Have you ever had one of those scenarios where catching up with a few friends for dinner and drinks spirals into 20 hungry people fighting for a place at the table? We know that sometimes the best laid plans to keep things small and simple sadly can’t stay that way, so we’ve scouted Melbourne’s best restaurants for groups for your next large gathering. Whether you want your own private room for you and yours, or a place that provides banquets big enough for all of your extended family, try these top spots for a group dinner in Melbourne.
This Brunswick gem is one of our fave restaurants for groups on Melbourne’s northside. While there is ample space for more than a few friends in Pope Joan’s sun-soaked courtyard, for a slightly more private (and fancy) affair we would recommend booking out the Garden Room. It can hold up to 18 guests and is available for both daytime and nighttime events. It’s a pay-per-head deal here with set menus depending on your time of arrival, so you won’t spend half of your life waiting for everyone to make a decision. We can assure you that when it comes to Pope Joan’s food and drink, you are in good hands.
Prahran and Hampton
If you’re looking to accommodate a large Italian family get together (as in, up to 60 people), La Svolta in Prahran and Hampton could be just the spot for you. Interestingly, La Svolta’s menu is inspired by many different areas of Italy, rather than focusing solely on one region’s cuisine, which is sure to please any Italophile. For large group bookings they offer set menus; $45 per head will get you antipasti, pizza and two pasta dishes, and $60 is the same and includes a meat dish. Perfetto!
Red Spice Road
An express banquet at Red Spice Road has been tried and tested more than a few times, and it comes highly recommended. The express menus change fortnightly and will have you fed and happy in under an hour, which is perfect if you’re off to catch a concert/film/theatre show in the city. If there’s 12 or more in your party, you must participate in a banquet, which includes three mains and an appetiser for $28 per person, of five mains and an appetiser for $36 per person. If you’re planning on rolling particularly deep one evening (up to 60 of you), Red Spice Road also has function rooms that can be hired out for large group bookings for special occasions.
If pizza isn’t the ultimate sharing food then we don’t know what is, and you’ll find some excellent slices at il.tavo in Nunawading. This venue is excellent for both small and big groups, with banchetto (banquet) menus available for those who are happy to go with the flow. Seriously, the food will keep coming until you tell them that you’re ‘pieno come un uovo’ or ‘full as an egg’, so prepare thyself for an Italian feast, best shared with family and friends.
If Middle Eastern cuisine is what you and your pals are craving, look no further than Rumi in Brunswick East for a great group feed. There are two options for banquets here and any group larger than eight people must order the banquet. The $45 per head includes four courses, and the $50 is for five courses. They recommend setting aside two hours to get through the banquet, and we can say from experience, there is certainly enough food to go around.
The Standard Hotel
While technically a pub, not a group-friendly restaurant, we’re going to go ahead and recommend The Standard Hotel for a spacious meal in their beer garden while the weather is still good. Considering its location is surrounded by residential space rather than being on the main drag of Brunswick Street, this ever-busy pub is surprisingly relaxing. Posse up, grab a couple of beer or cider jugs, and order yourself some of the best pub food in Melbourne.
If you’re keen on sharing some American BBQ style nosh amongst your nearest and dearest, book a table at The Gem. Groups larger than 12 can choose from one of their set menus or alternatively you can create your own set menu with staff. Meat lovers should go for the BBQ Set Menu, with plenty of BBQ and smoked meats served on communal platters, creating a casual, free-for-all experience. For those groups larger than 20 people, there are also two private dining spaces available for hire at this gem of a Melbourne pub.
HuTong Dumpling Bar
No list of Melbourne’s best restaurants for groups would be complete without a dumpling joint, and we’re naming HuTong Dumpling Bar as our pick. While there are plenty of cheap and cheerful BYO options available for big groups up and down Chinatown, Hutong has three levels of dining to suit your occasion. Whether your thinking of splitting a Peking duck, a banquet fit for a king, or want to just go nuts on the dumplings, there is a group dining option here for you and your crew.
Undisputedly one of Melbourne’s best Mexican restaurants, Mamasita only takes reservations for groups of 8-10 for dinner, so it’s the perfect excuse to get some of your favourite people together. These group settings are offered the Chef’s Selection Banquet ranging from $45-$65 to feed you five to six courses. Come on, everyone, now is the time to eat delicious Mexican food and drink some damn good tequila with your buds.
Bringing Bavarian food to South Wharf, Munich Brauhaus has all the qualities we know and love from a classic German beer hall. There are set menus available for group bookings, however you are also welcome to order whatever your heart desires from the A la Carte menu. Grab a stein of whatever German bier you fancy, order yourself a pork knuckle and enjoy the water view of the Yarra. Prost to that.
Image Credit: il.tavo by Simon Shiff for The Urban List