Best of Philly Spotlight: Couch Cafe’s Elizabeth Grothe on How to Throw a Killer Dinner Party

The chef and host of the underground dinner party shares tips on how to make a night go from ho-hum to daamnnnnnn!

dinner party

Winner, winner … you know the rest. / Illustration by Kevin Whipple

There are the potlucks you host for a few friends before watching­ Sunday HBO legacy television. And then there are the dinner parties that Elizabeth Grothe throws in her Northern Liberties apartment. Every month or so, the Fiorella line cook invites strangers (mostly industry pals and whoever gets a hold of the Google form via Grothe’s personal Instagram) over for five-ish courses of restaurant-quality dishes based on themes like “Spaghetti Western,” “Lizakaya” or “A Night in Lizbon.” Here, the host of Couch Cafe, and Best of Philly winner for Best Underground Dinner Party, shares her tips on how to make a night go from ho-hum to daamnnnnnn!

1. Have a theme.

Themes give me a fun guide to set the tone for an event, so I can get excited and tap into a group with similar interests.

2. Have little treats.

At Couch Cafe, they come in the form of the “Welcoming Jungle Juice” and our supplemental snacks. These are small treats that usually take a bit of prep on my end but are cheap and easy to fire and will make the experience a little more special.

3. Remember: People just want to have a good time.

That’s it. Don’t kill yourself and ruin your day/week/month trying to have a perfect dinner. Prepping a big dinner is hard and stressful at times, but once the room is full and people have food on their plates, drinks in their cups, and some music on in the background, you’ll look around and soak in the instant gratification of building a beautiful moment.

4. If someone offers to help you clean up at the end of the party, LET THEM!

Oh my God, cleaning your whole house after prepping for two days sucks so, so bad. I’m really bad at this. Be better than me. Accept help cleaning.

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Published in the August 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.