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Graduation dinner in Santa Monica or downtown for 10

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I need to book a reservation for my graduation dinner for myself and 9 other family members, preferably on the not too expensive side - $10-15 per dish. It needs to be somewhere not too far - I'm thinking Santa Monica, downtown, or anything in between close to the 10.
Probably no sushi or anything else grandparents might think is too weird, unfortunatly.
Any suggestions would be great - thanks a ton.

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  1. In Santa Monica Fritto Misto would fulfill your requirements, and being Italian food the GP's should find it acceptable. Downtown one of the Chinese places would be a good fit if that was not on the "weird" list. CBS Seafood is a safe bet.

    http://www.usmenuguide.com/frittomist...

    http://losangeles.menupages.com/resta...

    1. I'd suggest Shamshiri, on the east side of Westwood Blvd. just a bit north of Santa Monica Blvd. It is large enough to serve your party, the price point is right, and it can provide a celebratory atmosphere for your budget. While it is Persian, it is not very exotic -- mostly simply grilled beef, lamb or chicken kabobs, shawarma (beef or chicken sliced from a rotisserie -- choose the chicken), and skewered seasoned ground beef or chicken called koobideh. Good flatbread, parsley and cucumber salad called shirazi, and some stew or fish options as well. Huge portions, so you could order family style and share. Stop in for lunch and check it out so you can reserve well before grad season.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nosh

        re: shamshiri
        1) if the graduation dinner is on the day of ucla graduation, they will be booked
        and
        2) they may decide to charge a $4 surcharge for adults sharing entree dishes. most of the time, they will forgo the surcharge if a 'reasonable' number of entrees are ordered, but they are not likely to do so if all the adults are sharing an entree.

        AND, nosh,
        i agree that shamshiri would be the perfect place

      2. Ok, so you took the question right out of my mouth. My son will be graduating in June (go Bruins) and I'm looking for a place to host a luncheon for him and our family from Nor Cal. Preferably Santa Monica or Westwood, affordable,(don't want to spend another tuition payment) ethnic and yummy for 10-15 people. I've searched citysearch and some of the following look interesting: Babalu; lighthouse Buffet; Monsoon; Fritto Misto; Spumoni; Shamshiri. I would appreciate some reccomendations, suggestions/ warnings. TIA.

        5 Replies
        1. re: dbinben

          Of your list, Babalu is nice, but for 10-15 people, you're gonna feel cramped. Fritto Misto is pretty safe, as is Spumoni, but I prefer the former. Shamshiri is good, but my reservations are held because the grandparents may not want *different* food, but prefer meat/fish/poultry and veggies and potatoes type of meal.

          If you think Japanese would be tolerated, Musha would be a good option in Santa Monica.

          Nook or Violet might work, though I fear the same cramping issue as for Babalu.

          You might also consider somewhere along Sawtelle, and if you upped the budget just a tad... Orris, Blue Marlin, Sawtelle Kitchen, etc.

          1. re: Emme

            I love Nook, and have often recommended it as the best food/atmosphere/service value on the westside. But even the communal table isn't going to seat a dozen, and while entrees range below and slightly above $20, you aren't going to be able to even share any salads, starters, or desserts, have any beverages, and pay tax and tip for less than about $40 per person. Violet has a 7 for $7 option for certain dishes before 7 p.m. M-Th, but it is also going to be too small and you aren't going to feel very celebratory asking people to stick to just those items. Musha, Orris, and the like are way out of the ballpark.

            Shamshiri has some "exotic" stews and appetizers, but the bulk of their menu is meat (kabobs, shawarma), grilled veggies, and rice, along with flatbread. Couldn't be simpler, for those who want to stick to basics.

          2. re: dbinben

            This might be out of your price range, but maybe the management can work with you. Nappa Valley Grille in Westwood has several nice private rooms that are really good for a small party. I mention it because you'll be in Westwood, and travel and parking is a pain, especially during graduation week. For those who can walk, it;s not a bad walk or a campus shuttle from the graduation site, and for those who need to, the restaurant has valet parking.

            The menu is sort of New American/California seasonal, very nice, and, like I said, the staff would work with you.

            I've attended several meals in the private rooms for small campus organizations, and its quite nice.

            1. re: gsw

              Napa Valley Grille, along with Gardens on Glendon, Palomino, 930 at the W, and Tanino, are the preferred post-grad celebration places during graduation week at UCLA. Some may already have private rooms or large parties booked, they are all multiple times the price range the OP desired, and during that time they have absolutely no incentive to lower their prices as they will be turning parties away. The new option is Yamato in the gorgeous former Eurochow space, but their food is what the OP wanted to avoid, their prices are also way too high, and initial reviews have been mixed to adamantly negative.

              1. re: nosh

                Acutally, the prices are Yamato are obscenely reasonable. Almost not ffitting for the decor. I recently went there for lunch and got a 3 item teshoku combo for 12.50 and it there was enough food for two. The quality still remains the highest of the Japanese in Westwood, including Tengu. I checked out their dinner menu and they've included an amazing happy hour. It's only 5 dollars for a few quality rolls, not just bull like california rolls. Plus hot apps, and $5 quality "fusion" cocktails. I was seriously pleasantly surprised, and will be making this a regular spot.

                I heard they were gettin a 1000 person post-premiere party, so I'm pretty sure they do events as well. Might be a very cheap new option.