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Casual Berkeley Rehearsal Dinner

I am getting married at the Lawrence Hall of Science in September and I'm looking for a place to have my rehearsal dinner. I've looked at the recommendations others have offered for similar group gatherings but my requirements are a bit different in that

1) I prefer something more casual and cheap --like $15 -20/person (we're blowing our budget on the caterer for our wedding!)
2) We'll have a ton of rowdy kids that will need to get fed fast and
3) I don't care if we have a private room or not. (though the other patrons might prefer this, due to number 2 above.)
4). We need someplace easy to park, and within a really quick drive from the Lawrence Hall (ie, I don't want to go into Oakland or Albany or even Emeryville unless I have no choice).
5). I'd like it to be good food. I know this seems asking a lot with all of my other requirements...

I am thinking Chinese, because it seems like that could meet many of these guidelines --but most the Chinese places in Berkeley are getting mixed reviews. (And I'm Chinese, so I really have to deliver good Chinese to appease the relatives). Do I have any good alternatives besides Chevys?

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  1. How many people are you feeding?

    3 Replies
      1. re: isybela

        how many of these 40-50 are kids?

    1. If you're already that far up the hill, you might consider dropping down
      the other side into Orinda which, according to google, is only 5 miles
      away, (for comparison, gourmet ghetto is 3.5 and about as close as
      you're going to come). That said, I have no idea what's over there but
      it seems like the parking situation would be less dire.

      1. that's a really tight budget to find any restaurant. Chevy's would almost certainly be more than that. Do you know anyone with a big backyard that you could set up picnic tables and bring in trays from Picante or something like that? I think to stick to that budget, you could get food, but not necessarily service...

        3 Replies
        1. re: milklady

          Picante is a great idea. Can accommodate 40-50 (call ahead), within your price range, kid friendly, decent parking, in Berkeley.

          I think the food is good - in fact, I eat there weekly. Others will argue with me. It's definitely Berkelified. Certainly far, far, far better than Chevy's (cheaper too).

          1. re: milklady

            Picante has an outside patio that would probably accommodate your entire party. And the price is within your budget. Parking lot plus pretty much unlimited street. Beer and margaritas are the adult beverages (are they real margaritas or those weird "we don't have a hard liquor license" soju ones? I've never checked).

            Downside is the patio is across a chain link fence from a cement factory. Not a problem unless they happen to pick your day to crush a few thousand tons of rock.

            Food choices aren't too far from what you'd get at Chevy's and quality is cien mil veces mejor.

            1. re: Chuckles the Clone

              They do have a hard liquor license and serve other "adult" beverages besides beer and margaritas, like mojitos, etc.

          2. How about Da Lian, although, parking as almost anywhere in Berkeley may be a problem

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            Da Lian Restaurant
            1674 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

            1 Reply
            1. re: wolfe

              Hm. from the responses so far, it seems I may be asking too much. What if we upped it to 25/pp? Does that help? I guess my biggest priorities are location and parking... i once went to a wedding where people spent 45 minutes circling.

            2. I know you mentioned Berkeley specifically, but if you're open to going into Oakland/Alameda it'll give you a couple of options.

              Peony in Oakland Chinatown has 2 private rooms that you can use. Their lowest banquet menu is $238 plus tax/tip, etc. Plus, parking garage right downstairs.

              http://www.restaurantpeony.com/

              East Ocean in Alameda has a menu for $218. Parking usually isn't a problem. No private room.

              http://eastoceanseafoodrestaurant.com...

              You can probably call both places and customize a menu to your price range, tastes,etc.

              Also, what day of the week is this?

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              East Ocean Seafood
              1713 Webster St, Alameda, CA 94501

              Restaurant Peony
              388 9th St Ste 288, Oakland, CA 94607