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Carmelo’s Spaghetti Room in St. Paul.
Carmelo’s Spaghetti Room

These Twin Cities Restaurants Are Great for Group Dining

For holiday gatherings, work parties, and celebrations of all kinds

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Carmelo’s Spaghetti Room in St. Paul.
| Carmelo’s Spaghetti Room

Dining with a group is a tricky endeavor. A restaurant that can accommodate a larger party, of course, is important, but so is a menu with enough variety to suit each person’s tastes. The other key factor is a little harder to put a finger on — a welcoming, convivial atmosphere where a group can enjoy a meal without feeling cramped or hushed. From dim sum brunches to pasta dinners and traditional Filipino kamayan, here are eight Twin Cities restaurants that work well for group dining.

Note that these restaurants are listed geographically.

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Mandarin Kitchen

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Find one of the Cities’ best dim sum brunches at Mandarin Kitchen in Bloomington, tucked into a strip mall on Lyndale Avenue. On weekends, this spot is packed with families, and the line often wraps out the door. Build your brunch off the voluminous menu: Start with small dishes like pan-fried turnip cakes, and add pillowy steamed chicken buns, crispy egg custards, and steamed pork dumplings, and share it all at one of the restaurant’s many round tables.

Apoy is a great spot for Filipino food under any circumstance, but if you’re dining with a group, consider making a reservation for a kamayan feast. This traditional Filipino meal is served on banana leaves and eaten by hand — Apoy’s version is a bountiful spread of skewered meat, seafood, grilled vegetables, and fresh fruit over a bed of rice. Make a reservation via email.

Maria's Cafe

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A local favorite for daytime dining, Maria’s specializes in both Columbian fare and American breakfast classics. It serves every pancake you could dream of: chocolate chip, wild rice, plantain with cotija cheese, and more. The cafe is spacious, meaning you have a good shot at a last-minute brunch table on the weekend, when the specials feature arepas, black beans, sauteed yucca, and sweet plantains.

Tea House Chinese Restaurant

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After more than a decade on University Avenue, Tea House remains a staple for excellent Chinese fare —  Szechuan in particular. It’s a great place to dine family-style: Pair a steaming bowl of thick, supple kudai lamb noodles with the whole braised walleye or the classic kung pao chicken, peppered with crispy peanuts. On the weekend, come for a dim sum brunch.

Kramarczuk Sausage Company

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Kramarczuk’s isn’t a traditional table-service restaurant, but it’s a great spot to push some tables together for a casual lunch — and the abundant deli offerings mean there’s something for everyone. Sidle up to the counter for house-made, coarse-ground Ukrainian sausage or a heaping plate of pierogies. Round it out with a few Bavarian cream puffs.

A tray with a Polish on a bun with sauerkraut
Kramarczuk’s handmade sausage.
Kramarczuk’s

Maya Cuisine - Minneapolis

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Maya Cuisine’s roomy, courtyard-like dining area is accommodating to large groups of diners — and though it doesn’t hurt to make a reservation, you might be able to find a spot for a last-minute meal. The tacos and quesadillas are always crowd-pleasers, but Maya Cuisine also serves larger plates like a slow-roasted cochinita pibil, stewed in a zippy guajillo sauce. The restaurant also has a great weekend brunch buffet.

Carmelo's Spaghetti Room

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There’s something so convivial about pasta, isn’t there? Carmelo’s plush booths and cozy atmosphere add to the effect. A reservation here is key, as Carmelo’s is often packed on the weekend and only has so many large tables — but it’s a great neighborhood spot for celebrations of all kinds. Share a plate of bruschetta caprese before tucking into the house-made cacio e pepe or sausage ravioli.

A plate of linguine pasta with red sauce and shrimp.
The shrimp Macalester from Carmelo’s.
Carmelo’s Spaghetti Room

iPho by Saigon

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iPho by Saigon serves what may be the biggest bowls of pho in town — the famous “jumbo” bowl weighs 10 pounds. If you’re not up for the challenge, a regular or XL still hits the spot. iPho offers every kind of meat combo imaginable, from a seafood medley to brisket and flank steak, making the pho menu endlessly customizable for each diner’s taste. (The restaurant has a fun family setting, too.) This pho broth runs a little on the sweet side and is laced with anise and cloves.

Mandarin Kitchen

Find one of the Cities’ best dim sum brunches at Mandarin Kitchen in Bloomington, tucked into a strip mall on Lyndale Avenue. On weekends, this spot is packed with families, and the line often wraps out the door. Build your brunch off the voluminous menu: Start with small dishes like pan-fried turnip cakes, and add pillowy steamed chicken buns, crispy egg custards, and steamed pork dumplings, and share it all at one of the restaurant’s many round tables.

Apoy

Apoy is a great spot for Filipino food under any circumstance, but if you’re dining with a group, consider making a reservation for a kamayan feast. This traditional Filipino meal is served on banana leaves and eaten by hand — Apoy’s version is a bountiful spread of skewered meat, seafood, grilled vegetables, and fresh fruit over a bed of rice. Make a reservation via email.

Maria's Cafe

A local favorite for daytime dining, Maria’s specializes in both Columbian fare and American breakfast classics. It serves every pancake you could dream of: chocolate chip, wild rice, plantain with cotija cheese, and more. The cafe is spacious, meaning you have a good shot at a last-minute brunch table on the weekend, when the specials feature arepas, black beans, sauteed yucca, and sweet plantains.

Tea House Chinese Restaurant

After more than a decade on University Avenue, Tea House remains a staple for excellent Chinese fare —  Szechuan in particular. It’s a great place to dine family-style: Pair a steaming bowl of thick, supple kudai lamb noodles with the whole braised walleye or the classic kung pao chicken, peppered with crispy peanuts. On the weekend, come for a dim sum brunch.

Kramarczuk Sausage Company

Kramarczuk’s isn’t a traditional table-service restaurant, but it’s a great spot to push some tables together for a casual lunch — and the abundant deli offerings mean there’s something for everyone. Sidle up to the counter for house-made, coarse-ground Ukrainian sausage or a heaping plate of pierogies. Round it out with a few Bavarian cream puffs.

A tray with a Polish on a bun with sauerkraut
Kramarczuk’s handmade sausage.
Kramarczuk’s

Maya Cuisine - Minneapolis

Maya Cuisine’s roomy, courtyard-like dining area is accommodating to large groups of diners — and though it doesn’t hurt to make a reservation, you might be able to find a spot for a last-minute meal. The tacos and quesadillas are always crowd-pleasers, but Maya Cuisine also serves larger plates like a slow-roasted cochinita pibil, stewed in a zippy guajillo sauce. The restaurant also has a great weekend brunch buffet.

Carmelo's Spaghetti Room

There’s something so convivial about pasta, isn’t there? Carmelo’s plush booths and cozy atmosphere add to the effect. A reservation here is key, as Carmelo’s is often packed on the weekend and only has so many large tables — but it’s a great neighborhood spot for celebrations of all kinds. Share a plate of bruschetta caprese before tucking into the house-made cacio e pepe or sausage ravioli.

A plate of linguine pasta with red sauce and shrimp.
The shrimp Macalester from Carmelo’s.
Carmelo’s Spaghetti Room

iPho by Saigon

iPho by Saigon serves what may be the biggest bowls of pho in town — the famous “jumbo” bowl weighs 10 pounds. If you’re not up for the challenge, a regular or XL still hits the spot. iPho offers every kind of meat combo imaginable, from a seafood medley to brisket and flank steak, making the pho menu endlessly customizable for each diner’s taste. (The restaurant has a fun family setting, too.) This pho broth runs a little on the sweet side and is laced with anise and cloves.

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