I most definitely have a challenge for all you foodies of L.A.:
My family will be in town for my graduation this weekend, and I want to take them to Diddy Reese in Westwood for dessert. That said, I'd love to have dinner somewhere within walking distance of that. There will be 15 of us, and although it doesn't need to be a vegetarian restaurant, I am vegetarian, so preferably not a steakhouse. Also, nothing too pricey - we're casual folk (as the Diddy Reese might sugest).
We will be coming from the Getty, so if there are no good food recs. for in walking distance of Westwood Village area, any recs. for food between the Getty (N on the 405) and Westwood would be much appreciated.
Thanks so much!
For a party that size, you need a large space. You might check out Napa Valley Grille - they have private rooms. Although they're part of a chain, the food is seasonal, good, fresh, and they have vegetarian offerings. Excellent food/wine pairings, if that is important.
Another suggestions would be Tanino - Italian. They also have a private room upstairs for larger parties.
Both within walking distance from Diddy Reese.
Or you could try Chili's.
I have had terrible, terrible service problems at Napa. I haven't been back since graduation two years ago when I was entertaining. They seemed incapable of moving the bill from the bar to the dinner bill, FORGOT an entree, slow drinks service, mistimed entree delivery. Strictly amateur hour.
Try the Gardens instead.
Someone threw an engagement party for my wife and I at Napa and the service was wonderful. We had about 50 people and all of the dishes were served at the appropriate time and the service was friendly and professional without being solicitous. The food was executed well. It's most definitely not the kind of place I think of when I want to go out to dinner but for a group ocassion it should serve well. This event was in April of 2007 so I'm not sure if westwood's experience speaks to an off day, a slip in quality, or past problems corrected.
However, I think the recommendation of Thai House is a very good one if you want to stay in walking distance and keep things casual and affordable. Great recommendation there.
I used to love Tanino but it seems that Tanino Drago hasn't been spending very much time in the kitchen and the quality had slipped dramatically over the past few years. I haven't been since maybe March 2006 though they may have had a return to form in that time.
You could also look at California Pizza Kitchen in Westwood. They have plenty of non meat options and could probably set your family up either on the patio or inside.
I think your best bet in Westwood for inexpensive but still nice is Thai House. The food is pretty good, the atmosphere is above average for westwood (linen napkins and the like), inexpensive, good service, and while it is a small place it is usually mostly empty so I think if you make a reservation they could accommodate 15. But definitely call right away and ask.
I like Napa Valley Grille, but I'm guessing it would be over your budget. Since you're coming from the Getty, I should mention that I've seen people on this board recommend the restaurant at the Getty center a lot, but I've never eaten there so I can't comment on food quality or price point.
My favorite restaurant in Westwood Village is Thai House. It is directly across the street from Whole Foods on Gayley. Unless you get extremely lucky and get street parking at a meter, the easiest and least expensive parking is in the stucture on Broxton, one block east. From there you just cut through adjacent to the Good Earth (or whatever the name of the place is that replaced Stratton's) and through the Whole Foods lot and cross the street. This parking spot will also be just a block south of Diddy Riese.
Fifteen will be doable at Thai House (assuming you make reservations) with them putting some tables together, though you'll probably be split into two groups. As Nicole mentioned, the ambiance there is a lot nicer than many would expect for inexpensive Thai in that locale -- carpeting, real glassware, good service, and pretty quiet at dinner. The serve beer and wine, if that is important. I like their mee krob (crispy rice noodles) as a starter, and I like their yellow curry with chicken. They can work with you about subbing tofu for meats. Everything can be served to share (so the vegetarians may want to sit together) and all dishes except some seafood or duck are comfortably under $10. You can eat well and heartily at Thai House, enjoy conversations with your group, and the total checks will be less than half what you'd spend at Napa Valley Grille, Tanino, Tengu, or Gardens on Glendon.
I would go to Tanino. It is midrange in price. It has mixed reviews but nothing completely unfavorable that I know of. I have had good to excellent meals there. I really enjoyed the spaghetti with sea urchin and red pepper flakes. I just don't like many of the restaurants I've tried around Diddy Riese, which is clearly the star of Westwood Village.
although it is a chain, i would suggest palomino's. go there early (must be seated before 6pm, iirc) and you can partake in their first seating deal which consists of a 3 course dinner with a drink for a mere $25pp.
they serve up consistent food, but don't expect anything mind blowing.