Eight Amazing Family-Style Feasts to Try Around Boston
Whether you’re bound by blood or friends-turned-family, check out these group-friendly experiences around the city.
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Mealtimes are always about bringing people together, but family-style dining cranks up the closeness even more, what with folks passing plates and lovingly (well, hopefully) fighting over the last morsel on shareable platters. Whether you’re bound by blood or friends-turned-family, grab your loved ones and check out these group-style experiences around the city. Just be sure to wear your loosest-fitting pants. With these feasts, you’ll need ‘em.
Does your idea of family-style dining involve sitting around and waiting for long-simmering drama to finally boil over? Skip all that and hit up this Southern-inspired South End spot for a seafood boil instead. The Cajun-style communal meals will be just as spicy as a food fight—and maybe nearly as messy, once your plastic-gloved hands are digging in to bowls loaded with lobster, shrimp, spicy andouille sausage, and more. (It’s so worth it, though.) Choose from three different sauces: A signature garlic-butter and lemon Cajun sauce, an extra-spicy spin, or a milder and herby option. All of them will have you sucking at shrimp tails for those last drops. Be sure to wash it all down with a tension-taming (and rum-heavy) bootleg punch and finish with some beignets that are little deep-fried pillows of heaven.
400 Tremont St., Boston, 617-451-1800, bootlegspecial.com.
Mediterranean mainstay Cafe Landwer delivers on flavor (and also literally delivers food to your doorstep) when you don’t feel like cooking or leaving the house. Opt for one of three “family meal” choices that feed up to four: Landwer’s namesake bounty comes with hummus, falafel, chicken shawarma, three sides, and more—including rozalach pastries with Nutella that won’t last long in a hungry household. The “Mediterranean Meal,” meanwhile, comes with your choice of four shakshukas—there’s one made with spicy vegan merguez, for instance. Finally, even finicky little ones will flip for the “Burger Meal,” which includes six halloumi sticks that might have you nixing French fries forever.
900 Beacon St., Boston, 857-753-4035; 383 Chestnut Hill Ave., Boston, 617-383-5786, landwercafe.com.
Dates & Olives
Make a weeknight date with a family-style to-go feast from Dates & Olives, a bustling Mediterranean noshery in Natick, offered in two-, four-, and ten-person portions. Each meal comes with Moroccan chicken made with a house blend of twelve spices, plus plenty of herby falafel, whole-wheat pita, tahini, tzatziki, brown rice, and five sides (including a sweet-and-savory mix of carrot and raisin). While you’re at it, you might as well add a mezze box of four dips and salads—the gorgeous red muhammara made of roasted red pepper and pomegranate molasses is a must-try, after all.
28 N. Main St., Natick, 508-545-1283, datesandolives.com.
Fogo de Chão
What’s a meal with the family if you’re not uncomfortably full afterwards? Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão, which just opened a new Burlington outpost, delivers the kind of quality of flavor usually found at much-smaller spots. And the portions? Beyond bang-for-your-buck. The endless feast of fire-roasted meat is carved right at your table, from bacon-wrapped steak and chicken to paprika-heavy pork sausage. Return over and over again to the salad bar table, too, which is inspired by the markets of southern Brazil: see the hearty feijoada stew of beans and sausage. And while it may be tempting to stuff yourself until you experience the meat sweats, at least save some room for a dessert of flan topped off with indulgent caramel.
200 Dartmouth St. (Westin Copley Place), Boston, 617-585-6300; 75 Middlesex Turnpike Ste. 1630 (Burlington Mall), Burlington, 781-382-0222, fogodechao.com.
Maggiano’s Little Italy
Sure, Maggiano’s is a chain, but that doesn’t mean this Park Square institution is any less Old Boston. Think crisp linens on the table, a bar bedecked in handsome wood, snappily dressed waitstaff, and sauces with that stewed-all-Sunday flavor. Aimed at parties of four or more, the family-style dining option is a four-course feast of the spot’s most beloved bites, from Caesar salads with anchovy-spiked dressing, to baked ziti with the perfect cheesy crust, and herby salmon doused with lemon sauce. If you’re paralyzed by the pastabilities, solicitous servers can steer you in the right direction—which absolutely should include a serving of the silky tiramisu.
4 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-542-3456, maggianos.com.
For those who aren’t afraid of rolling up their sleeves and doing some prep work themselves, Shiso Kitchen puts a DIY spin on dinner out. Here, parties of six to ten guests can book private cooking classes and have the entire restaurant as their own dining room for the night. For $99 a person, would-be chefs work on themed spreads covering Italian, Moroccan, Thai, and many more cuisines, all under the warm, exuberant guidance of chef-founder Jessica Roy, a former instructor at Le Cordon Bleu. (Don’t worry, in the end she makes sure it all turns out tremendous.) The dinner-party vibe is fun and laidback, and the cooking lessons will last for life. Maybe it’s time to start plotting your own pop-up restaurant?
374 Washington St., Somerville, 617-999-9971, shisokitchen.com.
Table invites you to rest your elbows on the table, relax, and pass plates of penne Bolognese to your dining neighbor—who, thanks to the communal seating at only two tables, might wind up your best friend by the end of the night. At timed nightly seatings, chef-owner Jen Royle takes the guesswork out of ordering and simply sends out a set seven-course dinner on shareable platters, including heaps of seared octopus with beans and roasted cherry tomatoes, as well as homemade rigatoni with fall-apart braised short rib and red wine-tomato reduction. This being an Italian North End restaurant, there’s afternoon Sunday suppers, too, to help beat back the Sunday scaries with house-made cannolis that overflow with sweet ricotta.
445 Hanover St., Boston, 857-250-4286, tableboston.com.
While we await the return of Tanám’s gorgeous narrative-style dinners in this Bow Market boîte, do check out the kamayan feasts, which are offered Thursdays through Saturdays on the patio or, for private bookings, inside and around the restaurant’s single ten-top table. The Filipinx-American fare is served communal-style on banana leaves and eaten with the hands—a bounty that includes kicking coconut milk mussels, roasted pork belly, soft-boiled tea eggs crowned with crispy shallots, and much more. The house condiments, too, elevate even the accompaniments into front-and-center-worthy meals. The savory-sweet symphony of the garlic pepper-infused sugarcane vinegar, for instance, might have you begging chef Ellie Tiglao for the recipe.
1 Bow Market Way, Suite 17, Somerville, 617-669-2144, tanam.co.