Picky Eater’s Paradise: Restaurants to Please a Crowd #friendsgettogether

You’ve been there before. You’re planning dinner with out-of-town guests and you have to find a venue. You don’t know everyone’s personal dietary restrictions or preferences, and, more important, you don’t have time to make inquiries. You just need to find a place that is going to serve delicious food that will satisfy each guest – a tall order given the number of possible considerations there are around what people choose to eat.

You’ll want to steer clear of single-cuisine (or single-dish!) restaurants, but fusion and seasonally focused eateries typically have expansive menus that can both satisfy the finicky and wow the adventurous. To help you plan a get together with any number of picky eaters, here are five types of restaurants to please a crowd.

The Dazzler: FT33, Dallas, Texas
The menu is a head-turner, but the first thing that will catch your group’s collective eye is the restaurant itself. The Dallas Design District darling has a modern, rustic feel with a crisp open kitchen and a farmhouse-meets-industrial design aesthetic. Chef Matt McCallister creates artistic dishes featuring fresh ingredients from the restaurant’s personal garden as well as local purveyors. The oft-changing menu is broad and exciting — think chicken liver and onion sausage with potato porridge and black truffle, and smoked potato with maitake, pictured. The chef’s tasting menu, available Tuesday through Thursday with advanced notice, will create long-lasting memories for you and your out-of-town guests.

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The Casual-Yet-Cool Catch-All: Fig Tree Café-Hillcrest, San Diego, California
A quick glance at the menu for Fig Tree Cafe reveals a cornucopia of offerings that includes short ribs, pork belly, pork chops, pizza, ravioli, jidori chicken, crispy eggplant, and much, much more. The short-rib flatbread, pictured, and meatloaf hash are persistent favorites in this relaxing venue with a fresh-air vibe. Gorgeous boards of cheese and charcuterie will whet your appetite for more, and a broad list of drinks both soft and hard will rejuvenate your group any time of day. Try one of the antioxidant juice shots (açai, mangosteen, or goji) or a flight of all three! Or, throw caution to the wind and settle in with a pomegranate Bellini or strawberry mojito.

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The Hotspot with the Broad Menu: Essex, New York, New York
From oysters and tacos to veggie burgers and seared ahi tuna, pictured, this Lower East Side Sunday brunch favorite has the goods and the space to make your group meal a winner whatever day of the week it is. If you’re a drinking crowd, you’ll want to hit their wallet-friendly happy hour for $1 oysters and half-price drinks Sunday through Friday.

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Tweet of the Week: We’re Seriously Good for Groups

Brunch is serious business in most major cities — and everywhere, come to think of it. After all, who doesn’t want to celebrate the weekend with a midday cocktail and sweet and savory eats? Brunch also brings out folks in large numbers, especially if you’re popular like @TroyPayne. Did you know you can find tables for up to 20 people on OpenTable? You can! For breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner — any meal. You can find availability for large groups through a basic search, or you can also consult your local Diners’ Choice listing for Good for Groups. Thanks for the shoutout, @TroyPayne. Enjoy what we hope is an epic brunch!

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The OpenTable 2010 ‘Good for Groups’ Diners’ Choice Award Winners Are In!

Diners' Choice Award winner Wildwood Barbeque in NYC is great for groups!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — or close to it. And, that means getting together with friends and family to celebrate the season! Finding room on your calendar may be tough, but finding the right restaurant won’t be, thanks to the 2010 OpenTable Diners’ Choice Award winners in our ‘Good for Groups’ category. Derived from more than 7 million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for 12,000+ restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this list indicates the 50 best restaurants in the OpenTable network for group dining.

Not just based on space, the winning restaurants serve up superior service and all types of delicious dishes, including family-style Italian suppers and authentic Mexican specialties to hearty barbecue favorites and juicy steaks. The Good for Groups Diners’ Choice Award winners guarantee your group will have a great time and a great meal.

Congratulations to all the honorees, who include Buca di Beppo, Gyu-KakuLoca Luna, and Trattoria Cinque, as well as 45 others!

What makes a restaurant good for groups? We asked Diners’ Choice winner Wildwood Barbeque’s Pitmaster “Big Lou” Elrose, and he said, “Wildwood Barbeque welcomes big groups with open arms! We’re a great place to gather all your friends and family or office mates for a fun time and there is something for everyone from multi-regional American BBQ, addictive bar snacks, salads and sandwiches in addition to pitchers of beer and an extensive selection of whiskey and bourbon.”

Did your favorite restaurant make our list? Do you enjoy dining out in groups or do you prefer smaller parties? Weigh in here or join the discussion on Facebook.

50 Best Restaurant Bars in the U.S.

Top-50-Vibrant-Bar-Scene-RestaurantsDo you enjoy starting — or ending — your evening of dining out with a cocktail at a restaurant’s bar? Of course, you do — which is why OpenTable is pleased to announce the winners of our 2009 Diners’ Choice Awards for restaurants with the “Most Vibrant Bar Scenes.” Derived from nearly four million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 10,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this list speaks to diners who love to mix and mingle at the bar before or after dinner.

Out just in time for the super-social holiday season, this list, along with our Good for Groups winners as well as our new Private Dining Pages, can help you find the perfect place to get in the spirit of the season with friends, family, and coworkers. Winners include Chicago’s 33 Club, Chino Latino in Minneapolis, Henry’s 12th Street Tavern in Portland, Loft 610 in Plano (where “Top Chef” contestant Tre Wilcox runs the kitchen), meZ in Charlotte, Ozumo in Oakland, and YOLO in sunny Fort Lauderdale, among others.

From classic cocktails and craft beers to seasonal creations and diverse wine lists, these bars are also feature plenty of opportunities for people watching. Tell us if your favorite made the list, and be sure to fill out OpenTable’s Dining Feedback Forms to make sure your voice is heard next year.