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Need food for small dinner party in Venice!

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So I'm courting two new friends this Friday with dinner at my apartment. Problem is, I don't have time to prepare food! Usually, when I find myself in this situation, I just order Indian food and make cinnamon buns for dessert. The novilty of the Indian food distracts my guests from the fact that I had nothing to do with the preparation...I think.

But I'm getting tired of this pattern. Where else can I get pre-made food that's of high enough quality/taste to serve to my dinner guests? It doesn't need to be from a restaurant, but it MUST be pre-made. I'm looking to spend about $70 max for 3 people. I work in Santa Monica, so I can pick something up on the way home if necessary.

Thank you!

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  1. Empanadas Place (Sawtelle & Venice) - good variety of different kinds of empanadas very yummy about $13/dozen. Cash only though. And I could be mistaken but I don't think they deliver, so you'd need to pick it up.

    Or order platters of Mexican food for people to put together themselves. My office has done this for lunch on several occasions. Only thing is you may end up with tons of extra food. El Cholo and El Torito both offer the "fajita platters" that we order, for about $75 that serves about 10 people. You get a big platter of chicken, big platter of beef, rice, beans, cheese, guac, salsa, etc. They might be able to cut the deal in half for you? They do deliver.

    1. I like the empenadas place idea! Totally fun and different. A different idea for Mexican might be to stop at the taco stand just up from Lincoln and Rose, La Playita, and get a large order of their shrimp cocktail, tacos, or burritos that you could cut up and share. It's not amazing Italian by any stretch, but i've gotten takeout from Alejo's at Lincoln and Washington and that's gone over well. Just don't try to make out with either or your guests after because they go heavy on the garlic! Oh, another Mexican option would be to go to Tamara's Tamales on Washington and get a bunch of varieties of tamales. They have a huge range and I like them.

      1. try baby blues bbq on lincoln. they do lots of takeout. their mac & cheese is a must as is their banana pudding.

        1. Thank you for your suggestions! I was looking to spend around $70 total for 3 people, so I think the $13/dozen empanadas or the $75 for 10 people fajita platters might be a little too casual for the vibe I'm going for. Can anyone think of anything else? Maybe I should just pick up some fish from Whole Foods and throw it on the grill pan.

          2 Replies
          1. re: PlatypusJ

            Whole Foods does have pretty dang good prepared stuff. Steaks are as easy as fish to grill too - just rub a tiny bit of olive oil, salt, epper, and maybe thyme on each side and toss them on.

            Another upscale-ish thought is to order a bunch of sushi from Sushi Roku. They deliver.

            1. re: PlatypusJ

              go to 26 beach on washington.
              half the stuff i served at my daughter's bat mitzvah celebration came from there.

            2. Hey,

              Nook Bistro actually does take-out - if you buy three entrees and maybe two dinner salads you can be around the $70 mark depending on what entrees you get (they range from $10-22). You can look at their menu online to see if it fits with what you're looking for: http://www.nookbistro.com.

              I was actually just there last night with a few of my friends and it was stellar as always.

              -----
              Nook Bistro
              11628 Santa Monica Blvd Ste 9, Los Angeles, CA 90025

              1 Reply
              1. re: donnival

                PERFECT!!!!!!

              2. Clementine has wonderful takeout options...

                Middle eastern foods tend to travel well, so you could get some stuff at Gaby's (they just opened a Gaby's Express on Washington, west of Lincoln) or you could head up to Sunnin on Westwood Blvd for unbelievable shawarma. Either way, you'll spend well short of the $70 you have in your wallet, which leaves you more room to get something decadent for dessert...

                1 Reply
                1. re: glutton

                  Second Gaby's.

                  Might also consider the new Qusqo, Primitivo (get a nice selection of small plates), Fritto Misto.