blankets, sipping cocoa or a pumpkin-spiced cocktail at the outdoor fire pit puts us in a festive frame throughout November and December. Though closed Thanksgiving and Christmas day, you can order a turducken to-go meal ($100/feeds 4) comprising the chicken-in-a-duck-in-a-turkey merger, mashed potatoes, collard greens, corn bread, gravy, and pecan pie (order by Nov. 18/pick up on Nov. 25). Sibling River Stone Chophouse’s cold smoked turkeys ($60/10-14 lbs.) can grace your Thanksgiving table (order by Nov. 20/pick up on Nov. 25) while lamb crown roast ($65/serves 2) makes a stunning Christmas centerpiece (order by Dec. 18/pick up on Dec. 24). Order rolls and breakfast pastries (ginger scones, cinnamon buns, banana pecan bread) for either holiday (same order by/pick up dates as River Stone’s meats). Further stoking spirits is Vintage Tavern’s live jazz brunch on December 6 and River Stone’s musically-themed holiday brunch on December 20. vintagetavernvirginia.com, riverstonechophouse.com

Cogans Pizza (Thanksgiving and Christmas) 

If you crave pizza pie more than pumpkin pie (plus a dizzying array of taps for beer colder than a reindeer’s teat), you’re in luck. Ghent and North Colley locations open at 4 pm on both holidays. ghenteats.com

Hank’s Filling Station (Special orders for Thanksgiving, Christmas TBD) 

Cogans’ bro won’t be open Thanksgiving, but hangin’ at Hank’s – watching movies, playing cornhole – makes any day feel like a holiday. Plus, yours can be less stressed by ordering Hank’s smoked turkeys: “We’re cookin’ ‘em low-n-slow in our Hank’s special seasonings over real Texas hickory and oak until they crisp up just right” ($69/10-12 lbs.). Order by Nov. 19. Pick up by Nov. 24. facebook.com/hanksfillingstation 

Fish & Slips Marina Raw Bar & Grill (Thanksgiving and Christmas) 

F&S has to be open 365 days a year: the boat dwellers at Portsmouth’s Tidewater Yacht Marina “count on us for food and drink,” says Chef-Co-Owner John Mannino. So he’ll be there on the Elizabeth River frying turkeys on Thanksgiving (1 pm-9 pm), “blasting off the usual sides” like green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and gravy and, on Christmas, he’ll feature herb-crusted prime rib. fishnslips.com