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Toronto's Group-Friendly Restaurants: Spaces Big Enough for Friends, Family, Everyone



It can be hard enough to organize an event that organizes a group of people in Toronto. Trying to find a restaurant that not only accommodates everyone but also happily satiates them can be hard. No one wants to wait in a line or get shoved into a corner. No one puts baby in the corner, and no one will put your people in a corner with these 10 Best picks.

There are choices for the talkative and rowdy, such as Wvrst which has a casual, beer hall mentality with beer flights and duck fries to make everyone happy. Or, if you like sushi and a lot of yelling, try out the infectiously vibrant Japanese restaurant Guu Izakaya

Sometimes you need a little more class than sass. Nota Bene may cost a little more but can handle anything from a congregation of suits to a small wedding party. Cluny has an atmosphere that warrants a little dressing up, but will happily welcome those in stretchy pants who intend to do Cluny's bread products justice.

Determine the attitude of the company you keep and match the style of restaurant and ultimately everyone will be happy, whether you are hosting a discerning aunt or your friend who always seems to have a mustard stain on his lapel. 


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The food photos from Fishman Lobster Clubhouse are so voluminous, so mountainous, that it seems that this restaurant might scoff at a party of one. All parties are welcome, but the platters of seafood at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse seem more aptly suited for a ravenous group. Tables shudder under the weight of crab legs or Hong Kong style lobster. Floor to ceiling fish tanks house gigantic crustaceans. There is a lobster tower on the menu, if towers of seafood fit the bill for your group. As a warning, it weighs 50 pounds and costs almost $700 (for around 10 people), but it may be economical depending on the size of the stomachs in your company.




Sometimes your group just wants a good burger, a good cocktail and good conversation. In other words, a place where a tie can be loosened. Home of the Brave delivers on these fronts and more. Classic American dishes get a creative twist or remain as classic as an all chuck burger with American cheese, pickle, tomato and lettuce on a brioche bun. Cocktails taste deceptively like mocktails, such as Boston's Finest with elderflower, rosemary, egg white and Boston Bittahs. Read the comments on the wall of American dollar bills if you have some time to kill before your group arrives. It's a welcome change from staring at your phone.


Lee
Photo courtesy of Lee Facebook page


Since Hong Kong-born chef Susur Lee arrived in Canada in 1978, he's built a reputation on inventive cuisine that fuses the dishes of his homeland with other global influences. Lee is his flagship Toronto restaurant, with a menu that is built around sharable tapas-sized plates. Expect the unexpected with a mashup of Asian and Mediterranean flavours. Lobster ravioli and the popular cheeseburger spring rolls combine two favourite fast food dishes and successfully marry Italy and China. Save room for an inventive dessert, such as coconut creme caramel with black rice pudding and watch your taste buds do the happy dance. Large groups are welcome, but reservations are expected.


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The Keg mansion is certainly the best Toronto location of this chain of North American restaurants. The gothic heritage building was built in 1868, during a period of great wealth in Toronto. It has had some renovations since, but apparently retains some of its history in the form of ghosts. You can visit this location on one of Toronto's ghost walks, or go to feast in a stunning atmosphere. The rich appetizers impress, such as Baked Brie or Scallops and Bacon. The prices are impressively lower than average for prime cuts of meat such as Filet Mignon or Manhattan Cut New York steak. Some cuts have inventive toppings, such as the pecans and goat cheese that complement rather than overshadow the steak.


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Downtown


Luma is a wonderful restaurant to stop by if you are in the heart of the city. Right on King Street around everything that is buzzing, the warm wood within the restaurant offsets the surrounding hustle and bustle. Luma is an Oliver & Bonacini restaurant that has many menus to complement the time of day you choose to dine. You have lunch, dinner or dessert, of course, but there is also a post 3pm lounge menu. The lobster and shrimp BLT burger is as good as it sounds (and you can get it as a slider in the post 3pm menu). The cocktails are inventive, such as the Wasabi Caesar. It is worth saving room for the desserts, with an amazing "chocolate bar" which is like a soft dark chocolate brownie layered with banana and peanut butter ice cream. Heaven.


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Queen West


Japanese restaurant. Tapas restaurant. Drinking establishment which serves food to accompany the drinks (at least according to the definition of Izakaya). Guu Izakaya does it all. This lively and energetic restaurant opened in 2011 after being acclaimed in Vancouver. Communal style tables encourage strangers to get friendly as they share the experience of eating Japanese comfort food. Baked oysters, beef tongue, almond tofu, sashimi salad and bibimbap are some of the options, and all are exquisite. Dishes are great for sharing, and you can sit at the bar to watch the food being cooked. Don't miss the cocktail and sake list. A couple of drinks will put you in the right Guu mood.




Cluny Bistro takes French food and makes it unfussy. You can have your caramelized onion soup and moules frites but you don't need to have a side of snobbery. Even so, the backdrop for your dining experience is absolutely stunning with high ceilings and may have you convinced that the Eiffel Tower is within walking distance. Groups are more than welcome with a private dining area just for the occasion.The boulangerie is more of the takeaway aspect of the restaurant, with all things pastry waiting to be fawned over and taken home in a paper bag. But make sure to enjoy the classic French dishes on a plate, like the tuna tartare nicoise or the ginger-chili frog's legs. The large patio fits 100 people and its cobblestone floor transports you right to France.


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Little Italy


Bar Isabel has received a lot of buzz since it opened, but so far it has not gone to their heads. Late night eats are impressively carnivorous, such as roast bone marrow or a whole octopus or fish ceviche. You can also have some horse tartare, tongue on brioche, or a vegan salad if you aren't as inclined to eat tongue. If you are ready to keep the libations flowing, the cocktail menu is seriously impressive with intriguing names like "A Woman Scorned." People have reservations six weeks in advance. The place is worth the wait and worth the hype.


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Downtown
Wvrst
Photo courtesy of Wvrst Facebook Page


The world can be divided into two groups of people: those who say "yay" to a beer hall and those who say "nay." For those who are in the "yay" category, Wvrst is an informal way to have a lot of fun (and potentially a lot of beer). With communal tables encouraging friendly banter, this King Street located, Munich-style beer hall specializes in all-natural sausage (as you may have guessed from the name). Vegetarians have the options of tofu/basil, soy/coriander, fennel/chili and tofu/paprika. Meat eaters have even more variety, from kangaroo to guinea fowl to rabbit. There are also duck fat fries with dipping sauces. The food encourages the beer drinking and the beer drinking encourages hunger to persist. It is a feedback loop that is just perfect for those "yay" sayers.


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Queen West

Nota Bene is so welcoming to groups that it even has menus entirely designed for them. The recently revamped space has a salvaged iron wood tree trunk treated with the ancient Japanese process of Shou Sugi Ban. A back wall of the restaurant is entirely covered in a mural and tumbleweeds lie overhead the entire dining room. The local seasonal menu can be as hearty as you wish, from rabbit pappardelle to a stilten brisket burger. Executive chef David Lee goes to great lengths to get the best ingredients, such as when he sources fish directly from Japan's Tsukiji Fish Market for a sashimi plate. The entire menu focuses on simplicity, seasonality and flavour. You will be able to taste it.


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Meet Courtney Sunday

Courtney Sunday has lived in England, Switzerland, Canada and the US, finding her way into the professions of freelance writing and yoga teaching in between travel opportunities. She learned...  More About Courtney

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