6 Restaurants Rethinking Thanksgiving Leftovers

By Sarah Freeman  |  December 2, 2013
Credit: Nick Murway

Are you scraping the bottom of the pie tin in terms of Thanksgiving leftovers? While there are still a few weeks before that other holiday rolls round - which makes it acceptable to gorge on a fresh round of meats and sugary sweets - right now chefs are reinterpreting Thanksgiving leftovers for seasonal specials running this week only. Between the mother-of-all turkey sandwiches and pies tuned Pop Tarts, the gluttonous holiday may be over but the eats live on.

  • 2 Sparrows

    How much pie is too much pie? That’s a trick question, because there obviously is no such thing as too much pie. But find yourself with too much pie filling and you, too, can make Pop Tarts. At 2 Sparrows, flaky pie dough is rolled and filled with cranberry filling. Each pastry is baked and drizzled with sweet glaze before being served as an elevated version of the childhood favorite.

    553 W. Diversey Pkwy.; 773-234-2320

  • Rockit Bar & Grill

    Your version of Thanksgiving leftovers involves a tray of food and unlimited TV watching on a comfy couch. Rockit’s version ditches the couch in favor of its happening River North restaurant (you’ve been away from work for almost a week - it’s time to rejoin society). The holiday ham TV dinner features bourbon brown sugar glazed applewood smoked ham, country-style red skin mashed potatoes, four cheese mac, steamed broccoli, buttered corn, sweet potato fries and sugar cookies.

    22 W. Hubbard St.; 312-645-6000

  • Credit: Nick Murway

    Sumi Robata Bar

    We dare you to look at mashed potatoes the same way after chef Gene Kato has his way with them. Spare spuds are turned into a cold Japanese potato salad, and nothing is traditional about it. Kato uses Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise, which is a bit smoother and tangier than traditional mayo because it is made with rice vinegar rather than distilled vinegar, as well as mustard paste. Kato also adds in diced red pearl onions and cucumbers for texture, before garnishing it with potato chips.

    702 N. Wells St.; 312-988-7864

  • Tanta

    Take an entire Thanksgiving dinner and stuff it into a flaky empanada - that's the thought process behind this seasonal Peruvian staple. The special empanada is filled with turkey stuffing, raisins, Rocoto pepper sauce (a traditional spicy Peruvian sauce) and apples. It bakes until the outside is golden brown and the inside is a melding of comforting seasonal flavors.

    118 W. Grand Ave.; 312-222-9700

  • Credit: Nick Murway


    Yesterday’s turkey gets a new life in this Spanish staple. Tavernita’s latest seasonal paella is prepared with turkey meatballs in a savory chickpea stew. The heaping pile of meat and rice is large enough to share among family or friends after a long day of holiday shopping or at the beginning of a long night of winter revelry.

    151 W. Erie St.; 312-274-1111

  • Credit: Nick Murway


    Guess who wins the best Thanksgiving leftover sandwich contest? This guy, chef Tim Graham, with his “Turkey Reprise” sandwich. Leftover turkey (it’s not really leftover, because this is a classy place) is served on an onion roll with walnut labneh (a creamy sauce made with strained yogurt), pickled onion and watercress. How does that dry turkey on white bread look now?

    330 N. Wabash Ave.; 312-923-9988