Before I became a dad, Thanksgiving Eve was always a blast. It meant mini-reunions with out-of-town friends at a favorite spot. If you’re looking for somewhere to reunite, we’ve got a roundup of restaurants and bars worth taking new and old friends to.

And so we start today with the optimism that so many in and around Philly feel. Sure, COVID-19 cases are ticking back up, but the air around this second pandemic-era Thanksgiving feels so much more hopeful than the first.

Welcome to a chilly Wednesday. Thanks for taking time out.

— Kerith Gabriel (@sprtswtr, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

Hope, hugs, and happy tears. This is Thanksgiving 2021

We can gather (mostly) without fear, and the contrast with Thanksgiving 2020 is stark. People are getting picked up at airport terminals, and we’re free to hug loved ones we haven’t seen — for many, for the first time since before the pandemic.

Our reporters Erin McCarthy and Justine McDaniel talked to Philadelphians about the difference a year makes — especially with lifted restrictions and booster shots.

COVID-19 isn’t fully in the rearview mirror. Even if you’re vaccinated or you’ve had the virus before, the risk of reinfection is real. And data about infections among vaccinated Pennsylvanians has been spotty, at best. This makes protecting yourself by considering a booster shot all the more important.

Have a question for The Inquirer health team? Here’s how you can get in touch.

What you should know today

Where to catch up with friends over the holidays

Our food writer Michael Klein has a great rundown of spots to “meet out-of-town friends.” But after reading it, I really believe that these bars and restaurants are good for us Philly lifers, too.

A few to consider...

  • If you want a great view: “Jean-Georges, the jaw-droppingly atmospheric dining room on the 59th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel at 19th and Arch Streets. It’s closed till January 2022, but the cocktail lounge on the 60th floor (JG SkyHigh) is very much open from breakfast through late night.”

  • If you’re looking for a neighborhood vibe: La Chinesca (the Mexican-Chinese hybrid that replaced the Jiffy Lube at 11th and Spring Garden Streets), the Lucky Well (the barbecue restaurant reopening at 990 Spring Garden on Nov. 26) or El Purepecha (the homey Mexican cantina, in a new location at 315 N. 12th St.).”

  • If you’re looking for a one-night-only, limited-engagement-type jawn: “David Viana and Neilly Robinson have set up a version of their Central Jersey restaurant Heirloom Kitchen for a short-term engagement, complete with bar, at 931 Spring Garden St.”

  • If you’re trying to go home a winner: “The new, 24-hour Live! Casino Hotel on the site of the old Holiday Inn, by the sports complex at Ninth Street and Packer Avenue — a quick hop from perennial party spot Xfinity Live!”

Michael offered too many to pick just one, so take a look and decide for yourself.

🧠 Philly Trivia Time 🧠

Peacock released the trailer for the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot slated to land in 2022, and our reporter Rodrigo Torrejón notes it’s a little over the top. Today’s question: Do you know what year the iconic show debuted? This piece has your answer and more on Will Smith, the man who put West Philly on the map.

Photo of the day

I’ll be right back here with the news you need Thanksgiving morning, so until then, stay safe. ✌️