Our other ideas for dinner on my birthday (besides the Spiaggia conundrum) are Roka Akor, Topolobampo, or Longman and Eagle. We really would like to dress up fancy so that is our number one criteria. We do not mind either driving or taking a taxi from our apartment. We would like our total bill after drinks to be under 250. Does any one have a similar restaurant to suggest or a preference of the restaurants mentioned? Also would any of these options be to casual for a dress and a suit? <3
The food at Longman & Eagle is astonishingly good. We ate there last night. But it is not the place you want to go if you want to dress up. It is very casual.
You might enjoy Topo (I do!), but I would also recommend North Pond (more for the location than the food - which isn't bad, but isn't as good as others) or Naha, which is lovely and consistently excellent. I don't know anything about Roka Akor.
My experience is that the food at Longman and Eagle is astonishingly bad, heavily oversalted and overspiced. I do not recommend it. You also have to deal with the fact that they do not take reservations, so you may encounter a long wait to be seated - not what you want on your birthday.
Topolobampo is excellent but they typically fill their reservations book 2-3 months in advance. Depending on how soon you want to go, it may be too late to get reservations.
I have not been to Roka Akor.
You can dress up anywhere; the only question is whether you would feel out of place if few (or no) others around you are similarly dressed up.
Here are three suggestions for you, and all are excellent. Everest serves contemporary French food. Attire is jackets required for gentlemen etc. It features a fantastic view looking out over the city. It's less expensive than Spiaggia, but will still exceed your price target slightly, unless you are willing to go for their pre-theater fixed menu, around $50 for 3 courses for 5:00/5:30 seatings. My other two suggestions are Naha and North Pond. Both feature contemporary American cuisine and both are higher-end places where dressy attire will be suitable (although business casual is acceptable at both), and both will meet your price target. North Pond is notable for its exquisite setting in the middle of the park, facing its namesake pond.
If you don't mind being dressed up in places where few others are, one of our Italian bistros is fine, including the previous idea of Cafe Spiaggia as well as Piccolo Sogno. Same for our French bistros (e.g. La Sardine) and our other creative Mexican restaurants (e.g. Mexique). Also our small plates places, including Mercat a la Planxa (Spanish tapas), GT Fish (seafood), Quartino (Italian), and Sable (contemporary American). All of these are bistro-type places where business casual to casual attire predominates, all are excellent, and all will come in well under your price target. But if you prefer to be around others who are also dressed up, you may be better off with one of the places recommended in the previous paragraph.
My recent experience at Longman (and the one I had late last year) could not be any different than yours. It was genuinely one of the best meals I've had in 2012 (and that includes a visit to Alinea, which was fantastic, but not necessarily a better meal). I had no issues with salt or spicing being anywhere near excessive. The flavors were wonderful and subtle where needed. I'd strongly recommended a visit to Longman for anyone who has not yet been (and maybe a return visit for those who have).
I like Roka Akor, but I am also one of those on this board who scores scene/vibe and cocktails along with the food. It's kind of overpriced for what it is, but its a great "out on saturday night" downtown place. The overall vibe is fun and generally its a 30-50 crowd who cocktails as much as eats--don't forget this is a Scottsdale transplant. That said, the the food is quite good and I've enjoyed a sliced rib eye and a bunch of random sushi/maki recomendations from our server that were all good. Ladies are often dressed and a guy can be comfortable in "smart casual" to a jacket, but no ties here.
One of my favorites would be to enjoy a cocktail outside on the terrace at NoMi (one of my top 5 afternoon to evening spots) and then go inside for a nice dinner.
If you want a fun night out with very good, but not "foodie", food you can try Nacional 27 if you like to dance a bit for your birthday while enjoying tasty latin foods.