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.
Maybe you just finished a round of beers at a brewery, or attended your friend’s ukulele recital while practicing your best fake smile. And now, it’s dinnertime, and if you waste time looking up places on your phone, Grant’s going to start strumming his uke again for an encore nobody asked for. Just go straight to Petoskey’s, a fun spot in Fremont that feels like a restaurant you might find in the midwest. The bar food here, like mac and cheese, pizza, and mac and cheese-topped pizza, is tasty and shareable. Plus, it’s easy to grab a last-minute table, even if you have 7 people and a small string instrument with you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sushi Kappo Tamura is the perfect place for a group sushi dinner, and not just because you can book a table in advance for up to eight people. The fish is really fresh, and there are a ton of price options just in case one person wants to do omakase but someone else just bought a townhouse and is planning on just enough nigiri pieces to not go over budget. We especially like it here in the summer, when the sun blasts in and nearly blinds you while you internally appreciate air conditioning.
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.
Hanging out in this old sawmill with old friends feels just like your high school years, only you’re legally allowed to be in here, and there’s no warm malt beverages to be found. Instead, you’ll find upscale comfort food, like wild boar BBQ ribs, braised oxtail nachos, and a very great double burger with minty mornay. You can reserve a table for up to 10 people online, and if you’re still feeling nostalgic for those “good old days,” get a round of choco tacos and dilly bars for dessert.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s your friend’s birthday, and the surprise is actually on you - they’re forcing you to plan the whole thing. Exert the least amount of effort possible for this is ideal, so it’s important to be able to book a table online for 14 without speaking to a human. Tavolata on the hill has that going for it, plus delicious bowls of carbohydrates. The only thing you have to worry about is how much wine and pasta you’re going to pass around. There are no wrong answers here.
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.
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.