Between reservation policies, cumbersome orders, and splitting the bill eight ways, dining with a big group isn’t always easy. Fortunately, plenty of Chicago restaurants are now making the large party experiences less stressful and more what it should be — fun. From pizzas on the Mag Mile to a dim sum destination in Chinatown, here are 20 of the best spots to check out with many companions. New additions to the map include Mexican eatery Alegrias Seafood, hot pot specialist Happy Lamb, and soul food at Pearl’s Place.Read More
20 Terrific Restaurants for Group Dining in Chicago
These spots take the stress out of dining with a large party
1. Sun Wah BBQ
The family that owns this James Beard-recognized Hong Kong barbecue and Cantonese restaurant designed the space with large group gatherings in mind. As such, most of the bigger tables can seat up to 14 guests. Big appetites will come in handy for the portions here — favorites such as roasted pig and Peking-style spare ribs, as well as the signature Peking duck spread with all the fixings, are quite large.
2. The Gundis
Inspired by their own large family gatherings, the owners at Chicago’s first Kurdish restaurant wanted to create a space that followed suit. Groups upwards of 30 diners are welcome here — a bonus when the plates are built for sharing. Don’t miss the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors found in dishes including lamb shank or salmon that’s pan-seared and seasoned with a variety of Kurdish spices.
3. Coast Sushi Bar
Two dining rooms with varying table sizes help accommodate both small and large parties at this sushi haven, which has been serving the Bucktown neighborhood for more than 15 years. Bring a bottle of wine (or two) and get to work on an assortment of signature maki — namely the “White Dragon” (shrimp tempura, cream cheese, house-made spicy sauce) and the “Coast Crab” (king crab, spicy mayo, scallions). Bonus: The restaurant accepts reservations or parties of up to 12 people, and staff can split checks five ways.
4. Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba
When Lettuce Entertain You opened this Lincoln Park mainstay in 1985, founding chef Gabino Sotelino knew he wanted to create a menu designed for sharing. Not much has changed in the three decades since, and crowds still flock to the restaurant for a variety of tapas, pintxos, and paella while embracing a lively atmosphere and year-round patio. Sangrias are available in six different flavors, from black raspberry and passion fruit to the traditional red and white. Try a flight to avoid any feelings of FOMO.
5. 90 Miles Cuban Cafe
Lively vibes, large tables, a BYOB policy, and the weekly pig roast all make this Cuban staple a surefire bet for sizable groups. Kick things off with a round of mojitos (sold by the pitcher) before diving into ropa vieja, empanadas, and Cubano sandwiches.
Bucktown’s beloved Costa Rican restaurant provides a warm and hospitable environment for groups. Call ahead to reserve a table and get ready for empanadas, meat and shrimp plates, and sandwiches including the pepito — steak or chicken, sautéed onions, cheese, beans, and Lizano sauce. The creamy oatmeal milkshake is a favorite way to cap off a meal, and diners are encouraged to bring their own alcohol.
Comfort food goes hog wild at this West Town restaurant and bar. Chef Brian Jupiter’s whole animal service is a must for larger parties and includes a selection of wild boar, alligator, farm-raised pig, and goat. A medley of crowd-pleasing sides accompanies the proteins, along with the option to add desserts and group-sized cocktails, such as the “Front Porch Punch” made with bourbon, lemon, mint, simple syrup, and angostura bitters.
8. Alegrias Seafood
Mexican seafood served in large quantities is the main draw at this bustling West Town spot. Start with some complimentary ceviche while perusing the menu. The numerous options include Nayarit-style prawns, langoustines, mussels, crab legs, and combination platters meant to be shared among several people. The generous BYOB policy is also ideal for groups.
Upscale eats and epic Mag Mile views collide at this modern American restaurant where chef Michael Zachman leads the kitchen. Large parties are encouraged, as evidenced by group dining menus and an array of shareable plates, such as wagyu beef sliders and spicy tuna tacos. Pair them with an aged Manhattan or an “In the Right Fashion” cocktail (rye, angostura bitters, demerara). Desserts include a mascarpone mocha cheesecake and an old fashioned chocolate cake, perfect for multiple sweet-toothed enthusiasts.
This Mag Mile restaurant attracts both big groups and dinner dates in for a sprawling selection of Italian fare — all of which can (and should) be shared. Once the table gets through essentials such as spaghetti and meatballs and cacio e pepe, the house-made pizza take center stage. Three types are available — Neapolitan, Chicago thin crust, and deep dish — so ordering several is highly recommended.
Exotic cocktails and Latin-inspired global cuisine are the draws at this cavernous and colorful establishment that has a knack for entertaining large groups. Case in point: Tables seat up to 16, the online system can book parties up to eight, and staff can split checks between six cards. And then, of course, there are the shareable dishes — try the vegetable paella or the arrachera, a generous serving of wood-grilled skirt steak with bacon sofrito and chimichurri.
For glammed up group dining, it’s all about this luxe modern American restaurant in the West Loop. Party sizes of up to 24 can sit in the upstairs dining room, where they can sample options including seafood towers, dayboat scallops, and dry-aged steaks. To make it a totally seamless experience, work with the team to pre-order dishes in advance of the reservation.
Staff can transform intimate communal-style seating to accommodate groups of any size at One Off Hospitality’s popular Mediterranean-influenced spot. Gather two-to-six friends for the lamb roti, a feast of slow-roasted lamb shoulder served with freshly baked pita, mezze, and sauces. Call ahead — this experience requires at least 48 hours to prep. There’s also a private event area on the second floor.
Opt for the tasting menu at chef Andrew Zimmerman’s celebrated Michelin-starred restaurant. The collection of dishes rotates to reflect the seasons (think hamachi crudo with tomatoes and watermelon, or blue masa tortelloni with sweet corn and chanterelles). Wine pairings make drink selections easy; otherwise, go straight for a bottle. More than 600 are on offer and come with guidance from wine director Jennifer Wagoner.
Large items are the M.O. at the Chicago Athletic Association’s rooftop spot. Many of them are available in half or full portions, the latter of which are generally enough for four people. Satisfy bigger parties with shellfish platters or heartier fare such as venison loin and mushroom risotto. The restaurant can reserve tables for up to 12 in the main dining room, and everyone can pay separately when the check arrives. Just make sure to book well in advance, as the place is always a hot ticket.
16. The Rosebud
The Taylor Street fixture has doled out Italian classics since the ‘70s. From locals to tourists, many patrons feel like family thanks to the convivial atmosphere and large portions. Come with a posse and share spaghetti and meatballs, brick chicken, meat lasagna, chicken Vesuvio, and more over bottles of Chianti.
17. Monnie Burke's
Pilsen’s stylish new American restaurant is an attractive meeting place for seasonal dishes. The expansive back patio is extremely popular in the summertime but the dining room is able to accommodate groups as well. The menu showcases a 24-hour short rib, whole fried fish, house-made cavatelli in lamb and shiitake ragu, and heirloom carrots in Indian butter sauce.
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18. MingHin Cuisine
Spanning more than 20,000 square feet, this contemporary Cantonese restaurant (with multiple locations) has enough space to seat more than 700 people. A visit here isn’t complete without sampling the Beijing duck, a two-course communal meal comprised of duck skin served with baos and duck stir fry. The dim sum menu is a big hit with groups, too.
19. Happy Lamb
Chicago, IL 60616
Hot pot, a Chinese method of cooking, is best experienced with a group. At this Chinatown restaurant, the all-you-can-eat menu offers a bounty of meats, seafood, veggies, noodles, tofu, and more. The process is simple: Choose a broth; order ingredients such as lamb, garlic beef, shrimp, and meatballs; and cook them in a simmering pot at the center of the table. There are also multiple dipping sauces that complement the food.
20. Pearl's Place
South Side soul food icon Pearl’s Place makes it easy to enjoy a meal with companions by offering a Southern-style buffet. Feast on fried chicken, mac and cheese, rib tips, biscuits, and more without worrying about others.