Julia Child says stuff it, truss it and cook it at 325. So when did Thanksgiving fixings get so darned elaborate? Squanto wouldn't even recognize the meal we sweat over each November. Here's the way to lighten the load: Eat out. Make reservations ASAP. For more restaurants ideas, go to tampabay.com/things-to-do.
Café Largo: Takeout dinner service for $15.95 per person, minimum six people. Includes turkey with herb stuffing, gravy, potatoes dauphinoise, vegetable saute, cranberry sauce. Deadline for ordering is Nov. 19; pick up dinners Thanksgiving morning (Nov. 22), from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (727) 596-6282.
Cassis American Bistro: Special three course holiday menu includes choices like mixed greens, pear, gorgonzola salad, apple pumpkin soup, shrimp and bacon casserole, roasted turkey or Atlantic salmon, pecan or pumpkin pie, served from 11 a.m. to last seating at 8 p.m. $38 adults, $20 kids under 12 (entree only, dessert is $6 extra for kids). 170 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. CassisAB.com. (727) 827-2927.
Columbia Restaurants: Traditional Thanksgiving feast of roast Vermont turkey, stuffing, fresh vegetables, whipped potatoes, sweet potato pecan casserole, homemade cranberry sauce and giblet gravy. Dinner also includes hot Cuban bread and butter, a choice of Spanish bean, black bean or gazpacho soup; or Caesar salad. Dessert choices include pumpkin pie, key lime pie, pumpkin flan or flan. All six locations: Ybor City; St. Armands Circle in Sarasota; St. Augustine; the Pier in St. Petersburg; Sand Key in Clearwater Beach; and Celebration; 11 a.m. to close; adults $21.95, children 10 and under $5.95; columbiarestaurant.com. Locations at the airport and the Tampa Bay History Center in Channelside will be closed that day.
Island Way Grill: The waterside locale puts on a traditional buffet with a carving station with turkey, roast beef and ham, peel-and-eat shrimp, oysters on the half shell, assorted sushi, assorted baked breads, salads, cheese display, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pan gravy, holiday vegetables, sweet potatoes, salmon hash, fresh catch and a broad dessert station $24.95 adults, $10.95 children 12 and under. 20 Island Way, Clearwater. (727) 461-6617.
Maritana Grille: In addition to an a la carte menu, it will offer a three-course turkey dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. Adults $60, 12 and under $19.50. Don CeSar Beach Resort, 3400 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. (727) 360-1881.
Oystercatchers & Petey Brown's at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay: Limited seatings available for holiday buffet of traditional menu, plus dessert room, complimentary Bloody Marys and mimosas for guests 21 and older, from 10:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. Cost is $65 adult, $25 per child ages 6-12, free for ages five and under. Tax and gratuity extra. To reserve, call (813) 207-6815. For a more relaxed setting, Petey Brown's brunch buffet from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. features comfort foods and classic favorites like omelets, pasta, Nutella and banana French toast, charcuterie, a raw bar, homemade desserts, and unlimited mimosas for guests 21 and older, with an activity room for kids. Cost of Petey Brown's brunch buffet is $40 per adult, $16.50 for children ages 6-12, 5 and under, free. Tax and fees are extra. To reserve, call (813) 207-6716. 2900 Bayport Drive, Tampa.
SHOR at Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa: Brunch buffet with live jazz from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, with an autumn menu that includes seafood, carved meats, brunch favorites, and Bloody Mary bar. Or, guests can enjoy a three course prix fixe a la carte dinner feast from 5-10 p.m. Brunch is $48 for adults, $24 per child ages 12 and under, with kids three and under free; prix fixe dinner is $32 adult and $16 per child, free for children under age three. Limited seating, reservations recommended. 301 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach. Shorclearwater.com. (727) 373-4780.
Parkshore Grille: A special three-course menu for $32 (children $17), includes a choice of Niman Ranch smoked bacon root vegetable chowder or salad; roasted turkey with sage gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sauteed wild mushrooms and other classic fixings; and dessert of pumpkin panna cotta. Regular menu also available. 300 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 896-9463.
Pelagia Trattoria: The Mediterranean-inspired trattoria features a wide variety in its Thanksgiving buffet, served from 10 a.m.-9 p.m., with roast turkey, ham and prime rib at the carving station, a pasta station, seafood from crab legs to oysters, with an omelet station in the morning that gets switched out to a pasta station later in the day, as well as desserts from pies, to tortes, cakes and mousses. Cost is $40 adults, $16.95 for children 12 and under, free for ages 3 and under. Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa. (813) 313-3235.
Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club: Marchand's Bar and Grill sends out a three-course menu for Thanksgiving featuring roasted butternut squash soup, a baby greens salad with candy apple vanilla dressing and entree selections including a beef tenderloin with truffle carrot puree and porcini sauce and a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. The Vinoy's pastry staff will also offer dessert selections like traditional pumpkin cheesecake or autumnal maple pear crumble. 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg; (727) 894-1000 or marriott.com; 1 to 8 p.m., some availability left; adults $55, children 11 and under $18.
Sandpearl Resort's Caretta on the Gulf: Brunch is a traditional buffet ranging from breakfast items to turkey and its proper accoutrements. The dinner is a plated three-course affair with four choices for first and second course (including diver sea scallops, autumn bisque, organic turkey with stuffing and mashed potatoes, Alaska king salmon and more) plus dessert. 500 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach; (727) 674-4109 or sandpearl.com. Brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; prix-fixe dinner 6 to 10 p.m. Adults $59, children ages 3 to 10 $19. Dinner 5 to 9 p.m.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino: From 5 p.m. until close, Council Oak offers buttermilk country fried turkey and turkey leg confit with hazelnut cranberry bread pudding and roasted Brussels sprouts for $50 per person. Reservations strongly suggested. From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. the Green Room restaurant offers a traditional turkey dinner with cornbread sausage stuffing, green beans and mashed sweet potatoes, with white chocolate pumpkin cheesecake for dessert for $21 per person; reservations not accepted. And Fresh Harvest restaurant offers a buffet from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with sushi, noodles, dim sum, raw bar items, a grill station and more traditional Thanksgiving fare for $27 per person. 5223 N Orient Road, Tampa; toll-free 1-866-502-7529.
Spoto's Grill 131: The day's featured menu includes soup or salad, turkey with giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, fluffy mashed potatoes, green beans amandine, cranberry relish, pumpkin pie or pecan pie and coffee or tea. Other menu items available a la carte. 13079 Park Blvd. N, Seminole; (727) 393-1703; 1 to 8 p.m.; adults $18.90, children under 12 $12.90.
Spoto's Steak Joint: Traditional spread (butter-roasted fresh turkey, whipped potatoes, cranberry bean chowder, apple and sage stuffing, pumpkin pie) for $17.95 (children $10.95). Regular menu also available. "Leftover kits" available for takeout, $8.95. 1280 Main St., Dunedin. (727) 734-0008.
Tradewinds Island Grand Resort: In the Lobby's Grand Palm Colonnade area, Thanksgiving buffet is held from 11 s.m.-3 p.m., with breakfast offerings from eggs to waffles and pastries, a carving station with prime rib, roast turkey, also entrees like salmon, ham, a pasta bar, and desserts, plus a children's buffet with mini-corndogs, mac n' cheese, and more. Buffet is $41.95 adults, $38.95 seniors (over age 60), $20.95 children 3-10, free for kids 2 and under. Tax and service charges extra. Reservations required. 5500 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. (727) 363-2258.
Yacht Starship: Two cruises on Thanksgiving Day, early cruise boards at 11 a.m., departs at 11:30 a.m. and returns at 1:30 p.m.; later cruise boards at 2:30 p.m., leaves at 3 p.m. and returns at 5 p.m. The buffet meal is $55.10 for adults, alcohol is extra, and $39.05 for kids ages 4-12, free for kids under 4. 603 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 223-7999. Yachtstarship.com.
Compiled by Peggy Anders and Laura Reiley