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HELP! I need a place for a get-together with way too many complications...

Woolsey May 21, 2008 04:59 PM

A friend/former co-worker is moving to the Bay Area in a few weeks, and a group of us want to get together and wish her farewell. We've finally been able to pin down a date - the evening of Saturday, June 7. But now we need a spot. Of course, there are a lot of complications involved, especially when dealing with people not so dedicated to going out as 'Hounds are.

- The guest of honor has asked not to have an actual dinner but rather drinks. However, the place should serve food, I think, because many people who are not dedicated drinkers tend to want something to eat when they are at parties, and some are complete teetotalers.

- The party will be on the older side. Loud music and standing room are not appreciated. A volume allowing conversation and enough room to for the party (probably about fifteen to twenty) to sit is essential.

- A central location for all members coming from the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys, the Westside, the Eastside, and even as far out as Whittier is desired.
Proximity to freeways and potentially subways/train lines is prime.

Nothing fancy is really being sought, but something fun, laid-back, suited to people who are past the loud crazy bar period of life. For a younger crowd, I'd have lots of bars to recommend, but right now, I'm drawing a blank. So can you guys help?

  1. Woolsey May 23, 2008 04:56 PM

    Mixville Bar at Edendale Grill seems like a really good find. It's got a lot of the qualities I'm looking for. El Cholo's hanging on in the background, although I wish it was closer to the freeway and had later hours. Thanks for the help with them. Any others along these lines?

    1. j
      jwren May 23, 2008 10:48 AM

      Hello, I've got a similar get-together to plan, but need something in the Westwood/Bel Air/Brentwood/Culver City/Westside area. It's a Friday night going-away party for a coworker. Any suggestions?

      2 Replies
      1. re: jwren
        Emme May 23, 2008 12:31 PM

        i think the above suggested Upstairs2 might work.

        Nic's Martini Lounge in Bev Hills or the bar at Maison 140.

        In Bel Air, if you like jazz and don't mind the music, Vibrato.

        In Westwood, Palomino has a good happy hour. Napa Valley Grille has a nice patio.

        In Santa Monica, the new South might be a great option to catch drinks and some small fare food.

        1. re: jwren
          recovering_vegetarian May 23, 2008 01:15 PM

          I would suggest this to both posters, but it is much more conducive to westsiders: what about the SF Saloon, on Pico? It is a casual bar/restaurant hybrid with burgers and basic bar food, and I've been on weekend nights and it's never very crowded. The Arsenal would also be good, if you got some tables in their dining area or reserved the side patio room.

          As for the OP, I definitely second the hotel rec. There are plenty downtown that could accommodate such a request (several have already been mentioned; Hotel Figueroa is especially atmospheric) and they have enough space to be flexible. Just call ahead to make sure they don't have any huge event going on (ie. a wedding reception) in their main bar area.

          FYI: I would NOT recommend Blue Velvet. On a random week night it may be ideal, but I once went on a Saturday night and there was a line around the corner. I think you'd definitely need a reservation, and it may even be too frou frou for your crowd.

        2. c
          cls May 22, 2008 07:02 PM

          O-bar at the Orchid hotel on Flower.

          1. j
            jesstifer May 22, 2008 06:05 PM

            I wouldn't suggest it if you hadn't mentioned Olive Garden, but what about Trastavere at Hollywood/Highland? It's perfectly pleasant, never crowded that I've seen, has much better food than but similar menu to Olive Garden for those who are hungry, and is right above the Red Line station. They also have a very nice back patio that overlooks Highland that would seat twenty privately and without fuss, flakes or no (had such a group there once). I think the restaurant does well but not so well that they'd turn away twenty drinkers and nibblers.

            1. c
              cookieqt May 22, 2008 01:33 PM

              perhaps the new Father's Office in Culver City-I don't know how it is on a Sat. night but it's got a casual atmosphere and a lot of outdoor tables. Also, it's got food but a really great beer and martini list as well and it's totally normal to go there and not eat.

              Culver City is equidistant to most parts of L.A. and easily accessible for everyone.

              2 Replies
              1. re: cookieqt
                Mattapoisett in LA May 22, 2008 03:55 PM

                Father's Office last Saturday night was a Mob scene and is in no way central to Public Transportation yet. and If you have people straggle in the Bouncers will not let them in until they have waited in Line.

                1. re: cookieqt
                  westsidegal May 23, 2008 12:02 PM

                  FO fails virtually every criteria that woolsey gave:
                  it is loud
                  it is crowded
                  it is NOT centrally located
                  you might not even be able to get your party in the door. . .

                2. d
                  Diana May 22, 2008 10:47 AM

                  Why don't you just tell everyone to show up at 5:00 at The Red Lion or something? Those who flake, do, those who want just drinks get it at the bar, those who want snacks order them.

                  1. m
                    mlgb May 22, 2008 08:53 AM

                    Are you just getting together or do you need a banquet room?

                    I'm thinking downtown Los Angeles is a central location. I'd look at one of the places in the Biltmore (great atmosphere) or maybe the Cafe Patina at the Central Library. Or Ciudad (maybe too noisy?). I believe there is a small private room at Cafe Patina.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mlgb
                      Woolsey May 22, 2008 10:42 AM

                      It's just a get-together. I'm averse to anything too high-end or complicated because 1) flaking is a chronic, incurable disease with Angelenos, and I don't want to be stuck with a reservation for twenty and only five show up; and 2) the crowd for this is, from what I know, not really the higher-end dining/drinking type. (I may have Mozza tastes, but I mostly have Olive Garden friends, sadly.) Were a lot of these people closer to my age or temperament, shouting over The White Stripes and chain-drinking bourbon at Seven Grand would be fine. But they're not. But they also wouuldn't want anything as fussy as a reserved room someplace. It's tough finding that middle ground, especially on a Saturday night.

                      I'd heard Taix had a good lounge, and it's supposed to be a pretty sedate old restaurant, but, unfortunately, they've now crammed live rock bands in there. Same with the Redwood Bar. Both of those places would have worked, but not with a band cranking the noise in the corner.

                      1. re: Woolsey
                        mlgb May 22, 2008 12:19 PM

                        La Golondrina in Olvera Street?

                        1. re: Woolsey
                          DanaB May 22, 2008 12:44 PM

                          How late are you expecting the event to go? Prior to around 9 or 10 p.m., the bar at Vermont Restaurant in Los Feliz has nice seating and small plates, and isn't too loud. Later in the evening they typically have a d.j. and the noise factor increases.

                          Another option might be to get a table in the back patio at the Edendale -- not sure if they actually take reservations for these tables, but I've definitely seen larger groups staking out a place. It's a nice space and the Edendale isn't noted for their loud music. They serve great drinks and have the option to order nibbles. The bar area will get crowded as the night goes on, but if you already have a table staked out on the patio, you should be fine in terms of comfort and space.

                          Vermont Restaurant
                          1714 N. Vermont, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                          Edendale Grill
                          2838 Rowena Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90039

                          1. re: DanaB
                            bad nono May 22, 2008 02:13 PM

                            I second the Edendale, went there recently for a B-Day party, and it can definitively accommodate large parties comfortably, and you can have decent conversations that don't turn into screaming matches. There were in fact 2 large parties happening went I was there, and one of them had reserved the back patio.

                            Also, if I were to leave LA, maybe I'd like my going-away party to be at Musso & Frank's. It doesn't fulfill all your requirements, but it is nostalgia-inducing...

                      2. f
                        FoodObsessive May 22, 2008 08:23 AM

                        East Third is downtown and has good freeway access, and isn't loud in the early evening. (I understand that it gets loud when it gets late, but I haven't been there then.) It's a steakhouse with a mld Koreran/Asian twist. Nice bar area, good appetizers in case you want to order a tablefull. Surrounding neighborhood is on the industrial/scruffy side, but it's a nice place once you're in. They valet park, so no need to walk far.


                        1. J.L. May 22, 2008 01:22 AM

                          Your answer:

                          Blue Velvet (downtown LA)
                          750 S. Garland

                          Good drinks, not loud, serves food, convenient commute for all.

                          Game over. Thank you for playing.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: J.L.
                            aching May 22, 2008 04:44 PM

                            Blue Velvet is a good idea! You might even be able to reserve that sunken community table in the middle of the bar - then you don't have to worry about SRO!

                          2. westsidegal May 22, 2008 01:00 AM

                            a general suggestion"
                            find a hotel that normally caters to business travelers and meet in their bar/lounge area.
                            most such hotels are pretty empty on saturday nights.
                            when you know your head count, call ahead and ask to speak to the manager to let them know that your group will be coming so that they can staff up appropriately.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: westsidegal
                              invinotheresverde May 22, 2008 09:16 AM

                              This is a great idea.

                              I'm not from the area, but have done a lot of party booking for restaurants, and no actual restaurant is going to want a group of twenty people, not eating dinner, to take up space on a busy Saturday night.

                              I think you're going to have to do a bar or the hotel suggestion. I'd be very surpised if a restaurant can spare that much space for people having a few drinks and maybe some nibbles.

                              1. re: invinotheresverde
                                Nicole May 22, 2008 09:23 AM

                                Agree that this is a great suggestion! I had the same concerns about taking up the space if they are not ordering dinner...places that have that much seating usually intend that you use it to sit and order a meal. This kind of hotel lounge scenario would be the exception.

                            2. ipsedixit May 21, 2008 09:29 PM

                              How about Magnolia on Lake in Pasadena?


                              1. n
                                Nicole May 21, 2008 06:40 PM

                                I'm wondering if Upstairs 2 would work? It's right off the 405. It's not a bar, it is a wine tasting and small plates dinner place connected to a wine store. You would definitely need to make a reservation for a party that size...so I'm not sure if it's as laid back as you are looking for. But it definitely offers a nice selection of wine and tasty small plates, in a quiet atmosphere suitable for an older crowd, right off a major freeway. (I should add that since it's not a bar if you are thinking of ordering very little and just hanging out, I wouldn't go there because you'd be taking up a lot of prime real estate on a saturday night.)

                                1. hrhboo May 21, 2008 05:34 PM

                                  The lounge areas at either Table 8 or Citizen Smith would probably work.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: hrhboo
                                    New Trial May 21, 2008 05:41 PM

                                    Table 8 is closing May 31 for its move to the other side of Fairfax. Would Lou's on Vine be suitable (might be small for your group)?

                                  2. Chowpatty May 21, 2008 05:31 PM

                                    El Cholo on Western is pretty central to freeways.
                                    Maybe Eat on Sunset? It's right off the 101.
                                    The Hotel Figueroa downtown, which has a lovely poolside patio.
                                    Don't do as I did for a similar group and suggest the Third Stop -- we were all standing up and it's incredibly noisy! Bad Chowpatty!

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