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I need Banquet Recommendations for rehearsal dinner

I'm from So Cal. I've been a chowhounder down here for years. I'm finding myself getting married in Palo Alto this August and, as the groom, it's my responsibility to host the rehearsal dinner. My problem... I'm not from that area and have no clue where to go.

I'd like to find a place near Palo Alto. Or, maybe Santa Clara. One of the neighboring cities? I really don't know the area at all.

I have about 60-70 out of town relatives coming in and the place has to sit that many. I'm looking to spend between 25 and 50 a head.

The places I've located (through online searches) so far include Chef Chu's, 3 Flames Restaurant, Frankie, Johnnie, and Luigi Too, and Buca di Beppo that can host that many people. I've only been to Buca's before. It's okay.

Any thoughts on the above selections? Any other recommendations?

Thank you,
So Cal Chowhounder

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  1. Three Flames ... in San Jose? That is a bit of a trek from Palo Alto. How far are you willing to drive? What day of the week. Traffic can be brutal at rush hour in that area.

    While Frankie, Johnnie and Luigi Too isn't what it was before they opened more locations, IMO, it is heads above Buca di Bepo ... although that is not saying a lot. What location are you considering for Frankies?

    Chef Chu's was the hot spot about 20 years ago for their Chinese chicken salad. It is Americanized Chinese food. It is ok. Haven't been there in years though.

    Santa Clara isn't all that close to Palo Alto either. I've got to think Chowhounds would have some better selections near to Palo Alto.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange

      Frankie/Johnnie/Luigi - The Mountain View location, I think. Any thoughts on that location? My future in-laws live right near Stanford Uni and the reception is at the Santa Clara Marriot. It's going to take place on a Saturday night, so hopefully traffic won't be so bad. I agree that Buca's is very mediocre and when I went to the location, it seemed really loud.

      3 Flames - Yeah, I think that's in San Jose. Too far, huh? Well, scratch that off of the list.

      Chef Chu's - Yeah, we have a few of those places in So Cal, well known for their chinese chicken salad... about 20 years ago. ha. I plan on having a dinner out there during my next trip up north.

      I think 20-30 minutes driving isn't too bad, especially if it's mainly on the freeways. I live in LA, so everything is 45 minutes away. haha.

    2. There are some Palo Alto places on opentable's banquet list that can handle that many.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Thank you Robert. I use open table down in So Cal. I never thought about using it for up north.

      2. Of the places you listed Chef Chu's is by far the best, and you could easily do it in your price range (maybe even including drinks). I know it doesn't get too much love on this board, but I think it's the best americanized chinese in the area, quality ingredients, and a pleasant setting.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jsgjewels

          Thank you for the input. Any other ideas?

          1. re: jsgjewels

            I agree with the above. Chef Chu's is not half bad, and sometimes very good. The service will be decent and the room will look reasonably swank. While I would choose Great Eastern in San Francisco, Koi Palace in Daly City, or one of the Millbrae options if I were looking for a really strong Chinese banquet, Chef Chu's meets your needs. It is convenient, it is not a chain, the food is good quality, and the photos of various heads of state and sports stars are a kick. Best of all, you'll remain in your price range with ease.

          2. Dynasty Restaurant in Cupertino can handle that size group, but I don't know if they fall within your price range.

            1. The only other places that come to my mind are Nicolino's Garden Cafe in Sunnyvale (not far from the Marriott in case you have guests staying there) & Trellis in Menlo Park. I am not sure about the prices at Trellis but I know someone who had a 50th birthday party there and enjoyed it very much.


              1 Reply
              1. re: ceekskat

                Thank you Peter and Ceekskat. I'll check out all those placed.

              2. I've only lived in the area for a couple years, so I don't know all the options. Here's what I can think of. Hopefully they're not too silly.

                I've been to Frankie, Johnnie and Luigi in Mountain View once with a group of maybe 25 and that was no problem. It has a fun atmosphere to it. I remember the food as being decent if not terribly memorable.

                If you want something fun, look into Buck's in Woodside. It's a "diner", but a diner in the richest town in rich Silicon Valley. I've been there for dinner for a friend's birthday, and it was really good. It's a bit of a drive to get out there, but it's a very pretty drive.

                You might try Gamberdella's in Menlo Park, which is about 10 minutes drive north of campus. It's a nice spot, and they have decent Italian food. I think they're big enough for you.

                A friend of mine likes Iberia in Menlo Park, and it has a nice backyard garden. There was a thread complaining about the service a while back, but my friends didn't have a problem the twice they've been there.

                Try searching in the Mountain View area, which is about 10 minutes south of Palo Alto. There's a lot of good restaurants down there. San Mateo, which is maybe 20 minutes north of Palo Alto w/no traffic, has a lot of good places too.

                5 Replies
                1. re: screetchycello

                  I'll look at the websites... Thank you for the tips. I discussed with my soon-to-be better half and she told me Woodside is too far... I suppose she is thinking more Palo Alto, Los Altos, Mtn View kinda direction. Iberia looked interesting from their menu personally... and, well, I've yet to go to a spanish tapas place with good service. I think sometimes they think they're working in Europe and have the service charge already included.

                  1. re: DrBruin

                    There's many threads about Iberia's poor service. For a dinner with a few people it's certainly worth the chance but for a rehearsal dinner, it could get weird. You might look into Zibbibo in downtown Palo Alto. Private rooms and family style service...sort of a Cal/American/Med place.

                    1. re: ML8000

                      Thank you... that is another place I've contacted. Weeeeird name... hope the food isn't.

                      1. re: DrBruin

                        The food definitely isn't weird, it's quite good as far as Palo Alto goes, and the courtyard seating is a great way to go. The reason I didn't mention it is because it will definitely fall outside of that price range, entrees alone are around $25, so for any kind of set menu plus drinks I'm afraid you'd get into the $60-$70 range. Trellis is also pretty expensive for the area. Check out Cafe Fino, I haven't been since the remodel, and I'm not even sure they could accomodate that many people, but the food used to be pretty good from what I can remember and they have live jazz a few nights a week which might be a nice touch.

                        1. re: jsgjewels

                          Yeah, I priced Zibbibibbobibibobib and it is out of my range.

                2. Another place to check out in Palo Alto, Spalti Restaurant on California Ave. Not a ground breaking italian place, but the room is pretty pleasant and it's quite under priced for the quality and PA in general.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jsgjewels

                    would definitely NOT go to Spalti - we had a private party of 25-30 people, service was awful, food was mediocre. it took them nearly 2 hours to serve us our entrees we all stood around for 2 hours awaiting for them .. and the food wasn't that good, it may be underpriced compared to the rest of PA, but definitely not worth it!!

                  2. I just wanted to thank everyone who responded.

                    We found an affordable place with the capacity to host about 50-60 people in a private room with decent food.

                    Don Giovanni's /www.dongiovannis.com/

                    We all had a great time and I would recommend this place to other couples looking to host an engagement party or rehearsal dinner.