Fun and Cheap in Old City?
I'm looking for recommendations for a fun but inexpensive restaurant in or close to Old City for a bachelorette party of approximately 10. I'm considering Radiccio but am afraid of space constraints, Dmitris but think it's a little too far away, and Dolce but cannot find a review on their food. I'd like entrees to be around $20. BYO would be great but not required. All cuisines are welcomed.
I wouldn't characterize the Plough and the Stars as cheap, or "average at best". Their apps do tend to suffer from overdressing, but their entrees - in the $18-25 range - are pretty solid, though I wouldn't be surprised if they slipped a little after 8PM on a Friday or Saturday. Nevertheless, it's a big room, with two floors, which should easily be able to accommodate a reservation of your size.
Sassafras is an achingly beautiful room, but really isn't set up to accommodate 10 for dining. Go there for drinks after dinner for an atmosphere a little more sophisticated than most of Old City.
A more adventurous option would be the Aromatic House of Kabob at the corner of Letitia and Chestnut (between front/2nd). BYO and on the cheaper side, the service factor can suffer (if you go in expecting that, you'll have a better time), but the fun factor is higher than most of the suggestions here. Get different things and share them. They've got hookahs, too, but I'm too cool for that.
Society Hill Hotel is also a good choice, as is Serrano, which gets a little more festive than the decor would communicate, owing to the number of diners eating prior to shows upstairs.
Malbec, the problem with fun and cheap is that they really do not go together in OC.
The Fun: Cuba Libre, Continental, Triumph Brewery, Eulogy
All will have good crowds and menu's are moderately priced, but if you drink your tab will come back to bite you. Triumph can definately hold your size party, but the food portions are small and nothing special. Eulogy has good pub fare and mussels but good luck getting in there with 10. You'll need reservations at Cuba. The Continental may be your best choice. They're food is family style so you can order a bunch of stuff a share plus the salads are huge. Call ahead to see if they can fit you.
The Cheap: Mexican Post, Sassafras, Race St. Cafe, Plow the Stars, Mad River
The Post has fairly inexpensive entree's and tons of tequlia. They also get a good crowd on most nights, so if you go, you'll have to get there early or call ahead (they sometimes make reservations). I am not a big fan of their food. Sassafras has fairly good food (very good burgers) for $10-16 and they have $3 drafts all night (Friday's) with some good imports and microbrews on tap. You'll have the place to yourselves, but it is a nice, cheap place to start. Race St has good food, but it gets busy. The Plow's food is average at best, but it is a big place with a good happy hour crowd. Mad River is your OC college bar and I am not sure of the food (I've only had wings during eagles games). It doesn't get busy in there until after 10pm. You'll probably end up there at some point.
I have never had a bad meal at Spasso, but it may be a little quiet in there. All the BYO's in the neighborhood are pretty small, although Mandoline could probably accomodate you if you call ahead. They tend to be about $18-27 a meal but you save on drinks because it is byo.