On Thursday, most Americans will celebrate the liberties secured by our forefathers by communing with loved ones to gorge on starchy food and pray that our righteous God smites the wicked Dallas Cowboys. Yet not everyone in Portland can live that dream. If you're one of the thousands of young Portlanders with a dead-end job that won't even give you all of Thanksgiving Day off, or one of those who drifted here with nothing but a car full of plaid shirts and a twinkle in your eye, you're probably looking for the least-depressing way to enjoy some non-pathetic approximation of a holiday rooted in familial tradition. Here are a handful of alternatives to eating a pot pie alone in your darkened apartment with The Downward Spiral on repeat.
The Country Cat
7937 SE Stark St., 408-1414, thecountrycat.net
$50 gets you a meal almost like home (if home is South Carolina).
This down-home modern Montavilla restaurant was featured on the "Meat Lovers Paradise" edition of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and is offering a farm-fresh four-course Thanksgiving dinner for just $50 per mouth hole. The price will put you out at least one shift of tips, but the visage of Guy Fieri watching you cram a salty hillock of mashed potatoes and gravy down your gullet is guaranteed to put a smile on even the saddest of Thanksgiving orphan faces.
300 SW 6th Ave., 546-2666, originaldinerant.com
$27 gets you a fancy reimagining of a TV dinner.
If you come from a place where the lowbrow simplicity of a Banquet pot pie has come to define the dysfunction of Thanksgiving, head to this downtown "dinerant" for a TV dinner-style plate with locally sourced ingredients. This allows you to feast in style with maximum irony and minimum preservatives. If your inner Paula Deen is feeling neglected, Voodoo Doughnut sliders are on standby.
1221 NW 21st Ave., 248-9663, wildwoodrestaurant.com
$25 gets you mesquite-roasted turkey with mashed potatoes, chanterelle mushroom stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy.
Do you fancy an intimate evening with the cute girl from the bar next door who hasn't seen her family since the Clinton administration? This Northwest neighborhood bistro carefully toes the line between upright casual and dressed-down fine dining, which makes it equally inviting for hung-over 20-somethings and disenchanted empty-nesters from the West Hills.
1832 NE 122nd Ave., 252-9590, sharis.com
$59.95 gets you a massive platter that serves five to six. On the menu is "all white-meat turkey breast," gravy, stuffing, green-bean casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls, pumpkin pie and a choice of traditional mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes.
The only problem with assembling a ramshackle crew of acquaintances for a "Friendsgiving" dinner is the cooking. More often than not, such potlucks end with a fridge full of booze, a hefty bag of cannabis, and a buffet table that's desolate besides the bag of Fritos your burnout friend found in his car. Instead, find a sober driver to transport your posse to Cascadia's favorite roadside dining attraction. Shari's waitstaff is unpretentious and enthusiastic, the music is reminiscent of long car rides in the family station wagon, and the pie is downright indulgent. Relive your fondest memories of domestic implosion as a pair of teen moms scream at their children and stuff their faces full of turkey so they don't get hungry while camping out in line for Black Friday deals at the adjacent Wal-Mart.
My Father's Place
523 SE Grand Ave., 235-5494
$11 gets you turkey with stuffing, mash potatoes, gravy and green bean-and-mushroom casserole.
If you consider yourself a loner, pull up a stool and sit a spell at this infamous inner-Southeast greasy spoon. As its name implies, this is the kind of place where your dad used to waste hours chain-smoking and sipping on a bottomless cup of coffee. If you're feeling generous, poke your head into the homeless shelter across the street and see if anyone's willing to listen to you ponder your solitude in exchange for a diner-style proxy of America's favorite meal, all coated in a thin veneer of grease. It might be the one good thing you do for someone else all year.
1525 SE Grand Ave., 234-9240, bk.com
$6.99 gets you a BK Tendergrill chicken sandwich, fries and access to the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine.
Charbroiled hamburgers and free Wi-Fi have made this inner-Southeast eatery something of an Internet cafe for the wretched. Grab your laptop, order a BK Tendergrill sans bun, and watch episodes of Louie on Netflix all day while an endless stream of destitute street wraiths pop in for Seattle's Best coffee and a warm place to charge their cellphones. If you have loved ones back home to call, consider how fortunate you are. This is a time to give thanks and enjoy a rubbery chicken patty with stamped-on grill marks.