Five Food Fights to Have This Thanksgiving

Tired of arguing over Trump? Mix up your family feuding with these Boston restaurant-related debates.

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With Thanksgiving on the horizon, you’ve probably been inundated with clickbait lists about how to avoid family drama at the dinner table. “Don’t talk politics!” “Leave Trump out of Turkey-day!”


Look, if you want to leave controversial current events for a different forum—say, Facebook rants under a MAGA-spouting uncle’s deplorable memes—we get it. But a little lively debate is still a nice way to spice up bland small-talk with extended family you only see once a year. After all, is waxing poetic about the green bean casserole going to make a memorable impression? Is feigning interest in bocce tales from Gramps’ Florida retirement community really part of your personal brand? We thought not. So try tossing some of these food-related bombs on the dinner table, see how they land, and start a spat or two. You’ve got the next twelve months to make up, anyway.

Papa Gino's pizza

My favorite pizza—Papa Gino’s! by Carol on Flickr / Creative Commons

“So, how ’bout that slow death of Papa Gino’s?”

If you want to see the claws come out, interrogate a lifelong Masshole over their blind loyalty to any expired or expiring regional chain that conjures 1980s-New England nostalgia; the fur will fly faster than you can say “Jordan Marsh.” So go ahead, raise the specter that Papa Gino’s—which, didja hear, just filed for bankruptcy and is on its way out, I bet–isn’t actually that good anyway, and deserves to die in a day and age when fast food doesn’t have to be so—pedestrian. Sure, you’ll be called a snob by your cousin who carries a torch for the joint just because he has warm, fuzzy memories of splattering his Larry Bird jersey with tomato sauce at fourth grade pizza parties. But you can point to this high-low mix of favorites, and the recent ranking of Regina Pizzeria as the best pie slinger in the country, to prove your populism while maintaining that Papa, if he passes, won’t even be that missed.

Photo by Christopher Churchill

“Wanna see the Top 50 Restaurants in Boston?” 

Here’s one that’ll get everyone at the table on totally different pages: from your in-the-know niece with the foodie Instagram account to your Cool Aunt who claims she once made out with Todd English at Mohegan. (She’s currently necking with a bottle of Chardonnay.) Our just-launched list of the Top 50 Restaurants in Boston counts through the city’s best spots across cuisines and neighborhoods. But hell, we know these things are always subjective, so use us to incite some spirited debate over the rankings—is Alden & Harlow overrated, or Neptune Oyster listed too low?—and do your best to justify your favorite places to feast, even in the face of ferocious second (and third, and fourth) opinions. See? Now you know how we feel.

“Why can’t you find good [insert foodstuff here] in Boston?” 

It’s only a matter of time before someone’s significant other from New York bemoans the “sorry state” of Boston’s restaurant scene. (We get it. You majored in Bagels at NYU. Pass the peas.) Are you gonna sit there and take it? Nay! Defend the honor of your city from out-of-town pundits who ought not to judge Boston by one meal at their hotel bar. Or stir the pot playing devil’s advocate, second the suggestion that Boston lacks national restaurant award winners, and cite this recent snubbing from the Eater Essential Restaurants list. This essay outlines some of the obstacles Hub chefs face in pushing innovation forward, from high rents to exorbitant liquor licenses, so you can offer a few informed solutions while you’re at it.

“Aren’t you excited they’re putting a Chick-fil-A in Copley?”

Okay, okay. We promised to avoid politics, but it’s 2018: There’s not a damn thing left that can’t be made partisan, including chicken sandwiches. Peeps have been squawking about the soon-to-be first Boston location of Chick-fil-A, either because they can’t wait to wrap their talons around a spicy deluxe or can’t believe that friends and family are still willing to spend money at the fast food chain, infamous for its financial donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations. The right side of the dinner table will likely point out that you can’t possibly know the political associations of everything you eat; the left side will reasonably counter that if you do, you ought to act. Everyone will, eventually, look to the one gay relative to speak on behalf of The Community, and frankly, you guys, it’s my holiday too and I’m taking the day off. Settle this one yourselves.

Bright Young and Adrienne Wright are two Boston chefs who will be on "Top Chef" Season 16

Brian Young photo by Galdones Photography / Adrienne Wright photo courtesy of Boston Urban Hospitality

“Who are you rooting for on Top Chef?”

The 16th season of Top Chef, which premieres on December 6, is set in Kentucky–but two of the contestants hail from Boston: Adrienne Wright, executive chef of Boston Urban Hospitality Group restaurants Deuxave, Boston Chops, and dBar; and Brian Young, chef de cuisine at Cultivar. While the rest of the fam goes over the football pool, find your fellow food TV fans, pick teams and place bets on whether Wright or Young will go further in the competition. (Suggested prize: Losers pay for dinner at the winning chef’s spot.) Don’t know enough to have a strong opinion? Who cares! Pretend it’s Twitter, and shoot your mouth off anyway. Or, if you want to be more responsible, plan to do reconnaissance at the contestants’ respective restaurants. It’s vital research. Who could argue with that?