Group Friendly: Restaurants in Toronto

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 (Dirty Dancing reference for those not up on their 80s film classics) 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. 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. In today’s day and age, stretchy pants always have to be an option.

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. 

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.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Lobsters and snow crabs in ample quantity for any size group.

Courtney’s expert tip: The set menu is a great deal for a smaller group and will certainly fill your bellies.

Read more about Fishman Lobster Clubhouse →

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 French flavours. Chef Lee’s Singapore Slaw has been a fixture on the menu for years and is well worth the splurge. The presentation is impressive, with the salad mixed at the table and sculpted into a tower. Inventive ingredients range from daikon to fennel seedlings and edible flower petals. Save room for an inventive dessert, such as the French and Chinese Tong Yuen with a rice dumpling, chocolate nougat, Indian pastry and strawberry/creme brûlée. What?!?

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Susur Lee’s restaurant is a fantastic place to share a memorable foodie experience with your group.

Courtney’s expert tip: It’s super easy to book a private dining experience for your group at Lee. Check out their website for more details.

Read more about Lee →

The Carbon Bar

Photo courtesy of Carlos Pacheco

When you walk into the carbon bar, you feel like you have stepped into the future, with sky high ceilings and glowing white lamps. There is a lot of history in this building (it was once a Disney dance studio!) but now it is all delicious BBQ bites, like the wood fired sweet and spicy ribs with coleslaw and dill pickles. There are also a host of snacks (crocodile bites, anyone?) and craft cocktails that are impressively balanced. Private dining is divine here, with a chef’s table option for a group up to 14, or for larger groups there is the Green Room, an upstairs private dining space which gives a prime view of the dining room.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: BBQ heaven and a private dining room – nothing wrong with that.

Courtney’s expert tip: The carbon bar has catering available for groups of 8 of more (must be placed 48 hours in advance), if you decide to keep your group at home.

Read more about The Carbon Bar →

Take the “a” off of “Planta” and you will realize what this restaurant is all about (and it’s not the hokey pokey). Marketed as plant-based cuisine rather than vegan, this fresh and airy restaurant specializes in delicious food from around the globe that any meat-eater would be proud to chomp. Planta burgers have queso, pickles, buffalo aioli and spiced fries. Enjoy cashew mozzarella, ranch dressing and cauliflower on your pizza. The creative and innovative dishes are plated beautifully and and the light and airy dining room and private dining area will impress your group.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Plant-based dining is sexy and hip. What better way to show off to your friends?

Courtney’s expert tip: Larger groups are suggested to book through the private events link on their webpage.

Read more about Planta →

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 menu is seafood heavy and includes such gems as clam carbonara and miso cod with maple syrup. The Manhattans are named after neighbourhoods in Toronto (the High Park; the North York). 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.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Upscale and chic, the location couldn’t be more convenient. Let your group congregate in the heart of the city over excellent food.

Courtney’s expert tip: Luma is available for private events on Sundays, so do contact them if this is something of interest to you.

Read more about Luma →

Blu Ristorante & Lounge

Blu Ristorante & Lounge

Photo courtesy of Blu Ristorante

Blu is the kind of fine dining you want to make time for, although it won’t take much time to have a superb group experience. There are three private dining restaurant rooms, one for 12 guests, one for between 12-20 and one for 22-30. You can also fully buy out the restaurant for an event with 100 guests. Whether you go with a small crowd or a giant one, Blu is the perfect place to slurp some pasta with someone you love (or at the very least, like). Try the truffle wild boar ragu with wild mushrooms over sweet potato and ricotta gnocchi for a dish that will make your eyes roll back into your head.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Whether you are planning a breakfast meeting or a family reunion, Blu is the perfect place to eat well and sit together.

Courtney’s expert tip: Audio visual equipment is available at Blu to make your next breakfast meeting even simpler. They are private rooms, but not completely soundproof, so may want to keep the long-winded speeches to a minimum.

Read more about Blu Ristorante & Lounge →

Guu Izakaya

Guu Izakaya

Photo courtesy of Jeff

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.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: This restaurant is already noisy, so your group won’t even make a dent in the energy. Bring your rowdy friends.

Courtney’s expert tip: If you plan on trying everything, order at least two of each dish for a large group and pass everything around. Now is the time to try angus beef tongue.

Read more about Guu Izakaya →

Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie

Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie

Photo courtesy of Cluny

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 foie gras eclairs or the fried frogs legs. The large patio fits 100 people and its cobblestone floor transports you right to France.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Joie de vivre isn’t something you should keep to yourself.

Courtney’s expert tip: There are a wide variety of cocktails, but there are also fantastic mocktails if you choose not to imbibe.

Read more about Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie →



Photo courtesy of Jeff Hitchcock

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 a ton of options, from the beyond sausages to black bean, green curry and more. Meat eaters have even more variety, from kangaroo to wild boar 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.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Whether or not you come with a group, Wvrst’s communal tables make you feel part of something greater than yourself. Is that the beer talking?

Courtney’s expert tip: Get the fries with a series of dipping sauces. Truffle mushroom mayo? Come ON.

Read more about Wvrst →

El Catrin

El Catrin

Photo courtesy of Tasting Toronto

You can certainly judge the closeness of your friendship by how much guacamole you are willing to share with someone. Prepared table side, El Catrin’s comes with avocado, tomato, onion, fresh cilantro and serrano chilis. Plates are tapas style, all the better to share with your group of ravenous friends. If coming with a crowd, you must get El Jefe’s taco feast, or 2 of every taco on the menu (which has everything from beef to chipotle stewed shrimp to charred chayote squash). There are semi-private dining spaces for groups of 13 or more. Did we mention that there is the largest tequila collection in the country here? Bottoms up.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Tequila, large open spaces and sharable Mexican food make El Catrin a group positive destination.

Courtney’s expert tip: This is one of the best patios in the city. Go on a beautiful day and try to tear yourself away from the margaritas. Or brave a cold winter day by the fire pits and be rewarded with a brunch that is 50% off.

Read more about El Catrin →

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