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Mar 31, 2009 12:33 PM

30th Birthday Group (10) Dinner Recs?

I know, I know...believe me, I've searched the history of this topic and have done a lot of research and am still looking for help. Looking for recommendations from my fellow foodies for a good place to do dinner with about 10 people on a Friday night for my 30th Birthday!

I'm looking for a place that has great food, good energy, fun and hopefully a set-up where it won't be too complicated to split the bill and no one gets screwed. So, if they have a tasting menu or we can set a menu ahead of time, or generous portions that we share (and maybe just figure out before we get there)...that might work best. I'd like to stay under $55 per person for food.

I've been to both Mozzas, and the Osteria remains my favorite spot in LA so far. I'm just thinking it might be a little fancy, expensive and serious for this occassion. I'm considering the private room at Pizzeria Mozza as an option.

Just checked The Bazaar off my list over the weekend, which was great and definitely fits the bill in terms of atmosphere and food was great, but it probably isn't the right choice for such a large group.

I haven't been to the following places yet, and they're on my list. I'm wondering if one of these might be the best choice:

If there was a fun spot nearby to get drinks afterwards, that would be a bonus, but not required.

Or, thinking to maybe take a different route and get a table at The Edison downtown (I was already able to book for 10 through OpenTable if I need it)

Any help and suggestions you can provide is most appreciated!

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  1. some random (mostly Westside) thoughts - if you search the boards you should be able to determine whether any of these will fit your needs:
    Bar Pintxo
    Rustic Canyon
    La Serenata

    1. Let's think this through -- You are planning a 30th BD party. Even though you specify "foodies" a 30th BD party is first a party and second a big group, so there is going to be a lot of drinking I'd anticipate. Your budget is gone -- a couple of rounds with some additional drinks and nibbles as people filter in -- boom, you already are at $30 per person for two drinks and a nibble with tax and tip, probably more. Your whole party probably hasn't even arrived and sat together yet, and some people are already paying more than their total share.

      You need to rethink this. If you are looking at an upper-level place like either Mozza or any of the places you list, a 30th BD needs to be a blowout with no concern about budget or "who is gonna get screwed" or it is not going to work. You are also planning a Friday night, the celebratory night for starting early and partying late, and since it is busy anyway there is no motivation for any popular place to cut your group any deals. And I just don't get your $55 per person for food budget -- does this include tax and tip? Are you figuring in drinks? If it is your BD and you aren't hosting then reasonable friends aren't going to want you to pick up tabs... There are going to be some who are going to take advantage and not pay their fair share. Yes, some people will end up getting royally screwed.

      There are a number of turns you can take to solve this. First, choose a much cheaper ethnic place where you can eat liberally without worrying. Second, make it a place that limits you to beer and inexpensive wine. Third, arrange a menu in advance. Fourth, pick a weeknight so the place will want your business. Or forget all of the limitations, make it a real blowout, and don't worry about the cost.

      6 Replies
      1. re: nosh

        I completely agree. It just doesn't seem fair to invite a bunch of friends out to a relatively expensive birthday dinner (where they'll will most likely be picking up your tab, which I'm not sure you've calculated into the $55pp for food) and make them pay for it. It just sounds stressful and highly likely to end in at least a little resentment on someones' part. That said, I'd try to reserve the back room at somewhere like Musha where everyone is likely to have a good time and it's less likely that someone will end up getting screwed on the bill.

        1. re: mollyomormon

          shermanoaks, i'll make a constructive suggestion as well as giving my hesitations with your proposals -- somewhere like Palm Thai, on Hollywood in ThaiTown. You could go there on a Friday night and commandeer a big table that could seat ten. They serve beer. Their food is pretty authentic and they'll do spicy. It is very reasonably priced. You could order dish after dish, split among the table, and it is not going to get more than about half your budget, including tax and tip. This leaves plenty of room for several rounds of inexpensive beer, including tax and tip. And your entertainment, besides the food and your company and your party, is a big room and the Thai Elvis! A great party, lots of food, festive atmosphere, and nobody gets screwed until they go home and want to.

          1. re: nosh

            I just had my 35th birthday at Newport Seafood in San Gabriel in which we basically had all you can eat lobster, calamari, black bean clams, fried tofu, and shaking beef. The bill with beer and sodas included with tax and tip came out to $43 each. In my mind a steal, but if you want to go to a happening place in hollywood, bev hills, venice, or the wes side you should expect about $100 per person all in. I heartily agree with the comments above.

          2. re: mollyomormon

            Thanks a lot for your candid feedback. That is what I'm looking for. The estimated price range was not incorporating drinks, tax, tip, I was just thinking about the food part since the rest of those items would add up and wanted to choose a place with good food where we could still keep the food price down. To keep it from being stressful, and allowing people to know what kind of dinner it was ahead of time, is why we wanted to try to find a place where we could arrange a set menu.

            1. re: shermanoaksfoodie

              So, realistically, it seems like it would make sense to ask people to budget $100+ after adding in everything else, right?

              1. re: shermanoaksfoodie

                Third and Olive in Burbank would be fun for a birthday, because on Fri and Sat they have the Sinatra-singer and he's fantastic, and fun. check him out on

                The chef is VERY accomodating and will probably work out the perfect menu for you. Check out their menu online and then give him a call. Over the holidays we had a last-minute catastrophe as our reserved holiday party place went out of business. Third and Olive took care of 30 people on a moment's notice, the food was DIVINE, and Douglas took all of our requests.......

                Third and Olive
                250 E. Olive Ave., Burbank, CA 91505

          3. In spite of some very sound advice above - if staying under $55 per person is still your goal, and a more traditional non cutting-edge menu for you and your foodie friends would be acceptable, then you could gorge yourselves on a Steak & Lobster dinner for $44.50 (food only). And in a private room?

            Set Menu:
            Caesar Salad
            Filet Mignon 9 oz.
            Lobster (or shrimp, crab cakes).
            Potato & Onion rings
            Additional Veggie

            Recently recieved E-mail from The Palm:

            .."EXTENDED through April 12th.. Complete dinner for two - Just $89. Our Steak & Lobster menu offering is also available in our private dining rooms for 10 or more.... At The Palm, you never pay a room rental fee or require a food and beverage minimum."


            1. You could do what I did for my 30th-go to a club that serves food, get a big party room (usually if you try to make arrangments with the manager ahead of time, they are happy to accomidat at no extra charge, seeing as they would rather have the buisness than not) spring for a bunch of appetizers set up as hor 'd overs, and have everyone pay for their own drinks. That way it will only cost you as much as you want to spend, no one leaves hungry, and no one gets screwed on the bill.