Staying in New York City over Thanksgiving is a little like being a survivor of the zombie apocalypse: The city empties out, an eerie calm descends and only the most dedicated venture into the night. In other words, it's a really fun time to be here! (Seriously.) Whether it's because you're a native New Yorker, unable to travel elsewhere or just plain don't want to, there are plenty of reasons and ways to revel in the warm embrace of a New York Thanksgiving. Here are ours—and we're hoping you'll share yours, too. Have a fabulous (or frightful) Thanksgiving-in-NYC story to share? Serve it up on Twitter @tastingtableNYC #TDayNYC or on our Facebook page.
Editor in Chief Kat Kinsman's pumpkin chapeau
The Professional Guest
Kat Kinsman, Editor in Chief
Years in NYC: 18
Early in my New York tenure, I had the fortune of falling in with a most excellent hosting crew. To suggest to my friend Mama Diva that her sprawling Harlem apartment, filled with favored neighbors, local characters, drag queens, storytellers, poets and wide-eyed holiday orphans (like me), could use any kind of shake-up—utterly unthinkable. I was lucky to be there. I knew it, and I had only one question every year: How may I help?
Mama Diva (a.k.a. Dr. Robinson, Miss Ellen, China Doll and some other names I'll never know) set my paradigm for the Thanksgiving menu: Alongside the turkey and dressing, there must be collard greens (she'd make an extra batch, just for me), some manner of sweet potatoes, inexpensive sparkling wine, whiskey sours (that was my contribution) and banana pudding.
This meal—even the thought of it—sustains me throughout the year. After Mama Diva passed away a few years back, my friends Eric and John took up the hosting duties and stayed faithful to both her menu and the welcome-all-comers spirit with which she infused the holiday. Last year they moved on as well—not to the Great Beyond, but to Los Angeles—and another friend was kind enough to take my husband and me in amongst the strays.
I brought the collard greens.
Senior Editor Jamie Feldmar hammin' it up
Jamie Feldmar, Senior Editor
Years in NYC: 9
My parents are divorced and live in different states, so I politely opt out of choosing sides on that one and host a rather raucous orphans' Thanksgiving for all of my friends who can't, don't or won't leave for the holiday. It's potluck-style, with only one rule: I refuse to make a turkey. Here's the deal: I really do not like turkey, and since I'm offering up my house to a mob of soon-to-be-sloppy revelers (and cleaning up after them), the least I can do for myself is spend the day cooking something I actually want to eat. That something is a whole ham. (Someone else usually steps in to bring a bird for the purists.) Memories have been made, and others lost, at the orphans' Thanksgiving over the years, but one thing remains constant: It's the best party of the year.
Assistant Editor Elyse Inamine and pals
The Leftovers Queen
Elyse Inamine, Assistant Editor
Years in NYC: 7
When most of your friends are Chinese, Thanksgiving congee is a must. Yes, that's the thick, rich rice porridge cooked with leftover turkey. I'd like to think my Chinese friends let me, the only non-Chinese girl in the room, make it because my version is as good as any Hong Kong–style café, but really, it's because I'm usually hosting, and therefore have dibs on the turkey carcass.
Those meaty leftover bits and bones are my reward for sweating (and stressing) over the big bird in my wee Financial District kitchen and opening my sparsely decorated home to friends, strangers and fellow East Coast transplants. The next day, I plop that carcass in a big ol' pot with a few cups of rice and lots of leftover stock and invite anyone who's still around back over to eat it with me. I'm Japanese, so I might do some weird things like pour a little genmaicha tea into my bowl or sub the scallions with thin ribbons of shiso, but they sort of know that going in.
Executive Editor Karen Palmer's turkey fryer selfie
The Dorm-Room Magician
Aaron Komo, Office Assistant
Years in NYC: 5
Home is Hawaii, so it's too far for me to travel for Thanksgiving. While attending NYU, this made the holiday something to conquer rather than wallow about. This meant cooking a turkey (my first ever) in my studio dorm's mini oven (I took out the middle rack and just kind of squished it in there). I ended up having nearly 20 people in that tiny room, which involved a lot of sweet-talking and extra turkey going down to the guard on duty...not to mention an elaborate ruse to get a case of Trader Joe's Two-Buck Chuck to accompany the festivities. In the end, everything turned out great and everyone was happy, which is what Thanksgiving is all about.
Truett Petty, Production Manager
Years in NYC: 3
One Thanksgiving I went to Wo Hop (a classic 24-hour Chinatown restaurant) and, for once, it was empty. Shortly thereafter, an unnamed big-time chef arrived in his whites and ate a whole fish by himself. As usual, the staff was super speedy (and not particularly friendly), and it felt like my own private oasis in the midst of the crazy holiday season.
The Restaurant Insider
Eleanore Park, Test Kitchen Cook and Communications Intern
Years in NYC: 1
My boyfriend and I moved here last year from San Francisco. Our Thanksgiving Day itself is really mellow—it's just us and my brother and his girlfriend—but because we're both line cooks, it's impossible to cook for only four. So it's really the day after Thanksgiving that I look forward to most—it's all about the leftovers. It's also when our restaurant-industry friends can come over, because most of them are in a work frenzy all week. As for the leftovers, we'll bring them to our neighborhood bar, Achilles Heel, which throws a leftovers celebration.
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