Restaurants open on Thanksgiving in Kentucky & Tennessee

Wild turkey photographed May 6, 2006 in California. (Photo © 2006 Yathin S. Krishnappa/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Wild turkey photographed May 6, 2006 in California. (Photo © 2006 Yathin S. Krishnappa/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Wild turkeys roaming California. (Photo © 2006 Yathin S. Krishnappa/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

It’s not nearly as hard to find a restaurant open on Thanksgiving nowadays as it used to be, but it can still be a challenge — especially in rural areas of Kentucky and Tennessee.

If you’re in the Mid-South for Thanksgiving and either find yourself with nowhere to spend the holiday or just don’t want to cook, there are almost certainly multiple dining options available to you within a 100-mile radius (and probably much closer).

This article was first published on Thanksgiving day 2014 and will continue being updated over time to form what I hope will become a comprehensive list of restaurants open on Thanksgiving in Kentucky and Tennessee. In the meantime, here are some options I recommend:

Tonya’s Hometown Buffet in Lawrenceburg, Ky., has some of the best Southern comfort food you’ll ever find anywhere, which is why it made my “Best of the Bluegrass” list on Yelp. $12.99 today for all-you-can-eat, but I’m not sure what hours they’re serving (call 502-353-4236 to check). For more information about this Central Kentucky gem, check out my review of Tonya’s Hometown Buffet on Yelp.

Claudia Sanders Dinner House in Shelbyville, Ky., has an all-you-can eat Thanksgiving buffet today from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. It’s $19.95 for adults, $8.95 for kids 5-10 and free for kids under 5 (price includes drink). Reservations accepted for parties of six or more. Full Thanksgiving menu and to-go options are listed on Col. Sanders’ equally dead wife’s website, or you can phone 502-633-5600 with questions.

Most Bob Evans locations are open today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time.

Lake Cumberland State Resort Park in Jamestown, Ky., has an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving buffet today from noon to 8 p.m. CT. Cost with drink included is $18.49 for adults, $8.49 for kids 6-12 and free for children 5 and under. This Thanksgiving buffet usually includes fried catfish, which is a nice change of pace to the more traditional turkey, ham and hand-carved roast beef they also offer.

Sixteen of Kentucky’s 17 state resort parks serve similar Thanksgiving buffets to Lake Cumberland SRP, all priced the same with each featuring one local favorite entree chosen by the park chef. Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park in Eastern Kentucky’s Perry County has a unique Thanksgiving menu and closes earlier than other parks at 5 p.m. ET (call 606-398-7510 for details).

In Central Tennessee, Monell’s Dining & Catering in Nashville features an annual “Thanksgiving Celebration” for $24.95 per person (drink included) or $13 for children aged 4 through 12 (3 and under eat free). Monell’s exclusively features all-you-can-eat food served family style, meaning big bowls of food are brought to the table and then passed around family style. Thanksgiving dinner hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT at the original Nashville Germantown  and Manor locations, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the FitzGerald Manor location in Gallatin, Tenn.

It’s unfortunate they don’t have Turkey McNuggets, but if you need a holiday McCafe fix or are just pathologically addicted to the fries or something, most McDonald’s locations are open at least part of the day on Thanksgiving. Each store’s hours are set by the owner and can vary widely on holidays, though, even within the same city.

Denny’s and Waffle House are always open.

Many Chinese restaurants are open on Thanksgiving.

Do you know of any other Kentucky or Tennessee restaurants open on Thanksgiving? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list.

I'm a Mid-South photojournalist, Kentucky writer and digital media consultant (or eNinja™). Circle me on Google Plus at, follow me on Twitter at @surattb and Instagram me at @BillySuratt. Got a news tip or suggestion about some journalism that needs committed? Email (discretion is always guaranteed).

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