Thanksgiving is all about spending quality time with your loved ones…if you can afford to catch a plane or train out of town. Those of us staying around this neck of the woods, though, can at least confide in one another (and cheer over not having to talk about politics with Uncle Rob again) at Friendsgiving. If you offered to host the festivities but suddenly realized you live in a shoebox, consider one of our Friendsgiving ideas with these group-friendly spots large enough for all of your bosom buddies.
Friendsgiving Feast #1:
A Communal Barbecue in Red Hook
While the barbecue scene in the boroughs doesn’t compare to the Midwest or Dirty South, our interpretations of pit-smoked, fire-roasted meats stand on their own. By far the most prestigious pit master in town is bodyguard-turned-chef Billy Durney, whose carnivorous creations lure meat lovers to Hometown Bar-B-Que in the depths of Red Hook. The journey is as long as a trip to Nashville for some, so it’s appropriate that the down-home interior—warm wood from floor to ceiling, twinkle lights hanging from the beams above, a bit of honky-tonk blaring from the sound system—resembles a barbecue joint straight out of Music City. You and your comrades will be standing in line for a while, so have one person grab a communal table big enough for all of you and another acquire a round of craft beers. Your patience will be greatly rewarded, especially with globe-trotting bites like Jamaican jerk-rubbed baby back ribs, house-made Italian sausage stuffed with fire-roasted peppers and pungent provolone, and pastrami bacon that tastes straight out of Katz’s.
Friendsgiving Feast #2:
A Classic Dim Sum Dinner in Chinatown
By far the most grandiose approach to group dining in New York is dim sum. The Cantonese fare is renowned for serving dozens of traditional small plates via pushcarts and steamer baskets; the freedom of a menu-less meal means that every dining companion can choose his or her own culinary adventure, no matter the pickiness level. Urban foodies are blessed with three Chinatowns with plenty of dim sum halls—in Manhattan, Flushing, and Sunset Park—but Golden Unicorn on the Lower East Side remains a perennial favorite. You practically feel like Big Apple royalty from the moment you ascend to the regal room (by way of escalator) and lay eyes on dramatic chandeliers, gold-tinged trimmings, and dragons mounted on the lucky red walls. You’ll be eating as such, as well; it wouldn’t be a proper dim sum service if you didn’t order a round of meaty pork buns, slurp-worthy xiao long bao (soup dumplings), pan-fried turnip cakes, and a few chicken feet. Do as veteran eaters would: Arrive in the morning and prepare to eat your weight in Chinese classics before the end of brunch.
Friendsgiving Feast #3:
A Korean Steak Soiree in Gramercy
If you—or your picky friend—are the type who doesn’t trust anyone with grilling your sirloin to your liking, this one’s for you. A recent addition to the Korean dining scene from the mastermind behind Piora in the West Village, Simon Kim, Cote gives you all the power when it comes to your dinner. The new-age steakhouse specializes in classic chophouse cuts and buzzworthy dishes straight out of Seoul, catering to both the sophisticated meat lovers and culinary nomads in your friend group. It’s tempting to hoard specialty slabs like the galbi (marinated short rib) and filet mignon all to yourself, but you’ll find the best bang for your buck in the Butcher’s Feast; coming in at just $45 per person, you get four cuts of dry-aged, USDA-grade beef, along with traditional sides like kimchi stew and puffed-up egg soufflé.
Friendsgiving Feast #4:
An All-Duck, No-Turkey Dinner in Greenwich Village
Aside from being the leading cause of fully blown food comas, the main event of the classic Thanksgiving dinner is usually one of the least appetizing. Why not consider a different kind of poultry this year? Just beneath one of the city’s most profound new-school dim sum destinations (RedFarm) is Decoy, the Peking duck–filled lair launched by consultant–slash–Chinese food connoisseur Ed Schoenfeld. A sprawling mural of snow-white waterfowls re-creating The Last Supper—which, come to think of it, is slightly morbid—overlooks the communal table filled with your four-course duck dinner ($68.50 a head). Crispy-skinned duck will beat your friends’ usual domestic turkey any day, while small plates like flaky scallion pancakes, chips with fishy vinaigrette, and fried rice with gourmet bites of crab and truffled egg only sweeten the deal.
Friendsgiving Feast #5:
A Filipino Kamayan in the East Village
Hope you’re not afraid to get a little down and dirty; the traditional Filipino feast known as kamayan is no-holds-barred and all-hands-on. Strictly for your most adventurous allies is the OG version in New York City at the Technicolor Jeepney in the East Village. Envisioned by owner Nicole Ponseca and executed by chef Miguel Trinidad, the large-format dinner is sprawled out on the largest banana leaf you’ve ever seen. Wide ribbons of white rice wrap around the table-length presentation, while the stars of the show—lechon (roasted suckling pig) and flash-fried fish (dampa)—lay smack-dab in the middle of the colorful spread. Other faves from the Philippines accompany the indulgent meat-for-all; soy-glazed longganisa, crispy egg rolls, lemongrass-infused mussels, and head-on prawns soaked in sugarcane vinegar and garlic are fair game if you can grab it quickly enough. If you convince the gang to go on a Tuesday (or any other weekday), each person only has to shell out $45.
Make your Friendsgiving even more stress-free; let our experience advisers take care of all the planning.