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Group Dining between Beverly Hills and Santa Monica

As the food expert among my coworkers, I've been tasked with picking a Friday night restaurant to hit up during the company meeting in February. We'll be staying in Santa Monica, but the conference that night is in Century City. Ideally, we're looking for something good on the way home - we're dependent on taxi cabs and shuttles - although outstanding restaurants are always worth a little bit of a trip.

Now, there are some criteria to deal with:
- We need somewhere that will seat a group of around 25.
- The age range is from the mid 20s to late 60s, and the music shouldn't intimidate the old folks.
- We're looking to be seated around 7:00 or 7:30.
- Everyone will be paying their way, and we'd like to keep costs lower than $40 each with beverage.

I've taken a good look at Carmine's II, Il Moro and Nook, which were suggested in an earlier similar thread (Nook seems too small). I've heard good things about The Stinking Rose, although it's a little out of the way and could be trouble if anyone in the group isn't a garlic fan. Does anyone have other suggestions for good, somewhat affordable group dining between Beverly Hills/Century City and Santa Monica?

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  1. it might be worth considering guido's on santa monica - it matches your geographical requirement perfectly, there's a private room that probably seats 25 or if there are heat lamps, your group could take over the patio which is nice - the food is old fashioned italian favorites, not outstanding but satisfying - anyway just a thought

    1. I second Guido's, if you're into old-fashioned red sauce. Another option might be La Serenata on Pico.

      Nook is excellent, but the seating 25 people at 7-ish might be very difficult.

      1. Il Moro is a great choice as it offers a variety of seating options, including private areas, and the food is good. You might also want to check out Punch Grill on Wilshire near 30th [www.punchgrill.com] and Upstairs 2 on Cotner between Olympic and Pico [www.upstairs2.com].

        1. Tanino in Westwood Village could work: Gorgeous rooms, good Italian food, I think it meets your price point. Palomino or Napa Valley Grille, also in Westwood Village, could also work. If your group wouldn't get scared off by an ethnic theme, Shamshiri on Westwood Blvd. just north of Santa Monica Blvd. could put together an amazing feast for well under your cost limit -- sure it is "Persian," but really it is mostly kebobs (steak, lamb, chicken, fish) and shawarma (beef or chicken sliced off the spit), rice, salads, and hot housemade flatbread.

          1. Nook would be my suggestion. No matter what you do, steer well clear of The Stinking Rose. It's a stunt restaurant. They load up garlic in every dish, but forget to actually prepare quality food in the process. I like garlic as much as the next guy, but this is ridiculous.