People want to hang out with you. Maybe it’s your great personality. Or maybe it’s your OK personality combined with the fact that you always know where to get good food. Either way, here’s where to go the next time you have to plan a group dinner last-minute. These restaurants have plenty of room, they’re relatively easy to get into, and the food is impressive enough that you can keep having an alright personality and still have friends.
If there’s one thing that a big group can (probably) agree on, it’s pizza and wine. And Nomad does those two things very well. This Midtown Village spot makes great brick-oven pies that are the perfect size to split between a few people, and their long tables can fit your entire spin class. Plus, if you go during Happy Hour, you can get $4 beers, $5 glasses of wine, and $6 pizzas.
This Filipino BYOB in Fishtown almost always has a table available last-minute, and they serve some incredible food that you won’t find elsewhere in the city. Think calves liver bistek and beef tendon chicharron, or an entire lemony chicken to split between the group. The menu is short and changes monthly, but everything on the menu is interesting and delicious.
You don’t need this meal to be too complicated. But you do need a place with guaranteed open tables, lots of room to spread out, and food that could please anybody. Hawthornes checks all of those boxes. It’s a beer bar in Bella Vista with big charcuterie boards, a great burger, and a ton of fried things. They also carry over 500 beers, so it’ll even please your friend who only drinks IPAs that are from a specific small town in Minnesota.
Kensington Quarters is spacious, casual, and near all the bars on Frankford in Fishtown. It’s the perfect place to grab one of the city’s best burgers with a bunch of your friends before hitting Garage or Johnny Brenda’s. This place also does pitchers and carafes of cocktails, which you can split on their back porch in the summer under string lights.
When you’re planning a big-group dinner, it’s always good to have an easy one-two punch plan. You start somewhere big where the whole group can eat, and then pick a bar within 100 yards so migrating over is easy. Our favorite one-two punch group dinner is Irwin’s followed by Bok Bar. The former is a Mediterranean spot on the top floor of the Bok Building in South Philly that has great cocktails and shareable dishes, including a huge mezze board that can feed at least six people. After you eat, head across the hall to Bok Bar - they have great views of the entire city and enough space for you to invite all of your second-tier friends who didn’t get a dinner invite.
If you put off planning your birthday party and need a fun place for you and 15 friends for dinner, try Cantina Dos Segundos. This Mexican spot in Northern Liberties always has space open for big groups, and they’re willing to push together 10 tables to make it happen. On top of the excellent tacos (including seriously great vegan options), they also do pitchers of flavored margaritas that they’ll refill before you can even ask for a new one.
Finding a place for a spontaneous dinner in Center City with a big group is like buying Hamilton tickets the day of the show - it’s nearly impossible. This is why Alimentari is a good place to know about. The huge wine bar is located on the top floor of Di Bruno Bros., and it’s always relatively empty - even during peak hours. Book a last-minute table here, split a few bottles of wine from their long list of mostly Italian selections, and don’t miss the charcuterie plates. Everything is delicious and your friends will be impressed you found somewhere right by the theaters that isn’t crazy busy.
Finding a restaurant that everyone in your group text can agree to is always a challenge, but that’s why Pub & Kitchen is so special. There’s something for everyone here, from a burger with whiskey sauce, to crispy Brussels sprouts and a pasta option that changes daily. There’s sidewalk seating too, in case half of the group bails last minute and you end up wanting a smaller table with more people-watching potential.
There are a lot of great sushi places in Philly, but most of them are suited for date night or small groups. Tuna Bar is the exception. This spacious spot in Old City has both a huge selection of raw fish, but they also serve great dishes like soba noodles and salmon teriyaki. Plus, the prices range from $5 California rolls to a $60 omakase, so everyone should be able to find something that works for their budget.
Communal tables aren’t everyone’s thing. But when you can fill up an entire communal table with your friends, they suddenly become more fun and less about forcing conversation with your neighbor. Hungry Pigeon has one community table that can be easily reserved last-minute for your group of up to 12 people, and it fills up the back room like it’s your own personal dining room. The menu here is filled with casseroles, butter noodles, and a family-style feast option of lasagna or a whole fried chicken.
Yes, Dim Sum Garden in Chinatown can get busy, and they don’t take reservations. But the line moves quickly and the food comes out super fast. Everything on the menu here, from pork soup dumplings to dry-fried string beans, comes out on huge plates that you can pass around like it’s Thanksgiving. It’s also BYOB, and you’ll see people show up with backpacks full of beer, ready to hit the bars as soon as they finish their scallion pancakes.
If you want your dinner to feel like a party, you should probably start your night at Porta. This Center City pizza place might be in a building that used to be a furniture store, but nothing about it is old school anymore. After dinner, they set up a dance floor, so if you’re not ready to go home you can stay for a couple drinks.
Margaritas and tacos are essentially a foolproof combination for a night out with a big group, as long as you don’t get too carried away and end up spending your entire paycheck on pitchers. Fortunately, the portions at Rosy’s are big (you’ll get three overstuffed tacos for $10), and the margaritas are strong. They also always have day-of reservations available.
A Mano is an Italian spot in Fairmount where you’ll see everything from first dates to big groups starting a night out. The plates of pasta are the best things here, and range from things like parsley cavatelli with bone marrow to goat cheese gnocchi covered in a wild boar ragu. It’s also BYOB, so bring a few $15 bottles to split among the group.