A Progressive Thanksgiving
I am a childless millennial. Disney adult, side part, skinny jeans, crippling self-doubt, avocado toast aficionado, I’ve got them all. Sure, the constant reminder that my eggs are dying, my Boomer parents’ dreams of having grandchildren, and now the general disapproval from even the ones we hope to impress most (Gen Z), are just a few reasons why I spend a lot of time in Instagram therapy.
But listen, the Millennials walked so that Gen Z could fly. We painted every exterior wall with our own brand of pink for all to pose in front of it. We made poetry come alive again with social media. We found new ways to self medicate—like Netflix binging and addiction to cold brew. We dedicated a holiday to every single date on the calendar (Happy belated Love Your Red Hair Day, by the way!), and my favorite version of that comes in the form of Friendsgiving. This is the unspecified day in November that you can express gratitude to your chosen family while preparing your stomach for Turkey Day. Don’t forget to post about it in a timely manner.
If we can’t bond over food and friends, perhaps Gen Z and Millenials can agree that we both love to show everyone how progressive we are. That’s the inspiration behind this piece: A Progressive Friendsgiving. Not progressive like wearing pants to church or donning an “Eat the Rich” bumper sticker on your used Prius (though 10/10 recommend you add a little spice to your life by saying your favorite baby names are “Bernie” or “Sander” around the family dinner table this season). No, this is a different type of progressive. This is when you visit a different location for each course of your dinner. And because quarantine may have sucked every organizational and adventurous cell from your body, I have put together a list of how to have a progressive Friendsgiving to unite all generations, give you an excuse to blow your paycheck, and never afford a mortgage. You know, Millennial Style.
There’s something for everyone.
Looking to dress up and pretend you are a Real Housewife of Salt Lake City? We’ve got some bougie options for you.
Stimulus check still in your savings account, just in case? Save yourself a dime or two and check out the affordable care option.
Reenacting the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting for your VSCO followers? We’ve put together a #BasicButClassic list for you.
Still a little nervous about international travel, but have a hankering for something other than Crown Burger for dinner? Take a look at the globe trotters guide to the galaxy...er...Salt Lake dining scene.
Are you in love with our city or have friends from out of state in town this holiday season? Be sure to keep it local and get inspired by the local list.
Not quite over the convenience of never leaving the house or putting on real shoes that we all embraced during the pandemic? Never fear, we’ve put together a list of places that will bring dinner to your doorstep!
Remember, for a progressive dinner to work, we need multiple courses at different locations. We’ve put together for you four rounds: drinks, appetizers, main course, and dessert. Don’t let me put you in a box. Use these ideas and make your own adventure!
For my bougie crowd, here’s what I recommend:
- Order a drink from BTG Wine Bar or Lake Effect: This will set the night off on a vibe, which of course, is what we want. I went to BTG once and only ordered mac and cheese (some of the best in the city) and felt like I had ordered off the kid’s menu while all the fancy moms and dads were enjoying a trip to Tuscany or Napa Valley.
- Get yourself over to The Rest, a speakeasy cocktail bar with killer tapas on Main Street. What is bougier than knowing about a secret, hidden tapas bar in the middle of the city? Enter through Bodega on the main level and tell the bartender that you have a reservation downstairs. You’ll be taken to this private oasis to enjoy a whiskey in a spot that looks like it is straight from the set of Midnight in Paris.
- Fill up on the main course at Oquirrh, which is hard to spell, but a no brainer when it comes to delicious food. The menu changes seasonally, but this is the type of place where you can trust the chef, who creates masterpieces from locally sourced ingredients.
- Save room for dessert at HSL! The sweet and savory dessert menu items are as tasty as they are Instagram-able.
If reading that list made your wallet hurt, then consider this list for people, like me, who are Googling plasma donation centers to pad my Christmas budget as if it is 2013 and you’re a sophomore in college. Save some cash, don’t let your budget fuel your FOMO:
- Drinks at Bongo Lounge or the best Maverik in town, the one on 2680 South and 2000 East. This specific Mav is not only the cleanest one in town, but has an employee who looks just like Richard Gere so it is more of an event than a gas station.
- While you’re in the area, get your group something to munch on on the way to the next stop. Might I suggest the rolled tacos and using the drive thru at Hector’s because the tacos are just a delivery method for cheese and guac and the drive thru is a delivery method for validation with all the employees calling you
- For the main course, visit the new location of Pretty Bird on 2100 South and get your chicken fix. And those crinkle cut fries will soothe your soul; that’s a Beehive promise.
- Top off the night with a hand pie from Pie Fight or an ice cream cone from Normal. Or both. Bonus hack for the people who have read this far: Get the iconic salted vanilla from Normal Ice Cream then order any pie from Pie Fight (highly suggest the apple crumble hand pie), ask them to warm it up, and plop your frosty swirl on top for a Salt Lake dessert masterpiece.
For the nostalgics at heart, take a peek at the list of the Thanksgiving offerings in our city:
- Both Arlo and Under Current have seasonal menus to spice up your holiday spirits, and both have cozy spots to settle in for round one of your dinner.
- Head over for small plates at Provisions. Thanksgiving calls for a serving of veggies (like the crispy brussel sprouts or wood roasted cauliflower) and 10 servings of bread and cheese (like the bread or charcuterie board). I don’t make the rules, but I absolutely exaggerate and enforce them.
- Seems obvious, but you must keep the main course traditional at Tradition. Nobody makes these dishes like your mom, except for the chefs at Tradition who specialize in the comfort food classics. You can’t get more nostalgic than an order of funeral potatoes or meatloaf.
- Of course, it’s not a classic Friendsgiving without pie from The Dodo. Like, are you even a Salt Laker if you don’t take every opportunity to order a slice of the Toll House Pie?
For our jetsetters too afraid to board a plane, let’s travel around the city’s best food from around the globe:
- Settle those pre-flight nerves with drinks from Post Office Place. Wishing you were headed to Peru? There’s a cocktail for that. Hoping to have a whirlwind Tokyo adventure? There’s a beer for that. Longing for the Italian countryside? There’s a bottle of wine for that.
- Next stop: Finca—offering authentic Spanish tapas—is the leader of small plates. Might I suggest the item that my family has taken upon itself to recreate at home so we may eat it every single day: the ensalada naranjas. Or perhaps you’ve got your sights set on something further east. If that’s the case, order the sliders from Somi Vietnamese Bistro and thank me later.
- For the main course we have two options that couldn’t be more different from each other, but are both my cozy-night-in go-tos. Per Noi Trattoria is one of my favorite places for real Italian, stick to your bones pasta. The gnocchi will have you singing in an accent about a holiday that doesn’t exist in Italy...or any of the countries of origin that I am demanding you visit. If pasta isn’t your thing, but flavorful meats and rice is, then be sure to stop at Bombay House for the cheapest and quickest trip to India that Utah has to offer.
- Wrap it up with macarons from Fillings and Emulsions or a slice of the crepe cake at Doki Doki Dessert Cafe.
If you prefer to keep things local, check out these Salt Lake City staples for your Friendsgiving food tour:
- Is there anything more Utah than soda shops? Swing by Thirst and order the drink of the week on your way to appetizers. If soda isn’t quintessential Utah enough for you, perhaps prophecies from the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is! If that’s the case, research the etymology of the local bar White Horse while sipping on one of their craft cocktails.
- After some beverages, head over to Eva’s for a small plate...or 20. You can’t go wrong with a place that, according to their website, was named after the chef’s great-grandmother who was “renowned for cooking with an abundance of both love and butter.” Yes, please.
- For the main course, if you’re in it for the views, it doesn’t get more SLC than The Roof. But if you’re in it for the grub—it’s in the name: SLC Eatery. Their unique offerings, some that are even served on a cart, show us the best view of the budding Salt Lake foodie scene that anyone in town will appreciate.
- Lastly, for dessert, the real ones know: Hatch Family Chocolates is a fool-proof, Beehive state original that is literally good at everything. And trust me, I am a 30 year old single woman, born and raised in Salt Lake, who has a strict 30-minute first date rule and Hatch has always given me a place to get in, decide if I want to spend more than 30 minutes with a Hinge match, and get out with a satisfied sweet tooth. Or pay a visit to the recently opened storefront for the beloved Chubby Baker. The colorful alternative is sure to satisfy both the dessert fiends and the food photographers, too.
Last but certainly not least, is for the coziest of entertainers: the DoorDashing, UberEating, delivery pizza gang. Don’t move a muscle for Friendsgiving this year and let the food come to you:
- Diet Coke lovers of the world can all agree that the sweetest nectar comes in the form of $1 soft drinks from McDonalds. Pro tip: have your drink delivered without ice, add some crunchy pre-purchased Sonic or Maverik pebble ice, and BAM...a victory for double the price of going through the drive-thru.
- Mashed potatoes are often the star of the Thanksgiving feast at my house, but give the people a twist on the classic for Friendsgiving and get your guests a few orders of the Chedda Tots from Chedda Burger. Imagine that mashed potatoes had a baby with a pillow, then deep fried it and stuffed it with cheese. What a delicious early Christmas present you will offer your friends by letting them in on this crunchy on the outside, smooth on the inside snack.
- The main course is a little bit of a journey from the city, but what’s it to you other than a larger delivery fee for the driver? Real Taqueria, located in Holladay, is the spot for your Mexican Friendsgiving feast. Splurge on delivery, save on the meal and you’ll be spoiled with flavor. You must get some chips and salsa. I haven’t ever been so thrilled by a tortilla chip before Real Taqueria came into my life.
- Perhaps it’s predictable, but it’s the obvious answer for a reason. Get your warm dessert delivered with a side of milk from Chip Cookies. Their chocolate chip cookie is out of this world and the seasonal offerings are always a crowd pleaser.
A Progressive Friendsgiving is extravagant, filling, and will consume a lot of your time, but you’ve earned it. Remember a year ago, rotting away in our homes, without human contact for weeks at a time and living in constant fear of Covid? We dreamt of moments like this. Rise up, Millennials, it’s time to show these kids how to turn every day into a party. Live it up. Eat it up. Fall in love with the food of our city as you celebrate the friendships, especially the ones that span multiple generations, that survived a global pandemic.
(Design by Chris Patty)