The countdown to Thanksgiving is on and to be frank, the news isn’t great. Inflation doesn’t seem to be slowing down, (however if you’re trying to save a buck, here’s a quick price comparison of area grocery stores) causing your overall holiday meal grocery receipt to be bigger than last year. And when it comes to that all-important Thanksgiving centerpiece, turkey prices are not only rising per pound — a cost increase attributed not only to inflation woes but to the rising cost of raising birds — they might be harder to find due to an avian flu that, according to Washington state veterinarian Dr. Amber Itle, affects “all species of domestic birds and 60 different wild bird species.”

We’re smack in the middle of southern migration season (which is mercifully a quicker migratory period than the springtime northern migration), and since July there have been 47.76 million birds infected with bird flu in 43 states.

“I’m seeing a lot of turkeys here, a significant number,” Itle said as she scrolled through the USDA website that tracks confirmed cases, breaking them out by type of operation (backyard or commercial) and type of flock (turkeys, chickens, ducks).

Still, she says that while the millions of bird deaths — and subsequent weeks of quarantine needed before producers can get their flocks up and running again — might raise prices, she’s confident the producers will “do their best to meet demand.”

Locally, you can still get turkeys — for now.

Kevin Smith, owner of Crown Hill butcher shop Beast and Cleaver, says it’s been “even more difficult” this year to get local turkeys. This year, the shop was only able to order 150 turkeys, 100 fewer than last year. They’re also more expensive.

“We’ve seen nearly a $3 price increase on our turkeys. We’ve had to put them up $1,” Smith says.

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Preorders for the turkeys, which cost $8.99/pound, are now sold out on the Beast and Cleaver website, but Smith also says he’s set a few aside for customers wanting to come into the shop.

David Sanz, meat and seafood merchandiser for PCC Community Markets, says the past few years the company has ordered 10,000-plus turkeys for Thanksgiving, and this year they did not receive that full order.

“We got most of it, but we didn’t get all of it. You always want to have turkeys, but with the amount of the [avian flu] impact, it’s a substantial hit not only to us but pretty much to all other retailers. But we’re trying to stay positive,” Sanz says.

PCC also has preordering available for turkeys on its website, both cooked and uncooked, from $4.29-$8.99/pound.  

Turkey alternatives, order-in or dine-out

If rising costs and supply issues have you worried, Sanz says maybe this is the year to try something besides turkey.

“The best advice to give you is to consider the alternatives. There are a bunch of really good ones,” Sanz says.

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PCC is offering preorders on ham and beef rib roasts. Beginning Nov. 1, there is a special for PCC members to score $10 per pound off a New York roast.

“If you buy an 8- to 10-pound roast, you’ll save $80 to $100. That’s enough to buy a bottle of your favorite beverage,” Sansz says.

Smith is also offering other celebratory-feeling proteins for those not going for turkey this year, including leg of lamb, whole geese, standing rib roasts and something he calls the Royale.

“It’s a New York strip with all the fat taken off, butterflied and a torchon of foie gras down the middle of it. That’s available to order for $49.99. It’s not cheap, but it’s amazing,” Smith says.

And if you’re not looking to cook your own Thanksgiving feast, there are plenty of Seattle area options. From smoked turkey or brisket to lavish full Thanksgiving plates, dine-in or pickup, here are a few wonderful options to check out.

Again, remember: Preordering or making reservations as early as possible is in your best interest.

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Woodshop BBQ

2513 S. Jackson St., Seattle; 206-485-7181; thewoodshopbbq.com

This Central District BBQ joint is offering whole hot turkeys for $150/each. You can also order precooked turkey breast ($24/lb.), whole briskets ($200), pulled pork ($24/lb.) and pans of smoked jalapeño mac and cheese. Purchase in advance at the restaurant until sold out.

Nana’s Southern Kitchen

27149 185th Ave. S.E., suite 113, Covington; 253-981-4733; nanasouthernway.com

If you’re looking to feed a crowd something other than turkey, head to Covington and Nana’s Southern Kitchen. Main dish options include chicken wings, catfish, jumbo shrimp or pork chops, all portions designed to feed 15 people for $180. Side dishes, including mac and cheese, collard greens, candied yams, cabbage slaw and potato salad can be ordered for 20 ($102). Cornbread ($36) and string beans ($66) are also available. Orders must be placed by Nov. 18.

Plum Bistro

1429 12th Ave., Seattle; 206-838-5333; plumbistro.com

Vegans looking for a feast can pre-order a full dinner that includes maple-glazed roast seitan, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, gravy and salted caramel apple pie. The feast serves up to six people for $230. There’s also a gluten-free version available for $250. Sides of vegan mac and cheese ($20) and whole pumpkin praline cheesecake ($26) or salted caramel apple pie ($21) are also available for pre-order. Orders must be placed by Nov. 17.

Lady Jaye

4523 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; 206-457-4029; ladyjaye.com

This West Seattle smoked meat aficionado has plenty of cooked and raw options for pre-order. Full dinners range from half-smoked turkeys with sides, biscuits, dessert and wine for four ($250) or confit turkey drumsticks with sides and biscuits for two ($120) to smoked pork loins with sides and biscuits for two ($120) and prime rib pot roast with sides and biscuits for two ($135). Raw options for pre-order include whole turkeys ($10.25/lb.), rib roast ($24/lb.), smoked ham ($9.75/lb.) or goose ($15/lb.). Pre-order on the website is available until sold out.

Lodge at St. Edward State Park

14477 Juanita Drive N.E., Kenmore; 425-470-6500; thelodgeatstedward.com

If you’d rather dine in, head to the picturesque Lodge at St. Edward State Park for a three-course Thanksgiving dinner ($65/person). The menu is traditional with turkey at the center, plus classic side dishes and dessert. Reservations begin as early as 10:30 a.m.

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The George

411 University St., Seattle; 206-621-7889; thegeorgeseattle.com

One decidedly swanky option for Thanksgiving is at the newly remodeled George in downtown’s Fairmont Olympic. Dinner is a four-course affair that includes carrot and pumpkin soup, salad and your choice of citrus brined turkey or a 12-ounce New York strip plus dessert ($80/person).

Kitchen and Market

1926 Pike Place, Seattle; 206-441-5747; 7635 S.E. 27th St., Mercer Island; 206-420-2505; kitchenandmarket.com

If you’re after a hybrid approach to your turkey day dinner, pre-order the Thanksgiving Feast meal kit from Kitchen and Market — picking up at either the Pike Place Market or Mercer Island locations. The kit includes a stuffed, seasoned turkey plus sides. Some items, like the potato rolls and mashed potatoes, are already cooked and need to be reheated, while others — pumpkin pie, stuffing — need to be assembled and baked. The Feast feeds six ($265) and must be ordered by Nov. 17.