So you've thrown together a makeshift plan for a friends night out. You've arranged to meet at [insert local landmark] and go from there. But here's the problem. Half of the best venues in the city are either too busy, too small, or too pricey for your mixed-income, mixed-diet gang. Trouble.
As most of us in Melbourne have been in exactly this situation before, the first thing is to stand in a circle for the better part of twenty minutes and debate whether or not to go to the BYO dumplings place because you can feed a small family for $7 and drink whatever you want, or be lead into battle by that friend of yours who always seems to have some sort of plan despite said plans backfiring at a worrying rate. The perfect solution to acing the friends night out? To put it plainly, there isn't one. But we've gone and made a decent list of city and surrounding venues that are guaranteed to please for casual group events, birthday dinners, catch-ups, and chow downs.
On an entirely related note, as this is the Liven Feed, every venue in the list is a Liven partner, so use the Liven app to pay and you'll earn instant cash rewards, ready to be spent at the next squad meet, or saved up for something else entirely.
Let's get started on Melbourne's best group friendly restaurants and bars.
Bluetrain ticks every single box for a sweet meet up. You've got a big venue on the Yarra, a stone's throw from Flinders St Station, easy going not-quite-luxe vibes, a heap of tap beers, and a crowd pleasing menu of Modern upscale bar food, from pizzas to burgers to steaks to shakes. Sold.
The DIY Tacos are delicious. Enjoy a hands-on experience, and sway the mood towards silly so you can talk less about tax returns, and more about schoolies stories and video game high scores. Plus, tequila(!)
Their pizzas are not to be scoffed at.
You don't have to be Malay to appreciate what might be the best soup in the world. Curry Laksa is Malaysia's other national dish. Shrimp-based curry paste is fried in oil and cooked with coconut milk to make a creamy, salty, spicy soup served with two kinds of noodles, your choice of meats, tofu, and anything else you could want in there. It's wild and wonderful and I implore you to give it a shot. If Curry Laksa's not your thing, they've got plenty of curries, skewers, fried rice, and other traditional Malay goodies for you to try. Plus, the venue is really chill, the food is cheap, and they've got a few decent beers on tap.
Here's the venue's specialty Soft Shell Crab Laksa (highly recommended) with some fresh Asian beers perfectly suited to any occasion - with any number of pals.
And here's a host of other goodies on the menu!
Zen Charcoal BBQ
(Pictured in the cover image!)
Have you ever wanted to watch your friends struggle to grill their own steak and pork belly over burning hot charcoal while drinking awesome Korean beer? If the answer is yes (which it is) then Zen Charcoal BBQ will be right up your alley.
While most of you will look forward to watching that one friend seriously struggle with a tiny set of tongs, the entertainment will be matched only by the highest grade wagyu steak, marinated vegetables, fresh Australian seafood, and plenty of spicy pork goodness.
For those in your gang who can't handle the grill, they've got an A La Carte selection as well. A classic Korean Bibimbap will never be a bad choice.
Pabu Grill & Sake
A night out in Melbourne's north is one thing, but Yakitori Grill, Fresh Sashimi, and a silly amount of Saké are something else entirely.
Pabu Grill & Sake have big tables, really, really good food, and some of the best cocktails in the area. Book if you're going on Friday for sure, but if you need a space for a special occasion without blowing every dollar you own, this could be it!
Order their specialty: Sticks - and get hands-on fighting for whichever type the clan deems 'the best' and then when you lose the battle for that one, just choose the next best and forget about your worries immediately.
Also worth noting: Edamame and Lotus chips. Yurp.
Just look at this duck.
Shanghai Dragon Dumpling House
What would this list be without a dumpling joint in the City with a BYO license?
We think Shanghai Dragon Dumpling House is one of the city's best in the genre, so we want to send you and all your buddies there to order way too many dumplings and drink whichever beers you like.
There are two stores: Russell Street and Chapel Street, right in the heart of the respective neighbourhood's nightlife districts. So as soon as you've snacked down, you're ready to boogie down.
Plus, if you're not in the mood for dumplings (sure mate), they've got a decent sized menu of modern Chinese classics on which you and your gang may feast.
Happy snacking! And remember to pay with Liven to earn delicious cash rewards for every single purchase made at any of these venues.
Plus tag us on instagram @liven_app and we might throw you some credit!