The 81st Thanksgiving since 1874 is well nigh, and you're probably deep into your preparations for football, family, friends and feasts. Another f-word completes this litany (no, not that one) – fees, which you'll have to pay as a matter of course if your plans include excursions to local restaurants. Eateries are loopy with reservations this time of year – but if they can squeeze you in, you could possibly find a meal well worth the trouble in both satisfaction and price.
Here's a sample of what's in store if your holiday program includes hitting the streets:
George's California Modern: George's at the Cove isn't a restaurant. It's a campus. It features three venues for three sets of discriminating tastes, and it's got a houseful of awards that reflects its wholesale public satisfaction. From 3 to 8 p.m., the California Modern installment will be offering a three-course dinner featuring creative modern updates to the traditional Thanksgiving favorites, including butternut squash soup, sweet potato agnolotti, free range Diestel turkey breast, red wine braised short rib, vegetable paella, angel food cake with banana custard and a warm chocolate tart with7816 Fay Ave.mascarpone ice cream. And as always, vegetarian and vegan options are happily prepared upon request. All this can be yours for just $58 per person. 1250 Prospect St. (858) 454-4244, georgesatthecove.com.
The Lot: Yeah, The Lot is fairly lofty as prices go, especially if you're planning on taking in a movie before or after dinner at the Village's spanking-new luxury film/restaurant complex – but if you're looking to celebrate La Jolla style, you shouldn't let that stop you. Executive chef Matt Sramek has whipped up an authentic holiday menu, including dishes inspired by fresh ingredients and classic Californian cuisine. Appetizer highlights include a spiced pumpkin soup, while entrees feature an herb-roasted turkey breast and braised lamb shank with sides of yams, baby carrots, cranberry stuffing, green beans, and mashed potatoes. Don’t miss out on the curated wine and cocktail list and decadent housemade desserts from pastry chef Alejandra Pitashny — a cranberry opal and pumpkin crème brûlée. After enjoying a holiday feast with the whole family, cure those tired turkey woes with a blockbuster film in one of The Lot's luxury cinemas. 7611 Fay Ave. (858) 777-0069, thelotent.com.
The Cheese Shop: Buzz has it that the turkey jack avocado is the most popular sandwich at this 43-year-old sandwich place, so what's stopping you from ordering it on the big day? Well, maybe the roast leg of lamb would work. Or the Italian salami. Or the ham and Swiss. Or the tried-and-true, good ol' roast beef. That's the thing about The Cheese Shop; you can't run out of choices of meat, bread and import/specialty foods, to say nothing of the salad cups. The other thing is that everything – everything – is made at the venue; nothing is outsourced, and that includes the eight types of cheese (from Muenster to Provolone) that serve as the central element of your sandwich (except, of course for the peanut butter and jelly). The cheese sammies run $6.50, and only one item on the menu (the Longboard Torpedo) will cost you over $10. Maybe The Cheese Shop seems like an unusual choice to wind up on Thanksgiving – but that turkey jack avocado will likely get you thinking of hearth and home in no time. Or maybe the roast leg of lamb would work. Or the Italian salami. Or the... 2165 Avenida de la Playa. (858) 459-3921, cheeseshoplajolla.com.
Sugar & Scribe Bakery: As always, Sugar & Scribe will open its luminous doors at 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving – the thing is, it'll close at noon. Take heart: That leaves you five hours to savor this place's landmark pancakes, waffles, eggs, quiche and the pies you can take home for the afternoon meal (you get to choose from an incredible roster of 20!). And don't think that Sugar & Scribe comes by its baking savvy by happenstance. Ireland-born Kate Rowley was the inspiration for this place – one thing led to another as she found baking her true calling by the 1940s; today, her recipes are inviolate, and customer loyalty has grown accordingly. There's also a selection of sandwiches and light meals, but bakery is and always will be this venue's stock in trade. Meanwhile, The Mayo Clinic has issued a bulletin saying coffee might be good for you. If so, you could do a lot worse than Sugar & Scribe's entry. 7660 Fay Ave. (858) 274-1733, sugarandscribe.com.