From the Forum – Group Dinner Spots — where you can order off menu & pay separate checks

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Group Dinner Spots — where you can order off menu & pay separate checks

“I’m not having great luck booking an office dinner. We need a place where we can order off the menu and pay separate checks, for 20 or so people. Semi-private seating a plus but not required, and under $45/person ideal. We’re looking for something around the yellow/green line near downtown or the orange/blue line.

Is there some hidden gem of a search engine to help with this? Surprisingly Yelp doesn’t have a lot of intel. I’ve researched 40 places so far and am happy to share my list and notes with other group dinner planners….”

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34 Comment

  • Hill Country on 7th Street allows separate checks

    • But you can’t just order from the regular BBQ line (whatever it’s called) when you have that many people. You have to pre-select items from the menu for the group. BUT, if you agree to go super early, they are sometimes willing to waive this restriction.

      • eh, call and ask to speak to a manager, and see if you can reserve all the table in the loft area. It should hold about 20 people. But I know via open table or just speaking to host, the max you can reserve is 12 seats.

        or just reserve two tables of 10, then call and ask that those tables be next to each other.

  • Bus Boys on K street? They have the back room and if you explain the check situation I’m sure they would welcome you.

  • It’s not the nicest place, but Vapiano is basically set up for that kind of thing. It’s somewhere between fast casual and sit down. If you need seperate checks for 20 people you’re not going to have a lot of choices unfortunately.

  • While perhaps not as fancy as you’re looking for, Vapiano forces everyone to pay their own check.

    • Oh yea, that’s a good idea, but do they have space to set aside for 20ppl?

      • They will reserve tables for you in advance if you email them. I did this for a birthday and it worked out really well. I think around 20+ people came.

    • Second vote for Vapiano. The food is somewhere between pretty good and meh, but for your primary need of separate checks, it fits the bill. And the location and atmosphere are nice.

  • I don’t think you’re going to get all that in that area. Restaurants in that area are nice, and they’re not going to take the risk that everyone will just order a house salad and sit for hours. If you can do 1 tab or a set menu, you’d have a lot better chance of getting interest.

  • Vapiano might be good for this situation. They have a number of locations around the area. They are set up cafeteria style and each individual gets his or her own card to keep track of what they order which you bring to a cashier after you’ve eaten. My friend was able to get some tables reserved there for a group of about 20-25 and my sense is that they could accommodate your group size.

  • Try Bobby Vans. They have two locations downtown and did something similar for me a while back.

  • How critical is off the menu ordering? Also, I’m assuming your $45 target doesn’t include alcohol. For a group that big or larger, you might be much more successful negotiating a prix fixe menu with a couple/few limited choices. It’ll certainly make service more efficient. People can just keep individual bar tabs.

  • I was just at La Tasca with a big group, and they were pretty flexible in providing multiple checks to one large table. Although we didn’t do one check per person, you could ask if they are able to do so! Also – they have a few optional “party” menus that have set prices per person, but they serve the food “family style” and it comes with a lot of options so that everyone ends up with something they like. Not individual checks, but helps make splitting a check a lot easier…

    Agree that Hill Country is a good option too since everyone gets their own check by default there!

  • What about going to a family style place like Carmine’s? That would keep the per-person cost low. But you would still probably have to pick a few entrees ahead of time. And I think that you would have more options if you just asked your guests bring cash for the bill, rather than putting the onus on the restaurant to deal with that many separate checks.

  • Also not the nicest place, but this is easy to do at Nando’s. And they have a decent happy hour!

  • Founding Farmers in Potomac did separate checks for a party of 12 — even divided the costs of the shared appetizers by 12. Call up their DC location and ask if they can do the same.

  • As a former server, I think I would weep if someone asked me to split a check 20 ways, especially during dinner service. I think pre-fixe menu or Vappianos is the way to go in this situation.

  • For 20 people at $45.00/head, on a non-prime night, many restaurants will be able to offer you a menu with 2-3 choices of 3 courses including a glass of wine, plus a cash bar for those who want cocktails.

  • My friends and I recently did a dinner with just under 20 people at Agua 301 in Navy Yard. I thought the food was just ok, but they allowed us to order off the menu and split the bill. The service was good, and it’s very reasonably priced.

    • I should clarify – they didn’t just let us split the bill, but they actually ran separate checks for us.

  • Uggg. I hate that some places won’t split the check as many ways as the customer wants. I get that it is inconvenient, but sometimes we all have to deal with inconvenience at work. A 20 percent tip should include the customer not having to deal with the burden of dividing the check. As to the problem at hand… do you have the option of asking your coworkers to bring cash?

    • you haven’t worked in the restaurant industry, have you?

      • I have. And I agree. Is it a pain? Yep. But so are a lot of things. So are the things I have to do sometimes in my current job. But I don’t have the option of just making a policy against things that are a pain.

      • Actually, I have, though it was for months, not years. I certainly wouldn’t consider myself to be vastly experienced in the industry, but I did have to split a few checks.

  • Filomena in Georgetown will do a set menu (app, entrée, dessert,) for the group and let everyone pay separately.

  • No one is going to believe me, but Mad Hatter is great about this. Their menu has really improved over the last couple years and they have private rooms at no extra cost. Ask for the upside down room and Freddie as your server. He’s done separate checks for big parties for us.

  • I’ve been to the Foggy Bottom location of Founding Farmers many times. Our servers have always been quick to agree to split checks for us, even splitting the cost of a single app dish between 5-6 people. And I think their food is really good.

  • Chef Geoff at metro center did separate checks for a party of 18 a year or two ago. And they let us order off the menu. No private space though. Ella’s also worked with us the year before.

  • Can’t anyone in your group add? I’ve arranged dinners with 20+ people many times at DC restaurants, and simply taken the ONE check, added up what everybody ate and drank, added 30% (10% tax + 20% tip), rounded the number – all in my head – and told everybody what they owed. A few people would use credit cards, so I’write down the amount to charge on each, and the rest would pay cash. Due to rounding, the tip always came to somewhat over 20%, and the waitstaff was happy. It isn’t that difficult. Only a problem if nobody wants to pay in cash.

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