All over the city, new restaurants are confidently offering a different style of menu: family style (or at least they’re listing a few big dishes built to share). Instead of everyone ordering their own plates, now you need to come to a quorum at the table about what you want to order. It's about shared enjoyment. Come together, right now, over food.
Instead of following the dim sum/cocktail party of your dreams format at State Bird Provisions, Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski are offering a banquet-inspired menu at their second buzzed-about venture. Your table chooses 6 dishes from a selection of 15 or so (these are hard decisions), and the kitchen will size it appropriately for your group. The huge serving platters of custom-made pottery and the beautiful plating make your table into quite the culinary tableau. 1525 Fillmore (at Geary), 415-673-1294
Chris Cosentino’s industrial-chic SoMa restaurant is built for large groups, whether you start with the $148 tower of shellfish (which is more than Neptune could ever imagine), to the wood cutting board loaded with beautifully cooked pin bone steak, enough to feed a table of lumberjacks. And then there’s the famed pig’s head, which comes from the wood oven, and needs at least three pig-lovin’ people to do it proper justice. 564 - 4th Street (at Brannan), 415-974-0700
This new Lower Nob Hill restaurant has a menu that will inspire you to get a group together (ohana!) and make it a feast. After ordering your way through the stunning appetizers (like the beef tongue in poppy seed buns), there’s a whole section dedicated to large mains built for a dinner party, like kimchi-glazed beef ribs and their notable fried game hen. 871 Sutter (at Leavenworth), 415-440-LIHO
Sure, you could come to Hawker Fare on a date and have a great meal, but the fun really begins when you get a table of four or more together and start exploring James Syhabout’s menu of vibrant Thai and Laotian dishes. Scoop up sticky rice with your hands while grazing on dishes like the catfish curry, sai oua pork sausage, and beef tartare. Cool your mouth off with the exotic cocktails. 680 Valencia (at 18th Street), 415-400-5699
This funky Mission spot—a restaurant-within-a-restaurant (Tao Yin)—is built for friends who want to have a bite together but not break the bank. And besides, the menchi katsu (think layers of pork and melted Gruyere) is not a wise choice for just one person (trust me, you’ll end up having a food coma at the table). Chef Jesse Koide’s menu is casual and eclectic, ranging from Japanese to Mediterranean influences, and you’ll find some good beers and wine (and music!) to go with it all. 3515 - 20th Street (at Mission)