Where To Have A Group Dinner In Philly
Everyone finally agreed on a date for the group dinner. Choosing a restaurant should be the easy part. Here are the 18 best spots for the job.
Whether you’re looking to celebrate a birthday, want somewhere to dissect the latest Marvel movie after-credits scene with your friends, or the rain cancels your Rittenhouse Square picnic, there are lots of reasons why you need a few group dinner spots in your back pocket. From beer halls and BBQ to plant-based or pasta, here are 18 places that are worth splitting Ubers for.
During the day, Suraya is a casual cafe. But at night, it turns into a fun dinner spot that has lots of big, round tables that can fit you and at least seven other humans. The huge space makes it perfect for a group dinner when you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, and the mezze plates like their baba ganoush with perfectly charred eggplant are great for sharing—especially if you and your friends don’t want to commit to a full entree before going out to El Bar nearby.
Fat Salmon is one of the best restaurants in Old City, and a place where you can go for sushi that’s topped with things like pineapple cilantro, pico de gallo, and broccoli pesto. The presentation doesn’t take away from the fact that they serve excellent rolls, full of high-quality raw fish, all wrapped in warm, vinegary rice. The pink and blue mood lighting in the dining room sort of makes you feel like you’re at a club in Miami, but it never gets as rowdy. Since the kitchen stays open until 11pm, your group can get a few rolls in before heading to Strangelove’s for a nightcap.
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photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO
Harp & Crown
Harp & Crown is the ideal place to have a sort-of-pricey birthday dinner for yourself and 25 of your closest friends. They have everything from mushroom and truffle pizza and small plates like lamb meatballs to a $50-per-person tasting menu that comes with a dessert if someone forgets to grab you a celebratory cupcake. There’s also a large private room and two bowling lanes that you can rent out downstairs, so if you said you were going to “keep it small” this year, but then remembered how much you love being the center of attention, this is a good option.
Will you be the only group of friends splitting bottles of rosé at this Midtown Village Italian spot? Absolutely not. That’s because this place gets quite busy and serves up delicious small plates like tuna crudo and crunchy octopus, rock shrimp fettucini, and wood-fired pizzas. They have large bistro tables lining the entire stretch of the sidewalk out front, but make a reservation in advance—especially during Happy Hour, or you’ll have to wait at least 30 mins before any wine toasting can start.
This Filipino BYOB has the option for you to forego their a la carte menu for a Kamayan feast (and you should). Tablecloths are traded for banana leaves, and rather than using utensils, you eat with your hands. Your meal, which should easily feed four people, is layered on the table with a base of garlic jasmine rice followed by a few different proteins and vegetables, like pork belly, fried whole fish, and bok choy. Sort through the homemade sauces on the table to customize each bite, and don’t be surprised if you need a to-go bag for your leftovers.
photo credit: Oyster House
Oyster House, one of the city’s best raw bars, is perfect for nearly any occasion. Come for post-work lobster rolls and oysters with a colleague or client. Walk in with a friend or two when you want to chow down on shellfish, split a bottle of wine, and people-watch near the picture windows. Or come with a big group and get the New England-style clambake–buckets of clams, shrimp, lobsters, and corn dripping in garlic chive butter is dumped onto the table for everyone to share, family style.
With bright neon pod seating in the corner for private dinners, a long sushi bar, and lots of tables, you can fit a group of any size into this University City restaurant. But outside of the colorful dining space, they also have some shareable plates like a crispy seafood pancake with shrimp, crab, and scallops, Korean fried chicken coated with a chili glaze, and a selection of hand rolls that you should get for the table. And since they a few murals on the walls and movable mini lamps on the table, you already have a cool backdrop and good lighting if your group wants to take a few pictures to remember the night.
photo credit: GAB BONGHI
Primary Plant Based
This cozy Fishtown BYOB serves dishes like carnitas medianoche made out of jackfruit, kimchi pancakes with chia seed caviar and kimchi sashimi, comforting bowls of masa ball soup, and even Philly-style sandwiches like a roast pork made of yuba. The most expensive item on the menu is $20, so you can bring a large group and spread out at their long wooden tables, share a bunch of plates, and wash everything down with rosé.
Looking for something rowdy in Fishtown? LMNO has a massive outdoor patio with lots of bright yellow umbrellas, and in the summertime, there’s pretty much always a party there (especially when the DJ is spinning). If your group is eating inside, you’ll find a long glowing bar, big tables and bright purple booths, and plenty of entertainment that includes a music listening room. You’ll probably be seated next to an energetic birthday party passing around beef birria asada fries or a couple of friends arguing over the loud music about whether to go with a spiced mango margarita or frozen red sangria.
Spring Garden’s Osteria has a big lounge area (full of weather couches and marble tables) near the bar where you and your group should have a few cocktails before spending the night with some pasta, wood-fired pizzas, and a crispy pork milanese. There’s also a greenhouse section of the Italian spot where you can take in the night sky surrounded by plants. All of this may read like a place that’s more about the atmosphere than the food, but everything, from the tender braised lamb mafaldine to the mortadella pizza, is delicious and works great for sharing.
Come to this Turkish spot in Northern Liberties to share things like citrusy and perfectly charred shrimp, lamb kebaps, silky baba ganoush and hummus, and fluffy pita. But their juicy and citrusy grilled dorado, that’s simply cooked, will be a fish that everyone at the table will remember for days. The corner restaurant is also BYOB, with a wine and liquor store up the street, so you can take over any of their large tables with a few of your friends and a couple of bottles.
Where To Have Your Birthday Dinner In Philly
Pizza is a no-brainer when you need a shareable meal with friends. Society Hill’s Pizzeria Stella not only has some tasty pies, but a few other things you should go for as well, like their spaghetti pomodoro mixed with chunks of plum tomato and crispy chickpeas. When it comes to pizza, the San Daniele with prosciutto, gooey smoked mozzarella, pecorino, and arugula spread across every inch of the pie is the way to go. But on nights when your people can’t settle on a topping, their lineup of pastas, salads, and small plates are always a good substitute.
Yards Brewing Company
If you’re looking to host a fun night out at a place with more beers than the Parkway has flags, head to Yards Brewing Company in Spring Garden. The casual brewery is full of cafeteria-style tables, all of which have great views of the TV screens. But with things like savory beef chili, nachos stacked with Oaxaca cheese and pickled jalapeños, and pale ale half chicken on the menu, you’ll probably be focusing more on the food than the Phillies game. You can also take your beer flights and habanero wings to the community table which seats groups of 12-48 people.
It’s the end of your office Happy Hour, and somehow you ended up with the check. Twenties are thrust at you, that guy from accounting has opened the calculator app on his phone, and Jason’s denying he ate anything but salad even though you see BBQ sauce on his shirt. Next time, avoid this by going to Fette Sau in Fishtown. Everyone can order whatever barbecue and sides they want from the front, and then you can all find space at one of the picnic tables outside. When you’re at the counter, go for their brisket sandwich that has perfect slabs of beef that are both juicy and tender and a side of creamy mac and cheese. They’ve got one of the best Happy Hours in town with $5 beers, $4 chicken legs and spicy slaw, and $3 smoked deviled eggs that are reason enough to bring your whole team (minus Jason).
There are plenty of old school red sauce places in South Philly, but L’Angolo handles groups better than almost all of them. They take reservations, which is a huge advantage, and with a few separate rooms in the back, they don’t mind when the volume goes up. Plus, their menu is full of fresh pasta and seafood dishes that are easily big enough to share. For a little bit of both, get the spaghetti scoglio.
Tequilas is the kind of place that makes you wish you invested in Bitcoin in 2010 so you can afford an apartment nearby the restaurant in Rittenhouse Square. For now, take a few people who can explain blockchain technology to this Center City Mexican spot for some citrusy shrimp ceviche, beef enchiladas, and a sabana invierno that coats a deep-fried chicken breast with melted chihuahua cheese. They also have a few shareable dishes like empanadas and queso fundido, but when you’re here, go for the chicken molcajetes. You’ll get a cauldron full of shreds of tender chicken and a garlicky peppery mole sauce that will make you forget whatever amount is in your checking account.
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photo credit: GAB BONGHI
The Lucky Well
If you’re looking for a large, easygoing place where you can sit back with some incredible BBQ, grab a bourbon and watch whatever sports team is melting down on TV, The Lucky Well is for you. Head to Spring Arts for some sesame ginger pork belly burnt ends, herb-brined chicken, beef brisket, and pork ribs that will all leave your fingers smelling like smoky sweetness. When it comes to rounding out your meal, they have a Memphis mustard slaw that will convert any diehard creamy slaw fan, excellent mac and cheese, and BBQ beans. All will go great with whichever scotch, bourbon, or beer you choose from the impressive list.
Dim Sum House
With a dim sum menu longer than our DVR list after a three-week vacation, it may be hard for your friends to decide between truffle edamame lobster sticky rice or eggplant in garlic sauce when ordering at this University City spot. But if your group comes here hungry, you should go for all those dishes, plus a few noodle plates and a round of their crunchy salt and pepper wings. With massively long tables throughout the dining space, you could probably fit your extended family and their extended family in here, if everyone’s down for some soup dumplings and scallion pancakes.