Guide to a Petaluma Thanksgiving

At home or dinner out, Petaluma does Thanksgiving|

Thanksgiving is typically all about family, and of course heaping piles of delicious food. Whether making dinner from scratch, ordering it pre-made or dining out, Petaluma has a cornucopia of dinner options.

Cooking at home

For those looking to cook their own Thanksgiving dinner, it is all about the bird. Sure, you can pick up a turkey from a chain grocery store, but with so many great local shops offering affordable and ethically raised birds, why settle for the unknown. Plus, patronizing our local butcher shops and grocery stores helps make great local meat choices available year round.

When I inquired on Facebook about Thanksgiving turkeys, Thistle Meats popped right to the top. As a frequent consumer of Thistle Meats myself, it comes as no surprise that they have so many fans.

They are again offering birds from BN Ranch, which was founded by Bill Niman, formerly of Niman Ranch. “You have our word,” actually means something when BN Ranch proclaims to exceed all industry animal husbandry standards. BN Ranch’s birds have far more space available for them to roam than do commercially raised birds, and even have access to the outdoors.

They are fed a non-GMO verified vegetarian diet, based on wheat, sunflower/safflower, peas and organic soy. As with all of Thistle Meats’ offerings, the animals are raised with respect and harvested ethically and humanely. Visit for the full story on BN Ranch and its turkeys.

Little wonder that local food, drink and community business leaders like Loren Poncia of Stemple Creek Ranch, JJ Jay of Petaluma Hills Brewing Company, Ana Keller of Keller Estates, and John Ton of Petaluma Sign Company order their turkeys from Thistle Meats.

At $7.49 per pound, Thistle suggests a 12- to 14-pound turkey for a party of eight people. They are currently accepting orders but will sell out fast, so visit them online or in the store to place your $50 deposit. They will collect the rest at pick-up. Pickups begin during regular business hours, starting Sunday, Nov. 20.

Mention that you read about it here, and owner Molly Best will include a complimentary charcuterie board with each bird on orders place by Nov. 10. If you have never tried Thistle Meats, this is as good a reason as any.

I also highly recommend picking up a few links of their Beer Brat sausages, which are expertly made and perfectly balanced using beer from Petaluma Hills Brewing Company. I would bet they would make for a pretty mean sausage stuffing too.

Tara Firma Farms also offers BN Ranch turkeys to the general public, with discounts for members.

For those who prefer ham to turkey, Angelo’s Meats offers the perfect compromise, and has our family’s choice on more than one occasion. Angelo Ibleto’s smoked turkeys are moist and sweet, much like a Christmas ham, and have been a Petaluma favorite for decades. These turkeys are ready to go so you can serve them either cold or hot, and are priced at $4.99 per pound. Former city council member Karen Nau tells me that her mother, Ettamarie Peterson, gets a turkey from Angelo’s every year and that the whole family loves it.

Bud’s Custom Meats in Penngrove is also a long-standing local favorite when it comes to birds, as well as other Thanksgiving favorites, like turduckens, prime rib (both grass and grain fed), and bone-in and bone-out smoked hams. Thanks to Lauren from Bud’s for running me through the choices, which include hormone- and antibiotic-free, local free range Willy Birds and Rosa birds for $3.69 per pound, as well as a lemon garlic brined smoked bird for $4.19 per pound. Lorraine and Mike Barber of Barber Cellars tell me that for the past decade, they have never gone wrong ordering a Rosa bird from Bud’s.

While there, pick up a few packs of Bud’s incredible beef jerky. Bud’s has been making venison, wild boar, buffalo, pork and grass-fed beef jerky since 1975. Other than the Cowboy Candy, the rest of the jerkies are only available at Bud’s and make an excellent holiday gift for the foodies on your list.

Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without pie, and locally nobody does it better than Petaluma Pie. Because Petaluma Pie has quickly become a Petaluma tradition, it is important to order early. Along with traditional pies, such as their classic apple, organic pecan, sweet potato and southern style pumpkin pies, Petaluma Pie offers specialties like pear ginger cardamon, apple pecan crumble with salted caramel and dark chocolate bourbon pecan pies.

Personally, Thanksgiving dessert is not complete without a scoop or two of Petaluma Creamery or LaLa’s ice cream, along with a dollop of homemade hazelnut whipped cream, created by adding Sonoma Portworks’ Duet Sherry to heavy whipping cream, but maybe that is just my sweet tooth talking.

Petaluma Market offers both turkeys to cook and turkey dinners and should be accepting orders by now.

Pre-made dinners

If you are interested in a pre-made, ready to heat and eat Thanksgiving dinner, Bellyfull Dinners and Preferred Sonoma Caterers are two great local options.

Having dined on many a Bellyfull Dinner, I can attest to the fact that their meals are delicious, delivered on time and always leave us with leftovers for the next day. Mark Urenda, the Road Butler, says Bellyfull’s Thanksgiving dinner was fantastic last year.

From a dinner for two, all the way up to “The Works,” which feeds 10 to 15 people, Bellyful has plenty of options. On the other hand, if you want to make your own turkey but want someone else to hassle with all the sides, order just the extras, like green bean casserole, candied yams, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, salads, stuffing, rolls, gravy and dessert.

Bellyfull has delivery times throughout the afternoon and evening on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Dinners are delivered chilled, with simple reheating instructions.

Always the over-achiever, Amber Balshaw of Preferred Sonoma Caterers never fails to impress with her culinary creations. This year’s Thanksgiving menu includes an herb basted turkey, celery sage stuffing, baked yams with apples and carrots, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts with butternut squash and kale, cranberry orange conserve and all the rest of the fixin’s, including apple streusel pie or traditional pumpkin pie.

Preferred Sonoma also offers all their Thanksgiving dishes ala carte for those looking to add a few sides or a whole turkey to their home-cooked meal. Place orders by Sunday, Nov. 20 at noon for pick up on Wednesday, Nov. 23 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Dining out

There is no need to trek all the way to the big city in search of a truly spectacular restaurant prepared Thanksgiving meal, because Chef Tony of Central Market has you covered. His prix fixe dinner is $65 per person, but do yourself a favor and splurge for the additional wine pairing.

Last year’s menu included such succulent dishes as house smoked sturgeon over a warm buckwheat pancake accompanied by celery root and apple slaw with caviar, slow roasted dry aged Stemple Creek grass fed beef sirloin with Hasselback potatoes and marrow enriched jus, and suckling pig porchetta over creamy Flageolet beans and roasted brussel sprouts.

Chef Tony promises that this year’s dinner will be every bit as memorable. I can only hope that this year dungeness crab will replace last year’s Maine lobster in the sweet corn chowder with farm bacon and house-made fennel oyster crackers.

Tolay Restaurant at the Sheraton Hotel also offers a prix fixe Thanksgiving dinner for $45 per person (less for children), starting at 2 p.m. and running through 7 p.m. Along with choices of soups, salads and dessert, guests can choose from four mouth-watering entrées including traditional roasted turkey, with sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and gravy, or some less traditional, yet equally tantalizing dishes, such as grilled salmon lemon buerre blanc, slow roast prime rib, or vegetarian field mushroom and ricotta turnover.

Palm’s Grill’s Thanksgiving dinner service will start at noon and will include options such as oven roasted turkey dinner, with all the fixings ($16.95), herb crusted prime rib ($24/regular; $21/petit cut), kid’s turkey dinner ($7.95), and various holiday desserts ($2.95-$5.95.) Marina Freedman of Petaluma Food Tours ordered Palm’s Thanksgiving dinner to go last year and gave it two thumbs up.

City Limits Restaurant offers a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for around $15, with plenty of other favorites available, like prime rib and pasta specials.


Dungeness crabs are a long-standing Thanksgiving tradition around these parts, and it appears that unlike last year, the commercial crab season should open with plenty of time to put dungies back on our holiday tables. For those with time, a fall day is never better spent than drive out to Bodega Bay to retrieve these delectable crustaceans straight from the source, maybe stopping in at Bodega Bay Oysters to snack on a few dozen raw or barbecued oysters. But for those with limited time, I suggest visiting Petaluma Market for the freshest catch.


For something non-traditional, I highly recommend visiting Everest Indian. With cuisine from India, Tibet and Nepal, including vegan and gluten free options, the friendly staff and warm and welcoming dining room make Everest a perfect alternative to Thanksgiving or Christmas at home, and is our favorite spot to eat when looking to change things up a bit.

As I mention every year around this time, Yanni’s Sausages of Penngrove offers their special “Thanksgiving in a Link” sandwich, which is our favorite Yanni’s sandwich of all time. With all the great flavors of Thanksgiving in one sandwich, this is sure to satisfy any Thanksgiving dinner cravings you might have.

In fact, we like this so much that we made them ourselves for Thanksgiving dinner last year. It was smiles all around because it was not only delightfully delicious but it was simple and nobody had to deal with dishes. Yanni’s is closed the week of Thanksgiving so pick up your sandwiches early, or else buy the sausages in bulk, pick up Full Circle Bread from down the block, and create your own at home.

No matter how you decide to enjoy your Petaluma Thanksgiving, do your family’s taste buds a favor and call ahead. Make that reservation, order that meal, or arrange to pick up that bird well in advance so you do not miss out on all the healthy, hearty and heavenly dinner options that Petaluma’s local food purveyors have to offer.

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