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Etiquette and recs for a birthday dinner?

I'm taking a few friends out for a birthday dinner. I don't want to spend over $50 per person, but I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable about how much food they should be ordering.

I figured the best way would be to order a tasting menu for the table when I make reservations, but I can't find a decent one for $50 (I'm looking for a restaurant a little more fun and fancy than Degustation or Alta).

Does anyone have any recommendations for a good, cheap tasting menu? Alternatively, what else can I do if I decide to go with a fun and fancy restaurant? (In which case, any suggestions for a hot new restaurant for a bunch of young 20-somethings?)

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  1. Hey, nyc.girl,

    Seems to me you're being unrealistic. Presuming that $50pp budget has to include alcoholic beverages, tax & tip, I don't think you'll find a restaurant, let alone a fancy one, that offers a tasting dinner which is so inexpensive that it would fit.

    In order to stay within your budget and not make anyone in your party feel uncomfortable about what they're ordering, you should look for a place that has either very moderate a la carte prices or an inexpensive 3-course prix-fixe. I'll leave it to Hounds who are more familiar with restaurants patronized by 20-somethings to offer suggestions.

    Wherever you end up, I hope you have a very Happy Birthday!

    1. Uh my only suggestion might be like a chinese restaurant in the east village where you could order a bunch of food for everyone. And maybe a BYOB place.

      And I can't wait to follow up to see if anyone else knows it this is possible!

      1. Artisanal had a $35 prix fixe dinner the last time I went. It's a lively, noisy French bistro (like a Balthazar or Pastis). It's not hot IMO (except on opentable.com) and I'm not sure if would appeal to 20-somethings (maybe EV or LES would be better?).

        1. If you can stretch your food budget a little (and maybe ask people to kick in for booze budget) I think you shold check out P*Ong (the asterisk is there on purpose, not a typo). It doesn't meet all your criteria but check it out.

          1. Shareable food - be it small plates or entrees (like Chinese, mentioned above), might be the best way to do this. You mention Alta as not fancy enough, though I would have found it a perfect suggestion, though you could go over budget w/ drinks.

            Would sushi work? You could pick a high-quality, reasonably-priced place (like Le Miu), and order a few apps, edemame, and a bunch of sushi and rolls to share.

            1. i've done both inoteca & buddakan with a group of 20-somethings for about that.... depends on how much you order/if everyone can maybe agree on some dishes/maybe go thru menu in advance... drinks & desert will get pricey though, depending how much you do of that...

              1. Rosa Mexicano Union Square would work...entree & 2 margaritas/person. Had a great experience there for a friend's bday. Totally do-able.

                1. Not new but - I think Gyu-Kaku is fun and in your price range. Also Kuma Inn is BYOB and also in your price range.

                  1. i think fig and olive might be manageable, as they have a lot of smaller dishes as well as mains. the food can sometimes be inconsistent, but the space at the meatpacking location is really quite nice.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: nas9211

                      Fig and Olive in the Meatpacking district is a lovely space and definitely has room for a large party. Their menu is online www.figandolive.com and it's a younger crowd. The food is healthy and Mediterranean, but nothing impressive. The french press coffee there is really good, though.

                    2. pipa is a fun young place. you can do the ordering and get a bunch of tapas dishes and a pitcher or two of sangria. depending on how many dishes you order, it may fit your budget

                      1. Check out Xunta. They don't require prix fix for groups (I know you said you want that but actually you prob don't because I'll bet your head count is fluctuating and with a prix fix, you usually need to guarantee a set number of people), they have big tables and the place is really fun.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jona2325

                          Thanks for everyone's suggestions. We ended up at Pipa and it was very fun!