Organising a group dinner is an absolute mare. You’ve got a lot of people with a lot of different criteria prepared to do a lot of moaning, and not much else. Finding a restaurant that has a BYOB policy, its own mixologist, three types of wagyu beef, one heritage carrot risotto, a jazz fusion band, and toilets filled with that exfoliating Aesop soap is, frankly, impossible. You need to accept that not everybody is going to be happy and if they all say they are, they’re all probably lying.
Instead, what you need to do is focus on pleasing the majority, and that’s why we’ve got a whole load of excellent restaurants with different foods, vibes, price points. Different everything really. So whether your group is friends, family, or colleagues, you’ll be able to keep almost everybody happy.
Ciao Bella is, we think, the best group meal restaurant in London. Not because the food is fantastic (it’s satisfying old school Italian stuff), but because the atmosphere is so unique. Piano-playing, glasses clinking, everyone cackling. If your meal at Ciao Bella doesn’t end with someone dancing on the table and several cigarettes on the ‘terrace’ then, frankly, you need new friends.
My Neighbours The Dumplings
You wouldn’t think that a walk-in only restaurant would be the most ideal for a group dinner, but MNTD’s second location in Victoria Park proves otherwise. The space at this dumpling specialist is much bigger than the original, and thanks to numerous pubs within a few feet away, it’s a stress-free process to put your name down and get a pint or two across the road. By the time all of you have whet your appetite, you’ll be ready to get portion after portion of juicy prawn har gau, or moist miso chicken. It’s a pretty small menu here - dumplings, small plates - so you may as well just order it all.
It’s hard not to include Brigadiers on lots of our guides. Like, if we had a Where To Go After A Wake guide, this would be number one. But, it’s genuinely superb for group meals as well. The restaurant is designed to keep everyone happy, from the variety of rooms, to the huge amount of drinks and delicious Indian barbecue on the menu. We’re not gonna say this is the best group restaurant in London, but it almost definitely is.
There are a whole lot of reasons why Chang’s Noodle is a great group dinner restaurant. One is that this cash-only spot in Bloomsbury has a long menu where you should absolutely get involved with as many of the noodle dishes as possible, so back up eaters is encouraged. Another is that it’s a big spot with several big tables. Oh, and everything here is pretty affordable, the service is really good, and the fried squid with dry chilli is the kind of edible mountain that will keep everyone happy. If that’s not enough reason, they’re also open for lunch.
Not everybody is going to be happy about where you’re going out for a group dinner. It’s an inevitability. You’re gonna have people who say things like “I want something like pasta, that isn’t pasta”. I mean, what on earth does that mean? Well, it turns out Temper in Covent Garden knows. This huge space is perfect for big groups - it’s got all kinds of long tables and big booths. Plus, it has a menu full of tacos and barbecued stuff.
Suggest going to Ozone for a group meal and some smart arse could say “isn’t that just a coffee shop though?”. No, no it isn’t. Ozone is an all round restaurant that’s perfect for pleasing lots of different types of people. This place is made for extremely frazzled people attempting to find a place to have a 15 person dinner that serves everything from buttermilk fried chicken to roasted cauliflower with pomegranate. It literally has something for everyone and if you’re with someone who says it doesn’t, then you need to not be friends with them.
Pizza is a big group no brainer, and Homeslice make some of the best around. Their massive pizzas come with a load of toppings - from aubergine, to butternut squash, to a classic salami - which should keep everyone happy. Their cocktail selection is also pretty serious for a pizza place. If you’re looking for somewhere cheap, cheerful, and central, you can’t do much better.
You want somewhere epic to have dinner with your bum-ass friends - you know, the ones who still nick pint glasses from the pub - but they’re all too broke for Balthazar. Brasserie Zedel is the answer to your prayers. It’ll provide a grand Art Deco backdrop for your group dinner, while also allowing you and your mates to dine on a fancy French feast for prices that are totally affordable. The food’s very good and easy to love (so long as you like butter) and your friends will appreciate that it’s a short wander to all the bars close to Piccadilly. Funny that they can always afford booze, eh?
Everyone loves large-format Chinese dinners. You know, the ones where you share a roast duck and order way too much and spend the tube journey home with the top button of your trousers undone. Shikumen’s the absolute best place to have one of those. The restaurant’s dark and moody in an upmarket kind of way, and it elevates every element of your favourite Chinatown spot into something occasion-worthy. There are big tables if you’re with a large group, and while the duck’s fantastic, almost everything else on the menu at Shikumen is worth travelling to Shepherds Bush for too. Just as well, as you’ll definitely be travelling home with your top button undone.
Tayyab’s is where you go to make new friends, and get loose with old ones. This legendary Punjabi restaurant in Whitechapel is famous for sizzling lamb chops and the immense scrum of people at the entrance every night. You can book, but there’s always a queue because it gets bumrushed every night without fail - it’s ridiculously popular, with good reason. If there are enough of you, feel free to muscle through the crowd and to your table where you’ll get horribly plastered (it’s BYOB) and eat excellent curries, grills and biryani. A classic.
Along with K-Pop and Starcraft tournaments, Korea’s greatest gift to the world remains it’s barbecue. Koba isn’t the best Korean restaurant in town, but it’s certainly the best in central London, with a plush feel straight out of a coffee table book on interior design, and high-tech ventilation so you won’t leave reeking of smoke. The food’s uniformly tasty and it’s ideal for a small group of around six. Keep it simple and order one of the mixed BBQ selections to go with your soju cocktails. Because you’re there for that too, right?
Convinced that your ends are superior to everyone else’s, you’ve dragged your mates from all over town so that they can get a bit of East London in their life. Book your shindig at Bistrotheque, where everything from the sort of hidden location to the arty vibes will have them furiously tapping away at their phones to put a deposit down on a flat in Bethnal Green. It’s one of the East End’s OG trendy restaurants and one of the first to nail the minimal, industrial vibe that’s taken for granted these days. The trendy bistro food’s tasty without being particularly challenging, and your mates will talk about how awesome the restaurant was for years to come.
You’re having a big group shindig out east, with the aim of hitting some bars in Shoreditch afterwards. Pizza East should be your plan A, not just because it’s spacious enough to cater to a large crew, but also because it has a real Shoreditch vibe that won’t make you feel like you’re in a Zizzi. Good vibes aside, their pizzas are solid (and often very good), and there’s enough grilled meat, lasagna, and tasty salad on the menu to make the inevitable gluten dodgers happy as well.
Showing up to Dishoom with a group is a bad idea because it’s no bookings, right? Well, yeah, for the most part, but you can actually book if there are more than six of you. So you’ll get all of the excellent Indian street food dishes, cocktails, and laid-back ambience, with none of the hassle. It’s worth gathering up a motley band of mates for, and your nan and mate Chango will become fast friends over bhel puri and the chicken ruby curry. The King’s Cross Dishoom has the most space if you’ve a big group in mind, but the Soho and Shoreditch ones are also good.
In essence, you come to Berners Tavern to celebrate and drop a wad of cash on dinner, in a dining room that looks likes the Sistine Chapel had its way with a posh restaurant. The food’s upmarket while still being satisfying, and the booths are excellent if you’re with a small group. Berners Tavern is a great spot for people-watching, and while your mates might dress up for dinner, the power move is to show up in Adidas. Because, you know, you come here all the time. (Don’t actually do this.)
You and your friends want to go get some Mexican food, but you’ll be damned if you’re ending up in Wahaca seated next to some mortal 19-year olds from Surrey again. Mestizo is one of London’s best Mexican restaurants, and where actual Mexican people go to eat chicken mole and tacos in town. They have real tablecloths, comfy leather seats, and a proper tequila list, but it’s definitely relaxed enough that you can order nachos and enchiladas along with more of the authentic things on the menu.
Olle is a Korean BBQ spot on Shaftesbury Avenue where you’ll get to cook things like like wagyu beef on a grill in the middle of your table. In addition, you’ll find a pretty extensive menu of other Korean food, from seafood pancakes to tofu stews. There’s plenty of drama here but it’s a relaxed atmosphere that’ll suit a quick lunch or a fun dinner for a large group.