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Birthday dinner for 8 in OC ($30 pp)

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I'm looking for a recommendation for a birthday dinner in orange county for around 8 people. I've already tried suggesting mariscos puerto esperanza but been shot down due to its atmosphere.

Ideal budget is under $30 per person (not including drinks) which will preclude Japanese. Also, Vietnamese and Indian/Pakistani are off limits. I was thinking of Pizzeria Ortica since we like Comme Ca, but I'm not sure it can be done in within budget, or maybe some great korean bbq. Thanks in advance.

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  1. I'll rec Habana in Costa Mesa / South Coast Plaza area at that price point. Make a reservation requesting outdoor seating.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JAB

      Did her bday there 2 years ago, agree it's a good recommendation but would like someplace different

      1. re: joshekg

        OK, then I'll rec Sabatino's in Newport Beach.

    2. Marche Moderne @ SCP is a popular OC CH favourite.

      4 Replies
      1. re: OCAnn

        For under $30 per person for dinner? Lunch on the other hand.

        1. re: JAB

          It can be done. Dinner entrees range from $18-36. Those of us w/smaller appetites can make a dinner out of salads, tarts and/or apps for <$30.

          1. re: OCAnn

            I can't imagine getting out of MM for <$30pp fior dinner unless you strictly limit all guests to only appetizers...which I think would be very awkward to do. And, if guests have a cocktail and/or a glass or two of wine, you are easily looking at double that.

            Da Bianca in Orange, is quite nice and can be done for <$30pp for food...also, Cucina Alessa in Newport Beach is quite good and easily would fit into joshekj's budget. Also...Taps in Brea which is a really nice fish restaurant and brew pub (white tablecloths, great service, definitely upscale) has an incredible bargain at dinner if you order off their special $24.95 menu. You get three courses (appetizer, main and dessert) and there are about a half dozen choices in each category. They even throw in a glass of beer with this dinner...it's a terrific deal. And, being that it's a brew pub, it's likely that your alcohol cost could be lower than if folks have cocktails and wine (which they have there as well). Looking at all of the recommendations thus far, I think that Taps will fill your requirements best!

            Check out: http://www.tapsbrea.com/

            1. re: josephnl

              On MM, OP said <$30, before beverages. Their dinner menu has one item <$20, six items in the $20s and three items >$30. So I guess YMMV.

              I'll agree that Taps is good; we go monthly (we live close by), so it's lost the "special occassion" feel. FWIW, Thursdays often has live music (a factor if noise is a concern).

      2. lol tonight I'm going to a b-day for 8, we are going to sakura shabu shabu, in HB, but I guess that would be Japanese.

        -----
        Sakura
        16871 Beach Blvd, Huntington Beach, CA 92647

        7 Replies
        1. re: FoodiePastor

          I shouldn't have excluded all Japanese, shabu shabu or an izakaya could get in within budget but quality sushi cannot.

          1. re: joshekg

            A cool izakaya is Honda-ya in Tustin.

            1. re: OCAnn

              A better one IMO is Shin Sen Gumi in Fountain Valley.

              1. re: JAB

                Haven't been to that one; is it an izakaya?

                1. re: OCAnn

                  One side is robata & yakitori and the other side is ramen.

                  1. re: JAB

                    I'll have to check it out!

          2. re: FoodiePastor

            Had a great time at sakura last night, I had never had the yakitori there, the selection was amazing! I had half of a quail for $1.95, and on thurday it is all you can drink Kirin for $10, I dont think I will be doing that anytime, but I will be back for just yakitori in the near future.

          3. What kind of atmosphere are you looking for? I mean, an izakaya is not a quiet, formal place.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              Not looking for a quiet, formal place. We're all in our 20s and looking for someplace lively (but not so loud you can't talk) with good food. So far leaning towards Pizzeria Ortica (even though it has some mixed reviews), but do intend to check out Shin Sen Gumi and Marché Moderne sometime. Das, if you've got some recommendations I'd love to hear them.

              Regarding Taps, I've generally been very underwhelmed by the 'traditional' seafood restaurants I've been to in Orange County (Crab Cooker and another similar one I can't remember the name of), so unless a few more people weigh in on Taps I'm not inclined to try it and will stick with Quality Seafood as my go to spot for when I'm in the mood for seafood.

              1. re: joshekg

                Mmmm...Quality Seafood...their freshness & variety is great.

                MM might not be a fit if you're looking for a lively place for 20-somethings. The restaurant is a bit cramped, with tables placed close together. While it's nice-casual, it might be more formal than what you're looking for. Taps, while more spacious, might fall into this category as well.

                1. re: joshekg

                  Then I think Honda-Ya or Haru for izakaya, or perhaps go to one of the Cajun crawfish places (the gin is blocking the name of the one I always go to, next to Banh Cuon Tay Ho on Brookhurst -- Boiling Crab?).

                  You could theme it 50's, have people show up in grey coats and thin ties and black plastic-rimmed glasses, or cinched skirts, and go to Park Ave. in Stanton and spend your time at their awesome Googie bar.

                  What about heading up just a little far and doing dinner and tequila at La Huasteca? It's definitely sub-$30 before alcohol and it'll be a big change from the usual OC birthday dinner type places, and the atmosphere is more like a sit-down restaurant than MPE (you know what I mean...)

                  Marche Moderne is really pushing the limits of your budget (sorry OCAnn -- don't forget almost 9% tax and a tip as well...) but what about Black Sheep Bistro in Tustin, or maybe head down to k'ya in Laguna Beach (or Anaheim -- you choose, beachfront location or parking that won't make you want to kill yourself)?

              2. How about Cucina Alessa in Newport Beach? Heard their pizza is good. I haven't tried Ortica yet since it seems a bit too trendy and heard its better for lunch there anyway. Great prices there too in a cute local place. Have you considered something in the Santa Ana Artist Village area? Definitely would be a cool, funky and trendy in a beatnick way. I'm trying Jason's Downtown tonight.

                Alessa topics:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5984...
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5332...

                2 Replies
                1. re: groover808

                  As I said above, I agree that Alessa is a winner, and definitely in the price range. It would be a good spot for a group of young folks to celebrate. I still think that Taps in Brea would be perfect for this occasion, especially with their $24.95 special going on!

                  1. re: josephnl

                    Oh, that was you! I know someone might have mention Alessa but I forgot to reply to it above...

                2. Just for a point of reference, here's the <$25 list from OC's Ultimate list of 2008:

                  Top 6 (those w/double digit scores) for < $25/person:
                  1. Veggie Grill, 20 points
                  2. Taco Rosa, 14
                  3. Taco Mesa, 11
                  6. In-n-Out, 10
                  6. Santouka, 10
                  6. Tulsa Rib Co, 10

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: OCAnn

                    Definitely Chowhound style, only maybe 2 of those places are full service sit down? All about the yummy food...

                  2. Thanks everyone for their great suggestions for this dinner. We ended up going to Pizzeria Ortica for dinner.

                    We started with wood oven roasted vegetables with burrata and a handful of the pizzas to start. I had the branzino and others ordered assorted pastas (sorry I don't remember exactly which).

                    Overall, the food was good but not great. Service left a little bit to be desired. If this was in LA I'm not sure I would goto it again, but being in OC it is good enough to visit.

                    The next day we went to Shin Sen Gumi for ramen. I had the spicy miso ramen and added the pickled vegetables. I think this ramen is better than Santouka at Mitsuwa in West LA.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: joshekg

                      In case this is of interest to others: this week MM has $30 dinner special.