PHI

Where To Have A Group Dinner

PHOTO: Emily Schindler

Team outings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, one of those rare summer Fridays where no one has left for the shore yet - you don’t really need a reason to get a group together for dinner, but it never hurts. And while these nights are always fun, picking where to go can quickly become a headache. When you inevitably draw the shortest straw and the pressure’s on, you’re going to want to find a spot to spread out a bit and share a lot of food, all without bumping into one another. No matter which neighborhood you’re in, let this guide show you the way.

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the spots

8.2
MAP

Whether you’re going on a triple date or planning an after-work meet-up with your team from work, Front Street is versatile enough for just about any group situation. They’ve got long tables upstairs and on the patio, and a cocktail menu that’ll make that 12 person bridesmaid dinner your friend planned much more bearable. When it comes time to order, the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich is a no-brainer, and since everyone’s going to be battling over the last bite of buffalo cauliflower, make sure to get a few orders for the table.

Photo: Rachel Lerro

Porta

Center City
1216 Chesnut Street

Philly has its fair share of restaurants in big, historic buildings, but most of them are white-tablecloth spots filled with people who look like characters from Clue. Porta is different. It’s the third location of an Asbury Park pizza shop and just like the first two, it’s fun. The walls of what used to be a furniture store are covered in graffiti, and the huge space is perfect for you to invite all of your friends, and then for them to invite all of their friends. After dinner, they even set up a dance floor, so you don’t have to split two Ubers six ways to get to a crowded bar in Fishtown.

Photo: Drew Holtz
8.2
MAP

Dim Sum Garden is cheap, it’s BYOB, and it has a huge menu that should work for everyone you’re with. It’s exactly where you should go before a casual night out with your friends who want somewhere they can drink without paying $15 for a cocktail. Also, it’s open as late as most bars on the weekend, so if you find that the soup dumplings and scallion pancakes you had for dinner weren’t enough, you can always go back for round two.

7.3
MAP

American Sardine Bar is the neighborhood bar everyone wishes they lived around the corner from, with a nice patio and just enough kitsch to work for drinks with a date or that friend you keep having to reschedule with. It’s also a good option for a group, with a sizable upstairs and a handful of roomy booths. Order a few dishes to share, like the mussels and wings, along with some fried sardines, which are half-off during Happy Hour, and the salt and pepper fries with dill pickle dip.

Photo: Max Grudzinski

Fette Sau

Fishtown
1208 Frankford Ave
7.8
MAP

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. They’ve got one of the best Happy Hours in town and the smoked deviled eggs alone are reasons enough to bring your whole team (minus Jason).

Photo: Emily Schindler

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 pizza and small plates to a $68 NY strip that you should just get for the table. 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.

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 after a fourth or fifth bottle of wine. 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.

Lucha Cartel

Old City
207 Chestnut St
7.2
MAP

Lucha isn’t much more than a dive bar with food, but that’s exactly why we like it. It’s easy to get a reservation for big groups last minute, almost every item on their menu is $5 during Happy Hour, and they even have a porch out front with large, picnic-style tables. Go with your work friends when you get out early because your boss was in a good mood and grab some tacos and a few margaritas. If you spend over $20 per person, you’ve done something wrong.

Photo: Autumn Powell

Northern Liberties is full of restaurants, but those restaurants are typically full of people. Las Cazuelas, at the northernmost tip of the neighborhood, is just far away from the main drag to offer hope. Whether it’s a double date or your team from work deciding it’s time to “bond,” this place has you covered, with a big back room and enough taco and enchilada options for everyone you’re with. Plus, it’s BYO-tequila, which makes any work function slightly less awkward.

Photo: Autumn Powell

City Tap House

3925 Walnut St
MAP

City Tap House might be the only spot in this guide where you could show up with a party of 12 and no reservation and the host wouldn’t laugh at you. The University City spot is a staple for students and locals alike, so don’t be surprised when everyone inside is toting a backpack. We’re not sure if it’s the extensive draft list, live music, or the highly-coveted fire pits that bring the crowds, but it’s the wood-fired pizzas and other shareable dishes keep them there.

Perla

East Passyunk
1535 S. 11th St.

On Wednesdays and Sundays, this Filipino BYOB switches out their a la carte menu for a Kamayan feast. Tablecloths are traded for banana leaves and rather than using utensils, you eat with your hands. Your meal, which should easily feed four, 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: Eric Heidel

Marrakesh

Society Hill
517 S Leithgow St

At this Moroccan place in Society Hill, you get to recline on low couches while you eat things like spicy cumin chicken, eggplant and carrot salads, and Moroccan pastries. Reservations are a must, but between the prix fixe menu and their cash-only policy, splitting the check is easy.

Suraya

Fishtown
1528 Frankford Ave
8.8
MAP

During the day, Suraya is a casual café. 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 are great for sharing with your friends who don’t want to commit to a full entrée before going out.

Photo: Max Grudzinski

Butcher Bar

Rittenhouse
2034 Chestnut St

When all your finance friends want to grab dinner in Rittenhouse, you might start Googling where you can donate plasma to afford an appetizer. Or you can just suggest Butcher Bar for that sweet spot of “nice for a weeknight” and cost-effective. Their menu is full of little twists on bar snacks, like confit duck wings, sloppy joe poutine, and house-made beef jerky. But if you come with enough people, order The Trough. This giant wooden slab is topped with rotisserie chicken, house-made sausages, fries, and five or six other things that’ll give you a good sense of how medieval knights ate.

Photo: Lexy Pierce

Walking through the doors at Brauhaus Schmitz is like finding a portal to Germany, and their Brauer Bund Beerhall in the back is spacious enough for nearly any size party. The prices are reasonable, from pretzels to pilsners, but when you really want to impress, order the suckling pig. It requires two weeks advance notice, and at least 12 people, but it’s worth the hassle.

Photo: Autumn Powell

Tacconelli’s in Port Richmond is cash-only and BYOB, and reservations are a must as they don’t make more dough than is reserved in advance. The crust is thin and crispy, so don’t bother ordering more than two toppings per pizza (all the more reason to order multiple pies). Also, take the timing of your reservation as a “suggestion” and pack a cooler full of cheap wine and beer - this one-man show moves at its own pace.

Roy Pitz Barrel House

Callowhill
990 Spring Garden St

When you and your friends are heading to a show at Underground Arts, but need to eat before a night of dancing, Roy Pitz Barrel House - an enormous brew pub just down the street - is here for you. The colorful mural-covered space is full of communal tables, high tops, and bar stools and can handle just about any size party with room to spare. All of the upscale bar food they serve is good, but the burger and fried brussels sprouts are where you should start.

There aren’t too many places in the city where you can get a meal for less than the cost of your morning latte. Luckily though, there’s Manakeesh, which makes some of the best and most affordable Lebanese food in the Philly. They do all-day brunch, have a spacious dining area, and serve a buttery cashew baklava that you’ll want to stock up on before you leave. The dips and flatbreads are all excellent, but it’s hard to go wrong with anything on the menu.

7.7
MAP

If you’re in need of a more upscale spot that still feels casual enough to show up at after going to the gym, check out Barcelona Wine Bar. The food is good, the wine list is better, and the outdoor patio sets it apart from most other restaurants on East Passyunk. They serve mostly tapas, which makes it a perfect spot to go with a bigger group of people, and they’ll even split the big paella dishes by however many people you’re with.

Photo: Tom McGovern

Han Dynasty

Old City
123 Chestnut St
8.0
MAP

A typical weekend in Old City might include running into a few pedal pubs, lots of cheap beer, and cocktails sipped through NSFW straws while on a bachelorette party. But when you and your friends want to get away from all of that, escape to Han Dynasty. This place handles big groups like they’re two-tops, and even if you’ve got a table of ten, you’ll be impressed by how efficient this place is. The family-style dishes to focus on are the cumin-crusted lamb and dan dan noodles, and while most of the menu can be customized spice-wise, make sure everyone understands the difference between a three and an eight before you order.

Sushi is a great group dinner meal, but a lot of sushi restaurants are either super expensive or they have bright fluorescent lights and sticky laminated menus that curl up at the corners. Fortunately, 1225 Raw is in neither of these camps. It feels kind of like an upscale lounge (with a back patio that has lots of large tables), but is reasonably priced and still condones your one friend’s sake bomb habit. Win-win.

Photo: Autumn Powell

YYou have some friends visiting from the west coast and all they know about Philadelphia is that it has “a lot of Italian mob restaurants, right?” After you’ve finished rolling your eyes, take them to La Locanda. They serve great red-sauce Italian food, it’s pretty inexpensive, and the staff is so friendly it will make your out-of-town friends rethink everything they saw on It’s Always Sunny. It’s also BYOB, so make sure you pick up a bottle of wine or three on your way there.

Photo: Autumn Powell

Frankford Hall

Fishtown
1210 Frankford Ave
7.5
MAP

When the weather’s nice, the line at Frankford Hall can extend down the street, and it’s pretty easy to see why. German beers by the liter, pretzels and sausages the size of your face, and enough games and activities to occupy you for hours of day drinking. You can order dinner at the window and drinks at their multiple bars, or you can try to flag down one of the always-busy servers. As a bonus, they also have heat lamps, so you can still head here once wearing sweats to a bar becomes acceptable.

Photo: Marissa Evans

Whether you’re looking for somewhere to host your office holiday party or get your five closest friends together to celebrate the summer solstice, Standard Tap has you covered. They have a great rooftop deck, plenty of rotating beers, and a fireplace for once winter hits. Split a few shared plates, like the garlic clams, and make sure to get at least one chicken pot pie to share (or 10 if you bring the whole company).

Photo: Autumn Powell

Heritage has a lot of things going for it that make it one of the best group spots in Northern Liberties. There’s the big patio outside, nightly live music (primarily jazz and funk), and plenty of food that’s easy to share, like flatbreads and cheese boards. If you prefer breakfast food and aren’t super into jazz, they also do a bluegrass brunch on Sundays.

Photo: Autumn Powell

When you’re given the corporate card for a work lunch or celebratory dinner, there are few spots better than Devon Seafood to expense. If you can nab a window table, you’ll have a stellar view of Rittenhouse Square, but there’s not a bad seat in the place. Go all out and get the chilled shellfish platter, with shrimp cocktail, shucked oysters, king crab legs, and plenty of lobster. Depending on how productive you actually want to be, they also make great martinis.

Photo: Autumn Powell

Tio Flores is a colorful Mexican place in Grad Hospital, and it’s one of our favorite spots for a big group dinner before a night out. On top of having solid (and cheap) tacos, they also have a special every day of the week. So if you’re “taking a sabbatical” (or don’t care about your job), book your group dinner for a Monday night and take advantage of their $1 tacos and $5 margaritas.

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