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Scarpetta or Buddakan (or recs) for 29th Birthday with group of 12??

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Hi all, I'm turning 29 in a couple of weeks and plan to have a birthday dinner with a group of about 12. I've narrowed down my options to either Scarpetta or Buddakan but am having a really hard time deciding (I wanted something near meatpacking as some of my friends and I will be going out later in that area and those two restaurants consistently get great ratings). Personally I want Buddakan bc of its' trendy atmosphere and excellent food (from what I've heard) but there are a couple of things I need to consider when choosing a place: I'm looking for a place that will be around $40 to 50 a person and a good crowd/music/drinks...one of my friends who is coming is about 7 months pregnant (so I'm not sure if Buddakan is the right environment? is it too "clubby"?) and two are unemployed and I feel bad forcing either to spend too much money on a dinner. Hope to hear some suggestions soon so I can finally decide on a place. Thanks!

Edited to add: Per recommendation of the first responder to this post, if anyone has any suggestions in the $40 to 50 price range for a trendy birthday dinner in the meatpacking district or chelsea, I would love to hear! Would Zio restaurant be a good option? Thanks again

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Buddakan
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

Scarpetta
355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

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  1. You're not getting out of either place - with drinks, tax and tip - for $40. NO WAY.

    Food at Buddakan isn't even as good as your favorite neighborhood Chinese place, IMO. Scarpetta OTOH is delicious.

    But seriously, neither are in your price range for a group meal where everyone is in a celebratory mood. Look at the menus, entrees alone at Buddakan are $25-35. And they are not huge platters of food for sharing. You should post again asking for recs in your price range.

    1 Reply
    1. re: thegforceny

      I agree with everything that thegforceny said above. Repost and start from scratch looking for new place

    2. Are you already talking to both restaurants for the dates you seek, and if they can accomodate your party size? Does either require a prix fixe menu for a big group and/or a food & beverage minimum?

      4 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Yes, both are available and I know neither require a prix fixe or a minimum for food/beverage

        1. re: ss03ny

          Scarpetta, for example, will be out of your price range. You'll hit $40 with just an appetizer and pasta, before any entree or dessert. Personally, I would not ask two unemployed friends to join me at such an expensive restaurant (for someone out of a job).

          1. re: kathryn

            I understand their position, which is why I wanted to keep it in the 40 to 50 dollar range...you're right, judging by the menu, it would be very hard to keep it at that level. I'm now considering a middle eastern restaurant in midtown called Antalia....Ilili is also a restaurant I have wanted to go to but between that and Antalia, I think Antalia might be more reasonable. Thanks for the help.

            1. re: ss03ny

              Never heard of this Antalia and not a single reference to it here on CH. This is telling.

              And its website - FWIW - is horrendously tacky.

              Illili on the other hand is delicious. But again, look at the menu for prices. If you do mezze you might be able to keep it within budget.

              For your budget though, you are right to give up on MePa and think along ethnic lines.

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              Ilili
              236 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10001

              AnTalia
              17 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036

      2. Jow about STanton Social or Tao?

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        Stanton Social
        99 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

        Tao
        42 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

        1 Reply
        1. re: apples

          I had my birthday at Tao one year...I'll look into Stanton.

        2. See my post on Legend. It's Sichuan chinese but the upstairs is actually pretty nice for your needs and downstairs they can accommodate large parties. The food is delicious and your are in a decent location for jumping off into the nightlife. Our party was for us old fogies but the 20-somethings in the group loved the food, the vibe, and had a blast.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chefsalad

            Thanks! For now we're going to stick to Ilili. However Ilili requires prix fixe for parties 12 and over...I have 11 guests, including myself so far so I should be ok but if the party goes over 12 I will need a different location (as their prix fix menu is expensive) and will definitely consider Legends.