DCGuide

Great DC Restaurants For A Group Dinner

Picking the date was hard. Finding the spot isn't.
Great DC Restaurants For A Group Dinner image

photo credit: Reema Desai

Getting your friends together for dinner requires the skills of a project manager, crisis communicator, and event planner all in one. From picking a date to finding a restaurant, it can take weeks (or months) to put together the perfect group outing. To keep your excitement from turning into regret the instant the planning process begins, here are seven of the best places for accommodating picky eaters and packed schedules.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

Lao

Columbia Heights

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDate NightClassic Establishment
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This Lao restaurant has lots of delicious dishes that are served family style and can please almost everyone (thanks to a ton of gluten-free and vegetarian options). Every dish at the Columbia Heights spot is expertly crafted and bursting with flavor, like the mee kathi, a noodle soup made with a rich, red coconut curry topped with peanuts, cabbage, bean sprout, mint and cilantro. It’s always busy, like sometimes-a-line-forms-before-the-doors-even-open busy, so definitely make a reservation.

Maydan is a great spot if you and your group don’t mind (literally) breaking bread by reaching over each other and various Mediterranean spreads, salads, and small plates. The $75 “Tawle” menu serves up to 15 plates that are preselected and include favorites like chicken shish taouk and honey soaked dates. That said, snagging a reservation at the Shaw restaurant, like bypassing rush hour traffic, requires some careful planning. Reservations open up at the start of the month and book weeks in advance. If you're looking for something last-minute, they release a limited number of tables a few hours before opening.

Agora should be one of the first restaurants that pops into your head when you’re thinking about group dinners in DC. From the second you arrive at the outdoor host stand, you’ll be surrounded by groups of people laughing and talking loudly on the patio. Friends young and old, families getting together—there’s a little bit of everyone enjoying the Mediterranean food at the Dupont Circle spot. You’ll be glad you chose to come with your college friend group instead of eating solo, especially when you can’t decide between the grilled chicken covered in za’atar and sumac and the sucuklu, a spicy Turkish sausage flatbread, because now you can share. Be forewarned: the patio is huge and packed year-round, so plan in advance. But given how long it usually takes for there to be a free date on everyone’s calendar, you should be alright.

Unconventional Diner works for every casual occasion, and group dinners are no exception. There are plenty of tables and leather booths that can accommodate larger parties at the Shaw restaurant, and the menu has options for your friend with the gluten allergy and the one who recently decided to go vegan. There’s also a full bar, which means you can get boozy even if you decided to do an early dinner before 4pm so you can catch the everyday brunch. If you do, get the loaded breakfast biscuits, a buttery, crunchy bite piled with hash brown, fried eggs, homemade sausage and bacon jam, which is so good you won’t want to share.

Your biggest problem at Kaliwa, an Asian fusion restaurant that showcases flavors from the Philippines, Korea, and Thailand, is going to be narrowing down all of the great choices. The Wharf restaurant’s $49.99 chef’s sharing menu is a fun way to split a meal with your favorite people (and is required for groups of seven or more). You’ll have to agree on two appetizers, three entrees, and one side, though. Don’t worry, everything is portioned based on the number of people at your table. Try the Bicol express, a hearty Filipino stew that’s stick-to-your-ribs good. The pork belly is crispy and juicy, and the broth is packed with spice. Don’t forget to make a reservation, though. If you try to score a walk-in, you’ll probably be short.

If you’re looking for a group dinner by the water, The Point is always a solid choice. There are so many ways for a group to enjoy the Navy Yard seafood restaurant’s space: Sit by the outdoor fire pits or on the patio where you can take in the waterfront view, grab one of the orange leather booths if you’re tryna snuggle up, or at a table out back if you need a safe distance from a frenemy. Regardless of where and how you’ll sit, you’re in for a good time. The food here is satisfying and sizable, especially the lobster, which is tender and buttery.

Alero hits the casual group dinner trifecta: people watching for conversation, reggaeton soundtrack for dancing, and always reliable Mexican food and drinks (for consuming, obvi). It’s one of the few places on the U Street corridor where you’ll actually find families during dinner hours, which means you can drag your kids along, too. Pick from one of two patios or the indoor dining room, all of which have plenty of space and tables that can be easily rearranged. Plus, there’s a daily Happy Hour, so you can get discount quesadillas and pitchers every day of the week.

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