Returning home for Thanksgiving is not feasible or even desirable for everyone. Luckily, for abstainers, there are a myriad of restaurants to eat in or take-out a traditional holiday feast. For those hoping to get their turkey fix down the gullet without the massive meal intake, however, consider the far more casual (but no less delicious) turkey burger.
Turkey burgers are usually what you order when you’re trying to avoid something: fat, red meat, flavor. But what if the turkey burger was actually good in and of itself?
The five burgers below serve up enough juiciness, flavor and originality to qualify as reputable, delicious ways to feed that pre- or post-Thanksgiving cravings. Some even come with Thanksgiving-centric add-ons like cranberry, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. So dig in and have a very happy Thanksgiving — without all the fuss and expense of a ten-course meal.
5. Chronic Turkey Burger at Mom’s Burgers
Mom’s Burgers in Compton is a pretty barebones operation – straightforward, juicy, greasy burgers are de rigueur. But still, don’t be surprised to see a fancy couple in a gold Jaguar pull up for refueling because Mom’s caters to all. There is a basic turkey burger to be had, but for the full experience, order the Chronic. Augmented with bacon cheese and egg, the result is sloppy goodness. Don’t forget to order a strawberry soda; it makes an unusual stand in for the more typical cranberry sauce favored during Thanksgiving. 336 W. Alondra Blvd., Compton; 310-632-6622.
4. The Larry Burger at Napa Valley Grille
Fun fact: the burger at Napa Valley Grille is named after Entertainment Lawyer Larry Klein, whose clients include Rob Lowe and David Duchovny. He orders it every time he comes in. Well-seasoned and moist, the Larry Burger comes with a melty, smoky cheddar cheese on a fresh bun. Sweet potato fries are the usual accompaniment, but chimmichurri fries are also an option for a little Argentinean flair. This version of t-burger is even fanci-fied enough for date night. 1100 Glendon Ave. #100, Los Angeles; 310-824-3322.
3. Turkey Burger at Tart
Gather your liveliest friends together and let Tart do the holiday cooking for you. Start with drinks, like a Naughty or Nice Egg Nog, or even better, The Whole Family Punch Bowl. An alcoholic elixir reminiscent of Tang, its gargantuan glass vessel brings cheer to the table and serves eight for 40 bucks (that's with a 750ml bottle of alcohol). The seasonal turkey burger, large and flavorful, comes with a pretty cranberry aioli and smashed sweet potatoes. There is also a deliciously acidic red cabbage and apple slaw to balance out the heaviness of the meat. Tart makes it easy to eat, drink and be merry this holiday season. 115 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles; 323-556-2608.
2. Greenbird at Umami Burger
There are a couple of great turkey choices at Umami — one on the menu and one off. The Greenbird manages to sound relatively healthy while being more than relatively delicious. Green cheese, avocado, butter lettuce and "green goddess" dressing all conspire to make this turkey burger a vision of verdancy. The Spicy Bird is more difficult to come by, as it is not officially on the menu, but worth being intrepid for. The quartet of peppers involved – hatch, poblanos, serranos and jalapeños — definitely take the spicy bird from the picturesque to the sublime. 4300 Riverside Dr., Burbank; 818-433-3680. Other locations around the city.
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1. The Lanui at Pono Burger
Organic red pumpkin, house-made orange-cranberry sauce, buttery mashed potatoes. All this and more go into Pono Burger’s extraordinary Lanui burger and pumpkin s’more milkshake. The intensity of care leveled at each ingredient — from the Shelton’s free range, no antibiotic turkey patty to the Straus Family soft serve organic vanilla ice cream — will bring you to your knees. Oh, and the burger comes with an organic sweet potato nest and organic house-made gravy. Thanksgiving might never recover. 829 Broadway St., Santa Monica; 310-584-7005.