Picking the right restaurant for a big group of people can be surprisingly tough. Mostly because, as far as restaurants are concerned, bigger isn’t always better. Many of the restaurants set to seat parties of 10, 20, or even 30 people pale in comparison to more intimate spots. What you want is a place that’s comfortable for a group, but with an eye toward excellent food and service. So, whether you’re in the mood for a large feast, need a bar for some serious celebrating, or just want to get together with a dozen of your best friends for a fun night out, these are our picks for the best restaurants in New York City to take a group.
For 8 People and Under
Group Options: It’s à la carte, so everyone can order what they want. Designed to look like a speakeasy but sunny thanks to storefront-spanning windows, this early entrant to the crowded Williamsburg cocktail scene is right for those looking for a looser version of canapés. The food is all snack-y — think pickle plates and duck prosciutto — and head bartender Tonia Guffey’s house cocktails, like the Dear Chicago (gin, Merlet pear, Dolin dry, dry curaçao, celery bitters, and malört) are boozy, original, and often rely on unusual ingredients (see the malört).
Group Options: À la carte. There are several banquets and some larger tables you and your friends can occupy at this red-hued restaurant that opens up into one of Flushing’s newer, nicer food malls. Owner Helen You is the rare dumpling chef to move beyond the basics, and she offers some 100 different varieties, stuffed with everything from duck to cod roe — more than enough for you and a dozen friends to try without eating too much of the same stuff.
The Group Options: Full buyouts are negotiable, and second-floor reservations are also available. Options to have an open bar with cocktails and/or build-your-own taco bar. The south-of-the-border sister restaurant to the Commodore, a great choice for groups as well, has large booths and a second floor only open on busier nights. Stephen Tanner’s menu features what he calls “the three Mexicans,” which translates to party-friendly dishes like nachos, fried-chicken sliders, and taco salad. Frozen cocktails flow freely, and good times are a given.
The Group Options: The details and minimum for the room depends on the group, but the staff is flexible. Throwing a party without breaking the bank can require some compromises like swapping out a restaurant for a bar — though in the case of Dale Talde’s roadhouse-style spot you won’t be missing out on anything. The beers, many of them canned, and whiskey selections are extensive; and the menu, inspired by lowbrow American bar food and fast food, includes tater tots, spicy chicken nuggets, and chili cheeseburgers.
For 8 to 16 People
Group Options: A multi-course, family-style meal that goes for $85 per person, plus tax and tip. Alcohol is separate. Jonathan Waxman’s iconic West Village restaurant has two spots for parties: A semi-private dining room can accommodate up to ten people, or a table inside the kitchen that seats up to 14. With either option, the restaurant will present the best of what it has (meaning that famous chicken), creating an Italian-ish feast for the group.
Group Options: Four options for large-format feast at $50 to $140, depending on menu and if alcohol is included. Plenty of private spaces are available. The place to be at April Bloomfield’s Ace Hotel restaurant is the chef’s table, which seats 8 to 12 individuals. If you can’t snag that reservation, large-format dinners are available for parties of 8 to 14 anywhere in the dining room, centered on one protein — like the famous fried chicken or dry-aged prime rib — served with a seasonally rotating cast of sides. Larger groups should call to arrange private spaces.
Group Options: Family-style meal or set menu. A whole-beast feast is $550 to $775 (plus tax and tip) for 8 to 12 guests. Beer pairings are available for $30 a head, a bottle of Pig’s Nose Whiskey for $125. A private dining room can seat up to 18 people. Daniel Boulud’s Bowery beer hall and burger bar serves one of the more impressive large-format menus in town. Options include a stuffed whole hog, lamb saddle and shank, or rib-eye roast and braised brisket. All are presented whole and served with appetizers and dessert. There are also two private dining rooms available for brunch, lunch, or dinner, with three- and four-course menus that reflect Boulud’s French sensibility.
Group Options: Yes, a tasting menu that goes for $25 (chicken, pork, veggies, and noodles), $30 (beef, lamb, veggies, and noodles), and $35 (everything on the menu including seafood) per person not including tax or tip. Alcohol is separate. Available for parties of six or more. Reservations are available for parties of eight or more at the American-Sichuan restaurant. The chef will prepare you and your party a tasting menu, and the spiciness of the food can be calibrated to your group’s taste — so no one needs to worry about lighting their mouth on fire.
For Up to 20 People
Group Options: Packages from $25 per person for the first hour to $75 per person. Private spaces and buyout options vary by location. The sprawling, bi-level Flatiron outpost of the barbecue standard-bearer has several options for private dining, with capacity for up to 225. For those looking to dine out with a few friends, there are semi-private spaces, where you and up to 19 other guests can elect for one of several set menus or gorge on platters like nachos and chili-rubbed chicken wings.
Group Options: Depends on the customer. Prices range but are $30 to $50 per person for food or up to $60 to $100 per person with a bar package. A private room can also seat 50 people. While the Red Hook restaurant is occasionally available for private events, a gathering here is never difficult thanks to group-friendly dishes like a whole rack of Jamaican jerk baby back ribs, half-chickens, baskets of wings, and smoked meats by the pound. There’s great beer on tap, too, and bluegrass bands often play on the weekends, meaning you’ll have yourself a night without having to leave.
Mission Chinese Food
Group Options: Parties of eight or more must order a prix fixe. Options include the Quick Mission and Vegetarian menus, both are six dishes and $40 per person, and the Feast, which includes 11 dishes for $99 per person. A private downstairs room can accommodate 17 people for dinner or 35 for drinks. The atmosphere is loose and exciting, the cocktails inventive but drinkable, and the food, typically served in large portions, is actually designed for sharing. Larger parties (eight or more people) have to order from one of three set menus, the most ambitious and pricey of which is the Feast, which features house classics like Chonqing chicken wings, mapo tofu, and matcha noodles, plus your choice of cumin lamb, broccoli beef, or koji fried chicken. Large-format dishes like the clay duck can be ordered in addition to the set menu. The restaurant often seats parties of more than 11 people downstairs, but availability fluctuates.
Group Options: Yes, and everything besides brunch comes with your choice of three pizzas. Dinner-party menus are $32 or $48 per person, lunch $22 or $27 per person, and brunch $35 per person. Tax not included, 20 percent tip included automatically. Alcohol is extra; drink packages range from $25 to $40 per person. Garden packages, served buffet- or family-style, range from $13 per person to $95. Outdoor spaces can be made private. The Bushwick pizzeria offers its spacious outdoor garden, heated during chilly weather, for larger parties, and throws its no-reservations policy out the door for parties of 10 to 16 people. Either way, unless you’re going for brunch, you can have a pizza party.
Finding a restaurant to please a large group can be tricky. Thankfully, there a plenty of wonderful restaurants all around the city offering solid options for a group dinner. Whether for a birthday, work gathering, baby shower, or graduation, chauffeured transportation for groups are a must.
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