So, you’re out having a great dinner with friends, and then the bill comes. You have no idea how a mediocre meal ended up costing the same price as an antique candelabra. Things suddenly feel like the garbage chute scene from Star Wars, you no longer like any of your friends, and you make a plan to ration a container of hummus and a bag of baby carrots for all of your lunches next week. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Next time you want to get dinner with a group of people without dipping into your waterproof hiking boot fund, consult this list.
This is a fast-casual wine bar where everyone orders and pays for themselves at the counter. So if one person wants to go wild and order every shared plate on the menu, you won’t necessarily pay the price. The Asian-leaning tapas menu is great across the board, and most of the food items only cost about $5 each. Make sure bulgogi pinchos, chorizo-stuffed meatballs, and chicken teriyaki skewers hit the table.
Manao is another fast-casual spot with excellent group potential that serves big, inexpensive plates of delicious Thai street food. We’d drink from an endless waterfall of their Thai iced tea, but the food here is great - the menu ranges from classic noodle dishes to things like crispy chicken. The best part is that the leftovers (and trust us, you will have them) make a fantastic stunt double for a takeout lunch the next day.
A classy cocktail bar might not be the first place you look for an affordable meal, but Cursed Oak’s best-kept secret is the delicious $10 double cheeseburger. It’s quite filling, comes with a pile of fries, and for three dollars more, you could amp your burger up with demi-glace aioli and fontina. Seating can be hard to find on busy nights, but they take reservations - so plan ahead.
First things first: Pho Bac Sup Shop has a photo booth. Why else would that be there if not for you and your group to commemorate your excellent Vietnamese noodle soup experiences? We like the poached chicken and short rib pho soups, which are huge and cost about $12 each. Add some sausage sliders and spring rolls for the table, and everyone will be very happy.
If we reported on restaurants like meteorologists, we’d say that adult pizza parties have reached a record high in the Seattle metro area - and if we were real meteorologists, we’d say that there’s gonna be some rain. The Masonry’s Fremont location is one of our favorite group dinner places for a few reasons: you can call ahead to reserve one of their indoor picnic tables, the meatballs and Neapolitan pies are perfect for sharing, and there’s an $8 frozen rose.
The last time you organized a group sushi dinner, it was so expensive that Jenny had to cancel her trip to the San Juan Islands. Somehow, the group (including Jenny) has demanded sushi again, and you can say with certainty that now is not the time for everyone to try omakase. It is, however, time for Kisaku. Not only is the white-tablecloth space worthy of something celebratory (like Jenny agreeing to speak to you again), but the nigiri combination dinners all cost less than $30 and are filled with high-quality fish.
Avoiding $11 servings of thimble-sized guacamole is a priority, but you still need a Mexican place with nice touches that your friend who takes her lifestyle blog seriously will appreciate. We challenge you to find a better Mexican spot for this situation than Casco Antiguo. Here, you’ll get on-tap margaritas for $8, substantial portions of things like braised pork enchiladas and beer-battered fish tacos for less than $20, and a space full of exposed brick, rustic wood, and plants. Read all about it on your friend’s blog.
That one friend who lives in Shoreline won’t be happy about driving all the way to Rainier Beach, but they’ll forgive you once they’re eating Neapolitan pies on a big marble table at Pizzeria Pulcinella. The inexpensive pizzas (that range from $11.50 to $17) are big enough to share with a buddy, the lasagna is delicious, and a round of spumoni ice cream should probably happen before the night’s over.
While Dough Zone isn’t the cheapest place in the city for dim sum, the dumplings here are inexpensive enough (ranging from $4.75 to $12.75) with an atmosphere way more fun than your friend’s apartment loaded with dinged-up Ikea furniture. Share rounds of xiao long bao, potstickers, wontons, and dan dan noodles. You’ll leave with enough cash to reluctantly go up to the top of the Space Needle the next time you get a visitor. (Let them see for themselves that the view is a little anticlimactic.)
Pair5501 30th Ave NE
Maybe a couple in your group just got engaged, and they want to celebrate, but they’re also saving up so that the centerpieces at their wedding won’t have to be made from foraged pinecones and Elmer’s glue. Pair is the upscale French spot you should be using for this kind of special occasion. The setting is romantic, the steak is excellent but not too pricey, and someone will probably make a champagne toast.