PHLGuide

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.
This is the interior of The Lucky Well Incubator.

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

Whether you’re looking to celebrate a birthday, want somewhere to show your friends a camera roll full of your new dog, there are lots of reasons why you need a few group dinner spots in your back pocket. And while Philly has lots of spots to split a few dishes and the check, these raw bars, hot pot places, or spots for plant-based pasta are no brainers.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

Thai

Fishtown

$$$$Perfect For:Impressing Out of TownersSmall PlatesCatching Up With MatesPeople WatchingSpecial OccasionsLiterally Everyone
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Although it’s one of the hottest tickets in town, having one of the largest dining rooms in the neighborhood allows Kalaya to fit a small college reunion inside. So when you have a large group of friends who crave fantastic Thai food, they’ve got you covered. From the chewy sakoo moo dumplings to sweet and spicy khiaw waan kalaya, there are no misses on the menu at the Fishtown spot. Sit back at a table with friends, pass around a few curries and towers of shaved ice, and argue over who gets to take the leftovers home. 


Philly has fewer places to get momo than Dollar Dog nights, but this isn’t our favorite place by default. It’s because these crisp-edged, doughy pouches are packed with the perfect combination of flavor and spice. The Spring Garden corner spot has six large tables for ordering the Himalayan veggie chili “hotter than hot,” while the rest is counter space for ordering takeout. It has a massive lineup of momo—we’re talking over 30—including fantastic vegetarian options. The must haves are the tandoori (either shrimp or chicken), which are smoky and delicious. Walk-in for a casual dinner with friends and you’ll all be muttering "momo" in your sleep by tomorrow.

No brewery in Philly serves better food than this Black-owned brewery in University City, so you should have no problem convincing your friends to stop here for a spread of Italian hoagies and hot roast beef sandwiches. They have large wooden communal tables in the back near TVs. But you'll probably be too focused on the fluffy Liberian jollof rice, malty Nubian ale, and the bulk of the Liberty Kitchen menu you just ordered for the table.

KPOT Korean BBQ & Hot Pot in the Northeast is one of those modern Korean BBQ spots—endless sake lists, a neon-lit bar, and a digital grill with as many buttons as a graphing calculator. The chain restaurant, located near the Franklin Mills Mall, has large booths and long rectangular tables where you can fit your entire Happy Hour crew or every grill-dad-in-training in your friend group. The menu is massive and wide-ranging—it has everything from smoked garlic pork belly and spicy baby octopus to seasoned pumpkins and oyster mushrooms. Bring your friends for a last-minute meal and you’ll be in for your life's only rewarding group project.

photo credit: CANDIS R. MCLEAN

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Tamalex serves great, affordable Mexican food in a large space that’s casual enough to walk in with a few friends on a weeknight. We love the tamarind margarita, tasty chicken enchiladas bathing in a peppery mole sauce, and all the tacos, which are simple but have great flavor and quality. The Head House Square spot is fun option for Happy Hour, especially since the drink specials run until 7pm. Come for good al pastor tacos, Modelo on tap, and an impressive variety of mezcal and tequila. There’s probably going to be soccer playing behind the bar, and someone might even randomly start playing the piano next to a tequila bottle shaped like a shotgun. Either way, the entire table will be mopping up every last piece of smoky al pastor on their plate.

The Lucky Well has always been that easygoing BBQ place where your friends can sit back, grab a bourbon, and eat tender ribs while watching a team meltdown on TV. The Spring Arts spot now offers that same massive, brewery-like atmosphere and a menu that has expanded three times in size. The four-in-one restaurant features rotating chefs so your group could make a feast of wood-fired Vietnamese, Navajo tacos, penne a la vodka, and St. Louis ribs all in the same night.

Vietnam in Chinatown is a one-two punch. The first floor is a cozy, wood-paneled Vietnamese restaurant with incredible dishes like vermicelli rice noodle bowls, papaya salad, and lime chicken. Once you and your friends have finished arguing over who gets the last spring roll, head upstairs to Bar Saigon. The second-floor space is basically a tiki bar, with flaming punch bowls and Mai Tais in colorful glasses. Hitting both in one night is one of our favorite birthday party moves, but each place is also great on its own. 


When your group chat wants to feel fancy and everyone's received their bonus checks, make a reservation at Barclay Prime in Rittenhouse. There’s no better place to eat a ribeye and classic sides like creamy truffle mac and cheese and potato gratin in Philadelphia. And if your table is hoping to spot someone from the Phillies, this is definitely the place to do it.


This Filipino BYOB only offers one dining option, and it's a great one: the kamayan feast. Tablecloths are traded for banana leaves, and rather than using utensils, you eat with your hands. Your meal at this East Passyunk restaurant 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.

Oyster House in Rittenhouse, 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. 


This small and intimate Fishtown BYOB serves dishes like "pastrami" sandwiches made out of yuba, seitan cheesesteaks, and comforting and crispy cauliflower pakoras. The most expensive item on the menu is $26, 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 without worrying about the bill. 


Spring Garden’s Osteria has a big lounge areanear the bar where you and your group should have a few cocktails before spending the night with pasta, wood-fired pizzas, and a whole branzino. 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 fusilli to the cheesy bolzano pizza is delicious and great for sharing. 


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 also a few other things you should go for, 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.

Located in Olney, Kim’s Restaurant serves dumplings, noodle dishes, and hot pots that are the best in the neighborhood. But it's their deeply marinated Korean barbecue that’s the main attraction here—cooking and eating it feels like you’re playing a tongs-and-teriyaki version of Operation (but without the fake electrocution). The large dining room gets loud thanks to the families, groups of friends, and sizzling sounds coming from the charcoal grills at each table. All of the high-quality meats are tender, from the spicy pork and short ribs to peppery chicken. Throw in some crunchy noodles or stir fries to round out the meal and find out which friend has some culinary skills. 

There are plenty of old school red sauce places in South Philly, but L’Angolo is one of the best. They take reservations, which is a huge advantage, and with a few separate rooms in the back, they don’t mind if you bring a group and enough wine to have a good time. 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.

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