Slideshow: Staff Picks: Best Chicago Restaurant for a Large Group?

Sun Wah
Sun Wah

[Photograph: Chelsea Ross]

"Dining with a big group serves two purposes: 1) the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family, but more importantly, 2) the chance to order more (and try more) food in one sitting or order large format items that one wouldn't get normally. This is a tough question for me because this is how I prefer to dine normally (but don't tell my wife). That being said, can I have two answers? Sun Wah! Yes, the duck is stupid good but the suckling pig is equally delicious. It's crispy, fatty (but not too fatty) and chock full of flavor. The bonus here is the price point, where you can get away with a generous meal for $20 to $40 a head." Huge Galdones

Girl & the Goat
Girl & the Goat

[Photograph: Huge Galdones]

"For the less budget-conscious, reserve one of the two king tables at Girl & The Goat and... well, make it rain. With a goat leg (or two; yes, I've done that before) for the table and a wide array of everything else, you're sure to leave happy and full." Huge Galdones

Lao Sze Chuan
Lao Sze Chuan

Lamb with Cumin at Lao Sze Chuan [Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"A high school friend of my wife was coming to town with her family—husband, two teenage daughters. The mom, years before, had taught English in Taiwan, so she wanted real Chinese food. I figure, Lao Sze Chuan is our best bet for that; it's reliable and it can handle groups. So we go to Chinatown, we get a big round table in the party room upstairs, and I order what I know are surefire dishes—ma po tofu, tea-smoked duck, Tony's three-chili chicken, Szechwan green beans, and so on. The mom orders a few things she's been craving for years, too. It all goes on the lazy susan, everybody spins it around and tries a little of everything, we eat and stuff ourselves well for an hour or more, the bill barely breaks $10 each. I don't know if the teen daughters are enjoying themselves or not—they say they are, but what do I know about what teenage girls really think about anything? But it seems to go well. Afterwards we wander the Chinatown Square mall for a bit, looking at Sanrio stuff here, weird lotus candies and dried octopus chips there. Everyone seems satisfied as we say goodnight."

"Just before bedtime my wife gets a text from her friend: the girls LOVED it. Said it was the best dinner they ever had. Wanted to know why EVERY dinner can't be like that (which means sharing lots of tasty food on a spinning platter, I guess). So: Lao Sze Chuan. Works every time.Mike Gebert

Demera
Demera

Vegetarian and Meat Messob at Demera [Photograph: Lindsey Howald Patton]

"Ethiopian is perhaps the most communal meal there is, so the more, the merrier, especially when each person means an extra entree you get to try. Demera brags more square footage than most of the North Side's Ethiopian spots, has a bright and classy atmosphere for special occasions, and home brews the best honey wine around. Fair warning, though; the more people you bring along, the more competition you'll have for what is, at the end of the meal, the best part: that intensely flavorful, greasy, sauce-soaked injera at the bottom of the messob." Lindsey Howald Patton

Al's Italian Restaurant
Al's Italian Restaurant

[Photograph: Titus Ruscitti]

"Dining with a large group can be hard when not only do your partners have restrictions but the restaurant does too. So when the time comes to do so, I like to go old school; I prefer the places where small plates are the ones you eat your baskets of bread on and the menu has something for everyone. Luckily we have a handful of classic Italian restaurants that have been serving large families for decades. One that comes to mind is Al's Italian Restaurant in Cicero. They might of remodeled the classic interior, but the dishes are still the same stellar ones that most everyone can and has enjoyed in one way or the other. The "Uncle Bobby's" pizza special is the perfect thing to pass around as an app. Its tavern thin but gets thicker as the ingredients go on. Served well done with Double sausage, bacon, pepperoni, onions, green olives, and fresh sliced jalapeños. It always gets the job done." Titus Ruscitti

Gogi
Gogi

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"My favorite type of place to dine in a big group, hands-down, is Korean barbecue. You know, the kind where you cook your own meat over a grill in the center of the table. You'll inevitably smell like smoky grilled meat for 24 hours straight, even if you shower with a fire hose right afterwards (I like to call the resulting smell Eau de Dennis). My current favorite Korean barbecue restaurant is Gogi in Rogers Park—the quality of meat is very high, and the plentiful banchan (the wee sides in the tiny dishes) are freshly made by experienced hands. Korean food is built to share by default, and if you're doing it like you're supposed to, someone is always going out of their way to put some grilled meat on your plate for you. Even the ladies that work at the restaurant will hover by you to make sure your group is getting enough food. If you're doing it right, everyone will be talking loudly, insisting you try this or that, there'll be a lot of laughing, you'll have eaten at least 12 different items, and everyone will leave uncomfortably full with a smile on their face." Dennis Lee

Cafe Iberico
Cafe Iberico

Fideua de Marisco at Cafe Iberico [Photograph: Roger Kamholz]

"For group dining, I like to go fairly old school. Cafe Iberico is not only group-friendly and highly accessible, despite the likelihood of at least a slight wait, but it's charming as hell. Anytime I'm here, I feel like I'm crashing someone quinceañera and it's so much fun. The restaurant feels like a humble throwback amidst the sea of hifalutin, trendy spots in River North. And naturally, tapas lend themselves perfectly to group sharing. Cafe Iberico doles out tapas as classic as they come, in ample portion sizes, and they're dirt cheap to boot. If it were BYOPiñata, it would be perfect." Matt Kirouac

Mercadito
Mercadito

Hongos Tacos at Mercadito [Photograph: Roger Kamholz]

"The restaurant is incredibly loud and you'll be squished right up to the table next to you, but it's all part of the fun at Mercadito. They'll happily take a reservation for a large group if you call and it's a great place for a birthday or other celebration. The vast selection of tacos and guacamole are meant to be shared, so order a lot and be sure to get some of their signature margaritas." Tessa McLean

Balena
Balena

Mushrooms, fontina, taleggio, scallion, and thyme pizza at Balena [Photograph: Amber Gibson]

"The pizze and paste are ideal for sharing, not to mention the 36 oz. steak, the best I've had in Chicago. The private dining room is a great option for up to 40 people, or you can simply dine at a larger table in the main dining room. The servers and kitchen are great at coursing out the meal, replacing plates and silverware and making recommendations on how much to order. There are plenty of vegetarian options as well, if that's of concern. And it's not like a carnivore is going to feel deprived about burrata or mushroom pizza. Great cocktails too." Amber Gibson