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11/15/2022 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/15/2022 09:26

12 New York City restaurants that are great for large groups

Planning a group dinner in notoriously crowded NYC is as daunting as scoring a seat on a rush hour subway ride. But plenty of city restaurants embrace New Yorkers' urges to gather again, welcoming larger parties with enticing, crowd-pleasing menus.

A trendy Laotian spot downtown accepts online reservations (no phone call required) for groups as large as 25. In Midtown, a cavernous French bistro offers a riff on the reigning shareable appetizer: the butter board. A family-style Palestinian place in Brooklyn Heights dishes up some of the borough's largest entrées.

Dining at any of these restaurants means plenty of elbow room, plus plates that accommodate a variety of diets and preferences. Read on for a list of 12 group-friendly restaurants to book now in New York City.

Ilili (Gramercy/Flatiron)

The sleek, wood-paneled interiors at Ilili. | Credit: Ilili Restaurant NYC

For some of Manhattan's best contemporary Lebanese plates, bring your group to Ilili's sexy, amber-colored dining room. Or feast in one of its chic, private spaces (bookable for 12 to 300 people), all wood-paneled walls and red chairs. Order a family-style set menu, complete with the restaurant's greatest hits such as seared lamb chops with za'atar salsa verde and hearth-baked loup de mer-and don't skip the Lebanese wine pairings, sourced from the Bekaa Valley. Ilili's Arabian Nights package, ideal for extra special soirées, features traditional decor and a belly dance performance.

Ainslie Bowery (NoHo)

The newest outpost of Williamsburg's Ainslie, a 20,000-square-foot restaurant and bar on the Lower East Side, is pizza party central. Choose from an airy beer garden adorned with living floral chandeliers, or the indoor beer hall featuring long tables, a 50-foot bar, and 32 beers on tap. A wine bar, subterranean lounge, and private dining room for up to 50 make the Ainslie especially well-equipped for larger gatherings. Your group can balance the hearty Italian plates here, such as Amatriciana pizza, shrimp scampi toast, and cacio e pepe, with table games including foosball and shuffleboard. For parties of ten or more, there are bookable, family-style dinner and brunch menus.

Yakiniku Toraji (Midtown East)

Take your loved ones for a group barbecue and leave the logistics to the pros. Toraji, a Tokyo import whose original location opened in 1995, has perfected the grilled meat game. Its New York edition is made up of large, grill-top tables and plenty of semi-private rooms. The shareable, grilled-to-order menu, which includes premium beef and seafood, fuels a memorable, communal experience. Set menus start at $78; à la carte mains, including an array of rice bowls and noodle soups, ensure more selective eaters can pick their own dishes.

Oceans - New York (Union Square)

Oceans - New York's plush dining room was made for sophisticated group celebrations. | Credit: Emily Andrews

Oceans' brass-and-leather dining room, decked with plush banquettes, semi-private dining areas, and an undulating ceiling (inspired by NYC's historic archways), was made for sophisticated group celebrations. The menu is inspired by the Mediterranean coasts and the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Start your meal with sushi and a chilled seafood plateau before making way for Maryland crab cakes and Dover sole dressed in almond caper brown butter. To add to the wow factor, select a whole fish on ice grilled to order. Thoughtful vegetarian options, such as cauliflower steak with Israeli couscous, almonds, and lemon caper vinaigrette, tempt omnivores and herbivores alike.

Family Meal at Blue Hill(Greenwich Village)

A luxe, family-style feast awaits in a historic townhouse, just steps from Washington Square Park. Once home to Blue Hill's iconic prix-fixe menu, the restaurant, which opened after a year-plus closure in 2021, now offers a mode of service called family style, inspired by the traditional pre-service spread consumed by a restaurant's staff before service starts. The menu spotlights seasonal specialties from farms upstate and thus constantly varies, but might feature comforting dishes such as potato chips and dip made from avocado squash and roast chicken skillet with cranberry beans on the side. Vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, gluten-free, and nut-free diets can be accommodated, too. For a swanky, farm-to-table dinner party, groups of 9 to 14 can book a private garden room.

Quality Bistro(Midtown West)

Quality Bistro began serving its own version of the TikTok-famous butter board weeks before it became a viral sensation. | Credit: Quality Bistro

This cavernous Midtown spot, a modern take on a classic French bistro, is furnished with plenty of outdoor cabins to seat up to eight. Inside, there are roomy banquettes and group tables meant for coworkers, friends, and larger families. Kick off a meal with the ultimate crowd-pleaser: Quality Bistro's take on the TikTok-famous butter board, which comes with crusty bread, cornichons, and French ham. Though entrées here are made-for-one, expect many shareable sides, including an excellent corn crème brûlée.

AlBadawi(Brooklyn Heights)

AlBadawi, one of Brooklyn's only family-style Palestinian spots (co-owner Abdul Elani also steers Ayat, a smaller Palestinian restaurant in Bay Ridge), is all about jumbo-size portions. A seat in its industrial, plant-covered space promises an experience inspired by Palestinian home kitchens. Meals begin with baskets of pita, which are baked on the premises in a giant pizza oven. The round flatbreads double as utensils for scooping up shareable dips such as housemade hummus and labneh, which feature in AlBadawi's generous mezze filistini platter, made for groups. AlBadawi's massive entrees, which include slow-cooked meats, tomato and beef stew topped with fresh green beans and okra, plus various kinds of ouzi, a rice-based dish served in beef, chicken, and lamb versions, round out the group-friendly offerings.

Khe-Yo (TriBeCa/Downtown)

This trendy Laotian spot, a collab between chef Soulayphet Schwader and Iron Chef Marc Forgione, accepts reservations for parties as large as 25. The bold menu is designed for sharing, featuring small plates such as lemongrass chicken sausage and grilled garlic and ginger stuffed quail with spicy cucumber salad; larger dishes include pork curry noodles and spare ribs with smashed long beans. The exposed brick dining room is casual but serves as a blank canvas to host any group event or celebration.

Temple Court (Financial District)

Temple Court's stained-glass windows make a pretty backdrop for large get-togethers. | Credit: Temple Court

Just steps from The Beekman Hotel's dazzling nine-story atrium, this Art Deco-inspired restaurant, helmed by acclaimed chef Tom Colicchio, is a scenic escape. Its twinkling, stained-glass windows make a pretty backdrop for large get-togethers. Temple Court's family-style experience, for groups of 15 to 24, is an elegant, seasonal dinner party, featuring Italian-inspired dishes such as chestnut agnolotti with black truffle and Brussels sprouts, roasted chicken with spigarello (an Italian heirloom green), and roasted pear sorbet for dessert.

French Louie(Boerum Hill)

Locals flock to this quaint French Canadian restaurant (owned by the duo behind Buttermilk Channel, a bistro in Carroll Gardens) for its candlelit interiors and charming, tree-lined garden, which can host up to 30 people. Though the kitchen is known for stellar bistro fare such as steak frites, rabbit pappardelle, and goat cheese pot de crème, it also accommodates various dietary restrictions. Smaller groups shouldn't sleep on brunch (must-orders include a crème brûlée French toast). French Louie's attractive, wooden bar makes a great perch for a lively happy hour gathering, fueled by mussels and top-notch French wine.

Baar Baar(East Village)

Innovative Indian fusion fare, such as chicken chorizo sausage and paneer pinwheels, make up the menu at Baar Baar. | Credit: Katie June Burton for Baar Baar

Weekend group bookings are especially hard to snag in New York City, but that's not the case at Baar Baar, the vibrant, banquette-lined spot in the East Village known for its Bollywood-themed brunch. Groove to toe-tapping Hindi tunes over Indian fusion fare such as malai chicken tikka mac and cheese and the Bombay masala omelet, a cilantro- and chile-flecked version of the breakfast classic. For a little distance from the music, sit on any of the sidewalk tables. Groups of ten or fewer can order from Baar Baar's à la carte menu to split bowls of beef short rib curry and paneer pinwheels; for a more structured brunch, there's a $55 menu featuring a canape, small plate, large plate, side, and dessert.

Telly's Taverna(Astoria)

This Aegean seafood staple has hosted countless family gatherings since opening its doors in 1990. Its interiors are unapologetically nautical-seashells, ropes, and ships abound. The spacious, long-running taverna serves grilled-to-order seafood such as whole branzino and red snapper, sauced with lemon, olive oil, and oregano; there are also Greek faithfuls including spanakopita, moussaka, and a slew of family-style dips such as taramasalata (cured cod roe) and skordalia (garlic and potato). Bonus points for the private room, which seats 70.

Melissa Kravitz Hoeffneris a writer based in Brooklyn, where she lives with her wife and rescue dog. You can follow her on Instagram @melissabethk and Twitter @melissabethk