12 Awesome San Diego Restaurants for Large Parties

Everything’s more fun with friends.

Photo by Kimberly Motos, courtesy of Herb & Sea

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the chance to get together with family and friends, and we certainly missed that during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not that the pandemic is over, but with nearly 63% of California’s population fully vaccinated, we’re breathing a sigh of relief and happily making plans to get together with loved ones again. Navigating the culinary scene in San Diego that can accommodate larger groups is a little more complicated than in the past, though, so we’ve done the legwork and gathered a dozen places that can show your group a good time. But plan ahead—larger tables and private rooms are getting booked up fast, so make those reservations while they’re still available. Here are our favorite picks for entertaining en masse:

Coasterra
Photo courtesy of Coasterra

Coasterra

Harbor Island

Floor-to-ceiling glass windows, an expansive patio, and dazzling city views make Coasterra perfect for welcoming friends from out of town, family celebrations, and fuss-free holiday dinners. Chef Deborah Scott’s upscale takes on traditional Latin dishes make fine use of her proximity to San Diego’s freshest seafood. Nine unique varieties of margaritas, plus tableside pitchers for the extra thirsty, ensure that the party keeps going strong. Reservations for parties of up to eight can be made online, but tables of up to 25 can be handled in the dining room with a phone call. For special events, plenty of private and semi-private space is available, including the Lanai, the Skyline Terrace and Bar, and the spectacular Harbor Float, a covered outdoor patio that hovers over the water and can accommodate up to 200 guests.
How to book: Reservations for groups up to eight can be made via OpenTable. Book larger parties by calling 619-814-1300 or online.

Available for Reservations

Animae

Downtown

Animae, the latest endeavor from the Puffer Malarkey Collective, is the ideal destination for an elevated holiday event or celebration. Now under the helm of acclaimed chef Tara Monsod, Animae has a lighter, more Southeast Asian-focused menu. The stunning dining room is inspired by the ancient forest of Yakushima Island, with lush moss green velvet banquettes and heavy drapery sheltering dining nooks along the wall, while playful lighting provides flattering illumination. Parties of up to 12 can be accommodated, and Animae’s casual counterpart, NIMA Café, is available for larger groups who require private dining. The polar opposite of the over-the-top opulence of Animae, NIMA Café showcases sweeping city views and a sleek, modern vibe with plenty of lush greenery. Custom-tailored menus and specially curated wine pairings are also available.
How to book: Tables for groups up to 12 can be reserved via OpenTable. Book larger parties online or by calling 619-432-1225.

Available for Reservations
Herb And Sea
Photo by Dustin Bailey, courtesy of Herb & Sea

Herb & Sea

Encinitas

Executive chef Sara Harris blends contemporary West Coast panache with timeless East Coast tradition at Herb & Sea. Clean, simple, seasonal fare that celebrates the bounty of the sea as well as treasured classics provide the perfect menu for holiday dinners or family festivities. The airy, modern dining room, full of cozy elements and art deco touches can accommodate parties of up to 12, and the East Coast Room, the Moonlight Deck, a sunlit outdoor patio, or even the entire venue can be reserved for larger groups. Custom-tailored menus and custom sommelier-selected wines are also available.
How to book: Tables for groups up to 12 can be reserved via OpenTable. Book larger parties online or by calling 760-704-8300.

Available for Reservations

Campfire

Carlsbad

Fusing glamping chic with industrial elements, Campfire’s light-filled dining room and spectacular open kitchen brings the outdoors inside with cozy touches like polished wood panels and lots of twinkling lights. Fire is the star of the menu as well—most dishes have at least one element that’s been grilled, charred, coal-roasted, seared, or smoked over open flame, including the cocktail menu. Parties of up to six are easily reserved online, and groups of seven to ten can be accommodated. For tables over seven, a special, four-course menu is offered at $80 per person, inclusive of tax and tip and prepaid at the time of reservation. It includes one entree each and plenty of family-style starters, sides, and dessert, but not beverages.
How to book: Reserve any size party online. You can also view the special menu there.

Available for Reservations

Dija Mara

Oceanside

The city of Oceanside is having something of a moment, with a number of drive-worthy restaurants, cocktail bars, breweries, and cultural centers opening over the past few years, Dija Mara among them. Chef Ryan Costanza, whose last two gigs were under the tutelage of not one, but two Michelin-starred chefs, brings Balinese fusion to California cuisine. Flavors of lemongrass, makrut lime, coconut, warm spices, and sambal infuse locally sourced ingredients, fresh-caught seafood, and seasonal vegetables. Sunday brunch includes a wide array of dishes that aren’t available any other day. There’s a nice selection of lower-ABV cocktail choices and an all-natural wine list. The restaurant can handle groups of up to nine, a $10 deposit per is required for parties of seven or more.
How to book: Reservations can be made via Tock.

Black Radish

North Park

This brand new, lovingly restored spot in North Park now houses an upscale bistro with a seasonal menu that fuses the best of Southern California cuisine with modern French execution. The menu is conveniently divided into courses that you can mix and match, or choose a four-course prix fixe option. A half-dozen cocktails, beer, and wine by the glass round out the menu, and a short bar menu provides munchies like shrimp puffs, roasted pork belly, and fried oysters. Sundays feature brunch only. Parties of up to six can be made online, and groups of up to 14 can be accommodated.
How to book: Tables for groups up to six can be made via Tock. Parties of up to 14 can call 619-269-1980 or email Black Radish.

Nothing’s more fun than hitting Jasmine Seafood Restaurant for Hong Kong-style dim sum, sharing dumplings from tiny stainless steel steamers, bamboo baskets of snowy-white barbecued pork buns, covered bowls holding various noodles and stews, and square packets of stuffed rice wrapped in lotus leaf. It’s been a regular stop for families, especially on weekends, since 1993, so they’re adept at handling larger parties, and a good number of tables can seat up to ten comfortably. Normally seating is on a first-come basis, but reservations can be made for parties of more than five diners.
How to book: Call 858-268-0888 for groups of more than five.

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station
Photo courtesy of Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

Once a U.S. Navy mess hall, Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in trendy Liberty Station is now a dazzling combination of indoor and outdoor spaces, including a lavish garden area with waterfalls, fountains, and a small stream with sleek koi lazing about. There’s also a bocce ball court, an outdoor movie space, and large and small indoor rooms that can be set up for private parties. With forty taps at the bar, featuring Stone and special releases, beers from other small breweries, and an impressive list of bottled craft and specialty beers from around the world, even the pickiest beer snobs will be satisfied. The menu combines elevated bar bites, a nice selection of tacos, and a couple of family-style meals that serve up to four. Leashed pets are welcome in any of the outdoor areas.
How to book: Reservations for up to 12 can be made online. For larger groups, call 619-269-2100.

Available for Reservations

Gravity Heights

Sorrento Mesa

This chic gastropub in Sorrento Mesa is light, bright, and airy by day, and cozy and welcoming at night. The culinary concept is simple—make delicious food and brew good beer to go along with it. A dozen or so brews are available at any given time, and a new beer list is rolled out every Monday. Long picnic benches and padded benches make toasting happy occasions with friends a breeze, and reservations for parties up to eight can be made online. For private events, a mezzanine level lounge with its own bar and game tables, holds from 18 to 36 of your besties in style.
How to book: Reservations for up to eight can be made via OpenTable. For larger parties, call 858-283-8206.

Available for Reservations

Puesto

The Headquarters

Chowing down on tacos and margaritas with a big group of your besties is a rite of passage in San Diego, and Puesto delivers on both counts. There are ten varieties of margs, and an equal number of taco options, a number of beers brewed at their Mission Valley Cervecería, plus mezcal and tequila flights. The restaurant includes three semi-private indoor dining rooms and two patios, which can be combined to accommodate from 12 to 200 seated diners.
How to book: Reservations for up to ten can be made via OpenTable. For larger groups, call 619-233-8880 or fill out their online form.

Available for Reservations
One Door North
Photo courtesy of One Door North

One Door North

North Park

Gather your group under the tents at One Door North, the outdoorsy-themed eatery designed as an homage to chef Fred Piehl’s love of nature and adventure. Classic cocktails like Aviations and Dark and Stormys, plus inspired craft cocktails share the menu with seasonal fare that highlight fresh, local ingredients. Reservations can be made online for parties up to ten, or reserve one or more of their tents for a camping dinner adventure that’s all fun with none of the hassles of, you know, actual camping.
How to book: Reservations for groups up to ten via Yelp. For larger groups or to reserve a tent, call 619-618-1285.

Madison on Park

University Heights

Madison took to the streets, literally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding a sprawling parklet where guests can now enjoy high-quality cocktails and a small, but well-curated menu of continental and Mediterranean-inspired bites under the iconic University Heights sign. Inside, the modern interior is the ideal backdrop for Instagram portraiture, fusing elements of Norwegian and Japanese simplicity under a dramatic, arching ceiling of warm cedar cladding. Groups of up to ten can make reservations online, but private events of up to 80 guests can be accommodated.
How to book: Reservations for groups of up to ten can be made online. For larger groups, email matt@madisononpark.com.

Available for Reservations
Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.