Go Take-Out and Let Houston Restaurants Do the Work for You This Thanksgiving

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The Thanksgiving holiday is all about spending time with family and eating entirely too much food. But how to maximize both of those goals?

With take-out, of course! Many Houston restaurants are offering full Thanksgiving feasts to-go, so you don't need to lift a finger (except maybe to do the dishes), and you still get to enjoy all your favorite holiday items in the comfort of your own home.

Do I sound like an advertisement for take-out? That's 'cause I'm doing it myself this year, and I'm pretty excited to stuff myself silly without taking up valuable time cooking (and not napping). I haven't decided where I'll be picking up Thanksgiving dinner yet, but I've compiled a handy list to make the decision easier for all.

I'll continue to add options as I'm made aware of them, and we'll also be updating our list of places open on Thanksgiving.

Oh, and since the second day of Hanukkah happens to fall on Thanksgiving, those of you celebrating the festival of lights might want to check out some of the more kosher offerings for a Hanukkah feast. Then just eat leftovers on Thanksgiving. Nothing wrong with that.

Backstreet Cafe 1103 South Shepherd, 713-521-2239

Backstreet Cafe is preparing a multitude of side dishes and desserts for Thanksgiving take-out this year, as they do every year. Orders must be placed by Monday, November 25 and picked up Wednesday, November 27. You can get servings for either 6-8 people or 12-15 people. Each dish is sold separately. Some of the most intriguing options are duck gumbo ($59 per half-gallon); butternut squash soup ($30 per half-gallon); Brussels sprout and potato hash ($22, serves 6-8); brioche bread pudding with mushrooms ($22, serves 6-8); Wine-poached pears stuffed with blue cheese ($24 for 6); chocolate pecan pie ($18 for 9-inch round); and caramel cheesecake ($40 for 10-inch round). See the Backstreet Cafe website for the full menu and to place orders.

The Bird & The Bear and Ouisie's Table 2810 Westheimer, 713-528-2473 3939 San Felipe, 713-528-2264

Ouisie's Table and The Bird & The Bear are offering the same simple (but delicious-sounding) Thanksgiving menu this year. Choose from three meal packages: Beef tenderloin with sauce and breads for $350 (serves 15-20); smoked salmon with the works for $175 (serves 15-20); or roasted turkey with gravy, two sides and one dessert for $175 (serves 10-15). Sides like lobster mashed potatoes, wild rice with shallots and Stilton salad can also be ordered a la carte for $50 each. For dessert, choose from apple strudel, tres leches cake, pumpkin pie or pecan pie for $50 each. Orders must be received by November 21 and picked up November 27. For further details check out the Ouisie's website or The Bird & The Bear website.

Cobblestone Market Cafe 14121 Northwest Fwy, 713-939-1255

Cobblestone bills itself as a classic American restaurant, and its Thanksgiving options are no different. For $139, you get a traditional meal for 10 people that includes a protein of your choice (herb-roasted turkey breast, Cajun roasted turkey breast, pineapple glazed ham or pork loin) plus two sides, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce and a pie. Side-dish options include garlic mashed potatoes, traditional green bean casserole, turkey stuffing and roasted fresh vegetables. Any of these items costs $24.95 a la carte. Orders must be placed at least 48 hours in advance and can be picked up on November 27. For more information, visit the website.

Cool Runnings Jamaican Bar & Grill 8270 West Bellfort, 713-777-1566

If you're interested in a meal with a little more island flair, check out Cool Runnings' unique Thanksgiving menu. Orders must be placed before November 18, and they can be picked up on November 27 between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. The Jamaican restaurant offers a few different options. You can get a Thanksgiving feast for $89.95, which includes a 12- to 15-pound jerk turkey, a choice of two sides like Calypso steamed rice or fried plantains, and sweet potato pie for dessert. Alternatively, you can order a la carte items like Escovitch tilapia ($70, feeds 15); curried goat ($70, feeds 15); or oxtails ($75, feeds 15). There are also portions available to feed as many as 30 people if you're really expecting a crowd. Visit the Cool Runnings website to view the full menu.

Frank's Americana Revival 3736 Westheimer, 713-572-8600

For some good old-fashioned American food with a gourmet twist, call Frank's Americana Revival and order a Thanksgiving meal that Normal Rockwell would be proud of. You can get half a gallon of soup for $25 (butternut squash and leek) or $45 (seafood gumbo). For side dishes, Frank's is preparing standbys like collard greens, charred Brussels sprouts, cornbread dressing and broccoli and rice casserole, each for $20 for a serving for 6 to 8 people. For $150, you can get enough meat for 10 to 15 people, as well as two sides of your choice. Orders must be placed by 9 p.m. on November 19, and they will be ready for pick-up on November 27 between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. The full menu is available online.

Gabby's BBQ 3101 North Shepherd, 713-864-5049 4659 Telephone Road, 713-649-3055 4010 Spencer Highway, 713-944-8424

In addition to being open on Thanksgiving Day, Gabby's BBQ is also providing take-out meals that can even be picked up the day-of, as long as they're ordered at least 48 hours in advance. The list of menu options is long, but some of the highlights include sides like corn bread dressing, mashed potatoes or green bean casserole for $6.49 per quart, and a whole smoked turkey for $47.95. You can also order meals for the office that include smoked sliced turkey breast, ham, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole or mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce and dinner rolls for $11.95 per person. For dessert, choose from pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cobbler or banana pudding. To see more options and prices, check out the menu online.

Hugo's 1602 Westheimer, 713-524-7744

So Thanksgiving is a traditionally American holiday ... who cares, when you can get fresh tamales, chile rellenos and ceviche from Hugo's for your feast. Hugo's is offering dishes like red snapper ceviche ($37 per pound); chicken and mole tamales ($24 per dozen); chile rellenos de pollo ($84 per dozen); mole poblano ($18 per quart); corn pudding ($35 for a 10-by-13-inch pan); and tres leches ($40 for a 10-by-13-inch pan). Chef Hugo Ortega is also preparing lechon rostizado -- a whole suckling pig that serves as many as 20 -- for market price. Orders must be placed by November 25 and picked up on November 27. For the full Thanksgiving menu, visit the Hugo's website.

Jonathan's The Rub 9061 Gaylord Street, 713-465-8200

Jonathan's The Rub is accepting take-out orders until close on November 21 for pickup on Thanksgiving Day until 2 p.m. The prices aren't available yet, but everything the chef is cooking sounds pretty tasty (and traditional). Entrées include fried turkey, baked salmon in dill sauce and baked ham in a cherry bourbon sauce. You can also choose from a number of side dishes, like chicken and sausage gumbo, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, creamy cheese grits and honey glazed carrots, or desserts like key lime pie and carrot cake, in addition to the Thanksgiving staple, pecan pie. To view the complete menu, visit Jonathan's The Rub's website.

Kenny & Ziggy's 2327 Post Oak Blvd., 713-871-8883

Kenny & Ziggy's New York Delicatessen is cooking up a great combinations of traditional Jewish food and Thanksgiving classics (perfect for Thanksgivukkuh). Choose from a whole Thanksgiving meal to-go for 10 to 12 people, including a 20-pound turkey, chestnut stuffing, gravy and cranberry compote with your choice of two sides like whipped sweet potatoes, spinach kugel soufflé, or (my favorite) egg barley farfel with mushrooms. The whole meal costs $195. Alternatively, you can order items -- including turkey -- a la carte. There's a long list of a la carte dishes online, including some of Ziggy's famous desserts, like apple pie ($38), white and dark chocolate babka ($40) and cream pies ($38). Order by November 20 and pick up on November 27. Kenny & Ziggy's is also offering a more traditional Hanukkah menu. To view the menus and place orders, visit the website.

Mockingbird Bistro 1895 Welch, 713-533-0200

Mockingbird is open on Thanksgiving Day, and it's also offering to-go packages for up to 15 people. There are four different full-meal packages that vary based upon number of people. The simplest package for two to four people costs $180 and includes a small turkey, sliced ham, andouille sausage stuffing, giblet gravy, cranberry relish, two sides from the a la carte menu, bread and a whole pie. The package for 12 to 15 people has the same food but way more of i,t and costs $400. Side-dish options are molasses-roasted sweet potatoes ($15 per quart), Boston bibb salad ($21, serves four) or steamed asparagus ($19), and desserts include pumpkin pie, chocolate pecan pie or whole flourless chocolate cake ($30-$35). Orders must be placed before November 22 and can be picked up on Thanksgiving or the day before. Check out the website for a list of the in-house Thanksgiving menu.

Pappas BBQ Multiple locations; call your nearest Pappas to order

For a barbecue joint, Pappas is going surprisingly traditional for Thanksgiving. The restaurant is offering a number of options that each serve eight to ten, including a whole smoked turkey ($49.95) or a whole glazed ham ($29.95). Sides comes in a package that includes cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, yams, corn, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, and rolls for $39.95. Pappas is open on Thanksgiving Day, but orders must be placed at least 24 hours in advance. A full menu is available online.

Prego 2520 Amherst, 713-529-2420

For those of you looking to add a little Italian spirit to your meal, Prego is offering a take-out menu including porcini mushroom soup ($24 per quart), lentil soup with spicy lamb sausage ($24 per quart), savory macaroni and cheese ($34 for a 10-by-13-inch pan), veal and beef meatball lasagna ($80 for a 10-by-13-inch pan), tiramisu ($60 for a 10-inch round) and Italian creme cake ($60 for a 10-inch round). Orders should be placed by November 19 and picked up November 27. Visit Prego's catering website for more information.

Ragin' Cajun Seafood Multiple locations

If you're looking to spice up your Thanksgiving meal, Ragin Cajun may be perfect for you. The Cajun restaurant is cooking up fried turkeys for $54.99 (feeds 15) or turduckens with jalapeño cornbread stuffing for $85.99 (feeds 20). The eatery is also offering packages that include sides and dessert and range in price from $124.99 to $239.99 for 12 to 15 people. You can also order items like garlic redskin mashed potatoes, sausage and chicken jambalaya and red beans and rice a la carte. And don't forget southern peach pie or mama's homemade bread pudding! Orders will be accepted through November 26 and must be picked up on November 27. Check out the entire menu on the website.

Ray's Grill 8502 FM 359, Fulshear, TX, 281-533-0099

If you live out to the west of Houston, Ray's Grill has got you covered. The "gourmet country" restaurant is offering two different packages -- one that feeds 8 to 12 people for $375, and a package that feeds 16 to 22 people for $575. Choose from traditional roasted turkey or honey-glazed ham, both of which come with white truffle mac and cheese, green bean casserole, cornbread sage stuffing and stewed yams with brown sugar and marshmallows. For dessert, choose pumpkin pie or pecan pie. Orders can be placed until 12 p.m. on November 26 and picked up on November 27 or Thanksgiving Day, as Ray's is also open for dine-in service. The full menu is available to view online.

Sorrel Urban Bistro 2202 West Alabama, 713-677-0391

Sorrel Urban Bistro is offering some very reasonably priced meals for smaller groups. Dinner for four will cost $120, while dinner for eight runs $200. Choose from roasted turkey with cornbread dressing and five sides, roasted turkey and ham with cornbread dressing and four sides, slow-braised brisket with five sides, rosemary-crusted lamb leg with four sides, or a herb-rubbed pork rack with five sides. Side dishes include cheesy biscuits, rutabaga gratin, mashed acorn squash, and roasted green beans. Desserts are sold separately for $25 per pie, crisp, mousse or tart. Orders must be placed by November 23 and picked up on November 27. Go to Sorrel's website to see the full menu.

Sparrow Bar + Cookshop 3701 Travis, 713-524-6922

Choose from packages or a la carte items (including kid's dishes) from Sparrow's extensive holiday to-go menu. Packages are $50 per person and include protein, sides and a dessert. Choose from uncooked turkey, seared scallops, Texas quail, pork loin or beef tenderloin. You can also get a platter of four different dips and crackers for 10 to 20 people for $30. Sides are $22 per quart and include celery root and potato gratin, roasted sweet potatoes or macaroni and cheese. Desserts vary in price, and sound awesome: chocolate sour cherry bread pudding, spiced pumpkin cheesecake, and cranberry apple walnut crisp. Place your order before Monday, November 25, at 5 p.m. and it will be ready to pick up on November 27. To see all the menu offerings, visit the website.

Turquoise Grill 3701 Kirby, 713-526-3800 16019 City Walk, Sugar Land, 281-937-7447

Turquoise Grill is doing Thanksgiving with a Turkish twist. There's turkey, of course, at $48.95 for 10 to 12 people, as well as roast beef ($169.95 for 18 to 20 people) and whole roasted boneless leg of lamb ($15.95 per pound). Turquoise is preparing some traditional sides like garlic mashed potatoes ($49.95), sweet potatoes with marshmallows ($26.95), and pumpkin pie ($13.95), but it's also offering Turkish-ish dishes like jasmine vermicelli rice, baklava and shepherd bread. You can also choose from a small meal package for $169.95 or a large meal package for $239.95. Order by November 22 and pick up by noon on Thanksgiving Day. For the full dine-in and take out menus, see the website.

Underbelly 1100 Westheimer, 713-528-9800

Let the place that calls itself "the story of Houston food" add to your 2013 Thanksgiving story by providing a feast that includes everything but the turkey (though if you ask really nicely, maybe chef Chris Shepherd will sell you a prosciutto. Just kidding. We wish). For appetizers, choose from andouille sausage gumbo ($50 per gallon), Shepherd family rum sausage ($22 per quart) and satsuma cranberry dressing ($25 per quart), among other things. Sides that serve 12 to 15 people include cauliflower and goat cheese purée ($35), lard cornbread ($20), charred Brussels sprouts with Underbelly pancetta ($35) and fusili and Redneck cheddar mac and cheese ($35). Underbelly is also offering desserts like roasted sweet potato bread pudding and buttermilk pie. All orders must be placed by November 23 and picked up on November 27. Check out the whole list and ordering information online.

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