After more than a year of doing our best to stay apart, the chance to get together over dinner is slowly becoming a reality. This means that Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, birthdays and other celebrations take place via IRL instead of via Zoom and via shared plates in restaurants instead of during the virtual happy hour.
Of course, we can’t throw huge brunch bashes just yet. According to Massachusetts regulations, restaurants can currently only accommodate up to six people at each table. That number will rise to ten on May 29th. In Boston we have to wait a little longer: From June 19, parties with up to ten people are allowed.
However, if you’re planning ahead or looking for group-friendly dining options to host your next festive meal, then these 10 local eateries should be considered. Many have spacious staterooms, private dining rooms, or patios for larger groups, and a handful have enticing kids’ menus for more family-friendly occasions. As always, follow any restaurant’s rules when it comes to COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Whether you’re gathering for brunch or dinner, this Dorchester hangout is a prime hangout for family and friends. It has a large outdoor terrace and a beer garden as well as a separate storage room for up to six people. Come for the cheddar cheese cornbread and bolognese, stick around for the brownie sundae that you definitely need to get ready. (555 Talbot Ave., Boston)
Tim and Nancy Cushman’s restaurant on Street at Chestnut Hill is reminiscent of a sunny Palm Springs getaway with an orange-and-green color scheme and a plant-filled dining room. Groups can settle in one of the comfortable cubicles or at a patio table outside the door, where you can often see kids running around in the open-air mall. An approach for every taste means the menu features burgers and sushi rolls, pastas and salads, and a selection of Roman-style pizzas from the restaurant’s sister restaurant, Mr. Roni Cups. (47 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill)
Both private and semi-private dining rooms are available at this Watertown restaurant. There is also a spacious outdoor terrace with a bocce court for a playful competition after dinner. Branch Line’s roast chicken is a fan favorite, and the kids have a “little chicken menu” with mac and cheese, a quesadilla, and an ice cream sundae. (321 Arsenal St., Watertown)
If it’s Mediterranean food your crew is looking for, the seaport committee has plenty of space to spread out: communal tables, the chef’s table and lounge, private dining room, and an airy outdoor terrace. The emphasis on shared plates is also suitable for group meals. Try the trio of dips first, followed by dolmas, a few orders of Bao Gyro, and one of the grilled platters for the table. (50 Northern Ave., Boston)
Although it opened just before the pandemic began, Cósmica has already established itself as a standout Mexican restaurant in Boston, serving excellent tacos and a top-notch selection of tequila and mezcal. Dinner and brunch reservations can be made inside. However, if all you want to do is enjoy a drink, we strongly recommend that you apply for a spot on the terrace. The outside area is a boon in the South End and has heaters in case the temperature drops. (40 Berkeley St., Boston)
Darryl’s is on the border between Roxbury and the South End and is a staple of the Southern home cooking and live jazz neighborhood. There are few better places in Boston where you can gather your friends around the table to purchase land-fried chicken wings, shrimp and grits, and a basket of cornbread (an optimized kids’ menu is also available). Paired with cocktails and music from a local band, a group meeting here ensures an unforgettable meal. (604 Columbus Ave., Boston)
If a birthday or graduation dinner calls for celebrations with a view, Joe’s Waterfront should do the trick. The family-friendly restaurant reopened at the beginning of April with a brand new terrace and a new dining, lounge and bar area. Private dining options are available if you want the inside jokes to stay with your group. The seafood menu features classics like fish and chips and a Maine lobster roll. On the children’s menu you will find crowd pullers such as grilled cheese and popcorn prawns. (100 Atlantic Ave., Boston)
Large stalls and an expansive terrace with scenic views offer plenty of space for family and friends at this East Boston restaurant (there is another location at Quincy’s Marina Bay). Start with common plates for the table, like Malaysian-style chicken wings and crispy seared calamari, plus a few starters you’d like to share with a friend: swordfish steak, seafood fra diavolo, and grilled Statler chicken. (6 New St., Boston)
We can’t talk about group dining without mentioning hot pot, and shabu-zen is one of the best in Boston. The restaurant, with locations in Allston and Chinatown, specializes in shabu-shabu and offers diners the option of choosing which meat goes with their hot pot mix of broth, vegetables and a selection of udon, vermicelli or rice. If you’re dining with a larger group, opt for the jumbo size. (80 Brighton Ave., Boston; 16 Tyler St., Boston)
If your group is into craft beer, Trillium Brewing’s Fort Point location has all the beer, food, and space you could need. The large dining room, the outdoor terrace and the roof terrace of the restaurant offer guests several seating options (reservations are only accepted for meals indoors). A solid selection of shareable plates makes ordering easy. Get the baked brie with onion jam, grilled squid and stracciatella toast for the table, all of which can be paired with one of Trillium’s excellent beers. (50 Thomson Place, Boston)
Receive the browser notifications from Boston.com:
Activate breaking news notifications right in your internet browser.
Turn on notifications