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Reasonably priced special occasion restaurant?

I'm looking for a nice restaurant, that I can have a nice dinner with my SO for my birthday that won't break the bank. It doesn't have to be super fancy gourmet, just good food, nice atmosphere, decent service, not too loud, and where we won't spend say....over $50/person including wine. Last year we went to Maestros and although it was very nice and delicious, we don't have a ton of money to spend. Is this the $64,000 question?

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    1. re: jkao1817

      Preferably somewhere on the westside of town.

    2. Nook would fit the bill, or Upstairs 2 at the Wine House. Both are reasonably priced and have wonderful food. . .

      1. I'd vote for Orris. It should be doable depending on what you order.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mollyomormon

          Second Orris. It's definitely doable on your budget. The problem is everything is so, so good it's hard to limit yourself!

        2. Orris and Upstairs 2 are both tapas places....hmmm not sure that's what we're looking for.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jessisthebest11

            I wouldn't call either of them tapas places, more like small-plates focused menus. Violet is great too. They have small and larger plates.

          2. Il Pastaio on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills has fantastic Italian food at reasonable prices.
            App, pasta, and wine should cost ~$50 or $60/person.
            It's not loud, but it's not quiet either. Tables are kind of close to each other. But it all seems to work well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: stollingrone007

              I like Il Pastaio as well.

              Pane e Vino might be nice on the back patio, and would get you in and out for that price range.

              I kno small plates weren't necessarily what you wanted, but I really like Cube as well as Lou on Vine.

              Magnolia and Bowery would also fit in your budgetary constraints.

            2. If your birthday falls within the next couple weeks, you may want to take advantage of Dine Out LA. 3-course dinner for $35 and you'll be doing good deeds for charity.


              3 Replies
              1. re: fdb

                If Santa Monica isn't too far west, I suggest Cafe Bizou. I've only been to the SFV and Pasadena locations so I don't know the ambiance at the SM location. My husband and I love it for a reasonable "occasion" venue and have celebrated many anniversaries, etc there. I'm sure there will be naysayers but I stick to my guns!

                1. re: Fru

                  I've been to Cafe Bizou in Pasadena (work down there). Nice place.

                  1. re: Fru

                    The Bizou in Santa Monica has no affiliation with the ones in Sherman Oaks or Pasadena any more, as the Cafe Bizou was sold over a year ago, and is now called Bizou Garden Bistro, so make no assumptions based on the other locations.
                    Violet, Le Petit Cafe on Colorado in Santa Monica, Nook, Il Pastaio on Canon or Orso on 3rd St.(patio is great) near Cedars if you watch what you order.

                2. Lots of good suggestions already (esp. Violet and Orris), but how about Joe's in Venice?


                  Joe's Restaurant
                  1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291

                  1. Second on Il pastaio in BH. Also, Chaya Brasserie on Alden and Robertson.

                    1. Orris is good and Upstairs 2.

                      Also in Westho is Angeli Caffe, very nice.

                      Cube IS NOT in that price range!

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: Diana

                        Pizzeria Mozza sounds like a pretty good fit.

                        1. re: Wolfgang

                          in that price range? not if you get everything you want, and not with wine.

                          1. re: Diana

                            True, but very doable if you manage it right. I split a salad and 2 pizzas between my gf and me when we go and we stagger out of there usually.

                            2 pizzas: $28
                            1 app: $12
                            2 glasses wine: $20
                            1 dessert: $10

                            1. re: Wolfgang

                              then there's tip and the outrageous valet price.

                              1. re: Diana

                                although it's easy enough to find street parking around there that I'm not sure why one would valet.

                                1. re: mollyomormon

                                  some days are easier than others..but you are right!

                                2. re: Diana

                                  Why would anyone valet at Mozza, when you can park about 150-200 feet north of the restaurant on EITHER side of Highland after 7pm, as well as on Melrose east of Highland in a similar timeframe, unless you are with someone with access issues?

                                  1. re: carter

                                    Intersting thought..if one had "access issues" would you have to pay to valet? In my mind, handicapped valet should be free.

                                    Of course, I'm not ther past 7:00 PM..I only seem to get early reservations. When I'm in Weho later, I go somewhere else.

                                3. re: Wolfgang

                                  They could get a "bottle" of wine at PM along with your menu above, and still be under $50 pp (including a 20% tip) if they can find street parking.

                            2. I love the food at Orris, but I wouldn't consider it a special occasion place...particularly since they don't take reservations. Violet's food isn't as good as Orris, but it does take reservations, and has more of a special occasion feel. Joe's is pretty good, but not great, and possibly pricier than you are looking for. I know it has its fans on this board, but I only like it for lunch, which is a better value. I'm also not a fan of pizzeria mozza, although it has plenty of advocates on this board. I haven't been there in a long time, but Chez Mimi used to be good value at a reasonable price on the westside...and they have a very nice patio that has a special occasion feel. That would probably be my pick, with your parameters.

                              1. Tasca, on 3rd Street just west of Crescent Heights, has fantastic food and great atmosphere (though its best to be there after dark, so you can enjoy the dim lighting/bistro feel). Their corkage is $15, so you could bring wine & save $$. I hate telling people about it because it makes it harder for me to get a table.

                                Cube has less atmosphere but is eminently affordable, delicious and BYOB. They do have a nice little table for two near the back you can ask for.

                                Lou on Vine is great -- a wine bar with yummy little snacks and small plates.