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Birthday Dinner in LES/Village Area?

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I'm finally turning 21 and I'm trying to plan a birthday dinner for me and 8 other friends not too far from Alphabet City which is where my party is taking place. My friends and I like to think of ourselves as foodies, so I'd like the food to be well above average and the ambiance to match it. However, it's Chinese tradition for the bday girl/boy to pay for the meal, so I'd like to keep it at around $30/person if we share a few appetizers and each get an entree... I know, tough feat right?

I'm currently on the wait list for Freeman's which is one of my favorite pre&post drinking spots, but I'd like other recommendations for a back up spot! I'd like to stick to French/American food, but if there's another style of cuisine that's absolutely fantastic I'll consider it : )

Other places I'm considering are: Thor, The Redhead, or The Stanton Social, but I've never been to any of these places so I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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  1. Lavagna on A and 7th (I think) is very good. Maybe the best northern Italian in the LES.

    http://www.lavagnanyc.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: NYJewboy

      Oooh wow that actually sounds great! Thanks so much for the recommendation : )

    2. FYI, Redhead only takes large groups early in the evening.

      1. THOR is pretty expensive. Might be tough to keep it under $30 if you are drinking.
        Try Cafecito on 11th and C. Good food, right price point and lively atmosphere.