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Restaurant for a teen night out

Hey everyone! I am planning a small Sweet Sixteen celebration for myself, with just my closest friends (about 8 people). I'm looking for a restaurant that is memorable, possibly a little quirky (think Serendipity 3), and that will have a table for us to sit at. Good food is essential (maybe with cuisine similar to the Cheesecake Factory, but less commercial), and due to a limited budget, the target price would be about $20-$28 per person. There's a bit of leeway here. It should also be a bit fancy.

I really appreciate your help in advance! Thanks!

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    1. re: gutsofsteel

      I respectfully disagree with not being able to eat in a large group for under $28 pp. There are tons of places. I really think that Essex might be the perfect place for you. The price point works, they take group reservations, hip neighborhood (LES), good food, fun restaurant, hip! It has everything you could want for a great sweet 16. Good luck and happy birthday!


    2. I think maybe your budget would have to move too much but I'll mention these two because except for budget I think they fir your needs:

      Spice Market
      Stanton Social

      2 Replies
      1. re: Spiritchaser

        They are way out of their budget. Fancy, good food, and max $28 per person? I just don't think that's going to happen in Manhattan.

        1. re: gutsofsteel

          Absolutely out of their budget. Since she is OK with chains (Cheesecake Factory) maybe Red Eye Grill, if they stick to burgers? it could sort of feel fancy to teens used to subruban chains.

      2. Happy bday! You have posed a tough question.

        Does this need to be dinner? Or are you open to brunch/lunch? Alice's Tea Cup could be really fun for a group of girls (assuming you are all girls since you called this a "sweet sixteen"?). Took my best friend there for her 30th bday and have also taken my 6 year old neice - it's fun for all. Food is pretty, delicious, plentiful, and girly. (and they are actually open thru dinner time so this doesn't have to be a daytime event.)

        Their various tea services are a ton of food and usually include cookies so you get dessert thrown in. And there are several under your $28 limit. But, they also have crepes, delicious egg dishes, salads, etc.

        The original (UWS) location is my favorite, but there are 2 locations on the east side. And they take reservations for parties larger than 6.

        1 Reply
        1. re: piegirl74

          Alice's Tea Cup is a little too girly and childish, i think. I was perhaps looking for something a little more sophisticated

        2. Cafeteria?

          I don't think you're going to find "good food," "a bit fancy" and under $30/pp in one place. You might consider Keste for pizza or one of the more upscale diners, like Remedy. You could squeak by at Houston's, maybe.

            1. re: smokeandapancake

              I'm not sure if you and your friends may feel you're too cool for Ellen's, but the food is very good, it's lots of fun, and it's within your budget.

            2. Are you guys open to going to the outer boroughs? How flexible is the budget? Do you guys like all different kinds of foods? Happy Birthday!

              1. I meant $22-28 for the main entree, not per person

                3 Replies
                1. re: harajukulovers

                  That opens up many more options.

                  I would suggest Spice Market or maybe Otto. Both have a fun vibe and feel a bit fancy.

                  1. re: harajukulovers

                    So this is more like $60 per person all in, since you can't drink any booze anyway.

                    1. re: harajukulovers

                      Then I reiterate my recommendation of Stanton Social.

                    2. Thanks for all the suggestions so far! I'm looking into all of them. More restaurant suggestions are always welcome and appreciated.

                      1. Momofuku Noodle Bar. Really fun, and you can keep your budget there.

                        Cafeteria is a good suggestion, too. Love their salads.

                        We went to a fun engagement party at Keste, so I think it should definitely be in the running.

                        Lil Frankie's and Frank are also a good atmosphere for a festive occasion.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: alysonlaurel

                          I don't see how you are going to get a table for 8 at Frank.

                          1. re: KTinNYC

                            I went there once with six people and they sat us at a table that easily could have fit eight. I think they just push tables together.

                            1. re: harajukulovers

                              are you still looking for a restaurant? if so, try freemans... delicious food, really cute private rooms for parties of 6+. the only problem is it might be hard to get a reservation if the party is soon. i'll also second the recommendation for stanton social

                          2. How about sweetiepie?
                            19 Greenwich Avenue
                            (212) 337-3333

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: smokeandapancake

                              that looks really perfect, actually! I'll call and enquire about a private room, but the atmosphere and price are exactly what I had in mind. Thanks!

                            2. Happy birthday! Finally some teenagers on chowhound! (sorry I can't help you with your restaurant)

                              1 Reply
                              1. lol Cool to see more teens using chowhound, I kind of feel alone here sometimes.
                                When i think of cheap food I immediately deviate towards chinese food. since u want your place to be fancy i think Chinatown Brasserie might fit the bill or Joe's Shanghai. I've only eaten at the Joe's Shanghai in Queens so I don't know how it is in manhattan. But you're pretty much just paying extra for the decor because you could get meals just as good but for half the price in other places in chinatown.
                                I would consider Otto, I've never eaten there but from what I've read I think it would suffice.
                                As someone suggested you could try an upscale diner. I almost never go to diners in manhattan but my favorite diners are Veselka and Brooklyn diner, but the decor isn't exactly fancy.
                                For the price I would also recommend L'express and Motorino. Note: L'express has a weak steak and weak fries.
                                You should be able to find a good place especially since you guys are too young to drink.

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: daffyduck

                                  Motorino is probably too small for 8 people especially since they don't take reservations.

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    whoops. good point. you guys can also try viet restaurants. they are pretty cheap

                                  2. re: daffyduck

                                    Thanks! Chinese food is actually a very good idea. I'll check those restaurants out. If you get any more ideas, I'm always appreciative! :)

                                    1. re: harajukulovers

                                      harajuku and daffyduck....are you guys gourmet diners? Just wondering since it's kinda rare for a teenager to eat at all the restaurants mentioned on this site

                                      1. re: wreckers00

                                        lol I wish I ate at all the restaurants listed on this site!
                                        I grew up in elmhurst\jackson heights which is surrounded by fantastic spanish, asian (thai, korean, viet), indian, even pizza, etc. These foods were also pretty cheap so I had my share of exploring there. I went to bronx science for high school and most of my friends lived in different neighborhoods so I was able to explore some italian and spanish cuisine in the bronx, chinese places in flushing, etc. But my friends and I mostly hung out in manhattan (usually chinatown home of cheap eats) because it was the midpoint of where we all lived. My best friend in high school eventually worked as a line cook at Blue water grill (he's now working on becoming a chef) and my other best friend became a waiter at Soto. So I've had a couple of meals on my friends :-P. They both have also dragged me to food events and one of my friends even snuck me into his cooking classes at the CIA. So I was exposed to new foods and restaurants. I was never really into video games or clothes and I have a full scholarship so most my $ goes to food :-P. Especially now with my sweet tutoring job. But other than a handful of places, almost all the places I've dined in I've only eaten at once or twice. So I can never exactly say something like Le Bernadin really excels in soups. But I can always chime in and say oooo I liked that one a lot. =]

                                        1. re: wreckers00

                                          Well, my little brother has been a very enthusiastic participant in many dining adventures. So far, Le Bernardin (the easy favorite, been several times), Per Se, Jean Georges, Eleven Madison Park, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, The Modern, Perry St, Convivio, Scarpetta, Del Posto, Minetta Tavern, Peter Luger, Sushi Yasuda, Tori Shin, the Momofukus as well as the French Laundry, Chez Panisse, Zuni Cafe, Ubuntu, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns outside of NYC. There were lots of repeat visits to the majority of the above, along with plenty of pizza (Una Pizza Napoletana as the best, RIP), burgers (Minetta's Black Label), and ramen (Ippudo 1st, Setagaya 2nd).

                                          Not a bad list at 17 years old! I have to admit he has an incredibly sensitive palette, especially for his age.

                                          1. re: hcbk0702

                                            certainly beats me. I'm trying to add to my list.

                                            I'm 18 (about to be 19) and grew up in a foodie family. We live in Connecticut but are not far from Manhattan so I've been to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Jean-Georges, Per Se but only a few others.
                                            But I've been to many of the best restaurants in Miami, FL. Il Gabbiano, Michy's, Romeo's, Michael's, etc. (if anyone needs advice for Miami restaurants I'm glad to help)

                                            1. re: hcbk0702

                                              I know it's palate, not palette. I blame sleep deprivation.

                                              1. re: hcbk0702

                                                Your brother is very lucky! I would've killed to eat at half of those places at 17.

                                              2. re: wreckers00

                                                lol, i wouldn't say i'm a gourmet diner, but my mom is a chef in New York, and i live in the suburbs (about 10 minutes away from New York), so I have been a foodie my entire life

                                              3. re: harajukulovers

                                                Well, my favorite Cantonese banquet restaurant in Manhattan is South China Garden (until recently called Cantoon Garden) on Elizabeth St. between Bayard and Canal. Nothing fancy-looking about it, but the food is excellent. The last time I went was for my birthday on February 2, and with tip, the meal cost $31/person, including ample leftovers people took home.

                                              1. re: smokeandapancake

                                                I haven't settled anything yet, as my birthday is quite a while off, but I'm presently focusing on Sweetiepie, Stanton Social, Otto, or Cafeteria

                                                I've contacted all these restaurants, and am waiting for more information before I even come close to making reservations

                                                1. re: harajukulovers

                                                  I went to Otto recently and shared some appetizers with my brother. They were quite large portions for appetizers, and we thought they were comparable in quality to the appetizers at Lupa. However, the ambiance was not comparable. Otto is much larger, but the waitress told us they have a policy of insisting that we order all the appetizers we're going to order at once, without the option of seeing whether we want more and ordering another one later. I don't know if Lupa has such a policy, but if so, they've never mentioned it.

                                                  In any case, if it's possible for you to get reservations at Lupa (which might be a pretty tall order), you should definitely consider it, but my feeling is that Otto would probably be fine.

                                                  If you do go to Sweetiepie, please report back on how the food was. I often walk on Greenwich Av., so I've passed that place a bunch of times, but I find the place just over-the-top precious in appearance. It sure is distinctive, though.

                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                    that's weird, I went to Otto three days ago and they were fine with ordering some appeitzers and some for later. maybe i had a cool waiter or something.

                                                    1. re: daffyduck

                                                      Or it wasn't as crowded, perhaps.