Bay Area Catering ~75 people (East Bay/Berkeley/Oakland)
Hi Everyone - My club is hosting a conference for around 75-100 other students a few weeks from now. We already have a room on campus for dinner, but we are looking for a caterer. We would like a caterer with great tasting food, but we don't need to be served (can be buffet style) and we don't need fancy elaborate food, its more important that it tastes good! We are expecting to spend around $1000 (although we would love for it to cost less). If anyone has ideas, or has had great/horrible experiences in the past, we would appreciate your opinions! Thanks!
Picante has a pretty good catering department, and they should be able to work within your budget. Some friends recently had them cater a party and they did a taco bar served buffet style - corn tortilals, pollo asado, rajas, beans, rice, salsa fresca, guac, etc.Everyone was happy with the food and although I don't know the budget specifics, I'm pretty sure that they were able to keep it around $10 per head
Have you checked with Conference Services at Cal to make sure there are no limits on your ability to bring in outside catering?
Much of the cost of catering is paying for linen rental, paper goods, servers, etc. If you can do your own room set up, Costco the paper goods, and serve yourselves, you can save a great deal. You'll only need the caterer to deliver the food. That way you can avoid the 30-50% of most catering costs that are beyond the food.
The first thing that comes to mind in your price range is taqueria fare. Cancun in Berkeley will deliver burritos, sodas, and a wide range of salsas at less than that price. This would allow you to add a dessert. For a bit more they'll do a fajita bar.
Cactus offers quantity discounts on burritos, as well as a catering menu. It can be found here.
You might also see if Bakesale Betty would do a large order of individual pot pies for you. They run around $5.00 each. I'm sure she could come up w/ a veg option for those who need it.I think chicken or veg pot pies and a dessert bar w/ Bakesale Betty cookies and brownies would be a hit. If you supplement this w/ bulk salad from Costco, you'll be in business.
The cheapest catering trays that look like catering trays I've come across are at La Med in Elmwood. It's not my favorite when it comes to this sort of food, but the price can't be beat. The large party platters have 120 pieces for under $100. 3 of those, a couple gallons of hummus, 200 pomegranate chicken drumsticks, and a little bit more should be enough. I've used this when budget was an issue and it was a success.
For super budget, I've ordered as many as 250 sandwiches at a time from Cam Huong Deli in Oakland Chinatown. At less than $3.00 each, this leaves ample budget space for desserts, drinks, shrimp rolls ($1 ea.), etc. 510-444-8800. Cash only, no delivery.
You can also get super cheap sushi that won't kill you from Get-A on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland. Huge platters of assorted maki are usually a hit.
Cam Huong Cafe
920 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607
I just had a pretty good bbq catered by Back Forty Texas BBQ. I got nothing but compliments about the food, but yeah, it'll run around $18-20/person. We had 3 meats, ribs, brisket, chicken, 4 sides, bread rolls and condiments. They were professional and on time with everything. The food was plentiful though so depending on the eaters you have at the conference you may not have to order for exactly how many people you have.
Hmm, it might be a challenge to find a caterer to do a dinner for $10/pp or less.
In my experience, $25-$50/pp is a more realistic number for a good dinner buffet.
Perhaps you can check with Doug's BBQ on San Pablo @ 30th (decent) or see if Ajanta (Indian and delicious) on Solano can help you out. In keeping with your budget, you should plan on picking the food up as delivery charges can be extra.
Another option might be Hawaiian BBQ (there's a new place near BART) or Pizza?
I bet Zachary's on College could do a large order given enough notice.
Doug's closed a while back. There are other BBQ places- KC, Chef Edward's, the relatively new Uncle Willie's which might be able to do something... Indian/Pakistani is great for this kind of situation- you can feed a lot of people a lot of things for $10 a head, especially ordering for the cheaper places (e.g. House of Curries, though I haven't gotten catering from them) and it tends to hold up pretty well, too.