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please help - 30th b-day party, downtown, restricted budget

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Please help - one of my very good girlfriends is having a birthday in a couple of weeks and we are throwing her a party. I'm guessing b/w 15-20 people for dinner and would like somewhere downtown. The one issue is that some people have quite restricted budgets, it would be great to have the option of people not having to spend more than $30 on food if they choose.
Because it's her 30th, and she's having a bit of an early mid-life crises :) we'd like this to be special and have great food. Any ideas/stories on experiences would be welcome... thanks!

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  1. Not sure how far downtown you want to go or what type of cuisine you prefer. What about Duane Park Cafe (American) in TriBeCa? Or Cornelia Street Cafe in the back room with the fireplace? They are both good, local, neighborhood places with prix fixe dinners that might work for the friends with restricted budgets. They are not trendy or a scene, though.

    4 Replies
    1. re: financialdistrictresident

      Duane Park is pretty expensive - I think the prix fix is $35. Boca Chica on 1st and 1st is great - I had a bday dinner there a few years back and they were very accomodating and patient.

      1. re: RussianGirl

        Russian Girl, that is correct, only $35 for three courses. As OP requested, $30 for food for some friends who are on a tight budget. It's tough to find a prix fixe dinner for less than $30-35. That said, your post reminded me of Zerza (6th & 2nd Ave.) in EV that has a $14.95 prix fixe dinner and would probably be more fun and festive than anyplace in TriBeCa. I have not been to Zerza, was going to go this Friday but opted for Crispo instead.

        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          14.95?? I just checked and it's only between 4 - 630. Almost too good to be true....

          1. re: RussianGirl

            I think it's every day too. That's the only catch, you need to eat a little early at 6:30 PM. Just leaves more time for cocktails, dancing or whatever later :)

    2. What about something in Chinatown? There are a range of expense levels.

      Recently I've enjoyed a place called Dim Sum Go Go. I realize 30th birthdays are supposed to be somewhat grand, so if you like the Chinatown idea, there are other more upscale restaurants to be discovered.

      1. Some ideas: Bowery Bar & Grill, Pipa, Gonzo, Fig & Olive, Crispo, Rosa Mexicano, Highline, Peep, Wined Up...

        1. if you want to stay in the FiDi you have plenty to choose from (espically if its on a friday or saturday)

          on Stone Street Brouwers and Harrys Cafe are both great.... Harrys is better food, but i bet Brouwers would like to have the business they'd probably create a price fixe menu for you or

          Il Brigante in the Seaport is great and very reasonable

          Les Halles on John street comes to around for $3o pp for food

          4 Replies
          1. re: budclerk

            A BYOB might help keep the budget down. Cube 63?

            1. re: budclerk

              How is the service at Les Halles downtown these days?

              Also, Il Brigante is not great IMO.

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                Went to a birthday dinner at Les Halles, 28th st? location (is that downtown?). Anyway, the service was okay. 12 of us had to squeeze into a table they set up that would have been more appropriate for 8, 10 max. There wasn't enough room for all our plates. If I had set up the party, I would have asked them to add a table to make ours longer, but I didn't want to speak out of place. Food was great, though.

                1. re: erin07nyc

                  thanks, erin07nyc. I meant the Les Halles downtown on John Street. I stopped going because it was inconsistent. I was wondering if it has gotten better and I should keep an open mind and give it another chance.

            2. Cafe Cortadito on East 2nd or 3rd and Avenue B is very inexpensive (most expensive entree is about $14), great food, BYOB and for a party that size they'll probably give you the entire back dining room to yourselves. You can't go wrong with this place. I've been here three times with three different groups of people and they all loved it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: GoodFoodNow

                This reminds me of Esperanto, Ave. C and 9th St. It's pan-Latin, lots of Brazilian dishes in particular. Festive atmosphere and good drinks. The most expensive main course is $17.50 (for the moqueca, a delicious coconut milk-based stew with seafood). I highly recommend this place. As NY Mag says on its website: "Odds are you're going to walk out of Esperanto drunk and reeking of garlic, if you order right."

              2. Thanks so much for the suggestions, everyone! Some very good ideas that I would never have come up with on my own - much appreciated!

                1 Reply
                1. re: pslopian

                  Let us know where you end up!

                2. I'd recommend 'inoteca. They have a prix fixe menu for large parties of $35 or $38. And you get a ton of food for that amount (all shared plates). Wine/beer is extra but also reasonable. It's a great deal. Call now and reserve the downstairs space.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dkstar1

                    Good call on 'inoteca...totally forgot about that one.

                  2. Hi everyone - thanks for all the suggestions, again... just wanted to let you all know we ended up having dinner at the EU, which was very accomodating to our group (ended up being 12 people) and, although the atmosphere is slightly chaotic and the bill was a bit more than we had anticipated, everything went really well.