Founding Farmers, noon-8 p.m.
Vegetarians are used to picking through side dishes on Thanksgiving, but that won’t be the case for any herbivores who flock to Founding Farmers, which will offer a meatless “turkey” meatloaf option as a main course. “It has a lot of Thanksgiving flavors,” chef Joe Goetze says. “We use sage, parsley, beans, walnuts, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, bind it all together, roast it and serve it with gravy.” All the salads and most of the sides are also vegetarian. Dig into the roasted sweet potato with fig and pecan butter or the chestnut cornbread stuffing without fear of hitting stray meat. To top it off, choose from an assortment of pies: pumpkin, pecan, apple caramel, chocolate or coconut cream. For once, you’re sure to end up just as stuffed as that poor bird.
$35 adults, $20 children for three courses; 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-822-8783. (Foggy Bottom)
Equinox, noon-7 p.m.
If you’re worried about your ticker, start your Thanksgiving with an oyster roast on Equinox’s front porch. “Oysters are low-fat and heart-healthy,” says Ellen Kassoff Gray, who co-owns the restaurant in Farragut Square with husband Todd. Then head inside, where you won’t even miss the fat in starters like the grilled forest mushroom salad topped with crispy sunchokes and drizzled with truffle vinaigrette. For a main dish, your doctor might recommend the pan-roasted Norwegian halibut. Dessert is a tough one — maybe have a little cranberry-orange semifreddo (sort of like a frozen mousse) — or just watch with envy as your kids dig into the decedent triple chocolate mousse torte.
$65 adults, $35 children for the oyster roast and three courses; 818 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-331-8118. (Farragut West)
Everlasting Life Restaurant and Lounge, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
No turkey on Thanksgiving is bad enough, but no mac and cheese? That’s just un-American. Everlasting Life’s chef, Elisheva Saunders, thinks she can win anyone over to the vegan side. “We do have mac and cheese, and it’s delicious,” she says. “We make the soy cheese ourselves.” In place of the bird, there will be a meatless, gluten-based roast with stuffing, cranberry sauce and other trimmings. “It’s a healthier alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving meal,” she says.
$11.66 for a main dish and two sides; 9185 Central Ave., Capitol Heights, Md.; 301-324-6900.
Chef Geoff’s, 1-7 p.m.
People who adhere to a diet of lean meats and veggies will find plenty to eat at Chef Geoff’s Thanksgiving feast, says Courtney Fitzgerald, the restaurant’s executive director of hospitality. “We have lots of items that would work and many items that could be easily modified,” she says. If you are at the downtown location, start with the steak skewers and a nontraditional entree like the pan-roasted salmon with Swiss chard. For dessert, consider cheating a little with the flourless chocolate cake. “It has heavy cream, but hey, it’s the holidays,” she says.
$39 for three courses; multiple locations.
Rosa Mexicano, noon-9 p.m.
Mexico doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but Rosa Mexicano does. The restaurant offers options for people with gluten allergies or those who avoid bread and wheat for health reasons. “There is very little flour involved in Mexican food; most of it is corn-based,” says regional executive chef Steve Lukis. As a result, the gluten-averse have the run of the restaurant’s set Thanksgiving menu, from the root vegetable salad to the grand finale: pumpkin creme brulee with horchata whipped cream. For your entree, choose either the slow-roasted Yucatan turkey with plantain gravy (thickened with cornstarch instead of flour) or the steamed halibut with roasted poblano peppers. “It’s a great Thanksgiving dinner with a Mexican twist,” Lukis says.
$37 for three courses; multiple locations.