So you’re going out to dinner with a group. Not just a big group, a really big group. There are enough of you to field a whole softball team. Maybe it’s your most popular friend’s birthday dinner. Or perhaps you’re taking your whole indie film crew out to eat, and you also invited anyone who donated more than $20 to your GoFundMe.
Finding a great place for your really big group dinner that doesn’t involve Chuck E. Cheese isn’t easy. You need a restaurant that can accommodate 12 or more people at one table, will bring everybody’s food at the same time, and has servers who won’t roll their eyes for two-and-a-half hours straight. Also, the food has to be good. The places on this guide meet those criteria, plus some of them have things like beer towers and flights of mole.
If you haven’t had a rowdy big group dinner at El Coyote, it simply means you haven’t lived in LA long enough. The classic Mexican restaurant on Beverly Blvd. has been around since the 1930s, and while the food isn’t anything to write home about, no one’s here for thought-provoking takes on the sopa. You’re here to drink very dangerous margaritas, eat big plates of enchiladas, and stumble out a few hours later wondering what happened.
Raffi’s is a family-run Middle Eastern restaurant in the heart of downtown Glendale. While the Americana-adjacent location makes this an ideal spot to grab a quick kebab before seeing a movie, the best way to use this place is to grab every person you know and have an feast that lasts longer than the entire Godfather trilogy. The massive patio space can accommodate any size group and its party-like atmosphere makes the whole place feel like one giant family reunion. The barg (thinly sliced filet mignon) is a must-order.
Night + Market is one of the only good reasons to go to the Sunset Strip. This always-packed Thai spot consistently feels like a really great house party, one with better-than-average spicy wings and beer towers. Although there are three locations now, the Weho original is best for when your whole poetry club is getting together, mainly because of the back patio and those previously mentioned beer towers. For groups larger than nine, they do set menus starting at $55 a person, and you can often get a same-day reservation for that back patio.
You may have been here before to watch the Champions League final, but DeSano isn’t just a place to watch soccer - they have some of the best Neapolitan pizza in the city. This is essentially just a big warehouse with a bunch of pizza ovens and lots of long tables. Come with a big group, throw any semblance of self-control out the window, and order every pizza on the menu. If that’s a little too much for everyone, make sure the Bianca and the Desano hit the table.
The best strategy at this giant, destination restaurant in Chinatown is to bring as many people as you can squeeze into a reservation. It’s the only way you can reasonably try the giant, three-figure hunks of meat that are some of the best things on the modern Korean menu. Start with a few of the smaller dishes, like the bings (Chinese flatbreads that come with everything from caviar-topped eggs to spicy shredded lamb) and the macaroni and chickpeas, before moving on to the enormous, bone-in smoked short ribs. They’ll tell you they feed four to six people, but can easily stretch to eight - especially if you order the pork shoulder too.
photo credit: Andrea D'Agosto
Located on the southern edge of Koreatown, Guelaguetza is a massive Oaxacan restaurant and one of the biggest parties in the neighborhood. Whether it’s green, red, or black, this place is all about mole and you should come here with the expectation of eating a lot of it. There’s live mariachi music most nights of the week, and over 150 different kinds of tequila and mezcal. That said, the place is still very kid-friendly.
When it comes to finding a place for really big group dinners, Korean BBQ is always a good place to start. There are tons of options in Ktown, but you should go to Parks BBQ. The price point is a tad higher than others in the neighborhood, but the quality of meat is unmatched, and the atmosphere is festive without feeling like an off-the-rails college house party. The menu can be a little overwhelming at first, but as long as you stick to any of the combo platters on the back, no one goes home hungry.
To be clear, the food will never be the reason you go to Yamashiro. You go to Yamashiro, the 100-year-old Japanese restaurant in Hollywood, because it’s weird and fun and has some of the best views in the entire city. The space is also so massive that you could go ten times and not see it all. Or perhaps you had too many kamikaze martinis and don’t remember getting in trouble for opening a door that said “staff only” on it.
If you’re afraid of being stuck at a massive table, forced to eat the same things as everyone else, go to Papa Cristo’s. This massive Greek restaurant/grocer on Pico is where you go to eat every Greek staple in the books all in an environment that feels like a neighborhood potluck. Everyone orders what they want individually from the counter and eats in the adjoining dining room where enough tables have been pushed together to fit everybody. It’s chaotic here, but it’s also an ideal last-minute spot for extremely large groups.
Long before we collectively lost our minds about Eataly, there was Eatalian Cafe. Located in a giant warehouse in Gardena, Eatalian Cafe is in no way a cafe. It’s a massive Italian food emporium complete with an espresso bar, gelato stand, bakery, and a long wrap-around pizza bar. If you’re stuck trying to figure out where to go with your 14 coworkers for this month’s team bonding expedition, head here. Everyone can pretty much get what they want, and you won’t be stuck eating family-style with Dwayne who’s never shared anything in his life.
You might think C&O’s is just another cheesy boardwalk restaurant geared towards tourists and out-of-town parents. And in reality, that’s exactly what it is. What you probably don’t realize is that you will always have a terrific time at this Italian restaurant. All the pasta is easily shareable, you won’t be able to stop eating the unlimited garlic knots, and even the most bitter person in your group will full-voice sing “That’s Amore!” with the waiters at some point.
Wurstkuche is a great option for when your last-minute dinner balloons from six friends to six friends plus significant others and roommates. You each order at the counter, so there won’t be any friendship-ending fights about who had one beer and who had a pitcher to herself, and there are plenty of long picnic tables where everyone can sit. It all feels a bit like a summer cookout, but here, you’re eating grilled rattlesnake and rabbit sausages instead of extremely over-cooked burgers.
You’ve been put in charge of organizing a work dinner at your law firm, so you need a place where they won’t raise eyebrows at everyone’s suits, but also isn’t another boring steakhouse. You need Tesse. This sort-of French restaurant on the Strip is a sleek space full of agents and bankers, with a big wine list, and food that’s not particularly exciting so that even the picky senior partner will be happy. Service is fast, and coming with a group means you can order as much of the very good house-made charcuterie as you want.
Figuring out how to split up a check with a big group is right up there with bee swarms in our worst nightmares. Bludso’s makes paying easy. Their party tray feeds 12 people, comes with brisket, ribs, whole chickens, and a heap of sides for $225 (or about $19 per person). Now that we’ve done the math for you, you can focus on the important things, like the fantastic beer selection, or making sure you get a seat facing a TV so you have something to do when you get awkwardly stuck between two separate conversations happening on either side of you.