Where To Have A Big Group Meal Where People Can Come And Go

Stress-free spots where everyone can do their own thing.

Between picky eaters, cramped booths, and the one person who always divides the check down to the exact penny, sit-down group meals are usually never worth the hassle. And that’s why you need to pick a place where people can come and go as they please.

The “open house” group meal—where people can arrive, order food, and leave whenever they want—isn’t a new concept, but it’s one that’s hard to pull off in LA. You need a place that’s big enough for all your friends, but where sitting together and ordering everything at once isn’t a requirement. Here’s a list that will help.


photo credit: Jakob Layman



$$$$Perfect For:First/Early in the Game DatesDrinking Good WineBig GroupsCasual Weeknight Dinner
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There’s a lot to love on Lasita’s streamlined menu: brined pork belly lechon, citrus-y inasal chicken stuffed with lemongrass and garlic, and a calamansi cream pie with custard and salted whipped cream. But our favorite thing about this Filipino wine bar in Chinatown is that no matter what size group shows up, everybody in your party can kind of do their own thing. All ordering is done at the counter and seating is on a first-come basis. You can certainly take over the booths inside, but the 25-seat patio is a great place to post up, drink too much natural wine, and let friends stream in and out at their leisure.

Located inside a former car service station on La Brea, All Season’s cavernous space has both indoor and outdoor seating, a row of skeeball machines in the back, and a Chica’s Taco window that people can order from when they get hungry. Most people here are drinking beer (we love tropical Figure 8 Hazy DIPA), but there are tasty cocktails (including some on draft), and $5 well shots as well (if that’s the kind of party you’re going for). It gets crowded on weekends, but even during peak hours, you’ll never have to wait more than 15 minutes for a table to clear. Also, its central location means no one can complain about the drive. 

The classic West Hollywood hot dog spot was recently brought back to life, complete with a well-air-conditioned interior, two brightly colored patios, and the iconic hot dog-shaped stand out front. It’s a great place to set up shop on a Saturday afternoon when all your friends with toddlers can make appearances in between meltdowns. Everyone orders individually up front at the stand, and even if all of your invite list shows up, seating will never be an issue. For food, we recommend the classic “Chicago Pup” or their house burger with griddled cheese on top and as much canned wine and beer as you need. 

De La Nonna’s string-lit patio in the Arts District is full of big groups, clinking glasses, and the smell of crispy pepperoni cups. A DJ spins house tracks in the corner, and buttery, brown-edged Sicilian-style pizzas are the centerpiece of every table. No matter how many people you’re with (or how many will stroll in late), all ordering is done at the front counter, and the friendly staff will make sure that everyone in your party has a seat. Without fail, this pie spot in the Arts District brings fun and ease back to pizza parties.

It’s no secret that Santa Monica is lacking in places suitable for casual big groups, which is why we send people to Santa Monica Brew Works. The local craft brewer sits in a big space away from all the tourists, complete with a massive front patio that can fit multiple rec kickball teams. While all the beer is solid—we particularly love the Head In The Clouds double IPA—what makes this spot exciting is that NYC pizza staple, Emmy Squared, is operating out of the kitchen. Be sure to order the Le Big Matt burger, which might be the best thing on the menu.

As you might guess from the giant neon sign affixed to the building that shouts PASTRAMI, Johnny's—a longstanding late-night stand in West Adams that was revamped a couple of years ago—is a great destination for slightly peppery, thick-sliced, pastrami sandwiches on marble rye. But less apparent is that Johnny's is one of the best spots in the area to assemble a gaggle of hungry friends: There's a gorgeous patio in the back with enough room to seat a marching band, a crowd-pleasing menu that includes everything from matzo ball soup to crispy chicken sandwiches to banana cream pie, and a full cocktail bar right next door where the fun people in your group can extend the evening if so inclined.


Despite the name, this casual, cash-only Chinese spot in Alhambra is less of a food court and more of a cafeteria-style restaurant. The move here is to pick out some family-style dishes from the steam table area and/or order a bunch of the fantastic dumplings and buns from the a la carte menu. Kang Kang has ample open seating and is open until 9pm every night, making it good for a free-flowing group dinner in the SGV where people might show up at different times and arrive with varying levels of hunger. Make sure to get a few orders of their famously juicy, pan-fried pork buns to share, then maybe snag a bag of frozen dumplings on the way out to reward the friend who paid with cash and had everyone Venmo them.

You may have been here before to catch the Champions League Final, but DeSano isn’t just a place to watch soccer—they serve some very good Neapolitan pizza as well. Located in East Hollywood, this order-at-the-counter spot is essentially just a big warehouse filled with a bunch of pizza ovens and long tables, but that’s an ideal set-up when you aren’t trying to glue everybody in their seats for two hours. The Bianca and sausage, pepperoni, and garlic-topped DeSano are our favorites among the pizzas. Beer and wine only.

Perhaps not everyone in your group wants to eat exotic sausages in a giant room with a DJ, but once they realize that they can order individually at the front counter, they’ll make it work. Wurstküche has spots in Venice and the Arts District, and both locations are ideal for when you’ve invited a lot of people who are all going to show up at different times. As far as the menu goes, not every sausage is filled with rattlesnake and rabbit (though that’s the best one), so even your less-adventurous friends can find a chicken sausage or something. Just make sure you get multiple orders of Belgian fries for the table.

Spoke is a bicycle repair shop/all-day hangout right on the LA River that somehow also feels like a summer camp. At night it’s usually pretty empty, which means you can text half your contact list and still feel like you have the place to yourself. Everybody orders individually from the counter inside, and unlike summer camp, this Frogtown spot has food you’ll actually want to eat (try the veggie burger). There’s also a solid craft beer list and plenty of wine.

The classic German beer garden in Silver Lake is where you go when you and your friends want to chug giant steins of beer, eat sausage platters, and sit out on the gloriously kitschy back patio that kind of feels like the Germany section at Epcot. While this place is great for parties that’ll swell in size as the night goes on, it’s important to note that come Friday and Saturday nights, it also becomes a mob scene… so plan accordingly.

Block Party is a massive spot in Highland Park that’s a perfect place to burn through an entire Sunday afternoon without even realizing it. From the outside, it seems fairly small, but the party starts on the back patio, where there are long communal tables and a cruise ship-sized shuffleboard court for showdowns with people you don’t really like (but still invited to come anyway). They also have an excellent craft beer list, boozy slushies, and when people get hungry, you can order-in any outside food you want. Tip: Order Triple Beam Pizza.

If you think you’re in the wrong place, that means you’ve arrived at Eatalian Cafe. Located in a giant warehouse in Gardena, Eatalian Cafe is not a cafe—it’s an Italian food emporium that feels like a laid-back version of Eataly. There’s a long wrap-around pizza counter with a kitchen, espresso bar, gelato stand, and bakery. It’s overwhelming, so here’s your game plan: Start with one of their pizzas (the prosciutto-topped Mimmo is our favorite), end with a cup of gelato, and take a box of pastries for the drive home.

Sure, Golden Road is basically the beer equivalent of Kohl’s these days, but their massive brewery space in Atwater Village is still a great place to set up shop for the afternoon and let your friends come when they can. The sprawling space has an indoor pub area, a private event space in the back, and a large front patio that’s both child- and dog-friendly. As far as food goes, there’s a solid enough menu with everything from burgers to salads to carnitas poutine, as well as plenty of vegetarian options.

While ERB works for just about any occasion, this excellent Arts District bar/restaurant wis at its best when you show up for a casual big group meal. The inside bar area is definitely more for date night, so instead, take your group to the back patio, one of our favorite outdoor restaurant spaces in the city. The menu is small, but filled with fantastic bar food that includes pork belly steamed buns, perfectly baked biscuits, and one of the best burgers in LA.

The Slice & Pint in El Segundo is a great place for a casual pizza night. It’s run by El Segundo Brewing Company, and draws heavy crowds for the excellent craft beer selection, brewed just up the block at their brewery headquarters—and plenty of pizzas, salads, and appetizers. The order-at-the-counter operation isn’t gigantic, but the communal tables are, and they’ll come in handy when your friends all have kids and therefore could show up at any point (or not at all). Slices are always available, but if you’re committing to a whole pie, our favorites are the Belle Isle (roasted garlic, arugula, and mushrooms) or the Benny (meatballs and pickled peppers).

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