Where To Have A Big Group Dinner In Seattle guide image


Where To Have A Big Group Dinner In Seattle

Everyone finally agreed on a date for the group dinner. Choosing a spot should be the easy part.

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 drinks, and a dining room with better surroundings than one of your home’s living rooms. Unless someone did their shopping at Restoration Hardware.

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.


Dreamland Bar & Diner

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, 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 head straight to Dreamland, a fun diner in Fremont that feels like a cross between a Rainforest Cafe and a discotheque. There's something for any mood on the menu, whether you're feeling like a plate of caramel macchiato french toast or a burger with ranch-dunked fries, and appetizers like pimento cheese with fried saltines are great to split. Plus, it’s easy to grab a last-minute reservation, even if your party has nine people and a small string instrument.

Delancey is extremely difficult to get in if you’re trying to walk in with only one other person, but they do take online reservations for six or more people, which means you’re that much closer to perfect charred-crust pizzas and refreshing salad mountains in Ballard. You just have to drag five friends along. Don't forget some fizzy natural wine to go with it all.

The oldest Japanese restaurant in Seattle is Maneki, and while their main dining room is consistently crowded, the best way to experience this place is via a private tatami room in the back, which you can reserve for a party of four or more by texting the restaurant at (503) 662-2814. After you kick your shoes off, kneel down on your personal pillow, and get the sake flowing, everything else seems to fade away. It’s just you, people you hopefully like, and this quiet room that’s closed off from the rest of the restaurant where someone periodically stops by to give you raw fish and beer.

Sometimes the best kind of group meal involves sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a large booth with music blaring, sumo wrestling playing on the TVs, and an abundance of buffalo sauce. At this Belltown sports bar, you can do exactly that. There are tons of different nooks and crannies to take over, booths, bar seating, and even a mega-booth that could fit a small soccer team in the back corner of the restaurant. Just don't attempt this on Wednesdays—that's 99-cent wing night, and it gets so packed in there that you'll regret having friends altogether.

When everyone requires Japanese food but that's about as far as the conversation got, try Issian. For one friend who just wants to split fried snacks and kushiyaki, you can do that. For another friend who exclusively is interested in a sushi feast, you can do that too. Plus, vegetarians have a lot to like about Issian, with plenty of options involving tofu, eggplant, and natto. When the night calls for a tornado of tasty plates to hit the table on repeat (or alternatively, a massive hunk of broiled salmon belly), we can't think of much better for a group meal in Wallingford. Just try to make a reservation in advance if you can.

We're glad that the rest of the city isn't completely in on this Ballard Korean spot's magnificence. There’s typically availability to snag a last-minute reservation, and it's been scientifically proven that gigantic booths (like the ones here) are the preferred seating situation for a group. The menu is a truly delicious grab bag full of sweet-and-spicy chicken wings, butter-roasted potatoes with gochujang mayo, and big ssam platters featuring proteins like incredibly meaty fried tofu or sizzled pork belly with melty fat and crackly edges. Not only that, but Wero's cocktail showing is as vast as Queen’s discography, including standout mocktails.

There’s something to satisfy everyone's various cravings on this Haller Lake spot's 15-section menu, which makes Lotus Pond akin to a diner full of Vietnamese classics instead of pancakes and grilled cheese. The spam bánh mì is a comforting sandwich while orange-tinted lemongrass grilled chicken over jasmine rice has the power to improve a garbage fire of a day. Want wontons in hot broth, escargot-studded sausage, or cured pork belly shoved in a split bao with pickled vegetables? They’re all going to be great. And much like a diner, you could also just all pile in a booth to snack on fries with gravy alongside a round of Cokes. Only here, the gravy is phở-spiced, and is so rich and tasty that we would gladly slurp it like soup. 

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. Third, the homemade chips are cooked when you order them, so they’re always extremely hot and worth the occasional burnt tongue. Fourth, fifth, and sixth: the atmosphere is low-key but can turn up on the weekends, the tequila cocktails are poured in pint glasses (as they should be), and the patio is excellent when it’s nice out.

There’s a time and place for eating fried rice on the sofa with your friends and watching Netflix, but sometimes you have to put real pants on and leave the house. Kau Kau 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 fitted with lazy susans are ideal for a group there to share fried rice, potstickers, and lemon chicken.

Despite the creepy colorful paintings of hippos cut in half, vampire werewolfs, and the Grim Reaper, Ciudad is a really nice place to spend a few hours. The Middle Eastern menu is heavy on grilled meats, and you can order them by weight, which is ideal for mixing and matching. 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 carrot margaritas for the group is also a good idea.

So, the big camping trip got canceled 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 solid substitute. The seafood menu has basics like shrimp and grits, as well as a whole branzino, or a cauliflower and celery salad that is exponentially less boring than it sounds. If your group is bigger than you originally realized, see if you can get in the private room on the balcony, which looks like a well-decorated vacation cabin rental.

Come to this West Seattle Chicago-style pizzeria with a bunch of people if only to receive plenty of help eating monstrous deep dish and cracker-thin tavern pies. West Of Chicago captures midwest suburbia to a tee, so it's ideal when the hungry group texts start rolling in for a low-key, same-night plan. Waltz right in, place an order for pizzas, breadsticks, and spicy sausage dip, and then proceed to shove a million two-tops together to make one frankentable. Then, all that's left to do is pass the pitcher of Goose Island around.

A group outing before a Mariners or Seahawks game doesn't always have to feature sticky beer-coated surfaces or riding the bull at Cowgirls. Instead, have your next pre-stadium hang at Tacolisto. Not only does this place have an awesome floral-covered patio where you can take over a couple of tables, and during indoor dining season, there are long tables that seat eight as well as humongous booths. All of the Mexican food comes on small paper trays you can easily pass around. We recommended a few orders of the tuna tostada and elote to share, but keep that extra strong mango margarita to yourself.

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photo credit: Nate Watters

Where To Have A Big Group Dinner In Seattle guide image