Dine Like You’re with Family: 7 Communal Dining Experiences in San Francisco
More San Francisco restaurants are offering family-style menus, which means your table will all share the same dining experience, and sometimes have access to larger-format dishes. It creates a fun communal feeling, and also feels very bountiful on the table. These are also great locations for birthdays and similar celebrations. Enjoy. (And don’t forget to pass the plates.)
Amber India (25 Yerba Buena Lane)
It goes without saying that Indian food is all about sharing at the table. The menu at this upscale Indian restaurant in SOMA is varied and inventive, so you’ll have to make some hard decisions—just make sure you order some lamb chops and their dal, one of the city’s best (and creamiest).
Cockscomb (564 4th St.)
Large groups are right at home at chef Chris Cosentino’s industrial-chic SoMa restaurant, with a menu that pays homage to San Francisco (and its seasonal bounty). While the oven-roasted pig’s head gets the most attention, the custom-cut pin bone steak that comes out on a wood cutting board is a crowd pleaser (and comes with accompaniments like bone marrow dip).
Liholiho Yacht Club (871 Sutter St.)
One of the hottest tables in town is this Lower Nob Hill restaurant, where chef Ravi Kapur weaves in influences from his Hawaiian upbringing into a menu bright with California seasonality. The appetizers are fantastic, but your group will need to save room for the whole section dedicated to large mains (like their fried Cornish game hen and beef shortribs).
M.Y. China (845 Market St.)
Even though this restaurant is tucked in the Westfield Mall, the caliber of the Chinese food here is excellent. There are plenty of large, round tables for family-style dining, and request the special banquet menus, featuring dishes like their crispy roasted chicken or Peking duck.
Petit Crenn (609 Hayes St.)
This casual-chic offshoot from Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn) is quite the Hayes Valley hotspot. There are two seatings a night and one menu, which is served to your table family-style ($79 per person, including service). Dishes are rustic French with a little seaside flair (she’s from Brittany), ranging from gougères to cauliflower gratin to a whole trout. Dietary restrictions can be accommodated with enough advance notice.
The Progress (1525 Fillmore St.)
The sister restaurant to State Bird Provisions (just next door), the inventive banquet-style seasonal menu here has you choose 6 dishes from a selection of 15 or thereabouts ($65 per person), and then the kitchen will size if for your party. Everything comes out on beautiful pottery, it’s quite a dream California experience.
The Slanted Door (One Ferry Building)
It would be hard to imagine dining here without being in a large group, otherwise you can’t make your way through all the top dishes on Charles Phan’s updated Vietnamese menu, from the daikon rice cakes to the cellophane noodles and shaking beef. And then there’s the excellent wine list.
Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column, tablehopper, about the San Francisco dining and drinking scene, get all the latest news at www.tablehopper.com. Follow @tablehopper on Twitter and Instagram for more San Francisco finds.