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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.

            1. Hi, Not far from Centuy City is Westwood.

              We just went through this. We chose the Napa Valley Grille. They have a special set aside table in a room that should be able to accomodate all 25. Call and make the reservation, but they'll ask you for a credit card number just to ensure that you show up, since they have to set up the space for such a big group. The pricepoint won't make anyone gasp, and they have a pretty wide array of foods --even vegans in the group will find something to eat. The bar is nice, too.

              It's right on the corner of Glendon.... and Hilgard, I think. Very easy to find. There's valet parking, which is cheaper better than paying up front for the garage. http://www.napavalleygrille.com/westw...

              I'm not crazy about the Stinking Rose.

              1 Reply
              1. re: callie

                I was at a baby shower recently at Gardens on Glendon in Westwood and they did a nice job of it - there were about 20 people.

              2. $40 pp including a beverage isn't that much here in L.A, You might want to go for Mexican--Lares on Pico or El Cholo in Santa Monica are good for a group.

                1 Reply
                1. re: holleygolitely

                  I like Lares a lot, but you better call ahead and book the upstairs group dining area. It's like a long banquet table. At a glance, I'd say it seats about 20, but I didn't do a head count or anything.

                  Lares Restaurant
                  2909 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                2. I highly recommend Cucino Pardiso. The food is outstanding, for a good price - and music could be arranged in its private room.

                  I also second Il Moro and Napa Valley Grille. Nook is too small, the Stinking Rose is a bad suggestion - for the food and the group. I personally would steer clear of Guido's and El Cholo for the group.

                  I like the idea of Upstairs 2, especially if your group loves food and wine. Friday night at 7:30 might be tough there - so call now to make arrangements.

                  For less expensive and very casual with good food, try Fritto Misto.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ElissaInPlaya


                    Il Moro Restaurant
                    11400 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

                    Cucina Paradiso
                    3387 Motor Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                    Napa Valley Grille
                    1100 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024