Planning family dinners at restaurants have always been difficult endeavors. Your mom wants something outside and family-style, your uncle said he isn’t sharing with anyone, and if your grandma has to wait over 20 minutes for a table, she’s leaving. However, after a year of eating dinners over FaceTime and blowing kisses through a computer screen, none of that really matters anymore. It’s time to simplify things and get back to the basics - good food, good company, and enough space for everyone to join in. Here are 12 spots across LA that provide exactly that.
This American comfort food spot in Santa Monica has an industrial space that looks like something you’d find in the Arts District, not the Westside. With a massive dining room and a wide-ranging menu filled with everything from whole roasted chicken to noodle kugel to cavatelli, it’s an ideal spot for families who can never agree on what they’re in the mood for. There’s even a separate kids menu filled with things like potato-crusted chicken fingers, which is ideal since every single one of your cousins announced they were pregnant last year.
While its Americana-adjacent location in Glendale makes Raffi’s a good option to grab a quick kebab before doing some shopping, the best way to use this Persian institution is to get together with a couple of your relatives here for a meal. The massive patio space can accommodate any size group and its party-like atmosphere makes the whole place feel like one giant neighborhood reunion. The barg, which is thinly sliced filet mignon, is charbroiled and perfectly salty, but almost everything here is good and also served family-style.
Eating inside the cavernous dining room of this classic Beverly Hills steakhouse with your family is a rite of passage in this town. There are gleaming carts of meat being wheeled around, entire NFL football teams in the corner, and your server, who just introduced herself as Ms. Butterworth. Everybody should be getting the prime rib dinner - a giant slab of meat, plus mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and their famous spinning salad made tableside. Also, don’t forget to snag a martini or two. No matter how many boring uncles show up, a dinner at Lawry’s is entertaining from start to finish.
Rao’s is the Hollywood location of the classic NYC Italian restaurant - famous for being one of the hardest tables to get in the city. In LA, it’s not too hard to snag a reservation, and it’s a great option when East Coast grandparents are in town who’ve always wanted to go, but couldn’t. The menu is stacked with every red sauce classic imaginable (the meatballs are a must), and the red booth-adorned dining room will make everybody want to party a little.
The only way you’ll be able to get your whole family to show up to dinner is if you promise they’ll see a celebrity. While it’s not a guarantee, your best chance is at Spago. Wolfgang Puck’s flagship Beverly Hills restaurant has changed much since the 1980s, and is one of those places that seems like it couldn’t possibly still be good, but is. And it’s also still packed with famous people. The move is to go mostly off-menu and get the salmon pizza, spicy tuna cones, and wiener schnitzel. But your cousin probably won’t be eating much anyway, because they just spotted Rege-jean Page guzzling wine in the corner.
A meal at Guelaguetza, a Oaxacan institution in Koreatown, involves multiple types of mole, tamales, tlayudas, and big plates of meat. With its massive space and live music, it’s a great spot for big group dinners and entertaining extended family who are dead set on drinking as much mezcal as their bodies will allow. Also, don’t forget to order some queso fundido - it’s served on a sizzling skillet with mild Oaxaca cheese, chorizo, and mushrooms.
If you’re looking to go and celebrate a special occasion, or want to have a big family dinner surrounded by excellent Chinese food, make a reservation at Bistro Na’s. This is one of very few Imperial Cuisine restaurants in the US, which means it serves food that was originally made for the royalty of the Qing Dynasty. The dining room builds on that theme, with its carved wood paneling and jade everything. The menu is quite large, but we recommend concentrating on the crispy shrimp, honey pepper beef, and lamb chops.
Walking into Chiba, the massive sushi restaurant in North Hollywood, is like walking into a sushi social club. No matter what time of day you come, this multi-roomed restaurant will be filled with birthday parties, solo lunchers making their way through the omakase, and booths of families bickering about who gets the last piece of the specialty roll. It’s more than just a scene though - Chiba is also home to some of the freshest sushi you’ll find north of Ventura Blvd, and a place where everyone in your group will find something they love on the menu.
The historic Mexican restaurant in Sherman Oaks has been in operation since 1956, and is one of those rare places in LA where A-list celebrities and completely random locals commingle on a nightly basis. The lobster quesadilla is a great option to share and the tremendously strong margaritas set the tone for what will always be an entertaining night. They’ve reopened for indoor dining, but there’s still the expansive tented patio out back for when it gets crowded on the weekends. Reservations are encouraged.
Little Ethiopia is lined with restaurants catering to big group dinners, but one of our favorites is Messob. This family-run operation hits that sweet spot of being fun and casual, but still nice enough to appease that one seemingly unappeasable aunt. If you know the night will just be easier if everything is ordered a la carte, that’s an option here. But the best way to enjoy a meal here is to get a few Super Messob Exclusives for the table. For $33, it’s a massive plate filled with nine dishes from all sections of the menu, ranging from collards to spicy lamb stew.
Located up in the mountains above Malibu, Saddle Peak Lodge is one of LA’s best destination restaurants. This massive place has history dating back to the Pony Express, but nowadays feels like you’re eating dinner at Richard Branson’s hunting lodge in Montana. There are three separate floors, themed rooms (including an attic filled with tiny boats), and a sprawling patio overlooking the mountains. There’s a big chance you’ll be seated next to a roaring fireplace, staring point-blank at a taxidermied deer, and eating giant plates of rare meat with your uncles. And you know what? You will feel great about it.
Located on Venice Blvd. in Culver City, Mayura is a fantastic Indian restaurant that specializes in dishes from the Southern state of Kerala like fish curry, cheese uthappam, and avail, a mixed vegetable dish cooked with coconut and curry leaves. The dining room is much larger than it looks on the outside and is filled with long purple tables that are ideal for a family dinner when you know people will be joining at the last minute. There’s also a separate vegetarian section on the menu.