The next time you close a deal, finish a project, or your whole team makes it to the end of the year without imploding, have dinner at one of these places. They’re good for larger groups (say, up to ten people), and you won’t max out your corporate card. Unless that’s what you’re trying to do, in which case get creative. Here are some restaurants that are nice, fun, affordable, and spacious enough for your next team dinner.
Freeman’s is a two-story restaurant at the back of alley, and it looks like a big, old apartment that Ralph Lauren got locked inside of and decided to decorate. This place is also both intimate and spacious, so take the whole team here to eat some fancy bar food like lamb shepherd's pie and artichoke dip. And if you decide you’d like your own space, there are a few private rooms that accommodate anywhere from ten to two-hundred people.
The menu at Mission Chinese is large, unpredictable, and, in some instances, a bizarre mix of traditional and definitely-not Chinese. Take the chicken wings with crispy tripe or the hot cheese pizza. Don’t get a pizza (because that’s dumb), but do get the wings. And if you go with a group, consider it an an opportunity to try their large-format "family dishes" like the absurd and amazing massive prime rib served with crab claws. Although if you’re with a group of eight or more, you’ll have to do a set menu. Options start at $40 per person, and groups larger than 17 have to make like some newlyweds and get a room.
Good news: the Charlie Bird people opened a second restaurant this year (Pasquale Jones). That’s good because A) you want to eat there too and B) this takes some of the attention off Charlie Bird. So while all those suckers eat really well at Pasquale Jones, you can (somewhat) more easily book your team a table at Charlie Bird. Consider it Babbo 2.0 - the sort of place that has exceptional food, wine, and service but doesn’t take itself too seriously. And if you want to do your own thing, there's a private dining room that fits 14.
Meadowsweet has the whole Williamsburg thing going for it. And by that we don’t mean young people in snapbacks taking pictures of their food while their friends are like, “Oh, snap, I can’t believe you just snapped your snap peas.” We just mean that it doesn’t get as busy as places in Manhattan. If you're looking for good food in pleasant surroundings, possibly at the last minute, check out Meadowsweet. Bring your team here for a very good meal with roasted chicken and smoked trout, then drink competitively at The Woods.
If you think some people in your party won’t want to stay out late after dinner, get a table (or two) at Blue Ribbon and make them stay out late - during dinner. Blue Ribbon is open until 4 am, and you can essentially spend as much money as you want to here. It’s the sort of New York establishment where you can sit with a friend and eat a burger while you eavesdrop on the table next to you as they drop serious cash on raw bar and French wine. Everyone is welcome, and there are some large booths to accommodate bigger parties.
Go to Lupa when Del Posto is too expensive and it’s too much of a hassle to get a table at Babbo. Or when you don’t want to push through some paparazzi on your way into Carbone and be disappointed when they don’t take your picture. Come here for reasonably priced Roman-style Italian food and a vibe that’s more neighborhood-y than most other high-profile Italian places. You should be able to find enough room here for your team, but if too many people RSVP, you can always rent out the room in back.
Roberta’s won’t take a reservation unless you’re a party of 10-16, but if that’s the size of your group, you should consider it. They do a two-hour prix-fixe lunch, brunch, and dinner parties, with dinner packages starting at $100 per person. The catch is that they only do dinner reservations on weekdays, and the latest reservation they’ll accept is 6:30pm. But that’s fine. You can eat your meat and cheese and pizza and be out in time to hit some Bushwick bars. If your boss or the new intern hasn't been to Roberta's yet, they'll be excited, and everyone else will be happy to eat here on the company dime.
When someone suggests "maybe something in the West Village," see if you can get into Perla Cafe. Everyone is going to find something to eat here, even if it’s just the (pretty good) cacio e pepe. There are plenty of vegetables, some seafood options, and a solid steak. It also looks really nice inside. And while we mean that as a compliment, it isn’t the purest compliment. The old Perla was intimate and vibey, but the renovated version looks like the old one on antidepressants. On the plus side, that means It’s bright, airy, and it'll put you in a good mood.
Covina does Mediterranean food, which in this case, means mostly Italian with a bit of Greek. It’s large, bustling, and the prices are just a little more than you’d want to spend on your average weeknight dinner. But that’s fine, because you’re looking for a place to celebrate. There’s room for your group at Covina, and it should be easier to get a table here than it would be at nearby (and sort of similar) Upland. Get some pizza and pasta for the table, and let the boring people eat kale salad and broccolini.
You want to ball out a little bit and don’t mind a little noise. This place is for when your group just finished something big, and you’re all so exhausted that when someone suggests Dirty French (half-joking), you all realize that you sort of actually want to go there. Technically, it isn’t the most expensive restaurant, but it isn’t cheap, and it’s sure to be packed with the sort of people who prioritize a good scene over good food. Thing is, a lot of the food here is good. So come here with your coworkers, eat some fun/fancy French food and behave like a slightly worse version of yourself.
This place is old-school. Like, open-since-1885 old-school. They also cook some of the best pieces of meat in the city and have an enormous pipe collection. So those are three things your group can talk about just to get the conversation rolling. Expect white tablecloths, pipes hanging everywhere, and maybe a suit of armor in the corner. If, for whatever reason, you don’t have steak, have the mutton chop. They call it “legendary” for a reason and it’s safe to say no one on you team will feel in better physical health when they leave here. But that’s how all good celebrations end. Get a big, round table here and eat more cow than a doctor would recommend for a wolf.
Quality Italian is a little gimmicky (see the pizza-sized chicken parm) and, sure, it feels like it's ready to be franchised out in Singapore - but that's also why you come here. It's fun, and it's clear that you're supposed to have fun here. Go with your workers, get a booth that'll make you feel like you're at a bachelor party, and eat more calories than you're okay with. If you work in Midtown, book your team's dinner here. Eat some pasta, have some steak that isn't really Italian, and, above all, make sure that your company pays for everything.