The Biggest Restaurants in The United States

Ever get that lonely feeling and just want to be around people? Immerse yourself in a crowd? Look no further my friend, your prayers have been answered. The parameters for the largest restaurants in the US had only one metric, number of seats. All of these restaurants have the population of a small town inside of them on a busy Saturday night. They also all have their own set of challenges and difficulties providing the customer with a positive dining experience. So my hat goes off to all of them for maintaining a sense of order and normalcy in their respective establishments. These restaurants are truly behemoths.

San Pedro Fish Market:  Los Angeles, California

3,000 seats

Starting out as a small corner store named Vista Seafood’s in 1956, the San Pedro Fish Market has grown to be a four time Guinness world record winning restaurant comprising of a 3000 seat, 50,000 square foot waterfront location. It also has the honor of being the fifth most Instagramed restaurant in the United States. Take a stroll around the market and choose your favorite seafood stall.  Then simply order a plate of seafood that looks like it has your name on it. Open seven days a week and 365 days a year the San Pedro Fish Market is always there for you and your shrimpiest desires.

Oasis On Lake Travis:  Austin, Texas

2,800 seats

Everyday at the Oasis the “Sunset Bell” rings signaling the sunset on Lake Travis. resulting in cheers and a standing ovation from guests. Claiming title as The Sunset Capital of Texas the The Oasis has been serving patrons for over 37 years some pretty standard Texas fare. Chips and guac, fajitas, tex mex, burgers, seafood and steak are pretty typical of what you will find. What truly sets the Oasis apart from other restaurants this size is that they are also a music venue, featuring live music throughout the peak season from March to October. Sorry, reservations are not accepted…

Columbia Restaurant:  Tampa, Florida

1,700 seats

Florida’s oldest restaurant all began in 1905 in Tampa’s Ybir City. In a small saloon also serving Cuban coffee and authentic Cuban sandwiches, frequented by the local cigar workers. Today it is the largest Spanish restaurant in the world with fifteen dining rooms and room for up to 1,700 people. The restaurant has a grand total of 52,000 square feet and encompasses an entire city block. The menu has anything Cuban and Spanish that you could ever look for, from black bean soup and ropa vieja to seafood paella and a Cuban sandwich. The Silky Key Lime Pie is a favorite amongst diners.

Shady Maple Smorgasbord:  East Earl, Pennsylvania

1,650 seats

The Shady Maple Smorgasbord started out with humble beginnings as a roadside produce stand located under large Maple trees in East Earl Pennsylvania in 1962. Throughout a series of expansions, the little roadside stand was replaced with a block building and bit by bit the Shady Maple expanded. In 2000 a brand new Smorgasbord was opened in a 100,000 sq. ft. facility with seating for 1,200 people. Every night the buffet offers different mouthwatering home style choices. Monday night is Delmonico steak and fried shrimp; Wednesday night is prime rib night. Fridays and Saturdays you can expect the Grand Menu, featuring smoked beef brisket, salmon, Cajun catfish crab cakes and once again, fried shrimp.

Zander’s Restaurant:  Frankenmuth, Michigan

1,500 seats

Almost 165 years ago the Exchange Hotel opened their doors in Frankenmuth, a small town outside of Saginaw. About fifty years later the Zehnder family purchased the the hotel and continues their tradition of good food and service to this day. Diners can fill their plates with as much as their stomach can hold with house made specialties like, creamy cabbage salad, chicken liver pate, and large curd cottage cheese for starters. Main entrees include the Frankenmuth fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, buttered egg noodles and Grandma Zehnders Dressing. Finished with either vanilla or chocolate soft serve or of course, orange sherbet. For those who want to spend a little extra, Zehnder’s offers signature sides like sautéed chicken livers, bowl of chicken giblets in gravy, or sautéed sweet and sour red cabbage.

Emzara’s Buffet:  Williamstown, Kentucky

1500 seats

Soooooo, yeah. This. Very interesting stuff. Emzara’s Buffet is part of what’s called the “Ark Encounter”. A full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. Spanning 510, feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, the Ark Encounter is situated in Grant County in Williamstown, Kentucky. While at the Ark you can work up a hunger of biblical proportions while checking out some of the state of the art exhibits and being surrounded by the largest timber frame structure in world, built in part by skilled Amish craftsmen from standing dead timber. Emzara’s is buffet only and the selection varies from day to day. Despite this rotation, everyday favorites like hand breaded chicken, mac n cheese, and pot roast can always be found on the buffet.

Phillips Crab House:  Ocean City, Maryland

1400 seats

Few family-owned food and restaurant companies have been around for over 100 years and have achieved the levels of success of Phillips Seafood. From their humble beginnings on the Chesapeake Bay, to the opening of their first restaurant in 1956, to their overseas expansion into sourcing high quality crab meat, the Phillips family has become a powerful force on the global seafood market. The Phillips Crab House was created in 1956 by the family in the form of a simple “crab shack” in the famous seaside resort of Ocean City, Maryland. So it was there, over 60 years ago, that the first seat of Phillips Seafood Restaurant was placed. Serving steamed buckets of crab and other seafood as well as Maryland Crab Cakes and other seafood favorites you should be forewarned Phillips is not cheap, so bring a grip of cash and treat yourself. You deserve it.

Wrights Farm Restaurant:  Harrisville, Rhode Island

1400 seats

Wrights features family style dining at their restaurant. Why family style dining? As Wright’s explains it the reason is clear, food served family style brings people closer together in a way unlike any other. The old fashioned method of passing food around the table reminds people of a time where they may have done something similar in their own homes, filling their hearts as well as their bellies. The menu is pretty simple, choose from either Baked Chicken or 14oz. Sirloin steak. Both are served with pasta and marinara sauce as well as their signature home style french fries. The only available extras are cranberry sauce which is apparently very popular in this part of the country or ice cream and pie. The food refills are free and your encouraged to eat as much as you like.

Published by Jason Stroh

I am a Los Angeles based food stylist and chef

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