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Sep 10, 2009 02:34 PM

creative chowhound challenge! bars w/ food to invade with large group?

creative chowhound challenge!

looking for a largish space to celebrate my move from NYC (sniff!) to the west coast at the end of October, with anything from 20-40 pals, depending on how many ppl actually show.

here's the challenge: i'm not looking for a sit-down dinner, but definitely fantastic food that will help me have a lasting impression of New York deliciousness. because i don't know how many people will show up, i'd like to keep it casual and not too 'eventy'. ideally, we could just take over a space that is normally not too packed (it will be a weekday night) and people can buy their own drinks and small plates/ food & come and go as they please.

i'm hoping for a space that either has a private area (i'm willing to put down a small deposit) or, if a restaurant, a layout that will make it easy for people to mill about between seating and the bar, rather than sit down formally in separate booths/tables, since people will be coming in and out.

any cuisine is fine as long as it's delish, not too expensive (<$20 entrees or cheaper small plates/tapas), casual, and downtown (LES, East Village, Soho, West Village). to give you an idea, some favorites of mine: Supper, Esperanto, Awash, Von, Terroir, Chikalicious, Death&CO. Vibe definitely more on the boho-chic-hip-rustic side than the fancy (eg, slicker spots like Rayuela or Stanton Social are ok but not ideal)

Some ideas:
-The 10 Bells (LES)
-Side area at Gemma
-Tapeo 28 (never been)
-Il Bagatto (downstairs or next door)
-Bia (Viet Wine Bar)

i see empty restaurants all the time in LES/E Village that could use this sort of weekday business, but of course i just can't think of them now.
thanks in advance!

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  1. I had my birthday party in May of '08 at The Ten Bells (30ish people), and it worked out very well. However! if your guests don't get there early - even on a weeknight - they may not get seats, and it's not a comfortable place to mill around. And they only serve wine and beer.

    What about Loreley on Rivington? They have a nice garden in the back that would be good for a gathering.

    1. -- 10 Bells, I like it but it's very small and it's always crowded. Always.
      -- Supper is also always crowded and the bar area is too small to risk showing up with even 10 people, let alone up to 40.
      -- Bia only has table service, I think.
      -- Tapeo 28 is tiny.
      -- Il Bagatto, honestly I have no idea.

      I feel like a giant party pooper by writing all of this. But I have a few suggestions. Salt Bar on Clinton is not normally crowded and could probably accomodate you. Also, with a group that size it may be worth calling ahead and advising them. Spitzer's Corner has a back room which they may be willing to open for you if you tell them you'll have 20-40.

      That's all I can think of off the top of my head at the moment. There are others... they just escape me this early in the morning.

      1. If you know you will have at least 20 people, make a reservation at Spitzer's Corner. Just make the reservation for 25. Plus or minus 5 people will not matter and not everyone will show up at once. It is exactly what you are looking for.

        1. Hey, one more thought just occurred to me. You said you like Von. Why not ask them if you can have the side room for a few hours? They're pretty mellow about pretty much everything. And Bianca will happily bring food over for you. (search this board for caveats on Bianca).

          1. Ooohh...all great ideas. i will look into all of these options. I do love spitzers and bianca. i've heard mixed reviews about the food at salt bar, but i like the atmosphere. anyone been there?

            thanks for all these...any more ideas, please keep them coming! i will report back.