Feast with Friends: Europe's Best Group Meals (and Where to Try Them)

July 18, 2016

From sharing plates and one pot meals to communal dining and farmhouse kitchens, we round up the tastiest European meals for groups and where to find them.

Food and travel are a match made in holiday heaven. Throw in your favourite friends and you've got a nigh on perfect scenario. European food is world famous and trying it is as much about the experience as it is about the taste. Sharing platters, communal tables and group dinners are the norm for much of the continent and many locals' preferred way of spending mealtimes. We've rounded up the best European meals for groups and where to try them, so if you're planning a group trip with friends, remember to go hungry. 

1. Tapas: Granada Bar

Tapas feast in Spain

Nothing says a lazy summer evening in Spain like tapas and a glass of cold beer. Ingrained in Spanish drinking culture, tapas is usually made up of a selection of small savoury plates and served alongside drinks in bars. Plates range from small nibbles, such as banderillas (picked vegetables on skewers) and chopitos (tiny battered squid) to heavier staples like croquetas (stuffed rolls fried in breadcrumbs) and succulent dishes of spicy chorizo or marinated fish. Ideal for large groups, many Spaniards spend weekends hopping from bar to bar with friends and ordering sharing plates as they go (some bars offer small plates for free with drinks orders). 

Where to eat: Spain is full of outstanding tapas bars but some of the best lie to the north around San Sebastian and south in the city of GranadaOur favourite? Bodegas Espadafor (Gran Via de Colon, Granada).

2. Cheese Fondue: Geneva Restaurant

Cheese fondue in Switzerland

Fondue is the ultimate winter indulgence, so it's hardly surprising that it's considered something of a national dish in Switzerland, home to snow-capped mountain peaks and Alpine landscapes. Fondue is as much about the communal element as it is about the taste; its best enjoyed sitting around a large table with friends. Surprisingly simple, it traditionally consists of a pot of melted cheese (such as gruyère and emmental) which is kept warm over a heating candle. Diners then dip bread in (or occasionally potatoes) using a fondue fork. Tradition stipulates that if a man drops his bread into the pot he has to buy a round of drinks; a woman must kiss the people to her left and right. This - and the fact that it encourages slow, conversation-filled evenings - means it's the perfect experience to share with your favourite people. 

Where to eat: Switzerland has plenty of traditional restaurants that serve fondue. Although not the cheapest of places, Geneva lays claim to some of the best. Our favourite? Café du Soleil (Place du Petit-Saconnex, Geneva).

3. Sunday Roast: London Pub

Traditional Sunday roast in English pub

A Sunday roast is as ingrained in British culture as cups of tea, talking about the weather and queuing. Be it the height of summer or the darkest depths of midwinter, this UK staple is best enjoyed with family or friends. If Saturday night's hangover is kicking in (or you just don't fancy the washing up) then the best place to head with your friends is a traditional pub. Served in almost every pub in the country on Sundays, you'll be spoilt for choice - the hard part is deciding between beef, pork, lamb or chicken (there are often veggie options too). Many places also do large 'table' roasts, so whole groups can share. Served with crispy roast potatoes, fluffy Yorkshire puddings and lashings of gravy, what more could your hangover-addled head want? 

Where to eat: You won't be hard pushed to find somewhere serving roasts on a Sunday, although London pubs are a pretty safe bet. Our favourite? The Truscott Arms (Shirland Road, London).

4. Cucina Povera: Sardinian Osteria

Traditional cucina porvera dish in Italy

Cucina povera (meaning 'kitchen of the poor') has come to represent a traditional, rustic style of Italian cooking. Originally served in farmhouse kitchens, cooks would use simple, homegrown ingredients, making use of whatever was available - meals often had to feed dozens of people. Today, the concept is enjoying a moment; traditional Italian eateries, known as osterias, are increasingly popular, with many serving simple cucina povera dishes with modern, more luxurious additions (like seafood). Favourites are still on offer too and often include bread, rabbit, bean and vegetable soup, pasta with olive oil and garlic, frittatas plus a selection of meats. Staying true to its communal roots, this cuisine is usually enjoyed by big groups on lazy weekend afternoons.

Where to eat: Traditional trattorias and osterias can be found across Italy, but Sardinia offers some of the more authentic options. Our favourite? Agriturismo Rena (Arzachena, Sardinia).

5. Beef Bourguignon: French Auberge

Ingredients for Beef Bourguignon in France

Part of the allure of beef bourguignon is how sociable the cooking process is. A traditional beef and vegetable stew, it requires hours of slow-cooking, so traditionally a host would spend time drinking and socialising with guests while it was left to simmer. If you visit a French auberge (inn) then chances are it will have been prepared before you arrive, but it nevertheless is a warming, group-friendly meal. Hearty, rich and the perfect accompaniment to fine French wine, this dish is best eaten with your friends on a cold winter's evening. 

Where to eat: Although you'll find the dish served throughout France, it originated in Burgundy so it's no surprise to find the tastiest versions in this region. Our favourite? Auberge La Beursaudiere (Nitry, France).

6. Moussaka: Cretan Taverna

Traditional Greek Moussaka plate

If a group of Greeks are having a get together, there's a pretty big chance they'll have moussaka. This cheese, aubergine and meat staple is perfect for feeding the masses - it can all be baked in one huge dish which allow the flavoursome ingredients to be enjoyed in every bite. Popular on special occasions (like Easter and Christmas) you'll need the whole gang involved if you have any intention of finishing the lot (portions tend to be large). Often served with a side of Greek salad, vegetables or rice, this is the perfect meal to share as a table. Don't be surprised if you're all offered a shot of raki or ouzo at the end either - the Greeks are known for their hospitality. 

Where to eat: Served in traditional (and not so traditional) tavernas throughout Greece, the island of Crete has the best of the lot. Our favourite? Akrogiali Taverna (Chania, Crete).

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Siobhan Brewood-Wyatt After a Masters in Comparative Literature, Siobhan worked for several big-name travel companies before joining travioor. She has been hooked on travel since her teens and her biggest adventure is booking flights from Rome to Rio after a few too many beers.