A sentence that can send fear into our hearts: “There’s fifteen of us for dinner, where shall we go?” Never mind that it took two weeks on a group text to actually find a day that works for everyone, now you have to find somewhere that will fit all those bodies, but also doesn’t suck. Plus, you don’t want that one friend who’s always calculating the check down to the closest penny to have a heart attack at the price.
Sharing is one of our standbys when there’s a crowd in tow - a good izakaya or barbecue situation is always fun (and means the server doesn’t need to take 20 individual orders). So next time all your college friends are town, know you have the answer to a dinner with the entire soccer team that won’t take a dive.
Two words: arcade restaurant. These would normally send us running in the other direction, but not with Button Mash. Full of the arcade games of our childhood (we will own you on NBA Jam), there’s plenty of ways to stay occupied if there’s a wait. There will probably be a wait. But it’s definitely worth it for the crispy tofu balls and the double-fried chicken wings, both great for sharing. The burger is not good for sharing, but you should order it anyway.
Wurstküche is a group dinner slam dunk. You order and pay separately (no awkward bill splitting at the end always scores points), there are big communal tables you can easily take over, and there’s lots and lots of beer. Definitely don’t bring your vegan friends with you, but definitely do order the fries. Sausages run the gamut from solidly traditional bratwurst to rattlesnake, and all of them are pretty great. Plus, there’s an Arts District and a Venice option, so it works for both sides of town.
If you’ve got some adventurous eaters in the mix, you can’t really go wrong at Night + Market. It’s on the edge of affordable, all the fermented meats, mentions of pig’s blood and all that spice might scare some off, but if the group is game, you should not hesitate. It’s some of our favorite Thai food in the city.
There’s been a wave of fancier barbecue openings recently, but we regularly head back to old mainstay Baby Blues BBQ in Venice, especially when there’s a crowd. There’s some bigger tables in the small, extremely no-frills, space and they do big platters of meat for up to 20 people. Just make sure you get some pulled pork in the mix.
Look, we’re not going to pretend that the food is the reason you’re at El Coyote. There’s burritos, enchiladas, carne asada galore, all of which are perfectly acceptable, satisfying and appropriately affordable. More importantly, there are margaritas, of which it is possible you are contractually obliged to order multiples. The place is huge, a total slice of Hollywood history, and a whole lot of fun.
What better way to catch up with childhood friends than to indulge in some collective nostalgia? Messhall Kitchen has you covered - the whole place is basically a year-long summer camp. Sure, there are no cabins, bunk beads or talent show, but if camp food was this good, you would not have been a thin child. It’s all about the comfort food classics - mac and cheese, ribs, etc etc.
Jenny wants pasta, but Tom wants curry, while Frankie is jonesing for a taco. If indecision is the name of the game, Grand Central Market is the play. There is quite literally something for everyone at this ever-changing Downtown institution, so everybody will go home happy. And though lunchtime can be a bit of a nightmare, the newish dinner hours are a much calmer affair, so you might even be able to find a table that fits everyone. Consult our guide for the best places to dine.
Unlike the Santa Monica original, the newer Culver City outpost of Father’s Office has actual space, including some big tables out the front, perfect for summer nights and multiple rounds of craft beers. If you’re coming here, you’re coming for the burger, and you better make sure everyone knows the drill. No substitutions, no ketchup, and we hope you like blue cheese. These guys do not budge, but that’s probably because they’ve managed to come fairly close to perfection.
If it’s Tex-Mex you want, Bar Amá delivers. A Downtown staple that’s filled with people who actually live there, we could eat queso and down margaritas all day here if we could. You should probably (definitely) make a reservation because every other person is also here on the weekends.
Burgers and beers are always a winner, and Plan Check delivers on both fronts. The space is big, although it still gets crowded, but the food is always reliable. There are locations spread across town (Santa Monica is getting one soon), and any menu that has fried chicken, beer nuts and donuts on it, is probably going to be a winner.
If you’re in the South Bay, Tin Roof is undoubtedly the move. They’ve got a large following for basically one thing: bocce ball. There’s good food as well, but who are we kidding, we know what you’re here for. Once you’re done with the game, there’s an amazing patio, a good wine list, and an American menu with something for everyone.
Hermosa Beach’s Abigaile is big. Really big. A group of 15 is basically a two person date at this place. And it’s the kind of place you can stay all night - starting at the bar with a microbrew, taking over a table for a dinner of pig pop tarts (yes, we said pop tarts) and crowd pleasing American food with a twist, and then end up downstairs on the dancefloor. So, yeah, we just gave you your entire Saturday night.
There’s a reason we have a lot of burgers and beer gardens on this list. They are definitely designed with groups in mind. Ashland Hill is a solid Westside option with lots of beers on offer and food with a Asian-Mediterranean bent. Ordering and paying before you eat is a definite group bonus.
Ever heard of Frogtown? Neither had we. But turns out this little track of land by the LA river is a real place, and home to what could be the restaurant of the summer. The guys behind downtown’s Mexicali Tacos have opened a Sonoran-style BBQ spot (think mesquite-grilled carne asada tacos) in an almost entirely outdoor setting. With long, communal tables and extremely reasonable prices, the Eastside just got their big group summer go-to spot.
Another day, another chance to argue the Chicago-style vs. NY-style pizza debate. We’re not here to cause a turf war, but if you’re pro-Chicago (or simply over having your pizza be a sad, unfulfilling flatbread), take your big group dinner to Masa. This is hands down the most authentic deep-dish in the city, with a fantastic family-run vibe inside. You’re also well-positioned for all things Eastside nightlife afterwards.
Aside from paying for something you didn’t eat, the worst part of any group dinner is never being able to decide what everyone wants. Hack: Got to Izakaya Honda-Ya. The informal Japanese tavern in Little Tokyo not only has affordable prices, but a menu large enough to make even the pickiest eaters in the group happy. Those endless bottles of Kirin hitting the table aren’t a bad thing either.
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