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Working as a truck driver sometimes means spending holidays on the road.  Don’t miss out on a traditional Thanksgiving meal while away from home. Here are a few restaurants where you can get traditional holiday fare on Thanksgiving Day.


Select Applebee’s nationwide offers a special Thanksgiving Day meal featuring turkey breast, mashed potatoes, gravy, and garlicky green beans. However, not all restaurants remain open, so call ahead for holiday hours and availability.

Boston Market

Boston Market remains open Thanksgiving Day for a traditional, delicious plated meal.  Individual meals are $12.99, offering Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast or Half Signature Rotisserie Chicken, served with 2 sides, a dinner roll and a slice of apple or pumpkin pie.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Cracker Barrel serves a special in-store Thanksgiving meal from 11 am until close. This traditional Homestyle Turkey n’ Dressing Meal comes complete with gravy, a sampling of sugar cured ham, sweet potato casserole, cranberry relish, and a choice of a country side. In addition, receive a beverage, buttermilk biscuits or corn muffins, and a slice of pumpkin pie. The Homestyle Turkey n’ Dressing Meal is available for $12.99 per adult.

Golden Corral

Golden Corral offers a Thanksgiving Day Buffet at participating locations. The buffet includes carved turkey, carved ham, fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, pot roast, meat loaf, sirloin steak, fried shrimp and much more. Call ahead for special holiday hours.

Marie Callender’s

Adults enjoy a Thanksgiving meal for $21.99. Starters include fresh baked golden cornbread, a cup of potato cheese or hearty vegetable soup or a crisp house salad. Also, entrees include choice of Freshly Roasted Turkey Dinner or Oven-Baked Ham. In addition, it includes seasonal vegetables, fire-roasted yams with cranberry streusel topping and potatoes.


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It’s not easy being out on the road for a holiday. It can be lonely out there when you’re miles away from family and friends. And the hunt for a quality meal can be long and arduous.

Fortunately, there’s one place that truck drivers know they can turn to for a home-cooked feast on Thanksgiving Day—the Boise Stage Stop in Boise, Idaho.

For the 15th year, the celebrated Stage Stop is hosting its Truck Driver Appreciation Day, a Thanksgiving feast that’s free for CDL permit holders. All you have to do is show your CDL license to your server and the meal is free for you and a guest.

The celebratory homemade feast includes turkey and all the fixins: mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, desserts and soft drinks. Twenty-year Stage Stop chef Jose Carrera has been cooking up this feast since the beginning. A

nd for Stage Stop event coordinator Kim Curtis, who’s married to a truck driver, planning the feast is a personal privilege.

“Because I’m married to a truck driver, this is special for me,” Curtis says. “It’s a place for truck drivers to come and feel accepted, feel like they’re wanted.” All the food is donated, as are giveaways for a raffle that features everything from TVs to CDs.

“I never get tired of it,” Curtis says. “My favorite thing is the smiles on their faces and the drivers’ comments. The drivers are just so appreciative. I got guys that come here every year. They know they’ll be here and they plan for it.”

Between 400 and 600 people turn out for the driver appreciation dinner annually.

The restaurant starts serving at 10:30 a.m. and keeps going right up until midnight.

“I don’t think there’s anybody out there doing what we’re doing, not for free,” Curtis says. “It’s fun to be part of.”

Non-drivers also are welcome to dine on the feast for $10.99 (adults) or $5.99 (kids).

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While many are home gorging on Thanksgiving Day, some CDL truck drivers won’t have that luxury. That’s not stopping them from cooking a Thanksgiving feast on their big rigs, though.

“I  have little more than a butane stove and a big ‘ol skillet. That’s it,” says driver Kani Kahapea, who cooked Thanksgiving dinner in his truck last year and may have to do it again this year. Despite limited space and little equipment, the Swift owner operator created a feast reminiscent of his Hawaiian upbringing.

Kani Thanksgiving dinner“In my family, we do Thanksgiving with ham and turkey,” Kahapea says. “I wanted my dinner to be as similar to that as possible, so I did strawberry and guava-glazed ham and deep-fried turkey in my truck. It wasn’t going to be easy to fit a whole turkey breast in my skillet, so I deep-fried it, half at a time.”

Kahapea, who once worked as a cook in Hawaii, also made creamed corn, potato salad, rice and stuffing. Modifying recipes he normally makes at home, he tweaked traditional dishes so they were “semi-homemade.”

Karl and JeanetteAnd Kahapea is not alone. Others with CDL trucking jobs are making big spreads in their big rigs, too. Karl Pickard, a company driver with
Anderson Trucking Service, will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner with his wife, Jeanette, in their truck for the first time this year. Jeanette’s going to cook the turkey and Karl’s going to make green beans with bacon and onions.

Their setup won’t allow them to cook a whole turkey, so they’ll cook a turkey breast with a cranberry-orange glaze. Garlic cream cheese mashed potatoes and fudge for dessert are on the menu, too.

“We have several things in this truck that make cooking easy,” says Karl. “A Coleman stove, a toaster oven, an Aroma cooker. We’ve got a mini-kitchen in here.”

Still, it’s hard being away from family on holidays, says Carie Partin, a former CDL driver who now rides shotgun with her husband, James. The Partins’ first holiday on the road came last Easter, when Carie cooked up ham, mashed potatoes and deviled eggs shaped like chicks.

“It’s lonely out here on the holidays,” she says. “Easter was my way of taking home to the highway. It made me feel like we had a little bit of home right there with us.”

CarieThe Partins will do it again this Thanksgiving. They’d hoped to be home, but it’s not going to happen. They’ll make the most of it, with slow-cooked chicken, deviled eggs, the rice stuffing Carie’s mom used to make and a vegetable platter shaped like a turkey.

“Don’t let your mind limit you,” Carie tells big rig cooks who have to be on the road this year. “Look at it as an adventure. Enjoy it the best way you can. That’s how we approach it. We have a lot to be thankful for.”

What do you have to be thankful for? Join our online community here and tell us.

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in November 2015.

glazed ham

Strawberry/Guava-Glazed Ham Recipe:

  • 2 lbs. ham steak
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1/2 cup guava juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

        1. In a pot, put strawberry preserves, brown sugar and guava juice.
        2. Bring to a simmer.
        3. Reduce by 1/4. It may need a little thickening. If so, a simple mix of cornstarch and water will do it.
        4. Pan sear ham steaks until cooked through, add glaze to pan and coat steaks well.
        5. Serve alongside the rest of the Thanksgiving meal.