Graduation dinner in Southbay?
I'm looking for a restaurant located in El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, or Torrance for dinner after my Ph.D. graduation ceremony (for 6 people). The tricky part is, it should have a celebratory feel, but should not be too expensive. My family will want to feel like its a nice, special meal, but my parents are very frugal and will not enjoy the meal at all if it's too expensive, even if we pay. I was thinking maybe Gina Lee's--great food and reasonable prices--but I'm wondering if I could find another option that feels more special occasion-y. Places I haven't been to but have seen suggested on this board in the past include Chef Melba's Bistro, Chef Hannes, and Second City Bistro. So what's my best bet for a nice but affordable celebratory meal--Gina Lee's, one of these other places, or somewhere else I haven't thought of? (Note: I really enjoy Christine and Avenue in this area, but they are too expensive for my needs, so I'm looking for other suggestions.)
You should try Cafe Pierre or Petros in Manhattan Beach. Cafe Pierre is a great upscale restaurant that offers French-Italian-Californian-inspired cuisine. There's something to be enjoyed by everyone. It's a nice special occasion restaurant, but without a ridiculous price tag.
Petros nearby has amazing Greek cuisine, has a great atmosphere, but is a little more expensive than Cafe Pierre.
Gosh, I really hope this isn't a lame idea, but had you already considered (and passed on) those big chain-ish restaurants on N. Harbor Dr., right by the water, just north of the RB Pier?
Like (and I grimace as I suggest these because they don't exactly have the greatest food, but they do have wonderful atmosphere): Cheesecake Factory, Bluewater Grill... I can't remember the others, but they're all sitting there in plain sight, nice and big, when you drive up and down N. Harbor.
I've eaten at Cheesecake Factory a few times too many, and disliked my food each time, but I go there when I want to enjoy a laid-back, beachy evening with a friend. Mediocre food aside, it's not that expensive for the classy but casual atmosphere you get.