Roundup: Five eateries at which to celebrate a meal together

Nicholas Dekker, Columbus Alive contributor

Full disclosure: the author is a founder of Wild Goose Creative, and with this week's cover featuring WGC's 10-year anniversary, it's put me in mind of the core values of the organization, namely community, creativity, hospitality and education. Wild Goose's goal from the start was to bring audiences together with artists, making them a part of the process. Extending those ideas to cuisine, there are many ways that food can connect us. Whether it's for an anniversary, a birthday or general holiday revelry, visit these five spots and come together over a good meal.

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

1111 S. Hamilton Rd., Whitehall

If you're not familiar with Ethiopian cuisine, get yourself to Lalibela posthaste. The atmosphere at this Whitehall restaurant and bar is laden with the rich spices used in Ethiopian cooking. Plates of both meat- and vegetable-centric meals are available in individual portions, but it's best to go as a group and order a giant platter of everything. Let the servers guide you in selecting dishes and heat levels. The meal arrives on a massive plate with a colorful array of foods. Tear off pieces of injera, the spongy and slightly sour bread, and use it to scoop up bites and revel in the flavors.

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The Table

21 E. Fifth Ave., Short North

True to its name, The Table focuses on food as a gathering point for guests. In addition to a mission of using local purveyors whenever possible, every element of the menu, from breads and charcuterie made in-house, is geared toward bringing people together. Brunch and dinner plates can be ordered family-style. Must-tries include the akoori (spicy Indian scrambled eggs) and brioche French toast at brunch, and the lamb ragu and curried chickpeas at dinner.

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1138 Bethel Rd., Northwest Side

The relatively new GOGI gathers customers around small grills set in their tables, and then turns them loose to cook an assortment of meats, veggies and mushrooms to their own preference. For the best group dining, focus on the combos from the barbecue menu and you'll be presented with plates of meats to grill. Be sure to try the bulgogi, and supplement the meal by ordering a round of Korean drinks like the makgeolli sampler.

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La Tavola

1664 W. First Ave., Grandview

If you do a Google search for family-style dining in Columbus, a good chunk of the results (that aren't Tee Jaye's) are Italian eateries like Lola and Giuseppe's, Villa Nova and Carfagna's Kitchen. Much of Italian dining focuses on group get-togethers, and the cozy La Tavola in Grandview is a prime example. Chef Rick Lopez crafts Old World classics that can be ordered family-style, from his prosciutto-wrapped fettuccine to his chicken parmigiano to his simple-but-amazing pasta and meatballs.

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The Eagle

790 N. High St., Short North

When approaching The Eagle's menu of fried chicken as a group, your best bet is to order a whole bird (or two) and a whole mess of sides. The signature Amish-raised chickens are served succulent and bathed in a spicy honey. Paired with plates of collard greens, skillets of spoonbread and piles of horseradish mashed potatoes - and a pitcher or two of bourbon punch - it's sure to be a crowd-pleaser.