Getting your friends to plan ahead can be difficult. It’s not impossible, but it’ll only happen if you bug them incessantly for months.
More likely, a group text will kick off at 4pm with everyone maniacally trying to figure out a restaurant that will be able to seat everybody on such short notice. Fortunately, the restaurants on this guide have plenty of room, and they’re all relatively easy to get into - even if your group text doesn’t begin until a couple hours before dinner.
Belltown is one of those neighborhoods that always feels busy no matter if it’s after work on a Tuesday or in the thick of a Saturday night. That can make it tricky to find a good dinner spot for your clan of coworkers that you choose to continue spending time with after the clock strikes 5pm. Jerk Shack is on our shortlist for places that are fun, filling, and not very expensive - and it’s convenient that it never gets too busy. Barge in with confidence alongside five of your office mates, and order some mojitos and plates of tasty Carribbean food to enjoy in between the awkward silences.
It’s pretty easy to show up at The Masonry in Fremont and be seated quickly, since it’s such a casual pizzeria/beer bar hybrid. However, if you don’t want to run the risk of walking in on an abnormally busy dinner service, you can call them to book one of their huge picnic tables. Not many people know that, so bring a bunch of your friends for the charred Neapolitan pies, roasted vegetables, frose, and pints of interesting beers.
It’s Friday night in Fremont, and after scrolling through your phone instead of emptying the very full, very clean dishwasher, you finally made plans to meet up with friends in 15 minutes for dinner. That doesn’t give you a ton of options, but you can count on Petoskey’s for a good time, good Midwestern bar food like tater tot nachos and St. Louis-style pizzas, and a good chance you’ll be able to sit and get your first round of beers within minutes.
When it comes to pasta, most of the best spots in town are difficult to get into with just two people, let alone five. Le Messe comes in handy for those times when everyone’s in the mood for an upscale bowl of carbs. It’s an excellent Italian restaurant where you can usually nab a reservation for the next day and feel like you got away with something.
The seating at Little Sheep is made up of giant booths and big round tables, and it always seems like the staff saves enough seating for larger groups. This is good news for you and your six friends, because even if there are 16 hangry parties of two waiting for a table, you’ll probably be seated before them. Once you’re in, ordering is so simple - get one of the preset combos from the menu, which will get you various meats and vegetables to cook in a large pot of boiling broth. Don’t forget a soft serve cone from the self-serve dessert area when you’re done.
Sometimes you need a come-and-go atmosphere, instead of a sit-down restaurant, for your group dinner to accommodate the people who have a softball game, a hackathon meeting, or a routine Wednesday night houseplant watering. Addo: 206, a Puerto Rican counter-service spot, is perfect for that. It’s located inside a spirits distillery with plenty of seats, plenty of cocktails, and plenty of excellent food - from the braised pork, rice, and bean bowl to a ridiculously good “Richard” burger that pays homage to the Dick’s deluxe. The dishes come out quickly, and you bus your own table, so your late friends can show up whenever they want and not feel like they’re irritating a server.
We’re big fans of the Thai street food at Bangrak Market, and their all-seasons patio, complete with long and colorful tables, is perfect for a big gathering. It’s not as exciting as sitting in the main area, which is designed to simulate a Bangkok night market, but it’s still a great bet for eating grilled pork skewers and not worrying about being too loud.
Agua Verde is a Mexican restaurant that doubles as a boat rental house, so it’s great for before or after a nice kayak ride around Lake Union, provided it isn’t 30 degrees out. After you order at the counter, it isn’t too hard to make one mega table by shoving a million two-tops together. Make sure to order their tempura fish tacos and a round or two of prickly pear margaritas.
If the weather is nice, it’s hard to make patio plans. It’s difficult to predict which spots in the city with outdoor picnic tables are going to be busy, but you’re safe from the summer crowds at Big Chickie, a peruvian spot in Hillman City. The whole restaurant is outside, and there’s always an open table available for you and your friends to order roasted chicken, a lot of sides, and every dipping sauce in the house, all chased with $20 bottles of wine.
Tamari Bar is an excellent Japanese restaurant that serves delicious sashimi staircases, torched sushi rolls, dumplings, and marinated wagyu you sear yourself on a molten hot rock. And even though it’s pretty packed every night of the week with walk-in traffic, you could call and make a 12-person reservation for the very next day. This is particularly useful if you forgot to get something on the books for your friend’s birthday, and you’d like them to still be your friend.