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Bigger is Better: 5 Restaurants for Holiday Parties

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Dec 10, 2013

The holidays are a perfect time to gather friends and family together for a good meal. But who wants to dirty the dishes (or clean up)? It takes a certain kind of panache for a restaurant to accommodate large groups. Square footage notwithstanding, there needs to be strong management, kitchen staff and trained servers in place to execute a flawless dinner party.

EDGE offers five restaurant picks that are surefire bets for large parties, featuring private dining spaces, innovative cocktails and signature dishes, and a wide variety of toothsome treats for everyone in your group. From seafood to steak and Turkish to tapas, these hot spots have exactly what you're looking for to keep your family hearty, happy and hale!

NEW ORLEANS: Galatoire’s

For a quintessential New Orleans classic that boasts traditional Creole specialties in a charming atmosphere that hosts big groups, Galatoire’s is the place to go. Founded in 1905 on Bourbon Street, the restaurant has more than 2,000 square feet of space on the street level, plus a second floor dining room for 250, with hand-screened cotton twill upholstery in silver and gold damask as well as scaled brass chandeliers.

The third floor is a smaller, private dining area with seating up to 18 for intimate events. The atmosphere is European, and the menu (which hasn’t changed in 100 years) offers specialties like Trout Almondine, Shrimp Clemenceau, Etouffee and Marguery, Seafood Okra Gumbo and Oysters en Brochette. Be sure to try their Sweet Potato Cheesecake or the famed chocolate-crusted pecan pie. Rated best fine dining in 2012’s AAA Southern Traveler’s Annual Best of the South list.
209 Bourbon St.


Among the Innovative Dining Group’s passel of fine dining restaurants is BOA Steakhouse, a 13,000-square-foot restaurant accented by water and fire elements. Design features include modern, sleek banquettes and dark wood paired with grey slate, with intimate lighting. The private cocktail lounge features a display of one of the largest privately owned collections of rare international liquors. Locals love the outdoor seating, with comfy couches and a fireplace.

Perfect for the carnivorous clan, your guests can carve in to top-quality steaks and chops including a selection of prime Omaha 40 Day Dry Aged New York Strip and Bone In Rib Eye, plus certified organic beef, all served up with BOA’s own J-1 sauce. Speaking of sauced, check out their Wine Spectator award-winning wine list. BOA can be pricey, but for dry-aged steak or Wagyu beef in a refined setting, BOA is worth the sizzle.
9200 Sunset Blvd.

CHICAGO: Pump Room

For a restaurant where the dishing is best left to the celebrity guests, Pump Room in Ian Schrager’s Public Chicago hotel has a surprisingly broad and inviting farm-to-table menu. The restaurant specializes in "simply prepared" dishes, and entreés of note include Roasted Walleye with mushrooms, a Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Chop and Roasted Lobster with Oregano and Chili. Their burger with grated farm cheddar and pickled jalapenos will appeal to those with simpler tastes, and late-night tapas are great for a quick snack. For dessert, pecan pie with bourbon ice cream is an adult twist on a holiday favorite.

In the evening, the bar transforms into a ’30s-era supper club. Big parties can enjoy the private dining space, where groups of 26-40 people can enjoy the custom white gold leaf walls with muted tones of gold, grey and brown with a pop of moss green, and the space-age collection of spherical lamps. Try their signature sour cherry Old Fashioned, with Templeton Rye, sour cherry, yuzu and Angostura bitters.
1301 North State Parkway

CLEVELAND: Luxe Kitchen & Lounge

Located in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, Luxe is a relaxed bistro that is beloved by locals and LGBTs alike. Its glass-fronted open kitchen looks through an exposed brick archway to the 60-seat main dining room, which pairs well with the stamped tin ceiling. This is American cuisine at its finest, from the array of appetizer bruschetta and charcuteries to an alluring array of pizzas like braised short rib with fontina and chives (a pairing also available as gnocchi). Grilled rainbow trout is served with warm potato and green bean salad, while the pappardelle comes is paired with roasted pork shoulder in lieu of a beef or veal ragu. The Parma ham Cubano sandwich is a favorite -- try it with a side of stuffed piquillo peppers.

The wide range of dishes, including many vegetarian options, will keep everyone in your party happy. Speaking of which, Happy Hour in the lounge offers two for one drinks during the week and DJs spin Thursday through Sunday. Luxe can accommodate large private parties in their second dining room.
6605 Detroit Avenue


Tired of turkey during the holidays? Perhaps it’s time for Turkish, at the Gallery Place restaurant Zaytinya. Under the direction of James Beard Award-winning chef José Andrés (aka "the boy wonder of culinary Washington") this moderately priced Greek/Turkish/Lebanese mezze restaurant churns out original and unexpected dishes like Bantijan Bil Laban, a crispy eggplant dish, artisanal cheese pikilia and Ottoman pilaf. The deconstructed dishes like "liquid" kalamata olives and Caviar Salata air bread go way beyond falafel, and the small plates encourage socializing and allow everyone to sample the wide variety of excellent mezze -- all served with house made fresh pita bread.

Zaytinya offers special menus and private party spaces of any size and style, from the soaring mezzanine space to the intimate bar and "blue room." But your family might enjoy the rustic terrace, bordered with peeling birch trees twinkling with lights. Be sure to try the Pom Fili cocktail of white wine, vodka and pomegranate, as well as non-alcoholic options such as homemade lemon, ginger beer or baklava sodas. At $25 per person, the special four-course lunch menu is an economic way to celebrate without breaking the bank.
701 9th Street NW

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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