Along the 2.5-mile stretch of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route are hundreds of eateries, but many are closed for business on the holiday. Spectators will start lining up as early as 6:30am on November 27, which is bound to lead to ravenous appetites. Kicking off at 9am from 77th Street and Central Park West, the parade—all its floats, balloons and marching bands—will be sailing right past Central Park's Tavern on the Green, where a traditional four-course feast ($125) is offered from noon to 10pm. From Columbus Circle to Sixth Avenue are other family-friendly refueling stops, some featuring turkey and all the trimmings and others sticking to what they do best every day of the year.
Le Parker Meridien, 119 W. 56th St., 212-708-7414, Midtown West, Manhattan
Instead of turkey with all the fixings, it's burgers with the works at Burger Joint, a high-spirited, low-priced dive hidden behind a maroon curtain off the lobby of Le Parker Meridien. On Thanksgiving the regular menu will be served during normal hours (11am–11:30pm). But every day, no matter when you hit it, there will be a snaking line that moves relatively swiftly (you’ll occasionally have to wait for a seat). Good cheer prevails with the sassy counter staff, who demand you've made up your mind by the time you reach the front. It's not complicated, since choices are limited to burgers and cheeseburgers (under $10, unless you get double patties), fries, milkshakes, sodas, one kind of beer (Sam Adams lager), one kind of wine (cabernet sauvignon) and one kind of dessert (brownies).
1900 Broadway, 212-595-9606, Upper West Side, Manhattan
Daniel Boulud's market across the street from Lincoln Center is one block from the parade route and nirvana for takeout soups, salads, charcuterie, artisanal cheese, sandwiches and baked goods. Thanksgiving to-go packages are available for pickup on Wednesday, November 26, and include butternut squash soup, whole roasted free-range turkey, chestnut stuffing, roasted fall vegetables, mashed potatoes and seasonal pies. On the holiday itself the market will hold abbreviated hours, from 7am to 1pm, and sell casual yet exquisite treats to be eaten on the go. For those seeking a full-on white-linen-tablecloth experience, Boulud Sud, around the corner, is offering a three-course menu ($85 per person for adults; $35 for children 12 and under). The chef's more casual Bar Boulud, in the same vicinity, is also celebrating with a three-course menu for $70 per person ($35 for kids under 10).
Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, 3rd fl., 212-823-6123, Midtown West, Manhattan
When the parade wends its way around Columbus Circle there will be no better view—from indoors, at least—than from the Time Warner Center. Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery is completely booked for its parade-watching brunch on Thanksgiving (you could always call to get on the wait list), but its adjacent takeout counter on the third floor will be selling muffins, quiche and turkey sandwiches from 8am to 1pm or until supplies run out. On the same level is the handsome Landmarc, run by the hospitable Marc Murphy and his wife, Pamela Schein Murphy. One of their dining rooms will be cleared out for standing room, with children given priority to watch the balloons float past floor-to-ceiling windows. Adults can luxuriate in comfortable, low-lit surroundings and indulge in French and Italian bistro fare (boudin noir, braised rabbit cavatelli, great steaks) or opt for Thanksgiving-themed add-ons such as pan-seared turkey breast with turkey hash, cranberry relish and stuffing. Kids, meanwhile, can enjoy turkey fingers with cheesy broccoli and tater tots.
The Smith Lincoln Center
1900 Broadway, 212-496-5700, Upper West Side, Manhattan
This lively, white-tiled brasserie has ample sidewalk seating (complete with heat lamps) to accommodate the overflow on Thanksgiving. Overlooking busy Broadway and Lincoln Center, and a block from the parade route down Central Park West, the Smith is offering a three-course, $55 menu and a slogan to entice you: “Let us worry about the dishes!” All dietary restrictions can be accommodated by the varied choices. Starters include butternut squash soup, kale and quinoa salad with sun-dried cranberries and ricotta gnocchi with truffle cream. In addition to roasted turkey breast, main courses veer off course with salmon, roasted pumpkin risotto and braised beef short ribs. Rather than pie, look for pumpkin bread pudding with cranberry caramel, bourbon mascarpone and spiced pecans. Reservations are being taken for seatings between 1pm and 9pm.
Todd English Food Hall
1 W. 59th St., 212-546-5499, Midtown, Manhattan
The concourse level of the Plaza Hotel is home to not one but two upscale food halls. On Thanksgiving, only one of them will be open: the Todd English Food Hall, which will serve from 11:30am to 6pm. The series of stations takes in pasta, sushi and grilled meats, among plenty of other stops on its international tour; the regular menu, with items like Peking duck buns, lobster mac 'n' cheese and New York strip steak frites, will be available alongside a few holiday add-ons. Reservations are necessary. Leading up to Thanksgiving, things will be mostly business as usual at the Plaza Food Hall, which includes FP Patisserie, William Greenberg Desserts, Luke's Lobster and No. 7 Sub—with the “Happy Pilgrim” as a seasonal special at No. 7. The scrumptious sandwich is stuffed with turkey, sweet potatoes, bacon, mozzarella, cranberry sauce and pickled jalapeños, enough to make you wish the original pilgrims could have time traveled to the future to sample it.