It doesn't matter how hard you try. Still, you hear the whispers: "The turkey is dry, the stuffing is bland, the cranberries came straight out of a can, the scented candles make the whole dinner smell like Febreeze..." and blah blah blah. When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, everybody's a critic, if you know what I mean.

You, Houston home cook, don't need the aggravation. Over the years, you have deep-fried, barbecued, spatchcocked, and roasted dozens of turkeys. You have stuffed them with tamales, oysters, sausage, and cornbread. You have boned out whole birds and assembled turduckens. You have nothing left to prove. 

Therefore, I hereby give you permission to buy the whole spread from a restaurant this year.

"Thanksgiving To Go" menus range from elegant and elaborate to "just the basics." The dinner feasts are generally ready the day before Thanksgiving and come with reheating instructions, though a few restaurants offer Thanksgiving morning pick-up. If the food isn't perfect you can blame the chef. And some of the prices are pretty tempting. The catch is, you have to order in advance and you don't have much time to spare. Here's five feasts that sound enticing.

Today is the last day to order: "This Ain't Your Daddy's Thanksgiving from Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Deli," (713-871-8883) a pick-up and take-home Thanksgiving meal that can be customized to your tastes. The basic package feeds 10 to 12 people and includes a 20-pound turkey with two 9-inch pans of chestnut dressing, two quarts of gravy, a quart of cranberry compote, and two quarts of the side of your choice. Sides range from traditional potatoes, sweet potatoes, and string beans to deli items like noodle kugle. The price is $195 plus tax and there are lots more sides and desserts you can add. Orders placed today can be picked up before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, November 27. The restaurant is closed Thanksgiving Day. Complete menus and ordering instructions can be found online at www.kennyandziggys.com.

Call Ouisie's Table (713-528-2264) by tomorrow Thursday November 21 to order a Southern-style Thanksgiving dinner. Entree choices include turkey with gravy, herb-crusted tenderloin, or a smoked salmon spread. There are lots of sides and desserts to choose from. Check out the full menu on the website. Pick-up your dinner at 3939 San Felipe on Wednesday, November 27.

Order a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner from Sorrel Urban Bistro at 2202 West Alabama (713-677-0391) by Saturday, November 23. Dinner for four is $120, dinner for eight is $200. Entree choices include turkey, turkey and ham, leg of lamb, pork rack, or roasted pheasants. Impressive side dishes include pan-roasted French green beans with walnuts and rosemary honey, rutabaga gratin with smoky bacon and shallot marmalade, braised cabbage with venison sausage, and pan-roasted pumpkin with pistachio and fennel pesto. Pick up on Wednesday, November 27.

Mockingbird Bistro (713-533-0200) offers elegant turkey feasts customized to the size of your dinner party. Check out the menus on its website—you have until Tuesday, November 26 to make up your mind. The smallest dinner for two to four people is $180. The big deal dinner for up to 15 people comes with turkey, ham, andouille sausage dressing, giblet gravy with cranberries, breads, sides, and desserts and costs $400. You can pick up your dinner on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or hot and ready to serve on Thanksgiving Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon. 

If you want Goode Company BBQ to smoke your turkey, call one of the three barbecue locations and pre-order it (5109 Kirby, 713-522-2530; 8911 Katy Freeway, 713-464-1901; 20102 Northwest Freeway, 832-678-3562). Pick up your turkey at the location where it was ordered. You can also get a pecan pie at the last minute.

Goode Company's Pecan Pie Booth will be open for drive-through pies on Tuesday, November 26 and Wednesday, November 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m at all three Goode Company BBQ locations. Prices are as follows:

   Pecan Pie: $18.50
   Pecan Pie in a wooden box: $36
   Chocolate Pie: $17
   Mesquite Smoked Turkey: $60
   Mesquite Smoked Turkey + Pie (pecan or chocolate): $75
   Mesquite Smoked Turkey + Pecan in a wooden box: $95 

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