Restaurant for group meetup in Manhattan?
April 4, 2011 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I am coordinating this month's meetup for a group of my friends. We're about twenty people, ranging from 15 years old to middle-aged, looking for a restaurant that would have room for us on a Saturday evening. Ideas?

We have a few places we've made the rounds of, but none of those were exactly right and I'm trying to put out feelers for other ideas. Yelp is being surprisingly unhelpful (I checked "good for groups" and got back a bunch of food trucks. Well I GUESS those are good for groups...that like to stand on sidewalks.)

We need a place that:

1) Serves food. No bar-only places, although a restaurant that has a bar is a plus for us old people of the group. Or if the restaurant doesn't have a bar, maybe it's near some loose-moral-ed bar that lets in well-behaved, non-drinking minors, where we could go after we eat?
2) Allows minors. We've got 'em, and we'd like to keep them from getting arrested.
3) Has seating that would allow a group of 10-20 people to actually sit together and talk. A private/back room would work too, if it doesn't cost extra.
4) Reasonably inexpensive. Many of us are unemployed or students. We tend to stick to places where an entree costs maybe $10-15. We wouldn't say no to somewhere even cheaper than that.
5) Easily accessible by subway. We'd rather avoid the extreme ends of the island, for this reason.
6) Either takes group reservations or is likely to have room for a large-ish group on a Saturday evening (say, 6 or 7pm) even without reservations

Super-extra bonus points will be awarded for places that have open wifi, activities to do while we socialize (we flirted with the idea of Dave & Buster's, for example), or beer garden-style seating. Mostly the wifi. We're geeks like that.

In the past we've eaten at Ollie's Noodle Bar at 116th and Broadway and Sammy's Noodle Shop at 6th Ave and 11th (despite the similarity, I swear we don't have a noodle fetish and are open to other cuisines). Both of those have good food but seating our group in their somewhat-crowded quarters was a bit tricky (Sammy's less so, but we descended on them as a bit of a surprise so maybe they just didn't have prep time).

Help me be a good party planner, mefi!
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What town is the meet-up?
posted by jennstra at 1:23 PM on April 4, 2011

Response by poster: Manhattan (NYC), jennstra.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 1:25 PM on April 4, 2011

So the first place that popped to mind for some reason was Otto. It's pretty big, easy to get to, the pizzas are surprisingly affordable, I'm pretty sure they have a full bar.

But the more I think about it, the more reservations I have about it: 1) It appears they may have a mandatory "deluxe" menu for large groups. 2) Not sure how crowded it will be on a Saturday night. 3) As it is prime NYU territory around there, the bars tend to be pretty serious about carding, if you want to go out afterward.

But thought I'd throw it out there anyway. I gotta say, the combination of "big enough for 20," "cheap," and "easy to get to" has got me a little stumped.

Oh, another place that I like a lot and is affordable and maybe big enough is Il Corallo. Emphasis on maybe, though, and not sure they'll take reservations.

I really came in here thinking I could be more helpful. sorry!
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:08 PM on April 4, 2011

I've been to Carmines ( and Tony's DiNapoli ( with groups of 20+. The food is family-style, so each dish will serve 3-4 people, sometimes more. Assuming you choose wisely, you can keep costs low. They're both sit-down restaurants rather than places with activities/wifi, but I though I'd throw it out there.
posted by wiskunde at 4:18 PM on April 4, 2011

Chowhound message boards are usually good for this.
Manhattan's is at
posted by calgirl at 9:25 PM on April 4, 2011

Spice (multiple locations) could accommodate that size depending on your final headcount and which location you chose to go to (not the Upper East Side locations). It is stupid cheap and amazingly delicious. They have beer, wine and cocktails, but the cocktails are all made with Saki I believe (maybe one of the locations has a full bar). I've stuck to beer though since when I have gotten the cocktails they aren't strong enough for me. I promise you that everyone will be able to find something here.

As for the wifi, have two people turn on tethering on their phones and boom, you're done (and since you are geeks this shouldn't be a problem). They may also have wifi, no idea.

Lastly, no one underage is getting into a bar in the city at a time after 8pm. They card everyone pretty hard these days.

Good luck!
posted by darkgroove at 9:31 PM on April 4, 2011

Congee Village (and its sister restaurant Congee Bowery) is inexpensive, easy to get to by subway, and delicious. They have private rooms available and take reservations for big groups. The private rooms also have karaoke, and they have a liquor license.
posted by kathryn at 6:50 AM on April 5, 2011

If no proper restaurant fits the bill, I wonder if the food court at GCT might do. It includes at least one proper restaurant, a Mexican place. Or sit in the common area and take your picks of cuisines; Brother Jimmy's is especially good, if you want a little comfort food.
posted by troywestfield at 10:55 AM on April 5, 2011

Best answer: Congee Bowery's delicious! Also, Food Court 32 might be a option. It's an upscale food court (Korean food, in your price range) and has some nice seating upstairs. It'd be a good place to relax with your group.
posted by wiskunde at 5:54 PM on April 5, 2011

Response by poster: Food Court 32 looks PERFECT. I have officially made that my "suck it up and deal with my choice, people" decision for the group. Congee Village and Spice both also look interesting; might try those in the future.

Thanks all!
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 11:29 AM on April 6, 2011

As the weather gets nicer, there's always Shake Shack. You just need a bit of extra patience to grab enough chairs for everyone.
posted by kathryn at 8:18 PM on April 6, 2011

Response by poster: Well, we went with Food Court 32. There was plenty of space, but it was seriously LOUD in there and I got a lot of complaints from people at the meetup. Shoulda known nothing would meet ALL the requirements...
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 12:46 PM on May 5, 2011

Sorry to hear it was so loud. It was rather quiet when I went -- we went up to the top level and saw a couple of people studying/working -- but I bet it depends on the time you go. I hope the group had fun in any case!
posted by wiskunde at 3:34 PM on May 7, 2011

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