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30th bday - hip, fun chow, not extravagant - help!

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Fellow 'hounds... A little help here, please.

I moved from NYC a few years ago, and I'm returning to celebrate the big 3-0. We're a group of 10 looking for a place with fabulous food and great atmosphere, but nothing too over-the-top or too pricey. We were originally set for Alta, but they only take large groups early (7 pm) or late (9:30 pm). But that's the sort of vibe / price point / atmosphere I'm looking for.

I know I can rely on this board to steer me in the right direction. Any recommendations?

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  1. consider Bar Bao (82nd at Columbus)

    1. Any specific hood or cuisine you are looking for?

      1 Reply
      1. On a side note, if you like Alta, 7 PM with 10 people easily turns into 7:30 by the time everyone has arrived (always stragglers) and is seated... not such a bad time to start a dinner that will easily take you a couple of hours. In my experience large groups tend to progress through the meal much more slowly.

        1. Mercer Kitchen. Lure Fishbar. Stanton Social

          1 Reply
          1. re: UWStoSONO

            stanton social would've been perfect! only... they're booked. I'm going to keep checking with them.

            any other recommendations -- similar vibe, food, price point?

          2. You might consider Elettaria. I really liked the atmosphere and food - it's probably a tick pricier than Alta but worth looking into, and I'm fairly certain that they could take a large party. Also - it;'s more bistro-y, but I've always had a good time at Artisanal. Otherwise I also agree that you should take the reservation at 7 and just order wine/drinks for the first half hour at Alta.

            1. Try Mercat on Bond street.

              1. You should seriously consider reserving a private room at Bacaro on Division St.. The the atmosphere and food are both tops and at $45 the prix fixe is a bargain considering the enormous quantities of food you get. Like Alta, you are going to find that Bacaro has only 2 seatings, one at 7 p.m. and one at 9:30, so that may disqualify it. I thought I'd recommend it regardless because it otherwise meets all of your criteria.