Seattle's Group-Friendly Restaurants: The More the Merrier at These Local Favorites



In this town, we often say: The more, the merrier. In recent years, Seattle's culinary scene has become increasingly renowned and even more memorable, putting the city up there on the dining circuit with destinations like New York and San Francisco. Not only is the food here exquisite, the service memorable and the drink local and tasty, but the ambience also leaves an impression at the majority of the town's favorite eating establishments.  

Once inside spaces funky and formal, intimate and inventive, diners enjoy the flavors of the Northwest that permeate their dishes and their surroundings. And thankfully for those who like to convene with family and friends (I mean, who doesn't enjoy breaking bread with loved ones in a festive atmosphere, right?), countless Seattle venues offer roomy tables at which groups of folks can collectively enjoy the food and the company. 

The rise in popularly of "family-style" meal servings also complement the trend of group dining. Whether it's heaping bowls of crispy chips, juicy oysters, fresh pasta or sweet beignets you're after, the following restaurants we've gathered follow the philosophy that dining is most enjoyable when shared with those whom you love. So gather your people, and get ready to chow down.



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A quintessential Seattle experience consists of having a meal at Ray's. (At lunchtime, head upstairs to Ray's Cafe.) Views of the mountains and the water, especially in sunset's glow, thrill diners almost as much as the cuisine. Located close to Golden Gardens, this venue makes the perfect dining spot before or after a windswept or sun-tinged day at the beach. While many dishes have Asian flair (like pan-seared scallops in green curry or kasu-marinated black cod), others revel in simple preparations, like oysters on the half-shell, crab cakes and grilled wild salmon. The downstairs venue offers upscale dining; the cafe upstairs is a bit more casual. A wonderful wine list ensures that you'll have a terrific vintage to complement the food.


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Thackeray
Photo courtesy of Thackeray


 

Recently refreshed Thackeray comes with a brand-new addition: Claret wine bar, located in the venue's back half. This popular neighborhood restaurant and bar, straddling the line between Fremont and Wallingford, draws enthusiastic support from loyal locals. The spacious, light-filled venue offers an inviting atmosphere that combines welcoming service with an eclectic interior. (Sit on at the whimsical "porch swing" up front, or cozy up next to a stocked bookshelf in the back.) The seasonally-inspired menu melds northwest ingredients and Mediterranean influences. Share tasty dishes like mezze spreads, braised meatball subs, hamachi crudo and lemon-anchovy charred broccoli, or dive into mains like seared black cod, Ethiopian spiced fried chicken, ancient grain risotto and the popular house burger. Drink offerings, developed by Heavy's Spirits Director Casey Robison and Wine Director Chris Horn, feature a wide assortment of spirits, cocktails, wine and beer; rotating taps feature local brews and, since we're in Seattle kombucha, too.


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Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge


 

Toulouse Petit Kitchen and Lounge has been earning accolades almost since it opened. The ornate and filigreed interior of the space is just the beginning of a dining experience built on the food, style and attitude of New Orleans' French Quarter. Offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night dining, the restaurant has a voluminous menu encompassing Italian, Spanish and French-countryside and coastal-Mediterranean cuisine, along with a full slate of affordable American-style Prime steakhouse selections, traditional Northwest seafood and a multitude of house-made charcuterie and small-plate offerings. And as you might expect from a spot that takes its cues from the French Quarter, Toulouse is renowned for its happy hour, including the one timed perfectly for a leisurely and extended brunch.


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There are few better places better for relishing the fresh seafood of the Northwest. Boasting great waterfront views and an expansive dining area with several distinct venues, this branch of the Anthony's chain is inviting and bright. It also offers outdoor dining when the weather cooperates. The menu features a cornucopia of fresh, well-prepared Northwestern seafood. Among the dishes you'll find are lobster, salmon, Dungeness crab cakes, coconut prawns, and Alaskan halibut. The restaurant also has a good selection of desserts, and cheesecake rates especially high on the list. If arriving by car, complimentary validated parking is available in the Art Institute Parking Garage (bring your parking voucher with you for validation).


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El Camino


 

Although El Camino is a favorite gathering spot for friends to test potent margaritas, it also serves wonderful Mexican cuisine. The menu isn't extensive, but selections are flavorful and well-prepared. Along with braised pork shoulder and chicken enchiladas with mole sauce, which have earned a faithful following, you'll find seafood options like halibut tacos and salmon with tamarind. Steak tacos are also incredibly popular among patrons, who come to check out the crowd and colorful setting marked by terra cotta tiles and wrought iron detailing. Don't go if you're looking for a quiet eatery and introductory chips and salsa; instead, go for the eatery's authentic food and festive vibe.


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Aqua by El Gaucho
Photo courtesy of AQUA by El Gaucho


 

A bright, open space with sculptural lighting and barrel-backed chairs invites guests to check out great views (of the water and the mountains) and a wonderful, seafood-based menu. Although options change depending on what's fresh, you may find oven-roasted Manila clams to start or Northwest oysters served with grapefruit tequila sorbet. Main courses include lobster risotto, Thai seafood stew and sesame-seared sea bass. If you prefer meat, there's rack of lamb, pork tenderloin and grilled steaks. Vegetarians savor dishes featuring plank-roasted vegetables, and desserts are eminently rich and satisfying no matter what you choose. Live piano music enlivens the space nightly from 5p.m. on.


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Tavolata (Belltown)
Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Smith


 

In Belltown, Ethan Stowell has done it once again by wowing diners at his Italian gem Tavolta. Here, pasta reigns--from rigatoni to casarecce, conchiglie to linguini. A restaurant whose name means "to gather around a table," Tavolta is an ideal space for large parties and private events. Monthly Sunday Feast dinners mean four-course family meals served at the communal table (that seats up to 26 diners), perfectly embodying the venue's philosophy. Enjoy nightly happy hours (from 5 to 7 p.m.) as well as dishes like brushcetta and salumi boards to start, rigatoni and potato gnocchi for pasta dishes, salmon and beef short ribs as entrees and grilled carrots as a side.


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Get transported to a Parisian cafe with charming, authentic decor like 19th-century sconces from a church in the French countryside, a clock that once hung in a Paris metro station and a host stand that once serviced a small French hotel. The food is equally delightful; try main dishes like moules frites, steak frites, the fish of the day, ricotta Cavatelli and the roasted half-chicken with Dijon dumpling, black trumpet mushroom and Brussels sprout gratin. The Back Bar, the self-proclaimed "sexiest place in town" with a crystal chandelier and Art Deco sconces, is the ideal spot for cocktails before or after your meal.


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Downtown
Lola
Photo courtesy of Lola


 

In downtown Seattle, celeb chef Tom Douglas has done it again. This upscale dining room serves inventive Greek cuisine that draws diners from near and far. Making an excellent starter, pita bread is served with your choice of spread; think roasted sweet red pepper, barrel-aged minty feta or skordalia. Meze, such as grilled octopus and dolmades with rice plus a variety of kabobs, appear on the menu (and are great to share with a group). Lola doesn't skimp on main courses either. Offerings vary but may include a tagine of stuffed artichokes, avgolemono and saffron couscous or a whole fish with pickled green garlic and herbs.


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Brimmer and Heeltap
Photo courtesy of Will Foster


 

Since late 2013, this charming neighborhood venue has been delighting loyal patrons in an environment they call "inviting, lively and comforting." (We concur; it's all true!) The friendly staff pridefully brings "a sense of playfulness" to everything they do—from the authentic hospitality and warm ambiance to an inventive menu of fresh, seasonal dishes. Veggie lovers savor the delightful Poached Radish Salad and seasonal goodies like grilled, local asparagus, while stand-out mains range from the Salmon Aguachile (cured, sockeye salmon, radish, coriander) to the Guajillo Braised Beef Cheek (masa gnocchi, olive confit). For a memorable grand finale, tuck into the Horchata Panna Cotta (chile caramel, chocolate crisp), while vowing to return this to this welcoming Seattle oasis as soon as possible.


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Meet Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's...  More About Corinne

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