You could stand out in the cold when the mayor lights the Christmas tree at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Or you could be forking your way through a plate of short ribs inside the American Restaurant. The Crown Center restaurant with a perfect view of the city's tree is taking reservations for Friday, as well as for tonight (when Mayor Sly James does test lightings at 6 and 8 p.m.). Make a reservation by calling 816-545-8001.
If you've been thinking about pregaming for Thanksgiving, you'll want to check out Jive Turkey at the Brooksider Sports Bar & Grill (6330 Brookside Plaza). For a $5 cover (or five nonperishable food items), you get to practice on an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving buffet from 7 to 10 p.m. tonight. The party is a benefit for the Harvesters Community Food Network, and DJ Austin starts spinning at 10 p.m.
Benjamin Franklin believed in rising early to get a proper start on the day. He might have been on to something. The Burger Stand at the Casbah (803 Massachusetts, in Lawrence) has a new lunch special: half off food orders (booze not included) between 11 and 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. With fall in full swing, they've also added daily soups like ham and potato.