A long lunch that turns into dinner (and a serious food coma) is easily one of our all time favourite things to indulge in. Throw in the chance to try every single dish worth trying on the menu and we’re sold. Long tables and bottomless bottles of wine are definitely on the cards at these Sydney restaurants, so grab your crew and head to one of these restaurants that are nailing group dining in Sydney.
Australian produce has never looked quite as good as it does at Ester, with a menu that revolves around the custom-built wood-fired oven. The meals at this excellent group dining restaurant are designed to share and we recommend that you do exactly that, whether you opt for the set menu or not. We hate food envy more than almost anything, so it’s the set menu that is calling our name, featuring winners like raw kingfish with mandarin and cucumber, crispy squid dumplings and three milks with rosemary and olive oil for dessert.
Built on the ethos that sharing is caring (our words, not theirs), Nomad is one big celebration of seasonal Australian produce, wrapped up in their comprehensive menu of share plates and meats from the grill and wood-fired oven. Their décor is all long tables and inviting spaces that are designed to accommodate large groups. In the way of food, there are two options for shared menus, which feature dishes like kingfish ceviche with avocado, finger lime and coriander cracker, BBQ lamb rump and an ice cream sandwich of olive oil parfait, halva crumble, pistachio and honeycomb.
Manta Restaurant & Bar
Combining a world-class view of Sydney Harbour and a menu that makes the most of the same waterside location, Manta take pride in their sustainable sourcing practices. Their tasting menu is the main event, and all of that beautiful seafood is woven throughout, from the organic sourdough to start, to the grilled silver dory (with parsnip, chilli, garlic and cime de rape) and the pavlova (with mango & lemon curd, passion fruit, Chantilly cream and strawberry sorbet), bringing it home as the final course.
Tequila Mockingbird is a sprawling restaurant, spread across all three storeys of the restored terrace building in Paddington. The size of your group will determine which level you will find yourself dining on, but regardless of where you land, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the menu, which is a contemporary take on Latin American cuisine. The tasting menus, of which there are two, reflect this with meals like alpaca and mozzarella empanadas, broccolini mole with cured egg yolk and barbeque lamb shoulder with red chimichurri.
Public House Petersham
Laid back vibes and good quality pub grub is in large supply at Public House Petersham. Their outdoor space is ideal for a Sunday session, since their long tables, bench seating and huge bar spaces can more than accommodate any large group. Their menu is full of generous portions, with wood-fired pizzas and roasted meats from the rotisserie and a specially catered kid’s menu. For the big kids, there is pinball and arcade games hidden in a side room, so it’s a win-win.
Nothing screams party time quite as loud as bulk Mexican dining, especially when the menu is chocked full of fresh, seasonal and quintessentially Mexican fare. This is the perfect place to load up your plate, drink far too many margaritas with your mates and still manage to dodge the food coma (that wouldn’t pair well with the aforementioned margaritas), since Los Vida prides themselves on delivering healthy dishes. There are three set menu options, so all hunger levels will be catered for, but we recommend you go for the biggun, because it includes dessert.
He may be one of the newer kids on the block, but thankfully Bar Machiavelli is following in the footsteps of their big brother, delivering authentic Italian fare that will keep every single person in your crew happy. Possibly the best reason to head here with a group is to try every single dish on the menu, because trust us, you’ll want to, with dishes like osso bucco with risotto alla Milanese and tagliatelle with black Tasmanian truffle on offer.
Papi Chulo is the best place to eat and drink away the sunny afternoon with your mates, particularly if you have a hankering for no-fuss meat dishes. Their meat is marinated in house and cooked over wood for a minimum of six hours, so you can be damn sure that you’ll be treated to succulent, melt-in-your-mouth meat, reminiscent of America’s Deep South restaurants. The space is airy and light-filled, boasting uninterrupted water views from its prime vantage point on Manly Wharf and with tables spanning the length of the restaurant; there will be plenty of space for even your biggest group. Just book ahead of time, to be sure.
Rising Sun Workshop
It’s not just the motorcycle workshop spaces that are communal at Rising Sun, with large upstairs dining tables that are waiting for your group to take over. The dinner menu continues the sharing theme, with a selection of share plates that will have you itching to order one of absolutely everything if you are as addicted to share plates as we are. Plus, Rising Sun is a social enterprise that relies on your huge appetite to keep the workshop affordable and you know, in business. So you will actually be doing the community some good. Hey, any excuse to guts out will do, right?
North Bondi Fish
If there’s one thing Matt Moran knows how to do well (besides cook), it’s creating a restaurant that will ply you and your friends with everything on their share-style menu and fun cocktails like the Kentucky Toddy and Sailor Jerry. Kick things off at North Bondi Fish with king crab sliders and a selection of cured seafood, before moving on to the heavier stuff, like bug meat linguine or a whole baked snapper. And if the view over Bondi isn’t enough to encourage you to settle in and stay a while, then we don’t know what will.
CHISWICK is one of the main culprits for making day drinking classy and as far as we’re concerned, the more people you bring along for the fun, the better. The picturesque setting means that everything is insanely ‘gram-worthy, which is important when selecting the location for your next catch up. Their wine list is comprehensive, with a strong emphasis on Australian wines, but also featuring bottles from New Zealand, Italy and France. Once you’ve dedicated your time to selecting a tipple, hand over the reigns and opt for the shared menu. That’s enough work for one day, thank you very much.
While we’re on the theme of ‘grammable restaurants, acre eatery is the newest and prettiest restaurant slash urban farm to hit Sydney and it is exactly what you would expect. The space is reminiscent of a farm homestead, with high ceilings, exposed beams and timber accents throughout. The food is both stunning and simplistic, with each dish created to celebrate the farm’s produce and the long, wooden banquet tables are aplenty at acre, welcoming any group you want to throw at them.
Breathing new life into an old hairdresser on Enmore Road is Stanbuli, a Turkish meze bar with not just one, but two share menu options. Expect charcoal meats, perfect dips, freshly baked bread and some seriously divine mussels stuffed with rice just like one could expect to find in Istanbul. A helpful tip, after all we’re all friends here, go for the $75 menu. Yes, the $65 is all well and good but if you come here you want to do things properly (which includes byo stretchy pants) because the second option comes with dessert and it is well worth a taste and any added calories.
The Commons Local Eating House
The Commons is a restaurant serving family-style food that is seasonally influenced and just plain delicious. Their menu celebrates the producers of our fair city and surrounds, with a focus on sustainability and ethical farming practices from the vegetables to the meat and seafood. Their wine is a similar story, with a value driven wine list with bottles hailing from small production Australian vineyards. Call ahead of time and try to nab yourself the mini dining room upstairs, which will make you feel like you’re at home, except that the food and service is better than anything you will get at your place.
Lane Cove & Hunters Hill
No-fuss Italian fare done right is exactly what you can expect from both of the Via Napoli locations in Sydney, where you will be welcomed with a kiss on the cheek in that familiar way that only Europeans can get away with. The main drawcards here are the one and two metre long pizzas, which are crafted with as much care as any pizza in Italy, and delivered with a flourish. They certainly don’t compromise on quality when creating such a sizable pizza, so really it is a no brainer.
El Camino Cantina
If there is one thing that is a match made in group dining heaven it is your crew and some good ol’ Tex-Mex. With everything from your classic chips and salsa, to jalapeno poppers (we’ll take at least two serves), steak tacos and everyone’s favourite the spiced chicken fajitas El Camino is the fiesta your next group date has been waiting for.
Deus Bar & Kitchen
Fashion label turned restaurant, Deus Bar & Kitchen is the newest Camperdown resident, serving up fresh and hearty meals daily. The menu is divided into four sections and the snacks, plates & sides, larger plates and sweets are all perfect for sharing, which basically means that you can just order even more food without any guilt. If you’re feeling extra hungry, like we almost always are, order the braised lamb shoulder with gremolata and white beans to share and a side of Norm and Robyn’s potatoes with confit garlic, herbs and lemon. Sundays are definitely worth a mention too, since they offer a roast special, which is the best way to chill out with mates come Sunday arvo.
Want more of the best group dining restaurant in Sydney? Here are 10 more of the best Sydney bars and restauranst for group dining.
Image credit: Federica Portentoso