affordable restaurant near or on beach?
we're looking for a place to have a medium-sized rehearsal dinner, about 60-70 people?
we have a lot of out-of-town guests so some place by the beach but affordable would be great.
the rehearsal will be near downtown LA and we're willing to drive a bit but not toooooo far.
I can't think of one thing at the beach that would be considered affordable - there's nothing on the beach - nothing at all, period. You'd have to go to Malibu for something on the beach, and that wouldn't be all that affordable, either -- maybe Duke's private room.
Affordable in SM - Warszawa, El Cholo.
Consider Cheesecake Factory in the South Bay, or something in Marina Del Rey - lots of options there, actually.
There are certainly affordable restauarants in Santa Monica near the beach if not actually on it. Lula's on Main Street has an attractive patio & does well w/ parties. It's casual Mexican, but good margaritas, solid food. Also Fritto Misto for inexpensive Italian (you could take over restaurant). More expensive, but not too outrageous is I Cugini, directly across the street from the beach. I've been to a rehearsal dinner of about that size held on their patio & it was very nice. They might put together a buffet that's in your budget.
Charthouse is on the beach @ the border of Malibu w/ a great ocean view, deck, ok food (as long as you keep it simple), again somewhat pricey, but they may be able to do something for you.
There's also an attractive, fairly reasonable Italian, Sapori, in the Marina w/ a very nice view & pretty patio (in Fisherman's Village). Not outstanding food, but ok
There are other Italians in Santa Monica as well which might fit your needs, but I'm blanking on them. Maybe someone else will think of some. Fear not, you do not need to be reduced to a chain on the order of Cheesecake Factory for your rehearsal dinner...
Also, many restaurants will make a deal w/ you re: corkage & if so, you can save a lot of $$ by bringing in cases of your own wine.
I agree with all of these picks, particularly Lula's (cool, casual and large) and Fritto Misto (smaller) if you'll be in Santa Monica. You could get away with dinner for <$15 (not including drinks) at both places, and they're great ambience places as well. Casual, but still hip and worth a trip to both, even for casual dining people-watching.
In addition to the other suggestions - Moonshadows and Beau Rivage in Malibu might be worth checking into.
Or you might want to contact the Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica - it's a hotel, but it's restaurant Catch has had good reviews. I'm thinking for a party of 60-70 people you'll probably do better in a place that has privat rooms to accommodate you, like a hotel.