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Challenge- where to eat with a group for under $20 a person

Here is the challenge, my group of 8 likes good food, but tired of big dinner bills ...we don't want fast food. We want good food, decent service and a variety. We like burgers, mexican, salads, sushi, indian, chinese...but it needs to be good.

We live on the west side, santa monica to weho...this seems like an easy challenge, yet dinner out always seems to cost $40 - 50 a head....

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  1. Go for dim sum (brunchish) instead of dinner. Not likely that you'll find sushi to fill you up for < $20.

    1. Monte Alban in West Los Angeles or Gueleguetza on Palms just east of Sepulveda, both Oaxacan food places.

      1. Move east, would be my best advice, but barring that...

        Culver City is my new favorite hot spot over your way, with Sabor A Mexico and Dijonnaise both offering good fare for not a lot of $$$. I know things are more expensive at night, but we had an awfully good lunch at Ford's for about $20 each, admittedly drinkless. Second City Bistro down in El Segundo was in the same range. Still, the SGV is awash in places where you can stuff yourself silly on great Chinese food for ten bucks a head or less - maybe you should carpool!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen

          Speaking of Culver City-- Tender Greens!! The freshest, delicious lettuces and veggies and flavorful and perfectly cooked free range chicken, I'm guessing the steak is good too but I wouldn't know.

          For me, I have no need to eat at Second City ever again in this or the next life. And I'll eat at Ford's again only if someone else pays, their food is way too uneven.

          1. re: slacker

            It seems like it would be hard to stuff 8 people into the Tender Greens tables. Would definitely fit the budget though.

          2. re: Will Owen

            i love sabor a mexico, but the service is so slow there that i would hesitate to recommend it to a group of 20.
            by the time the twentieth person in the group got his or her food, the first person will be home in bed for the night.

          3. The Last couple of times the SCARF group has been out, we have spent less the $20 pp. but the places we went had dishes that shared easily. For Chinese New Year Dommy! organized Mei Long Village we had Pork Pump, Dumplings, Jelly Fish and half a dozen other dishes and the 10 of us spent $14 pp and we were so stuffed we almost skipped Bearded Papa.

            1. Bossa Nova - has all kinds of food - pizza, pasta, sandwiches, Cuban platters & plaintains, Cajun chicken, etc.

              Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers - best for 8 people to sit outside though - the inside is a big cramped. They serve sides in baskets for sharing - get their spicy curly fries!

              1. it's been a long time since I've been there, but what about Mao's Chinese in Venice? You can get plenty of food for $20 a person, and you can bring your own alcohol (which cuts the cost of group dinners significantly!)

                1. I think you could do it without alcohol at Musha very easily. You could also do it easily at Gilbert's El Indio (probably even sharing a couple of pitchers of margaritas).

                  1. Great Cuban food. Get the Garlic Lemon Chicken or the Lechon Pork.

                    1415 S. La Cienega Blvd.
                    (Pico Blvd.)
                    Los Angeles, CA

                    10319 Venice Blvd.
                    (Motor Ave.)
                    Los Angeles, CA

                    1. Ah, west side? Under $20? Maybe go for a drive down to beach Bulvd? Check out the pics in the link beow. Check out the full menu. Salids, and much more good stuff. I wont mention the cool ambiance or Dino because I might get delited but the home made ice cream I will mention because it maught make the bill go over the twenty spot but is very much worth it.


                      1. Ugo on Pico Blvd (opposite Westside Pavillion), they also have a newish place in Culver City.

                        1. thai boom.
                          venice blvd near midvale (west of overland).

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: westsidegal

                            A group of eight's a squeeze here, but I guess it's do-able. And I'm sure the owners would be more than happy to do so, given a heads-up...

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              i've gone there with 8 people and it wasn't a squeeze at all.
                              i believe that most of their business is delivery/take out, so there usually is plenty of room in the restaurant itself.
                              they serve an unbelievable quantity and quality of food for such a low price AND they serve it on real dishes with real waitservice.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                I agree - the food, prices and service all make for an excellent triad that is rarely found anywhere. We were there two weekends ago on a Friday nite and were one of three tables being served. I guess most don't consider it a dining destination - that's great as finding a restaurant with all of these attributes on a Friday nite with open tables is fine by me - or did I just let the cat out of the bag?

                            2. re: westsidegal

                              Second this rec for Thai Boom. Monte Alban is also a good suggestion.

                            3. Gaby's (Venice & Motor). Excellent Mediterranean food. Great service. Open late. Cheap as requested. We've done 20+ people birthday parties there for $20/person. More food than we can eat.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jhulla

                                monte alban, zankou, nook, tofu ya, there's a bunch of places on sawtelle, terried sake house, guelagetza?

                              2. Head over to Fairfax for Ethiopian, and eat family style. Or, head for some dim sum (yeah it's a drive, but worth it)...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Emme

                                  I agree..at a lot of places on Fairfax, you can pile everyone arund a table and order a couple of combo platters and go to town for way less than $20 per.
                                  I like Rahel, but don't know if they have the room

                                  Rosalinde's has the room, and is pretty good, although not the best.

                                  Merkato has slow service, even for Fairfax.

                                  Messob might be the best

                                2. surprised tht no one mentioned it...but ayce korean bbq for $15pp. my top 3 at the moment are:

                                  soot bull gui rim
                                  mu dung san
                                  soot bull gui rim2

                                  all are $15pp and if no one drinks, you are out the door for $20, including tax and +20% tip.

                                  1. lol i misread the title and thought you meant $20 for the whole group! man, those were the days... when you could get full for a few bucks and $20 was fine dining with a hot date haha...

                                    1. It'd be easier if you'd travel a bit more.

                                      Head over to Chatsworth in the SFV and drop by Woodland's Pure. It ain't much to look at, but the Friday Dinner buffet and Dosa Mania is less than $20 a person. They also do a Champagne/Beer buffet (All You can Eat, of course) on Saturday and Sunday for Brunch and Lunch

                                      It is damn fine Indian food.