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Where To Have A Group Dinner

PHOTO: Jordan Nicholson

You got obliterated during a really intense and exhausting game of rock, paper, scissors with your friends, and now you’re stuck planning the next group dinner. You need a spot with either reservation-making capabilities or ample space for spreading out without a hassle. It should also have crowd-pleasing food, good cocktails, and a dining room with better surroundings than one of your apartment’s living rooms.

This is your guide to the best restaurants with all those things - use it for every multi-human dining situation you’re in charge of organizing. And next time, don’t play rock every round.

The spots

Trove

Capitol Hill
500 E. Pike
8.1
MAP

Korean barbecue is a group sport, and Trove is our favorite spot for some DIY meat-grilling. But don’t come here expecting classic bulgogi - instead you’ll find options like cured duck breast and longanisa sausage. Plan to get the “Trove’s Greatest Hits” prix-fixe, which is $25 a person and definitely true to its name. It includes their best appetizers and more than enough portions of chef-selected meats presented to you on a tower. Ask the waiters (who are very fun) for extra kalbi wagyu tri-tip steak, have a soju cocktail, and don’t leave without getting a soft-serve mason jar parfait for dessert.

Djan’s is a Thai restaurant in a charmingly retrofitted bi-level house, so eating here feels like being in your mature friend’s nice duplex, only you’re all wearing shoes. The noodles and Thai iced teas are excellent, and you shouldn’t have a problem getting in with a group. If you want a room to yourselves, there are two private space options for the steep price of 20 bucks. Book in advance and ask for the room with the flower wallpaper.

Stoneburner

Ballard
5214 Ballard Ave NW

Stoneburner sounds like the title of a cheesy superhero graphic novel movie adaptation, but it’s actually the Italian sister restaurant to one of our favorite French places, Bastille. The food won’t blow you away, but it works for a group dinner when no one can decide exactly what they want. The menu has wood-fired pizzas (get the Calabrese pepperoni with chile and honey), pastas, some vegetable small plates, and an excellent garlic confit ciabatta with homemade ricotta. The high ceilings, tiled floor, and massive bar makes it a nice place to hang around too.

Ma’ono Fried Chicken & Whisky

4437 California Ave SW
MAP

You invited all of your friends over in an attempt to make a Southern chicken dinner, and knocked over eight quarts of peanut oil by accident. On your condo’s brand new carpeting. You could try again, but this is a scenario in which giving up will be far more rewarding - Ma’Ono is where you should really be going for all fried chicken needs in Seattle. And in addition to poultry, the Korean/Hawaiian/Southern fusion menu has options like roasted corn with miso caramel and furikake, and kimchi mac and cheese. The portions are family-style, the Asian dipping sauces that come with the chicken are outrageously good, and it’s perfectly acceptable to go about your meal with a brown liquor cocktail in one hand and a drumstick in the other. Even if your body is ready to go to the ER after a feast here, get the banana cream pie.

7.5
MAP

There’s a time and place for eating sesame chicken on the floor with your friends and watching Netflix, but sometimes you have to put real pants on and leave the house. KauKau BBQ is a family-style Chinese spot where you can sit in a chair, but still wear your t-shirt and jeans with the hole in them. The decor inside isn’t much, but huge round tables are ideal for a group. Plus, they have Lazy Susans, which makes “pass the fried rice” extremely easy to do.

8.1
MAP

Barrio is a place that makes you feel like you’re living some kind of big-city dream montage. It’s a Mexican spot in Capitol Hill where the gathering of all your friends paired with a couple of blood orange margaritas on-tap will remind you why you love Seattle. There are candles literally all over the walls (it has to be a b*tch closing up), the bar is a mosaic-tiled spectacle, the massive windows open up during the summer, and if you’re the only single person in your friend group, the braised pork nachos will keep you warm at night.

8.2
MAP

You really can’t go wrong with burgers and beers for a big group, and Lil’ Woody’s is always our first choice in that department. Do the dance of shoving a million two-tops together to make a big mega table, and then fill it with burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, queso fries, and milkshakes. If you’re coming for more of a post-bar-crawl regroup, they’re open until 3am.

7.4
MAP

Sushi Kanpai is a First Hill secret that serves solid sushi rolls, good sake, and some excellent steamed gyoza. Plus, it never gets busy. We like the spicy crunch rolls (spicy tuna, snow crab, cucumber, and tempura flakes), and they even have rice-less options (with cucumber instead) if someone in the group is trying Whole30 for the sixth time.

Ciudad

Georgetown
6118 12th Ave S

At first glance, Ciudad seems out of place. It’s in an under-trafficked part of Georgetown, the charcoal grill is right outside the front door, and there’s a mural that looks like an eerie Lewis Carroll version of one in a pediatrician’s office. But despite the creepy colorful paintings of hippos cut in half and the grim reaper, Ciudad is a nice place to spend a few hours. The Mediterranean/Middle Eastern menu is heavy on grilled meats, and you can order them by weight, which is ideal for sharing. Get the smoky yogurt and black garlic aioli sauces to go with them, and don’t forget the hummus and flatbread (our favorite thing here). A round of mezcal lemonades for the group is also a good idea.

Photo: Jordan Nicholson

Mojito

Maple Leaf
7545 Lake City Way NE
7.5
MAP

Mojito is in a tiny neon yellow shack, and there aren’t too many seats inside. But if you call ahead, chances are they’ll be able to squeeze in your party of 10. Coming here is a fantastic way to break out of a rut, whether you’re looking for a different type of food or a different neighborhood to spend the night in (it’s in Maple Leaf). The Venezuelan menu has some of the best South American food you’ll find in the city, and we’re especially fans of the arepas and pastelitos. If your group has a good attitude, you’ll probably get a free round of tequila shots from the owner.

Rock Creek Seafood & Spirits

4300 Fremont Ave N
MAP

So, the big camping trip got cancelled because it was a scam. Turns out “Rainbow Rolling River Ridge” isn’t a real place. While cooking some freshly caught bass over an open flame and listening to a lapping stream is now out of the question, Rock Creek is a pretty excellent substitute. The seafood menu has basics like shrimp and grits, but also a beer-battered fish head. If your group is bigger than you realized, see if you can get in the private room on the balcony, which looks like a well-decorated vacation cabin rental.

Tavolàta

Belltown
2323 2nd Ave
7.6
MAP

Tavoláta is a good Italian standby to have if it’s a weeknight and your group is looking for something downtown. It’s centrally-located in Belltown, the long table that runs down the entire middle of the dining room is perfect for your quadruple-date, reservations are really easy to make, and they have a great carbonara. The only thing you have to worry about is how many bottles of wine and homemade pastas you’re going to pass around. There are no wrong answers here.

Photo: Geoffrey Smith

Citizen 6

Interbay
945 Elliott Ave W

Citizen Six does a mix of Mexican, Korean, and classic pub food, and the result is things like sweet/spicy chicken wings and bulgogi fries. Sit with your friends at a large round table that looks like a tree stump, and get ready to hold some grudges over rounds of catchphrase and giant jenga. If the weather’s nice, post up on the back patio with some homemade hard cider flights and watch freight trains go by.

Delancey

Ballard
1415 NW 70th St
7.7
MAP

Delancey is extremely difficult to get a table at if you’re with only one other person, but they take reservations for six or more people, which means you’re much closer to perfectly-charred-crust pizzas and fancy vegetable dishes if you drag your friends along. Share a bunch, and get a bottle of red wine too.

La Cocina Oaxaquena

Capitol Hill
1216 Pine St Ste 100
8.5
MAP

For several reasons, La Cocina Oaxaqueña is the best Mexican group dinner spot in Seattle. First, they take reservations over the phone and usually always have availability. Second, they have a free buffet-style salsa bar with what could be the best salsa and pico de gallo in the entire city. Third, the homemade chips are cooked when you order them, so they’re always extremely hot and even worth the occasional burnt tongue. Fourth, fifth, and sixth: the atmosphere is low-key but fiesta-worthy, the margaritas are cheap and poured in pint glasses like they should be, and the patio is excellent when it’s nice out.

Photo: Stan Lee

The Leary Traveler

Fremont
4354 Leary Way NW
7.5
MAP

You blinked and suddenly all of your friends got puppies. Puppies that they can’t leave home alone for more than thirteen minutes at risk of havoc ensuing in the form of tiny shreds of massacred toilet paper. Instead of never seeing these people again, hit up The Leary Traveler. It’s a pretty small bar, but a great neighborhood spot with better-than-standard pub food that’s perfect for sharing. Plus, Colby the snaggletoothed puggle will be allowed in.

Westward

Wallingford
2501 N Northlake Way
8.6
MAP

When everyone in your squad decides it’s time dress up and have a bigger night out, Westward is the semi-fancy nautical spot where you’ll feel like a grown adult. Get there before your reservation and have some sparkling cocktails and wine on the waterfront. When your table is ready, order the oysters and eat kind-of-Mediterranean food like pan-seared fish and braised lamb. The wood-fired gigante beans are required for the table before carrying on talking about adult things like renter’s insurance and taxes.

7.7
MAP

Brave Horse Tavern is the perfect utility group dinner spot. It’s convenient for your Amazon buddies, the upscale pub menu has everything from homemade pretzels to salads to fish and chips, and plenty of great beers and alcoholic jello shots. There’s also hand shuffleboard, which you will inevitably want to play after the second round of drinks. For your non-meat-eating friends, there’s a really great veggie burger.

Joule

Wallingford
3506 Stone Way N
8.6
MAP

When you’re looking for a change of pace in your Friday night dinner routine with coworkers or your adult a cappella group, try Joule. It’s a good spot for when you want to be casual but impressive. The Korean fusion steakhouse menu is equal parts creative and delicious, the plates are meant for splitting, and the space has cool touches like a Victorian wallpaper pattern made up of roosters and ribeye steaks.

8.5
MAP

There is a point during Seattle’s wet months where literally all your friends talk about is how many vitamin D horse pills they’re chasing with discounted chardonnay. The way to beat the winter blues with your fellow sufferers at Volunteer Park Cafe. You’ll find a menu full of comfort food (get the mini pot pie or the braised brisket), and sitting at the communal farmhouse table is perfect for your SAD-fueled group therapy session.

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