Group dinners can be a pain, especially when you get stuck with the task of locking down the venue or splitting up the check or guilting friends into Venmoing you for drinks they "forgot" they ordered. With a little planning, your next group outing can be simplified with a number of restaurants offering set menus, large-format dishes perfect for sharing, and communal seating for larger parties. From BYOB Cuban and Costa Rican spots, to intimate Italian and picnic-style American, here are 10 options to consider the next time you’re planning a group dinner.
Tapas are one of the easiest dishes to share, so a meal at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! is ideal for feeding larger groups. The restaurant can accommodate up to 20 guests in the main dining room with a normal reservation and no set menu, or you can design your own menu with dinner packages ranging from $30-$45 per person. Large communal tables are ideal for bigger parties and make sharing pitchers of sangria and plates of bacon-wrapped dates easy.
Logan Square, Roscoe Village
Restaurants that offer reasonably priced food and allow you to bring your own booze are two major perks when planning a group dinner. 90 Miles Cuban Cafe offers both and two locations in the city -- plus a new suburban outpost in Lincolnwood -- you’re bound to find one that’s convenient for your crew. Try the signature puerco rostizado, with a side of live flamenco on select evenings.
Osteria Via Stato is a great venue for large groups due to the style of its food: traditional Italian. There are dishes for adventurous and timid eaters alike, and groups can order a la carte, or off the Italian dinner party menu. That menu includes a multi-course dinner including antipasti, pastas, a main course, and sides. Groups can sit in long communal tables amid the warm stone and wood space.
While smaller in size, BYOB Costa Rican restaurant Irazu is able to accommodate larger parties. For larger groups, they offer a family-style menu with dishes including chifrijo, a dish with pork, beans, rice, pico de gallo, avocado, and Lizano sauce. Food portions are not only generous, but very affordable.
West Loop, Wicker Park
Parlor Pizza Bar’s West Loop and new Wicker Park restaurants both feature plenty of large group seating, both indoor and outdoor. Pizzas are not only easy to share and customize, they keep costs low. Be sure to try the Craziest Bread, house beer bread topped with garlic, mozzarella, shallot, scallion cream, Parmesan, pepperoni, and cherry peppers, as well as the Great Balls of Fire pizza with meatballs, pepperoni, house giardiniera, Parmesan, and fresh mozzarella.
Carnivale is possibly one of the largest (and certainly most colorful) restaurants in Chicago. They offer a three-course tapas menu for larger groups of 10 to 16 people, starting at $39 per person. The menu features popular items including ropa vieja, arrachera, and cotton candy. They are also able to accommodate large parties with just a two hour notice for those last-minute group outings.
Frontier is known for its large-format group dinners for adventurous eaters including whole smoked animals like pigs, boars, lambs, and alligators. All whole animals serve 12 to 15 people, but adjustments can be made for larger groups. Each meal is served with sides like five-cheese mac, and substitutions can be made for vegetarians and vegans alike. If you prefer not to have your dinner staring back at you, Frontier can create a sharing menu based on traditional menu options.
Osteria Langhe offers a “Giardino Segreto” (secret garden), which is a reservation-only backyard featuring a communal table for up to 14 people. The space can also be used for a cocktail party-style gathering for up to 30 people. The enclosed space also houses a fresh garden where Chef Cameron Grant sources fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. You can choose the food and drink you’d like when making a reservation, including family-style appetizers, pastas, and a custom curated wine list.
The Allis at Soho House Chicago recently revamped their space, expanding into the former Pizza East restaurant. The additional seating is especially convenient for larger parties. If you’re looking for a laid-back experience, choose a cozy couch area, or for a more traditional dining experience, opt for a communal table. With a reasonably priced all-day menu, your group can eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, satisfying even the pickiest of eaters.
Cindy’s, the rooftop restaurant at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, serves a menu of shareable picnic-style foods and beverages in a bright space with plenty of communal seating. Large-format dishes that serve four to five people can be combined to create a full menu. Platters include the shrimp a la plancha and a double cut pork chop with piquillo pepper jam. The beverage menu includes an option for large format punches served in a glass apothecary jar for dispensing among groups.
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1. Café Ba-Ba-Reeba2024 N Halsted St, Chicago
2. 90 Miles Cuban Cafe3101 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago
3. Osteria Via Stato620 N State St, Chicago
4. Irazu1865 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
5. Parlor Pizza Bar108 N Green St, Chicago
6. Carnivale Restaurant702 West Fulton Market, Chicago
7. Frontier1072 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
8. Osteria Langhe2824 W Armitage Ave, Chicago
9. The Allis113-125 N Green St, Chicago
10. Cindy's12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago
This tapas joint is satiating Chicago with their small plates, like bacon wrapped dates (warrants a second date, for sure), goat cheese in a tomato sauce w/ garlic toast, and pitchers (after pitcher) of sangria. Call ahead to make a reservation and thank us later.
Open since 2009, the original Roscoe Village location of this local mini-chain serves some of the best Cuban food around in a funky quick-serve space (the other two outposts are full-service). 90 Miles serves an all-day menu of classic Cuban combo plates and sandwiches, including a stellar daily sandwich and fries deal. The restaurant is more of a roadside shack, and though there are only a few seats inside, there's an outdoor patio with plenty of umbrella-shaded tables. Oh, and it's BYOB.
Always judge a restaurant by its bread. Especially Chicago’s Osteria Via Stato. This Italian restaurant primes your belly with crusty goodness so warm and soft on the inside that you’ll want to cuddle up in it, and it’s accompanied by roasted garlic marinated in balsamic. If those aren’t some of your favorite words in the Italian restaurant dictionary (we probably can’t be friends), perhaps the veal meatballs will be more up your alley. The inside of Osteria Via Stato is redolent of the Italian country home you think you’ll one day have; pale wooden tables are lined with clean white plates, and grand archways lead from one dining room to the next. Don’t forget to savor one of the 300 Italian labels on the wine list; that, my friends, is amore.
Irazu has a blend of surprises and reliable standards that make it a solid place to stop for eats. Dishing out mouth-watering pepito sandwiches (ribeye steak or chicken), a unique oatmeal shake (surprise!), and a number of delicious empanadas and burritos, this Bucktown Costa Rican spot is perfect for any occasion.
Parlor flaunts a rooftop beer garden, an expansive ground-level patio, and a sweeping indoor dining space. Whet your appetite with “craziest bread” (house beer bread with garlic, shallots, Parmesan, pepperoni, mozzarella, and scallion cream), then try a “pork-Q-pie” (cherry peppers, BBQ pork, pineapple, and smoked and fresh mozz) and any of 75+ beers.
Carnivale... exactly as it sounds! This Latin American hub is doling out delicious ceviches, steaks, and zesty 'tails.
It may not be the final frontier, but with ice-taps pouring 16 traditional and seasonal brews, a meat heavy menu featuring specialty sausages, steaks, and "Animal Service", flat screen TVs, and a beer garden, you won't need to explore any further. Allied: Ready yourself for Animal Service with some Smith & Forge, the hard cider that's built strong -- built from Apples and built to Refresh.
This Logan Square spot seamlessly blends slow food (literally, there's snail confit) with fine wines, all while transporting you to the northern Italian countryside. Expect rich dishes like prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin and hand-pinched ravioli tossed with Parmesan, thyme, and butter. You'll want to grab a table in the Giardino Segreto ("secret garden" in Italian), but heads up: you'll need a reservation to dine on this lovely patio, so be sure to plan ahead.
Straight out of a Pinterest board, the Allis at the Soho House Chicago is a finger sandwich-serving, afternoon tea-positive space appropriate either for an important meeting or when you just to need to feel a lil’ bit fancy. Here, you’ll be able to order small dishes that roll nicely off the tongue, like crudité, burrata, and baby kale. The expansive art collection will take your breath away, as will the violet velvet chairs, blue floral porcelain chinaware, and chandeliers. The Allis’s standout items on its fairly priced menu are the delicate desserts, like scones, banana cake, lemon tarts, and chocolate layered cake. Just be careful not to drop the pastry crumbs on your button-down; you’ll embarrass yourself at your own tea party.
Cindy’s is one of the most beautiful restaurants in the Loop with views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, but underneath its glass dome ceiling atop the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel it doesn’t simply rely on its looks. Cindy’s has a host of gifted bartenders who whip up unexpected “potions” like the Alsatian Rustbelt (made with Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Wolfberger Amer Fleur de Joie, lagunitas, and lime) that complement its upscale, seafood-forward menu. At brunch the egg dishes, like the cast iron-made quiche with chard, leeks, and gooey emmental, are buttery and light, and at dinner the shellfish platter and the grilled salmon with horseradish crème fraîche are both rich but pleasantly light ... but the late night fried cheese curds might be the sexiest thing on the menu.