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Group of 20 West LA Dinner

Looking for suggestions! I have a group of about 20 for dinner on Saturday. I'd like to find a place in the West LA vicinity (WLA, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Century City, Venice, BH, etc) for under $40/person.

Preferences:
-- not Italian (we have Italians from Italy with us... better not to challenge them!)
-- low or no corkage fee (not a deal breaker)
-- all of us can sit together
-- nice, but not pretentious
Otherwise, the field is open.

I got excited when I read about Gulfstream, but their largest table is for 7, and they don't take reservations for more than 5!

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    1. re: Obessed

      I was thinking about Upstairs 2. I know their corkage is $10 if bought at Wine House (should be free!). Are their restaurant wines significantly marked up?

      1. re: bromion

        Upstairs 2 immediately came to my mind as well, but they are very busy on Saturdays, so you might want to call them right away (the 3 times I've been, all Saturdays, with no open tables). I've seen other restaurants with a higher mark up (I didn't roll my eyes like when I did at Patina....) so I wouldn't worry too much although getting there before the Wine House closes is the best way to do it!

        1. re: gomagoma

          I just find buying wine at THEIR STORE then having to pay $10 for corkage a bit... gauche, no? Don't get me wrong, I shop there all the time, but I wouldn't if everything were $10 more expensive : )

          1. re: bromion

            I know what you mean....the pricer the wine you bring, the less expensive it feels for another $10, but not really if the bottles are $10-40 or so. FYI, the LA Wine Co. near the Marina has some great deals from time to time (Conundrum $10 less than Wine House).

            I've never been to U-Zen, sorry. I just stopped by Sawtelle Kitchen and their expanded room seems like it could fit 20.

    2. skip gulfstream even if they can accommodate you. food is very uneven there, and some of us have had bad experiences recently.

      1. Thoughts on U-Zen? It's listed as "good for groups" on Citysearch (for what that's worth).

        1 Reply
        1. re: bromion

          I've never been with a large group but there is one very large (communal type) table right up front. I would call to make sure, but I think you could easily seat 20 there. They also have a table in the back that would easily seat 10 or so (there was a large family there last time we were there). The menu is quite varied and has more than the usual teriyaki and tempura for non-sushi eaters. The cooked food is quite good, and the sushi as well. I've only had the traditional sushi and sashimi, but they do have elaborate rolls as well. It's not blow your mind sushi (although I have had some really amazing tuna there--it's always very good but only sometimes swoon-inducing), but it's very good and well-priced. I have no idea about corkage.

        2. Try Typhoon in the Santa Monica Airport. They are great with groups, the space is really nice, especially early evenings in the summer, food is fine and easy to share...You can easily fit within your budget and if you call them up they will probably make you a deal on the corkage if not a whole menu...

          Or maybe Border Grill in Santa Monica? Or one of those upscale VIP Harbor Seafood type Chinese places?

          None is as upscale as Upstairs, but if it's Thursday and you are planning a Saturday night dinner for 20 on the biggest graduation weekend of the year, you could do a lot worse...

          1. Well, I reserved Uzen. They have the space, so I thought I should jump on it.