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Eat like a King pay like a Pauper

Need help my fellow chowhounds. I have my sister's wedding anniversary coming up pretty quick and my wife and I are suppose to take my sister and her husband out to dinner for their anniversary. My problem is that I need to find a "nice" restaruant at a affordable price. Location doesn't matter...food does. Looking for a quality restaurant that has good food-nice atmosphere that is VERY affordable.(this economy is killing me!) Thank you for your help and suggestions....

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  1. Need a little more info to be of much use. HOW affordable? Where in town? (your alias suggests you had some affiliation with UCLA, but not when) What will/won't you and your guests eat?

    1. Try being a little more specific.
      How much you want to spend pp?
      Wine or not?

      1. How about one of the Persian restaurants on Westwood. Good food and the price is reasonable.

        1. Lal Mirch. Fantabulous Indian restaurant in Studio City. The chicken tikka I got was perfect, simply perfect: juicy pieces of chicken with a little bit of char, and very flavorful. The sides we got were all excellent, as were some of the other entrees I tried. The rice was fluffy, the naan straight from the oven. You can do family style, or order your own.
          Their wine list leaves a lot to be desired, maybe check about their corkage.
          Here's the website. Please ignore the prominent display of the Zagat rating.

          1. I apologize for my vagueness. The budget for the evening is $200.00 give or take.. American food preferable(ie: steak, chicken etc) Italian will work as well. My sister and her husband will have a drink or two. My wife is not a drinker at all and since I will be driving I will avoid alcohol for the evening. Pasadena area would be nice. Long beach will work as well.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Timabruin

              Well I see my Lal Mirch rave was wasted.

              For really good Italian in the Pasadena area: Briganti in south pas, and Celestino in pasadena (a bit more expensive than briganti).

              1. re: slacker

                Not entirely -- I will try Lal Mirch based on your rec, as it is very close to my place. BUT I am fairly suspicious of an Indian restaurant that has beef dishes on their menu! What gives?

                1. re: Maxmillion

                  I don't eat beef so I never really notice that on menus. But I say, whatevers. The food is very good. One of my friends got the mixed tandoori plate (mixed meats), and that didn't look as good as everything else we had.
                  Hope you enjoy it.

                  1. re: slacker

                    Hey -- we got take away from Lal Mirch on Sun eve. Really great Chicken Tikka Masala (my benchmark) - it was all white meat, too; excellent fluffy Garlic Naan; rich and oily (but delicious) Lamb Dupiaza. The only disappointment was the Aloo Gobi which is my SO's fave but he doesn't like the ones that are kind of tomato based.

                    I have yet to try their daal (another of my benchmarks).

                    Also, there were no pappadum on the menu and I forgot to ask when placing the order. When I got there I said that, and offered to pay cash for the pappadums (plain, not peppercorn, thank goodness) and they gave me some free!!!

                    Very cool.

                    My new fave Indian place.

                    Thanks so much for to slacker the rec!

                    1. re: Maxmillion

                      You're welcome! Glad to hear you enjoyed it. :)

                  2. re: Maxmillion

                    Hindus don't eat beef. There are hundreds of millions of Muslims and Christians in India too, amongst other religions. Lal Mirch is wonderful, I hope you won't write it off based on the fact that they serve beef.

                  3. re: slacker

                    not wasted at all --- i couldn't figure out what i wanted or where to go tonight - "Fantabulous" sounds ideal when not in the mood to drive to artesia
                    thank you

                    1. re: slacker

                      Your Lal Mirch review was far from wasted! From your rave, I'm ready to try it, and as a bonus, I live SO close.


                      1. re: JeffW

                        whycook and JeffW, hope you enjoy it! They are thinking about expanding, but not into my area--boo. I wish they were closer to me so I can go more and try more of the menu.

                    2. re: Timabruin

                      Sorry, Pasadena & LB off my radar screen.
                      If Westwood is acceptable, Tanino will fit to perfection.
                      Very decent Italian. Nice & classy look, reasonably priced.

                    3. In Pasadena, Smitty's Grill might work for your budget. I believe that you can come in under $50 per person for dinner, although you'd probably want to double-check the prices beforehand (their website doesn't list prices).


                      Another option might be Bashan in Glendale, which has been getting a lot of good reviews of late. It might be a little above your budget if everyone orders appetizers, entrees and drinks, though.


                      While not in your geographical area, both Nook Bistro and Violet in Santa Monica have tasty food in a nice environment and within your budget.



                      3 Replies
                      1. re: DanaB

                        I am the biggest fan of BASHAN... I love this place...however, it will be hard to keep the tab within range if you want apps, entree and dessert...it is too hard to resist ordering at least 3 appetizers when there are just 2 of us so watch out with 4 people.
                        Smittys is one of my favorites in Pasadena but if you want another one of my absolute favs, SHIRO in South Pasadena is amazing!!!
                        )On Wed nights, SHIRO has a great 3 course meal that is probably under $40 per person.
                        The service at SHIRO is fantastic!!! Modest and reasonable wine list...don't forget to get the Ravioli appetizer...it is amazing!!!

                        1. re: tatertotsrock

                          ooh, didn't know shiro is the sister resto to orris! fantastic!

                          1. re: wilafur

                            If you're a fan of Orris, I think you'll really enjoy SHIRO.
                            It's a bit more old school, locals and families...relaxed but special occaision friendly..I've cruised by on a whim just to have a glass of wine and the ravioli appetizer and the service is always so warm.

                      2. I second Smitty's. I was just there again last night, and it's become one of my favourite places in Pasadena. It has a nice cozy Old Hollywood feel, the food is American but EXCELLENT American. I've tried everything on the menu and nothing disappoints. My favourite thing on the menu is a rack of lamb (comes with mashed potatoes and you can order sides to share, steak-house style, I recommend the mushrooms), and that's probably the most expensive thing on the regular menu at around $22. Specials are usually a little more. Salads and appetizers are usually very good with simple fresh produce, better to share a couple with the table since the entrees are quite large. They serve Fosselman's ice cream with dessert, a mark of distinction and very good taste.

                        1. Are you familiar with Benley in Long Beach? They are a BYO place with no corkage, so if you can bring a bottle and you will easily stay under $200 for 4 people. Very good food and a Long Beach favorite. (It's quasi-Vietnamese so not really that scary for non-adventurous eaters). Call ahead, I'm not sure if they do reservations and it's a small place (but nice inside).

                          I also like Cafe Piccolo which has a less adventurous menu and a nice atmosphere (especially the back patio). I think you can stay under $200 for 4 there.

                          Website for Cafe Piccolo is http://www.cafepiccolo.com/

                          Benley, a vietnamese kitchen
                          8191 E Wardlow Rd, Long Beach, CA 90808

                          Cafe Piccolo
                          3222 E Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90803

                          1. If there's a Cafe Bizou in Pasadena (and I think there is) that might also suit your needs. Though Smitty's sounds nicer (but I haven't been), Bizou has white tableclothes and items like rack of lamb and soup or salad for only a buck or two more.Also, very low corckage if you want to go that route.

                            1. go to lucques on sunday for 40 dollar 3 course prix fixe
                              josie on wednesday for 35 dollar 3 course prix fixe
                              or jiraffe for 35 dollar 3 course prix fixe
                              (in this descending order)
                              and bring a bottle of wine and pay corkage (check price + make sure they don't carry the bottle of wine you intend to bring)

                              1. I'm not very familiar with Long Beach, but I have a suggestion in nearby Redondo Beach. Gina Lee's Bistro has excellent food (mostly fish) at an affordable price. It's Asian fusion, so I'm not sure if that would work for you. It doesn't feel quite like a special occasion restaurant, but it has a pretty nice atmosphere for the price point (maybe around $17/entree if I recall correctly?). Another perk is that they will let you bring in a cake with no cake-cutting fee (although I would definitely ask in advance to be polite), which can add to the special occasion feel. I did just that for a graduation dinner with similar budget concerns and I was very happy with the food and the whole experience.

                                1. None of these are Pasadena or Long Beach, but you did say that location doesn't matter in the OP...

                                  Nook is nice and certainly wallet-friendly, but I don't know if it's nice enough for your idea of a anniversary present.

                                  Violet on Pico is similar in price range to Nook, and casual as well.

                                  If you feel like driving up the coast (the view increases the enjoyment factor) there's Il Carpaccio.

                                  Upstairs2 is nicer and more pricey, but perhaps accommodating due to small plates.

                                  In Venice, Primitivo could work for small plates as well

                                  1. We just had a wonderful dinner for four at Neomeze in Pasadena. The cuisine has a Mediterranean flair and is mainly served as small plates to share with the whole table, although I also think they have a selection of more entree-sized portions. The four of us shared about 8 dishes, as well as a couple of deserts. Everything was fantastic, and including the wine for the table, our bill came to 200! These days, that's a great deal!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: srnka

                                      I had a fabulous dinner at Neomeze and sing its praises.

                                    2. Le Chef in Norwalk (?) 710 Freeway at Firestone. Excellent and very reasonable. Full bar and nice wine selection. Six of us had apps, dinner, drinks, and bananas flambe prepared table side for under $250.00 with tip. Outstanding hidden gem, hard to find but worth it. It was chosen based on the distance between Walnut and Rancho Palos Verdes.