Party of 13 at The Hollywood Bowl, dinner budget: under $500
We're having a birthday celebration at the Bowl in September and would like to treat our group of 13 to dinner for under $500 (including wine) without buying "to-go" food at the Bowl or picnic boxes at Gelson's (we like ethnic grub). We don't have box seats, and it's my first time there - any suggestions? Is there anywhere to sit together before we take our seats that we're guaranteed to find spots at? How hard is it to "schelp" food from an outside restaurant on the Hollywood & Highand Shuttle? Thanks!
Here are a few things I've picked up over the years. First, room temperature foods are really best, considering the amount of time it takes to drive, park, take the shuttle, and walk up the hill. I'm sure that other hounds have great ethnic grub ideas, so I'll just speak on the logistics. Since you don't have a box, I would recommend arriving early, and grabbing table and chairs at one of the picnic areas. I have never been able to enjoy myself when eating at the bench seats, so this point is rather important to me and my group of friends. There is usually a line up at the turnstiles (next to the will call area) with like-minded folks, so I like to arrive two hours before the show in order to snag a seat on the "Plaza". Just take a sharp left just after going through the turnstiles, and you will easily find it. There are other picnic areas around the bowl, but I prefer this one since it is close to the restrooms and Staccatto, where you can purchase any last minute items that you may have forgotten. Once on the plaza, grab a table and chairs, and spread out your tablecloth, utensils and grub. I personally believe that part of the Bowl experience is having the niceties like linen, so I don't skimp on this. You and your friends, of course, may be different! After a nice, leisurely meal, I like to save dessert (easy to eat stuff while in your seats) for intermission. Cookies, brownies, nice fruit...but a birthday cake may be much. If you need a birthday cake, I would have that down at the plaza with the rest of dinner. And, if you split up the duties among your friends, you should be able to get away with a shopping bag of materials per-person. Have a great time!
M Chaya Cafe has To Go bento style meals that hold up nicely for trips to the bowl. Mako has bento boxes, probablly not in your budget... $68 per box (feeds 2).
You can eat at your seats even at the benches if you don't picnic first. I actually prefer it. Perhaps it's not as tidy as sitting at a table, but I think it's part of the fun. I agree with parmamon to save desert for intermission. Maybe don't do a cake - pick up your favourite individual desserts from the bakery instead (fruit tarts, napoleons, brownies, etc.) - unless you get Mako's boxes which include dessert.
A note about the wine. The leased shows don't allow glass, so if you bring wine, you'll have to eat at the picnic tables just outside the Bowl. They also don't allow you to transfer wine to a water bottle.
If it's a Phil show, wine is allowed.
We went recently for the Les Mis show and picked up custom boxes from BLD. Great and not too pricy. Add your own wine and you are good to go.
I would make pressed sammies on big loafs of bread - chicken, pesto, goat cheese pressed. Grilled veggies with a tomato relish and swiss...make the morning off. pressed the sammis in the fridge and cut and wrap individually before you go. I would also make a huge pasta salad with roasted veggies and a nice feta cheese - Ina Gartner has a great receipe. I would bring fruit salad. I would bring a bunch of meats and cheeses with great breads and dips. Cookies work best for dessert...make a bunch of differeent ones.
If you are hell bent on serving in your seats. Then I would tell you to go to Smart and Final and get the dispossable to go contains and fill them before you get to the Bowl. Then just pass the containers out to your friends. You can do 2 different containers...one for dinner items and 1 with dessert. Remember that it is a balancing act, and drinks, passing, coffee may be difficult for your guests. You could always go out for dinner and fjust bring dessert and coffee in.