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downtown dinner for 10-15

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I've been tasked with selecting a restaurant for a 10-15 person celebratory dinner. All (including me) are out-of-towners, and most are from the Midwest or the east coast. Here are the constraints:

1) Walking distance from the Wilshire Grand Hotel (Wilshire and Figueroa).
2) Under $100/person, including wine and tips.
3) American or European cuisine, or Americanized pan-Asian. The more Californian, the better.
4) (bonus points) Private dining room or separated dining area, but not essential.

What's the best food available within these constraints? A quick check of the board suggested Blue Velvet or Cafe Pinot. Patina seems to be pricier than this budget. I could push the constraints a bit ($110/person? very short cab ride?) if that would get us the perfect place.

If you know San Francisco well, I would think about someplace comparable to Kokkari, TWO, or Perbacco -- really solid quality, familiar enough for unadventurous eaters but imaginative enough for the more adventurous, and good service.

Thanks in advance for your advice!

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  1. The Palm on Flower and 11th? I think it's only a few blocks away. I think they have a separate dining room. If you go with them sign up for the dining club so you can get points for the dinner.

    Or Roy's?

    3 Replies
    1. re: chowmominLA

      Thanks. The Palm and Roy's are the right price level and location, but I was hoping for something more unique to LA rather than restaurants that people might have been to elsewhere.

      1. re: david kaplan

        Is Water Grill to expensive?

        1. re: chowmominLA

          The menu looks great, but I think that might blow the budget.

    2. If you are considering the Palm, then you should consider Pacific Dining Car, which though it's a bit of a walk is uniquely LA as opposed to The Palm or Roy's which are nationwide.

      There is also Water Grill but you might bump right up against that $100/person limit and it might be a bit boring for East Coasters.

      I am not a big fan of Nick & Stef's and I have never eaten at Zucca. They are both part of the Patina group of restaurants, which I generally find to be underwhelming.

      What about Ciudad?

      I would say Traxx seems like a good option except it is not withing walking distance.

      5 Replies
      1. re: bodie

        I've read some mixed reviews of Zucca on these boards but I really liked Zucca both times I've been. (It's italian) Much more than Patina and it's a lot less expensive. My department of 30 had their holiday lunch there and were all very happy with it, although I was out of town. It's definitely within price range and very, very close to the hotel.

        I didn't care for Nick and Stef's at all, or Morton's or Arnie Morton's or whatever it is. For a basic steakhouse I would go with the Palm before either of those places.

        1. re: bodie

          I was just at Ciudad and left suitably unimpressed. One of my dining companions even described it as "institutional gourmet food." My review of the place is here: http://www.kevineats.com/2008/09/ciud...

          Patina's still the best place in Downtown for me, and it is possibe to get out of there for around $100pp if you're careful. Plus they have a nice private room.

          1. re: kevin h

            Probably hard to be careful with a 10-15 celebratory dinner. Then when the bill comes poor David will be ostrasized from the group. I think Patina is just about the most expensive restaurant in downtown isn't it?

            1. re: chowmominLA

              Price-wise, Patina is indeed near the top of the range, though places like Water Grill and Nick & Stef's are right up there too, so I don't think Patina's prices are out of line.

              The chances of getting out for around $100pp will of course depend on the group of diners and the type of celebration, so David will have to take that into consideration.

            2. re: kevin h

              I have to agree I went there Saturday night after the premire of 9-5 the musical and was thouroughly unimpressed the flavors were not sharp, the plates I thought were pretty plain. I don't think I could get out of Patina for under a 100 because I would have to have the cheese course for dessert,but it is clearly the best of downtown

          2. Roy's or Engine Co.

            1. Maybe the brand new brasserie, Church & State. Cab ride.

              Blue Velvet sounds good to me even though I haven't been there. I'd rather try that than go back to any of the places I can think of that are within your parameters. To me, the only good Patina Group restaurant is Patina.

              Or maybe Cicada, it's Italian so not quite within your parameters. It's been awhile since I've eaten there, but recall the food is good. And the space is gorgeous. Housed in a former haberdashery with clients that include Clark Gable. The building is graced everywhere, inside and outside, with Lalique glass. But maybe that's not your idea of "Californian."

              1. Hello, David. Except for the walking distance part, Traxx would be absolutely perfect. The W Grand is across the street from the Metro Red Line station, however, so a short subway ride to Union Station, then a short walk through the gloriously Californian terminal would take y'all to Traxx.

                Food is excellent, if not soaring, California cuisine, & service is always accommodating. If you ck their website, you'll find that the cost will bring you well below your $100 pp bogey.

                For 15 folks, Traxx would prob be willing to set you up in the back patio, but for the Grubs' tastes, we prefer being out in the cavernous terminal waiting area. Great people watching, of course, but also surprisingly quiet -- voices apparently get lost in the great open area. We've had a party of 14 in the terminal space -- one long table occupying fully half of that space available, so sorta private -- that worked pretty well.

                1. David, good luck on your visit and celebration. If food and service is your main priority, I'd go with Roy's. Even though it is an upscale chain, they do things right. Many of the guests will opt for the 3-course menu, which includes an appetizer sampler, a choice of about four entrees (their shortribs are great), and a choice of desserts including their excellent molten chocolate mousse cake. It may still be $35 or up to $38. If you go early enough in the evening to see the sunset, Cafe Pinot has outdoor seating options between some major skyscraper towers. Both the food and the service may not necessarily be inconsistent, but just sometimes not up to patrons' expectations or desires. Traxx is unique being within Union Station, and the food very Californian and can be excellent, but it is too far to walk.

                  Just so you know, staying downtown the DASH vans are your best friends. They only cost a quarter, and run every eight to ten minutes during the day during the week over about five routes all over downtown. They can get you to and from Union Station, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, the garment district -- all around. You should also know that there is a relatively new Flyaway service that runs to and from Union Station to LAX airport every halfhour on nice Greyhound-like buses for only $4 per person -- MUCH cheaper than any cab or shuttle. You could take the red line subway or a cab or the DASH to and from your hotel to Union Station and get to and from the airport cheaply and conveniently. (Otherwise, you are probably talking $40 to or from LAX by cab or shuttle.)

                  Finally, during your visit, the Grand Central Market is not far from the hotel between Broadway and Hill between 3rd and 4th. Stop in for a gigantic succulent carnitas taco at Ana Maria's or Roast2Go for barely $2. And while the very best Chinese food is found in the San Gabriel Valley about 20 minutes east of downtown, Chinatown sure beats the pants off of anything available in the midwest or east coast. Gather up the crew for lunch, make a call for a table, and use the DASH to get to Yang Chow in Chinatown, on the west side of Broadway north of Alpine. Sit at a big round table with a lazy susan, order some slippery shrimp, some string beans in garlic sauce, some eggplant, start with the hot and spicy wonton soup (found on the house specialty page of the menu), maybe the Yang Chow lamb or a chicken dish, and go crazy! I'll bet you will be more satisfied with the food than your big dinner. (Avoid eating on Olvera Street, the Mexican food there is tourist-oriented and mediocre.)

                  1. Tranquility Base - on Grand near 8th may be a good option.

                    1. I would recommend Noe I had a dinner for 12 and they provided us with a private dining room and our own waiter and staff for the evening the tasting menu is quite nice for the price and should accomadate you 100 per person max

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                      Noe Restaurant & Bar
                      251 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, CA 90012