Holiday plans don't simply materialize neatly with a bow on top. This takes strategy, especially if a group of friends or family arrive in town with jingle bells on. So what restaurants accommodate larger groups during this season of celebration? Check out our quintet of suggestions, each with their own distinctive flair for presentation.
Pallookaville, Founder and now consultant Jim Stacy's gourmet ballyhoo of carny cravings and deli delights may be intimate in size. Yet its pop culture playfulness and specialized menu make it a culinary gift out-of-town guests can't unwrap anywhere else. Bite into a Fryinstein Monster corn dog or a heap of tots with a pimento cheese blanket while holiday 'toons play on TVs and the ghost of Christmases past preside in the form of Stacy's toy and memorabilia collection. The staff suggests calling as far ahead as possible to book larger groups.
11 a.m.-10 p.m. every day. 17 N. Avondale Plaza, Avondale Estates. 404-500-1785, pallookaville.com.
Boutique bar, bowling and entertainment venue the Painted Pin has plenty of room to, well, spare. While slinging bowling balls on one of 20 lanes, guests grub on wood-fired pizzas, salads, small plates and more courtesy of Chef Tommy Collins. Mix master Trip Sandifer crafts the cocktails and co-owner Justin Amick, who happens to be an advanced sommelier, keeps a keen eye on wine. Although it skews 21 and older most of the time, groups with kids can converge on Saturdays and Sundays until 5 p.m. That's when all ages can roll throughout the place. Spring for bowling and take advantage of free games, including giant Jenga, bocce ball, ping pong and a host of others.
5 p.m.-midnight Mondays-Thursdays; 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays; noon-midnight Sundays. 737 Miami Circle N.E., Atlanta. 404-814-8736, thepaintedpin.com.
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A trip to Atlanta Botanical Garden's "Garden Lights, Holiday Nights" pops up on the seasonal go-and-do lists of many. Some opt to stop at the nearby ONE. midtown kitchen for a bite before or after. Not only does ONE have the space for bigger parties, it overlooks the garden's lights, which keeps the experience twinkling into the night. Chefs Matthew Weinstein, given recent props by Zagat, and Christopher Maher change selections daily. Expect foodie fodder including gourmet pizza, flat iron steak, trout, schnitzel and pasta. And allow your wallet to shine a little brighter by bringing in your garden ticket stub and scoring half off your tab (up to $20 discount).
5:30-10 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays; 5:30-11 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. 559 Dutch Valley Road, Atlanta. 404-892-4111, onemidtownkitchen.com.
Historic Alpharetta lays claim to South Main Kitchen, housed in a circa 1902 building and specializing in American fare. The ingredient-driven menu varies upon availability. Upscale bar nibbles, soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees share table space. The latter may include filet mignon, salmon, confit duck leg and other selections from the mind of Chef Christy Stone. A pair of communal tables, each fit for as many as 10 diners, sit next to the open kitchen. This gives tots something to watch as their meals come to life before their eyes. Kiddie options range from Springer Mountain grilled chicken fingers to grilled cheese on Holeman and Finch bread.
11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-10 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. brunch, and 4:30-9 p.m. dinner Sundays. 9 S. Main St., Alpharetta. 678-691-4622, southmainkitchen.com.
After taking visitors on a Lenox Square shopping jaunt, karate kick your way across the street to Katana Teppanyaki & Sushi. Although it offers a more traditional Japanese dining room experience, groups often enjoy getting an eyeful of the chop-socky flash of hibachi-style dining in the teppanyaki room. Chefs show off their slice-and-dice skills at the teppan grills. Think filet mignon, chicken, shrimp, lobster, scallops and lamb chops. A half teppan table grill sits 10. Bringing in a serious brood? Reserve a 20-person double grill table for dinner and a culinary show. If you're going bigger, a semi-private dining area in the teppanyaki room can accommodate as many as 40.
Lunch: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; Dinner: 5-10 p.m. daily. 3345 Lenox Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-869-1888, katanaatl.com.