The Best SF Restaurants For A Big Group Dinner

At these spots, planning a group meal isn't painful.
The Best SF Restaurants For A Big Group Dinner image

photo credit: Jeremy Chen

The hard truth is, planning a big group dinner sucks. You have to consider things like dietary restrictions, coordinating schedules, and the number of buses your friend’s significant other will have to take to get to the restaurant from work. And, of course, you need a place with actually good food. It should also have enough space that you’re not smushed together around a table, and an ambiance that’ll make your group dinner undeniably fun. So use this guide for all of your multi-person dinner needs. If you're looking to plan an even bigger group meal, check out our private dining guide.


photo credit: Carly Hackbarth



$$$$Perfect For:Big Groups
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Dinner at this casual Thai barbecue spot is organized chaos. The space is constantly shrouded in a gray haze from all of the pork sizzling away on the sloped charcoal grills, and smoke alarms will ring out. Leaning into and enduring this chaos is worth it because their grill-it-yourself meat and soup are excellent. Come with people you don’t mind yelling across the table to (it’s loud in here), and let rounds of pork belly, shrimp, and bacon get gorgeously charred over glowing red embers. The best part is finishing off the meal by slurping up the moat of soup flavored by the meat juice drippings.

For a next-level group dinner that makes you feel like an overindulgent royal, get to this Northern Vietnamese restaurant near Union Square. When you’re here with a whole crew, the seemingly never-ending chef’s tasting menu ($88 per person) is the move. It’s a family-style parade of so many incredible plates—like bánh khọt, citrusy bò tái chanh, and wiggly bánh cuốn—that you’ll lose count, and finishes with a bowl of phở and multiple desserts. If you want to keep the party going, head downstairs to their speakeasy-ish sister bar, The Felix, for coffee-spiked drinks and DJs.

One way to immediately become the most popular person in the group chat? Suggest a meet-up at Viva Goa. The lowkey Indian restaurant in the Marina serves Goan specialties that will send you into another dimension. It’s also an effortless option when you need a last-minute spot for dinner, since walking in with a big crew is always easy (no reservations needed) and everything is shareable. Once you all have slid into a booth, fill the table with bowls and bowls of prawn xacuti, the vegetable-packed navrattan korma, mulgatawni soup, and their sizzling tandoori fish. 

The menu at Lers Ros is so long it should come with its own table of contents. There’s something for your aunt, even your vegetarian cousins, and all the other people who decided to tag along with you to this nice casual spot in the Tenderloin. Their setup is just one long room, with a humongous table in the middle that can fit up to 14 people. The menu might seem overwhelming, but there’s no going wrong with any of the curries or steamy noodle soups. Pack in and order another round of saucy garlic pork for the table. 

photo credit: Jeremy Chen



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Since opening in 1985, this Cantonese restaurant in Chinatown has stood as the backdrop to countless graduation parties, wedding banquets, and dinners with coworkers who just spent the entire day losing brain cells at some FiDi corporate event. This place is a multi-story maze made up of several dining rooms, a full bar, and hosts who communicate through earpieces (shepherding you through a seafood-filled evening is serious business). Big round tables are in the main dining areas—once you’re seated, let the salt and pepper crab, which arrives with a mountain of crunchy fried legs, come to you.

Good Good Culture Club is a tropical party in the Mission, and one to get rowdy at any time you want to gather up a bunch of friends and throw back cocktails made with edible glitter. Leafy green plants are everywhere, rattan lamps hang above, and hot pink and teal are splashed across the dining room. Just be prepared to bust out your outside voice—this place is loud. The long, communal “Ohana Table,” for parties of eight to sixteen, is in the middle of all the action. It’s $70 per person for a prix-fixe family-style spread of sinigang-spiced potato chips, spicy and refreshing crying tiger shrimp, and aromatic Lao sausage that land on your table like gifts. 

The Colombian-Cuban restaurant in Civic Center is big, bright, and always bumping—so if clinking frosty mojitos over loud music is your thing, get here. Salsa throwbacks blast over the speakers, the walls are teal and pink, and pan de bono is plentiful. Tajín-fried chicken, hearty chicharrones, and simple yet phenomenal rice and bean plates should all be on your table. Portions are also big enough to feed you and everyone you’re with, twice over. So round up two minivans’ worth of people and get here.  

At Um.ma, Korean barbecue is waiting for you—and the lucky people you brought along on this sizzling meat journey. This modern Sunset spot’s “mural room,” decorated with a striking woman in black and white, feels like a private nook and can fit between six and ten. Order as much flavor-packed citrus gochujang pork belly, crispy seafood pancakes, and unbelievably crunchy chicken wings as will fit on the table—you’ll want multiple rounds of each. The only downside to this room is there’s no tabletop grilling (that’s reserved for the patio only). But regardless, it’s still impossible to have a bad time. 

You can’t write a guide to the best group dinner destinations without at least one Japanese hot pot spot, and our favorite is Shabu Club in the Richmond. Throughout your meal, you’ll see servers constantly rearrange tables in the minimal space to fit a revolving door of groups and entire extended families. It’s also constantly packed with people who are hovering around shared vats of bubbling soup, and dipping all-you-can-eat slices of pork, lamb, and beef into the green sauce that turned this place into a neighborhood legend. Be sure to save room for the free ice cream cones they roll around for dessert. 

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysBig Groups

Dinner at Funky Elephant is loose and fun—just look to the disco ball spinning over the pink-lit dining room as an indicator. The fiery Thai dishes at this Mission spot are just as exciting, like the sticky, charred party wings dotted with Thai chilis and a slow-burn papaya salad. If you’re here with people who start sweating just thinking about chilis (or maybe that’s you?), there are milder, equally fantastic options like an umami-packed pad thai and poached khao mun gai. Keep the natural wine and soju cocktails coming. 

Montesacro in SoMa is the perfect group dinner spot before a show at the nearby Orpheum—it has extra-long tables that can handle an entire entourage. And the oblong Roman-style pinsas are light, airy, and the ideal sustenance for gossip sessions with your roommate’s partner’s neighbor friend. All pizzas topped with burrata are an instant hit, but we also love the tormarancio with soppressata and very thick tomato sauce. Not in SoMa? Their Marina location is also big-group-friendly. 

The dimly lit dining room at Tuba has maroon walls, curvy chandeliers, and enough tables to fit the miscellaneous group of friends you’ve called together for an easy weeknight dinner. The crispy adana kebab, wrapped in lavash and sliced, is an optimal dish to shovel into your mouth at record-breaking speeds. And the charred eggplant topped with juicy ground beef is straight-up comfort. Sit under one of the pixelated art pieces with a bottle of wine and spread out—there’s more than enough space.

We reserve La Mar for when we have a high-maintenance friend in town who wants to actually dress up for dinner, or when we need to keep a visiting client on our good side. But for the purposes of a group meal, the Peruvian spot on the Embarcadero has it on lock. There’s a patio right along the water, a lively dining room, and a bar to keep all the overflow cocktail-filled while waiting for a table. Adding to the photogenic space and waterfront location are the small plates that are worth coming here for alone, like tangy cebiches, Peruvian-style nigiri, and fantastic empanadas.  

Bust out the velvet accessories and a sophisticated suit—you’re going to Bix. A group dinner at this old-school American restaurant is one to plan with people who go teary-eyed listening to jazz (you’ll be serenaded by a tie-wearing pianist), or who religiously drink martinis nightly. This Financial District spot spans two floors, and a majestic staircase curves between them. Tables can fit ten high-backed green velvet chairs—maybe consider planning that murder mystery-themed dinner party after all. 

Taksim is an upscale Turkish restaurant in SoMa that works for casual drinks and some muhammara at the bar, and fancy dinners with a group that’s bigger than a basketball lineup. The multi-level dining room is filled with wooden beams, hanging orb lamps, and tons of natural light—it’s a swanky place to spend a couple of hours discussing summer plans with your coworker’s neighbor. Get the butter-poached king shrimps, which are wrapped in crisp phyllo noodles and served with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. And know that no group bonding session is complete without the grilled branzino punched up with a side of salty sea beans. 

Bella Trattoria goes big in every way. There’s a long black leather banquette that wraps around the place. Booths stretch up toward the ceiling like imposing ceremonial thrones. And portions of decadent pasta are super-sized. Pile into the Richmond spot to carbo-load on housemade pastas, bruschetta, and even free bread. A full bar and sports playing on TVs will also keep everyone happy. And by “everyone,” we mean the Spikeball crew you’re rolling in with after an intense game at Golden Gate Park.

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