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Mr Taster requests the *impossible* (or just improbable?)... Office holiday party for $25 per person (including tax+tip) at or around the Grove/Miracle Mile

It's an office holiday party with unadventurous eaters and a super slim budget. Where would you recommend? I can't take another year at flavorless glop at Maggiano's.

Obviously It can't be a divey place inside the Farmer's Market... someplace we can sit comfortably. We need to stay local to the Farmer's Market/Miracle Mile area, but if you have any brainstorms for places *slightly* further afield, I'd love to hear them. Koreatown is too far, sadly (and Korean food likely would be vetoed anyway).

Oh, and we've got a vegetarian in our party... good lord.

I'm stumped... really don't know if this is possible.

Please help!

Mr Taster

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  1. normally i'd suggest Meals by Genet, but since it's an "unadventurous" crowd, how about Terroni or Marmalade Cafe? certainly not the most Chowish of places, but they're both in the area & should meet your criteria for budget & food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Believe it or not, I'm actually making some headway with the Meals by Genet idea. I think the option of non-Ethiopian dishes is highly appealing to this group.

      Mr Taster

    2. You should check with Bloom Cafe...

      2 Replies
      1. re: mollyomormon

        Second, and you might be able to try there wine bar and rotisserie place they own across the street, though it might be small.

        Bloom Cafe
        5544 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

        5545 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

        1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

          I was going to suggest Chic as well. I don't think of Bloom as "fancy" enough for an office holiday party, but i guess it depends upon the office!

      2. OK, I've never been so I can't really know if it fits your bill, but how about Lulu's and that other place (Cayenne?) on Beverly near La Brea?
        Also, how many people? I'd think Susina would be too small, but maybe you have a small office?
        There used to be and maybe still is a Thai place on Fairfax but I can't recall the name and I have no idea if it would accommodate a vegetarian.
        Hhhhmmm... Luna Park? Maybe not for $25.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bad nono

          I have inadvertently implied more people than there actually are. This isn't a situation where we'd need a banquet hall-- it's just five people. One vegetarian (though she is not the type to ever complain-- she'd go to a steakhouse and be satisfied with a baked potato and salad). The three others (aside from me) are conservative eaters to varying degrees-- if 10 implied an extremely open minded eater, I'd say we've got a 2, a 3, and a 5.

          And yes, the $25 is all inclusive per person, including drinks. But let's assume for the moment that we'll all be drinking water, and any beverages will come out of our own pocket.

          Mr Taster

        2. You might be able to arrange something with Tart off of their Happy Hour menu (food will be perfect for your crowd.) You didn't mention lunch or dinner, but if its dinner you also might try to talk to the management of Quality Food about catering something for you in their restaurant, which isn't usually open for dinner. We did a little dessert reception there a few years back, and in these desperate times for restaurants, there is always room for negotiation. Another really cheap dinner we did one night was at the erstwhile Big Wasabi down on Wilshire at La Jolla. I don't remember the restaurant's new name. We fed 25 people for a couple hundred dollars off of a preselected menu of basic stuff, like pad thai and teriyaki chicken. It was asian gentle (for a midwestern crowd); we had the whole restaurant, and they have a liquor license.

          6 Replies
          1. re: coffeebrownies

            You know, I thought of Tart-- though one of our group ate there previously and didn't like it.

            What about the Farm of Bev Hills at the Grove? Is it worthwhile?

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              Honestly, the Farm has always seemed a little pricey to us--you pay for location.

              1. re: coffeebrownies

                agreed, and there's really no way to get out of there for $25 pp for dinner

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Alright, good to know. I'll start investigating some of these various options and report back. I'm gearing towards Luna Park, though I'm intrigued by Bloom. Thanks 'hounds!

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    Bloom is good for a small party and your vegetarian friend should be able to get something nice. For the conservative eaters they have a good burger and good pizzas in the evening.
                    But they don't serve any alcohol and I'm not sure you can even bring your own or if there's a corkage (someone else would have to confirm this). On another hand if you are going for dinner you could all cross the street after and try the wine bar at Chic Café.

                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    def agree Farm is overpriced, and i personally feel it's meh on quality... the only thing that we've had good experiences with are the brownies, the french toast, the BLTA and the veggie burger.

                    as SandraW does below, i was going to suggest Moun of Tunis, but now that i think on it, it might be too... adventurous.

                    One more thought... Umami Burger? veggie burger avail...

            2. maggiano's. at the grove although technically on farmers market property for parking. create a family style meal-full portions are HUGE and shared you can do it . i suspect you are not being so cheap that drinks must be included. by the way even NORM"S would have a hard time filling your order. out of the 80"s please!

              1 Reply
              1. re: donlabrea

                Mr Taster said in his OP that he "can't take another year at flavorless glop at Maggiano's."

              2. My work group is going to El Torito Grill for dinner. They can set up a buffet for groups. I haven't been there in years, but the price is right (~$25). We know that it's not really a Mexican restaurant, but the location & price met our needs. And it's vegetarian friendly. (It does have a full bar.)

                El Torito Grill
                9595 Wilshire, Beverly Hills 90210
                (310) 550-1599

                  1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                    Marie Callendar's would be great if not for the mediocre food :)

                    Mr Taster

                  2. I'm thinking Luna Park might be able to do that.

                    1. What about Moun of Tunis? Couscous and vegetarian options. Broiled skewered meat for the unadventurous? Have to admit, it's been years since I've been there.

                      1. What about Cafe Verona at 2nd & La Brea? Their usual hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m., but I heard they were trying to stay open later. Or maybe you could go for an early supper??

                        1. Buddha's Belly? I think you could stay under $25/person there without alcohol. Food is decent, with plenty of vegetarian options.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: cookie monster

                            I've read consistently negative reviews of Buddha's Belly on Chowhound. Is this no longer the case?

                            1. re: Mr Taster

                              Yes, so have I. It's certainly not authentic, but I've enjoyed the food the couple of times I've been there.

                              I also second or third the Luna Park and Bloom/Chic suggestions. I was going to throw in Baby Blues Barbecue in Weho, but that's a little tough on a vegetarian.

                          2. Whisper Lounge should fit the bill.

                            Whisper Restaurant & Lounge
                            189 The Grove Drive, #F90-B, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                            1. You could try El Nido which is Nicaraguan food. It's on La Brea just north of the 10. It's not expensive at all, and you could easily get out of there for $25 a person. I like the food a lot (the sampler plate is $12.50 a person and it's enough food for 2 days!). It's a fun, cute little place inside and you don't even need reservations or anything.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: film_score

                                A few that haven't been mentioned yet, I don't think:

                                Little Next Door
                                Village Idiot

                                And the brand new House Cafe on Beverly. Haven't seen the menu or prices yet, but I know they're doing breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I assume it's gonna be reasonable.

                              2. Minestraio Trattoria (formerly La Terza) might be worth contacting. My daughter had a birthday party with 20 guests on the patio for about $25 or less per person and the food was very good.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: BHAppeal

                                  You know what, this is a brilliant idea. I've eaten there and it's always very affordable and very good quality. I'll look into it.

                                  Mr Taster

                                2. What about JOOM cafe on Beverly by Fairfax? It's such great thai. my second favorite next to Jitlada. Can't compare the two as far as spicy but it's fresh and delish. and very laid back.

                                  1. A couple more choices that haven't been mentioned. Tom Bergin's Tavern for an old-school LA with an Irish flavor. I haven't been in ages, but I do like the atmosphere. And it works for your price range and area. Also, Hunan Taste for decent LA-Ameri-Chinese. You could try the egg rolls there. There should be something to satisfy everyone here as well.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: E Eto

                                      I'd veer far away from Tom Bergin's. Their fish and chips tasted like Sysco and even their Guiness tasted bitter, like the taps hadn't been cleaned in ages.

                                      If that's what they consider "old-school", they can keep it.

                                    2. How about Golden State? Bloom is one of my favorites in the neighborhood. We often bring our own wine (no corkage), the only rule being that you can't drink on the patio. I'd confirm this with them, though, if a lot of people are going to be boozing.

                                      1. Well, it looks like an executive decision has been made to take the department to Wood Ranch, and let the vegetarian fend for herself.

                                        Too bad-- there were some great suggestions here, too. Alas.

                                        Thanks for all your help

                                        Mr Taster