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Dinner for UCLA grad and family

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I'd like to get your suggestions on where I should make a reservation for a party of 20. I'm looking for good food, but not too expensive, place to eat around 7 pm (I'm aware of the difficulty of finding a decent place to take such a large party on Fri. night, but it's the day of my graduation!). I would like to stay near UCLA if possible.

Oh, by the way, I'm considering Monte Alban, but I'm not even sure if this would be the right choice.

So, please help me out. No suggestion is a bad suggestion~ Thank you

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  1. What kind of cuisine do you want?
    Gardens on Glendon or Napa Valley Grille is nice in Westwood.
    For Persian, Shamshiri
    Could go over to Beverly Hills to Il Pastaio (little pricier and might be too small), Enoteca, or Il Fornaio
    Palmeri on San Vicente
    i Cugini in Santa Monica might be a good option as well

    2 Replies
    1. re: Emme

      No preference on cuisine, my whole family is up for anyting, so the more choices the better!

      1. re: hambriento

        You might go for Ethiopian then over on Fairfax... Rahel's, Messob, Meals by Genet

        Or, try Dar Maghreb for Moroccan or Mouns of Turis.

    2. I'd also suggest heading to Santa Monica, as anywhere in the UCLA vicinity will be packed.

      As suggested, ICugini is good for large parties. I'd also add Monsoon Cafe. Relatively few people know of this place (at least when I've been there), and it has quite many large seating areas. There are two Il Forniao's, one in SM and the other in BH, so if one is filled, you can call the other.

      You could also search the places on Sawtelle. Curry House has an outside patio.

      In any event, reservations should be made quickly.

      Congralulations from a fellow Bruin! :)

      1. Congratulations from another fellow Bruin!

        A couple years ago we went to Palomino in Westwood following graduation which turned out to be great. I thought Palomino was going to be chainy and lame, but the menu suited the varied tastes of our large group and the cocktails were strong and came quickly.

        As it was graduation night in Westwood, things were a bit hectic and unfortunately my graduation was one of the later ones that day. While we were waiting for all of the earlier tables to leave, the wonderful bar staff/hostess sent over tons of apps for our group. Very nice gesture, I thought.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Suebee

          I also really like Palomino...

          You might also consider Tanino. I had a wonderful dinner there on I think a Tuesday or Wednesday night and it was practically empty. I think they have an upstairs area, but I'm not positive. If they aren't too booked for a Friday they should be able to accommodate you downstairs anyway. Amazing Italian food, very well done.

          1. re: LisaStitch

            i enjoy palomino as well. if you are seated early for dinner (iirc, before 6pm) you can take advantage of a 3 course prix fixe dinner deal....and it'll only set you back $20.

        2. You could try Xi'an in Beverly Hills. It's a Chinese restaurant, fairly trendy and has a full bar. For a party of 20 they can section off part of the restaurant. You would have to select the menu beforehand, which you might or might not like. I had a private party there and everyone had a great time.

          1. I like your idea of Monte Alban -- tasty, somewhat unique but accessible food, downright cheap prices for what you get. Place isn't big, so you'll need to call and see if they can handle a group that size and reserve. Also, I'm pretty sure they don't have a full bar, if that is a concern.

            Shamshiri is a nicely appointed Persian place, the best of the bunch I've tried so far, and could handle a group that size, though probably broken up onto three or so tables. You could order an assortment of kabobs, shawarma, and koobideh and eat family style. I don't think they have a full bar, either, and street parking should be ok by that time of evening.

            Nook Bistro has a big community table in the middle but I doubt that it would hold 20 -- maybe so. Excellent food, good service, full bar. Entrees range from high teens to low twenties for most dishes. Good starters, too, if folks would be into sharing some mussels, mac'n'cheese, and salads. One of the best value restaurants in town, and call quick because it is no longer a secret.

            1. Here's an idea. I know you mentioned you want to stay close to campus, but that area will be pretty crazy packed due to graduation. So, in case you're willing to drive a little farther, how about drive out to SGV and have some chinese food? All you need is a few (2-3) big round tables, get a set dinner, and voila... yummy in the tummy... ;-)

              I think for such big party, you should check the restaurant to see if you can make a reservation.

              1 Reply
              1. re: dee

                I second the SGV... I planned my lil bro's grad dinner last year and we did that. Although we were hoping for a spot close to UCLA since most of the family & friends (including our immediate family) were from out of town and we were worried about them getting lost. Ultimately going to SGV worked out much better -- we weren't packed in with other Bruin grads and their guests, nor did we have long wait times. If you've got guests from out of town, it only takes a little pre-event planning, mostly for logistics like handing out directions to drivers.

                I've forgotten which sgv resto we ended up at... I'd have to go home tonite to check.

              2. Congrats from another Bruin! I had my graduation dinner at Pane e Vino, which wasn't too pricey and the food was terrific. We were about 15 people, and there were 2 or 3 other large (graduation) parties, but service (or lack thereof) was not an issue. There were also some finicky younger eaters in the group, and the chef was more than willing to accommodate them.

                Also Spark Woodfire on Pico (near Westwood) might work (we did this for my sister's high school graduation).

                For Persian, also on Westwood Blvd., consider Shahrezad -- they bake their own pita bread. It's a big, open, flexible space and could probably handle a large party.

                1. My family likes indian food, so we had a fun post graduation dinner at the New India Grill on Westwood, just south of Wilshire. It worked for us, good food, lots of shared dishes, good service, and very reasonably priced.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pleasedonttakemetobucodibepo

                    What about Cucino Paridiso? (Sorry for replying to pleasedonttakemetobucodibepo's post, meant to reply to the OP)

                  2. Congrats Hambriento! When I graduated from UCLA back in '05 and my main concern was 1. I was going to have very hungry guests since graduations are zzzz boring so the restaurant had to be close and 2. I wanted it to be reasonable for my parents. So, we decided to make reservations for Hop Li on Pico. Even though I had reservations, we still had to wait a good 30 minutes because everyone was there having a Father's Day dinner. Hop Li was good enough for us...we had 17 people and the bill came out to $120!

                    Good luck on finding a place. AND seriously, make sure your guests get out of the parking lots ASAP after the graduation. My parents were stuck in Lot 4 for a good hour. Wait, you're graduating on Fri? It shouldn't be a problem then. :)