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Fri Night - Dinner for 20? and other stops to not miss...

Hope you can provide a Los Angeles Hound for some recs as I have been put on the restaurant detail for a fun group of LA folks attending a conference at the Marriot in mid-April. Not too concerned about cost, but not looking to go to the very outrageous end. A good time, full service and good food are important to any CH, of course. So far, from my CH Philly research, possible selections for the Big Dinner on a Friday night include:

If I can get the group to take a little taxi ride, CARMINE's CREOLE looks like it would be a fun choice, too. Would like to get input on these and perhaps other recs for the 20 or so group dinner so I can make a reservation soon.

As far as sampling cuisine at other Philly digs that have tempted my palate, for me & hubby and a smaller dining group on the 3 other dinners and lunches we need to fill, I want to also try Marigold, Matyson, Tir Na Nog, Pasion. The Reading Terminal will also be covered by us too.

Hope to report back on the groups' experience. Thanks Philly.


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  1. Hi Donna. Gayle and Vetri are probably too small for your group of 20, though you should add both to your possible spots for the smaller group. Also add Lolita to that list (which is a BYO). Of the others, I'd check in to Rae and Buddakan before Bookbinders and Cuba Libre. Bar Ferdinand could probably arrange for a big group. It's tapas, cool atmosphere, but in Northern Liberties, which will be a cab ride from your hotel. Osteria is Mark Vetri's newest place and is reported to be fantastic. James has a beautiful separate room that could acccommodate your group. Tequilas is beautiful, great food and very accommodating to big groups. I've worked with them before for corporate meetings. You can also walk there on a nice night from the Marriott (conven center?). Check out Braserie Perrier and Alma de Cuba, too.

    1. Vetri and Gayle won't reserve for 20
      Bookbinders is terrible

      Have not been to Rae but I imagive they can fit your party. Cube Libre is very "clubby" on the weekends.

      1. Donna, also try Amada. Tapas, beautiful space, great food, can arrange for a big group.

        1. Bookbinder's is the classic place where tourists go and locals generally won't set foot in.
          I'm also not sure why Tir Na Nog is on your list, it's just an Irish pub, haven't heard anything special about it. If you want a real Irish pub to go to while you are in town, walk over to Fergie's. Thank you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bride of the Juggler

            Supposedly Tir Na Nog got a new chef recently and the food is much improved. Even if that's true, though, it probably shouldn't be grouped with Matyson and Marigold.

          2. I agree with the other posters... but I'm wondering what you're referring to by "Carmine's Creole..." I looked up that name and found something in Bryn Mawr, which is certainly much more than a little cab ride away... but if you mean "Carmen's Country Kitchen," it is wonderful but I don't think it even seats 20 people total. If someone else knows of another Carmen's... please clue me in.

            1. Carmine's Creole would be more than a "little" taxi ride - I wouldn't bother. Fun, but screamingly noisy and not worth the trip.
              We were at the small room at James and it was really wonderful - great food, beautiful atmosphere, topnotch service - we all loved it. (He worked previously at Vetri, and it shows.) If you can't get it for your 20, go with the smaller group - if you can get a reervation.
              LIke the others, I would say definitely skip Bookbinders.
              You might be able to get the whole back room at Valanni, which is fun and good and walking distance. Mediterranean/continental, you can get the menu online.
              Don't wait to make your reservations!

              1. Osteria also has a separate room for larger parties. I haven't seen it used yet, and I would call soon to arrange it. It is one of Philly's hottest and best new restaurants and even though they've only been open a month, it is very difficult to get reservations. If you like real Italian with the highest quality ingredients, you shouldn't miss it.

                1. Looks like we won't go hungry in Philly! So, for the big dinner, I think I'm now down to 3 choices: Buddakan, Osteria or James. I'll start calling and see if that thins out the list. Hope to try Brasserie for Wed. happy hour and Valanni for a brunch. The Irish pub was for the host of our annual St. Paddy's party in Glendale - thanks for the Fergie suggestion; and it looks like there won't be time to check out Carmine's Creole. Also, Lolita and Alma de Cuba is now on the list for the small group. Thanks all Hounds for all your great input!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: DonnaB

                    Osteria is head and shoulders above Buddakan and James. If you can get a reservation for your group there, take it.

                    1. re: DonnaB

                      Amada would top my list for a fun evening with great food. Great tapas, party atmosphere. Very hip place with several bars. Perfect for a large group.

                      1. re: joluvscards

                        My work had a function at Amada in the private room. Everything was good but they did not follow the menu we created in advance, and prices were a little fishy when we got the bill in the end. Just be careful.

                    2. Well, I called James and they will not take a group of 20 on a Friday night. Also, called Amada, they already have a couple of large groups in their private room, but will keep us on the waitlist. Have not yet heard back from Osteria or Buddakan. May have to go to list B and check out some other suggestions given for this project. Will give updates.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: DonnaB

                        We attended a private function at Brasserie Perrier a few years ago. While I am not particularly a fan of BP they did a terrific job and the food was very good. Another place to consider is Deux Cheminee. They have a private dining room which is actually in the chef's library. It is not a "hip" place but they serve excellent classic continental cuisine.

                        Tre Scalini might have space in their new place.

                        If it were me I would avoid the starr "experience" and go for something classically philly like a great Italian place.

                      2. Booking a Friday night for 20 was harder than I thought it would be. The only restaurant that would confirm a res for 20 on a Friday was Marigold; Osteria wanted a contract and a minimum guarantee of $1500. Finally changed plans to have 10 for dinner and chose Osteria. Got a prime time slot there at 7:30 p.m. and they will put our group in their private dining room. Also had to pre-select 3-4 antipastas and entrees. I made a res at Amada for a smaller group on Thursday night and will probably try and change the Marigold res to Saturday night for a smaller group. Thanks for your input and hope everyone enjoys Osteria. Will report back.