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Apr 26, 2007 03:13 PM

21st Birthday Chow From UCLA to Bev Hills or Sta. Monica

My wife and I are planning to surprise our daughter at UCLA on a Tuesady evening by showing up and taking her out to dinner. It's just the three of us (her dorm mates will be taking her out later for whatever else). We are looking for suggestions anywhere from Westwood to Beverly Hills to Santa Monica that hounds could recommend, since we aren't often in these areas. Of course our daughter has her preferences: Italian, BBQ, Sushi, PIzza, Steakhouse and more. We are looking for a place that won't break the bank. UCLA has done that for us already. We still want her to have a nice time and we'll probably include a stop at Sprinkles where she'd want some cupcakes. Any finds that fit the bill in that area? Nearby areas? Thank you for any suggestions.

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  1. There is a cute little Italian place on Westwood Blvd. just south of Wilshire Blvd. across from Borders Books called Sprazzo. Very reasonable prices and you can call ahead and ask them to reserve a booth for you. Highly recommend it for food, vibe and wallet saving features.

    3 Replies
    1. re: tony michaels

      I also really like Sprazzo. It's not expensive at all, but the food is good and the wine is decent. (I'm not sure what their cocktails situation is.)

      Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills is also a nice option, but it can get cramped. Vincente might be at the upper range of your price limit. Il Moro is okay, but I can never get over it being in an office building.

      What about Upstairs II on Cotner, between Pico and Olympic? It's connected to the Wine House, so it will have good wines and tapas. I don't know if they do mixed drinks.

      Just to the west of Beverly Hills on Third Street between La Cienega and Fairfax are AOC and Celadon. AOC has small plates and good drinks. Celadon has the same, with a pan-Asian menu, with something for everyone, and some very unusual cocktails. I was very impressed with the food.

      1. re: Jwsel

        AOC is good no doubt, but it is far from being cheap...

        1. re: Jwsel

          Upstairs 2 isn't open Tuesday nights.

      2. Since you want to pick up cupcakes from Sprinkles, I can think of a few good Italian restaurants in Beverly Hills. CAFFE ROMA, ENOTECA DRAGO or IL PASTAIO on Canon, and IL FORNAIO on Beverly Dr. are just a few ideas.

        1. Ami sushi on Broxton has great sushi and good prices!

            1. re: wilafur

              Dinner for three with cocktails maybe for $100 - $150 (not including Sprinkles)

              1. re: Lanyboy

                - italian, vincente in brentwood
                - steaks, mastro's steakhouse in BH (even without alcohol, you might be slightly over budget)
                - french, la cachette in century city (order carefully to stay within budget)
                - persian, sharhzad in westwood, you can eat like kings and stay within budget
                - japanese/french fusion, orris in west la - tapas style, should be around your budget
                - american, nook bistro in west la

                1. re: wilafur

                  Isn't Vicente a fortune? I've been twice and I just don't "get it" -- I think the food and service are below average.

                  1. re: wilafur

                    Vicente, Mastro's, La Cachette are all WAY over OP's budget.

                    Orris on Sawtelle is a fun asian fusion restaurant

                    if you want to be in BH near Sprinkels, Il Pastaiao is great italian and reasonable, also likely to see someone famous. Enoteca Drago next door is a bit pricier, but less cramped

                    1. re: wilafur

                      vincente, mastros, and la cachette will cost multiples of what you want to spend.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        well, entree's range from $25-50 (with the average entree being @ in the low to mid $30's) at vincenti, la cachette and mastros's. notice i mentioned that the OP should order carefully. one can have a great meal at either locale for $150 for 3 people, just don't order wine or eat like a hog and you'll will be a-ok.

                        costing multiples my ass, one CAN have a good meal at the locations under or within spitting range of the OP's budget.

                        1. re: wilafur

                          I think you and WSGal have good points... Ideally, one can do as you mention: order carefully, don't order any wine (sigh), and keep the things like apps and what-not down to a minimum.

                          My personal problem is that when I decide on dining at an establishment like Vincenti, I really feel I owe it to myself and everyone else not having to pull back. Places like this are for special occasions to me. One app, a shared cheese plate, a glass of wine per (which would probably mean a bottle = $$), entree, and dessert (maybe), and I'm breaking $100 per. Well worth it at places that you folks mention, but I think to meet the expectations one would have for dining at places like Vincenti, La Cachette, or Mastro's, especially for their occasion, pulling back on the meal would leave me wanting. On the way back to UCLA, I'd be heading over to Le Saigon to top off my meal with a bowl of pho.

                          I can see your advice being exceptionally practical for lunch or supper at places in that price range. Personally, I just would want to savor a visit to those places and make it memorable for the kind of occasion that the OP seems to imply - it's not frequent for them or me personally either.

                2. hmmmm... i'll have to think of this more... since there are lots =)

                  but my suggestions for now would be di stefano's in westwood (quaint and cozy italian restaurant on gayley i believe).. it's italian...

                  c & o trattoria (the one closer to the beach) in marina del rey... that place is fun and i believe at 8 pm they sing... =) also the one by the beach has a sake/martini spot across the street (the c&o doesn't have that bar across the street and is some kind of cultural center)....

                  if i was still at ucla, i would prefer to go somewhere that i haven't gone before and preferably out of westwood.... will you be able to ask her roomies where she has gone already?

                  there's also some spots in malibu and santa monica (i think folks on this board like this place called on pico... but i haven't gone... may be pricey)... i like places that have a view... that said, i would try and avoid restaurant row on la cienega... some places are good, but i find that it gets crowded often, and usually isn't in my budget for these types of restaurants... although, i have gone there ocassionally... and i even went to ucla when it was more affordable and yet those other places were a pretty penny... so i would stick to santa monica, pacific palisades, malibu, and marina del rey.....

                  did you want something more casual? more formal? besides price as someone mentioned already, what kind of vibe were you looking for?

                  happy 21st bday to your bruin daughter =)