Thanksgiving is the biggest eating holiday of the year. Some of us love to go all-out cooking -- I'll be starting my prep the Tuesday before, if not earlier. Others would rather let someone else do the work. While we can't keep up with every restaurant offering holiday fare (for something approaching comprehensive, let me point you to this nice list on OpenTable), there are a number of specials that have caught my eye. So should I unexpectedly go on strike or should my mother-in-law's kitchen implode, here's where I'd turn for reservations or takeout.
Why we're interested: An Indian riff on the Thanksgiving bird, the Achari turkey tikka is marinated with yogurt, garlic and pickled spices, then grilled in a tandoor oven.
Hours: Noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m.
Price: $20.50. Regular menu available as well.
Why we're interested: Get your hands on one of Tiffany MacIsaac's pies at a special pre-opening holiday pop-up at Union Market. Choose from chai-spiced pumpkin, whiskey chocolate pecan, Nutella icebox, Key lime and apple with cinnamon and dulce de leche.
Price: $28 to $34.
Order date: By Nov. 21; pick up Nov. 24-25.
Why we're interested: We think a little South American flair would nicely complement a standard turkey, and chef Victor Albisu's Peruvian-style bird comes with a green chili puree and aji amarillo aioli that would help make a killer day-after leftover sandwich.
Price: $120. Sides available for $2 to $24.
Order date: By Nov. 22; pick up Nov. 25.
Why we're interested: Todd Gray has been serving some much-lauded vegan food, and this Thanksgiving will be no different. Dishes include crispy heirloom cauliflower, root vegetable and wild mushroom "pot au feu" and pumpkin pie "cheesecake." (Fear not, carnivores, there's plenty for you as well.)
Hours: 3:30 to 7 p.m.
Price: $65 per person for three courses; $35 for children 12 and younger.
Why we're interested: The Georgetown waterfront is a picturesque backdrop for any occasion. Dishes with a holiday slant include cappuccino of butternut squash, sweet potato gnocchi, seared scallops with Brussels sprouts and bomboloni with maple crema.
Hours: 1 to 7 p.m.
Price: $90 for four courses per person; $28 per child.
Why we're interested: Spit-roasted meats. Options are Greek-spiced turkey, lamb shoulder and pork shoulder.
Price: $68 to $120. Spreads, sides and desserts also available.
Order date: By Nov. 22; pick up 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 26.
Why we're interested: Holiday classics by way of France, in a setting where you won't have to shout for your dining companions to hear you.
Hours: 4 to 8:30 p.m.
Price: $52 for three courses per person.
Why we're interested: A chance to eat a mostly traditional but slightly French-accented Thanksgiving dinner. Dishes include pumpkin potage with vadouvan curry, roasted turkey and apple crisp. And, lest we overlook it, the restaurant's signature crispy kale and burrata.
Hours: Noon to 8 p.m.
Price: $48 for three courses per person; $18 for children 10 and younger.
Why we're interested: Alex Levin is one of the best, not to mention nicest, pastry chefs in the area. He's offering three pies for the holiday: caramel apple with crisp oat streusel; honey pecan with chocolate crust; and lemon tart with toasted meringue.
Order date: By Nov. 20; pick up Nov. 24-25.
Why we're interested: It's one of our favorite bakeries, and owner Meredith Tomason could probably make shoe leather taste good. The tempting array: Cakes (chocolate, pear and caramel; spiced apple and parsnip; pumpkin, bourbon and cocoa; cranberry and vanilla), bake-at-home breakfast (cinnamon rolls, butter croissants, chocolate croissants, sweet potato pinwheels, biscuits), bake-at-home desserts (apple, cranberry and oatmeal crisp, bourbon and chocolate brioche bread pudding), ice cream (vanilla, caramel, milk chocolate), cranberry sauce.
Price: Cakes $45 to $75, breakfast $22 to $26, desserts $45 to $50, ice cream and cranberry sauce $12.
Order date: By Nov. 17 at 5 p.m.; pick up Nov. 24-25.
Why we're interested: Again, we just love the idea of Indian-accented turkey. At Rasika's Penn Quarter restaurant, the special is turkey mussalam, charbroiled turkey breast simmered in a sauce of cashews, saffron, screw pine essence and cranberry puree. At West End, expect a turkey kofta biryani, spiced turkey dumplings cooked with basmati rice, flavored with stone flower and star anise.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.
Price: $20 for both specials. Regular menu available as well.
Reservations: 202-637-1222 (Penn Quarter); 202-466-2500 (West End).
Why we're interested: Owner Jenna Huntsberger excels at classic American baked goods. Her holiday pies -- salted caramel apple, bourbon pecan, pumpkin, pumpkin chocolate and sea salt chocolate chess -- would do any festive spread proud.
Price: Six-inch $9, nine-inch $22; add a pint of Ice Cream Jubilee ice cream for $7.
Order date: By Nov. 19; pick up Nov. 24-25.
Reservations: E-mail email@example.com.