Food Eat Up, LA: Los Angeles Group Dining Guide

by Amelia Mularz | December 05, 2019

Openaire. Photo courtesy of Chase Daniel

In Los Angeles, CA, you better believe you can gather a group for a meal on the town: The City of Angels is also the City of Roomy Restaurants.

Parties of eight to 80 (or more) are hardly an impediment to a delish affair. Which is to say, accommodating spaces are fairly common throughout the city.

The following seven restaurants embrace big parties, to be sure. But they also pack a culinary punch. And their coolly immersive environments — from dining rooms hidden behind a bookshelf in a historic hotel, to the one encased in a Koreatown greenhouse — offer uniquely unforgettable dining experiences.

Broken Spanish

1050 South Flower Street / Downtown

“An ideal restaurant for a group is one that not only makes guests feel welcome,” says Chef Ray Garcia, “but provides an experience that feels customized and intimate — as if each person had come on their own.” Garcia has done precisely that at Broken Spanish, where the menu reflects his personal experience growing up in Latin-American Los Angeles.

Seating on the Corral & Ventanas patio is for 20; the Sala Dining Room fits 50; and 75 guests fill the Main Dining Room. Yet when you sink your teeth into Garcia’s tamales — made with house-ground heirloom corn from Oaxaca, Mexico, and filled and garnished with locally grown spinach, celery root, feta cheese and Santa Barbara pistachios — you’ll swear he’s invited you to an intimate feast at his family’s table.

To make ordering easier for larger parties, Broken Spanish offers prix-fixe family-style menus with per-person pricing for groups of 10 or more. Indulge in fresh asparagus-and-cotija tostadas and chile rellenos — and save room for arroz con leche for dessert.

Interior of the Broken Spanish restaurant with multiple tables and place settings

Photo courtesy of Jenn Emerling

Night + Market WeHo

9043 Sunset Boulevard / West Hollywood

Is this an attractive vision to you? Two dozen of your nearest and dearest friends erupt in pure delight as saucy hey-ha chicken wings and a beer tower arrive at your table. Then the casual Thai spot Night + Market was practically created for you and your crew.

The private dining room seats up to 25 and the back patio seats up to 35. Every dish here is made with sharing in mind — nam khao tod (crispy rice salad with pork) and som tum (spicy green papaya salad) are among the most popular. If you’re worried about sorting the bill, rest easy: The restaurant offers per-person pricing for large parties.

Bar Alta and Casbah at Hotel Figueroa

939 South Figueroa Street / Downtown

Back in the 1920s, when a woman traveling alone could be something of a scandal, adventurous ladies gathered at Hotel Figueroa (known to regulars as "the Fig"). Today, both men and women are welcome to assemble at the historic hotel, but the vibe remains decidedly revolutionary. Only available to private parties, Bar Alta is an intimate 28-seat Art Deco cocktail haven just off the mezzanine lobby. There’s also Casbah, a private dining room that seats up to 24 and has a secret entrance through a sliding bookshelf in the adjacent Casablanca Suite.

In addition to clandestine quarters and a scrumptious New American menu by way of the Fig’s lower-level restaurant Breva, you’ll also have access to Fredo Vita, the hotel’s in-house chef concierge who ensures gatherings go off without a hitch. “For groups, there are nooks and crannies and an event waiting to happen,” Vita says. “You have this fine backdrop of the 1920s. The ambiance is all set. Just bring the people and we’ll make the party.”

Wide angle shot of the bar and bar stools at Bar Alta in Hotel Figueroa

Photo courtesy of Hotel Figueroa

Openaire

3515 Wilshire Boulevard, 2nd Floor / Koreatown

Openaire, the light-filled, atrium-style restaurant inside the LINE LA hotel, is as if a greenhouse was dropped in the midst of buzzy Koreatown, where you and your friends could feast on a cornucopia of California produce. Seasonal menus and local veggies take center stage here, leaving discerning diners with impossible choices such as whether to order, say, the grilled sweetcorn with sunchoke miso or casarecce pasta in an arugula-cashew pesto ingeniously conceived and executed by chef and native Angeleno Josiah Citrin.

Most items on the menu are meant to be shared, but some plates are particularly group-friendly — the whole steamed fish with fragrant herb salad or ahi tuna tartare, for example. Decked in hanging baskets of Jerusalem jasmine and rose geraniums, the main dining room has long communal tables ideal for larger parties. For private dining, check out Openaire East, which seats up to 40 on an equally fresh-feeling outdoor patio. Order à la carte, or opt for the “Taste of Openaire” — a three-course menu served family style.

Redbird

114 East 2nd Street / Downtown

If dining at Redbird — the Modern American restaurant from husband-and-wife duo Neal Fraser and Amy Knoll Fraser — feels like a spiritual experience, it’s only natural. Not simply because the space is carved into the former rectory building of St. Vibiana Cathedral, but also because the avocado salad, crispy black bass and extensive cocktail menu are truly divine.

As for where to congregate, there are plenty of options. “Redbird is great for large groups because we have six private event spaces that can accommodate from 15 people up to 200,” says Fraser, Redbird’s chef and owner. “Each room has its own design highlights and history.” Among these is the East Room — which seats 30, and has indoor/outdoor dining and a private kitchen allowing diners to see Fraser in action — as well as Cardinal’s Quarters, with a fireplace, balcony and seating for up to 44.

The private event space at Redbird restaurant with a mirror on the wall and a modern chandelier with a decorated table

Photo courtesy of Redbird

Merkato Ethiopian Restaurant & Market

1036 1/2 South Fairfax Avenue / Little Ethiopia

“Start with the veggie combo,” Merkato manager Aki Tadesse advises newbie Ethiopian diners. “It has lentils and collard greens and is easy to taste for first-timers. Then, later, you can do chicken and beef tips when you get used to the spices.” Other things to keep in mind: Ethiopian is typically gobbled up without utensils — you use spongy flatbread, called injera, to scoop up chunks of veggies or meat with your hands. Further, many of the dishes are served on large family-style platters, which makes Ethiopian ideal for a group.

Another perk? The price point. At Merkato, the shareable veggie combo is only $17 and the Tibbs platter — cubed ribeye with onions, tomatoes and green chilies — will only set you back $13.99. Enjoy a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony at the end of the meal. The hot brew is served from ornate black clay pots and you can buy your own at Merkato’s adjacent shop for future ceremonies at home.

Gracias Madre

8905 Melrose Avenue / West Hollywood

Round up the plant eaters you know — vegans, vegetarians, enchilada-vores — under one meat-free roof at Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre. This plant-based outpost will challenge your idea of what a taco can be — adios, pork; hola, jackfruit. Plates of tacos can be passed easily along with guacamole, totopos con chile (tortilla chips with salsa and cashew crema) and coliflor frito (fried cauliflower).

The indoor/outdoor space can seat up to 25. Alternatively, reserve half the patio (20-50 guests), the full patio (50-150 guests) or the entire restaurant (150-400 guests). That’s a lot of totopos! Family-style and buffet menus are available as well as passed appetizer options — all conveniently priced per person. Also, be sure to treat your group to pitchers of margaritas or a round of So Fresa So Cleans, a tequila-based drink with strawberries and rose water. The restaurant also makes a special effort to source sustainable tequila and mezcal.

The bar at Gracias Madre restaurant

Photo courtesy of Gracias Madre

Connie & Ted’s

8171 Santa Monica Boulevard / West Hollywood

Though seafood potlucks are decidedly East Coast, you can get a taste of the shellfish social here on the West Coast at Connie & Ted’s. Host up to 16 on a private dining patio where your group can dive into oyster platters by the dozen and seafood towers of mussels, shrimp lobster and more. When you order, it’s not required to pronounce your soup as “chowdah,” but it will probably earn you respect from your group — and perhaps a bigger portion of the shared warm nectarine cobbler for dessert.

Amelia Mularz

believes food tastes better when she's surrounded by family and friends. Her work has appeared in Los Angeles Magazine, Eater LA, Harper's BAZAAR and National Geographic Traveler.