Looking for Restaurant in East Bay (EC to Oakland) for Large Group Monday Nights and Fairly Inexpensive
I meet with a group of 9-12 people once a month on Monday nights.This month I am in charge of picking the restaurant and I am at a loss. I need someplace open on Mondays, of course, that can seat a group of around 12. We also are looking to spend less than $40/person including a drink or two, but preferably closer to $25-$30. It is a book club so somewhere that isn't too loud to carry a conversation is important. I am open to anything, pizza, dim sum, etc. as long as it serves drinks or is at least BYOB. The location could be anywhere from El Cerrito to Oakland (not too far past Jack London Square). Thanks for any ideas you can provide.
My scuba club faces a similar dilemma every month, also on Monday, though our budget is lower than yours (folks would prefer to keep under $20 a person) and some of the group put a high priority on beer. Our most recent choice was Xolo, across from the Fox Theater in Oakland. One advantage for a group is that you order and pay at the counter and sit down after (so no one gets stuck with more than their share of the bill), and at least early (6 p.m. or so) it wasn't overly crowded, or noisy. Food was good, (though not great), although at least one person present felt that portions were small for the cost. However, it is beer and wine only, no cocktails, if that matters.
Other places we've tried in the past include:
- several of the Korean restaurants on Telegraph. Sura is a great option and reasonably quiet on a Monday.
-Luka's (too noisy for your group).
-Champa Garden. The group loves the food but a group of that size overwhelms that place. You'd have to call and ask.
-All the brewpubs in Oakland, but all of those are too noisy for your group, IMO.
-Mezze on Grand Ave. (I wasn't there, so can't say if it would work or not)
I like Bocanova but it was very noisy when I went. Granted, that was on Saturday, not Monday.
If you are open to VIetnamese food - that's a big group for everyone to like the cuisine - Nong Thon in El Cerrito, right on San Pablo Ave. near Central, would work. Their bun (salad in a bowl) are quite good but stay away from the pho, this is NOT a pho restaurant. It's a less expensive/less attitude equivalent to Le Cheval/Oakland
Another choice would be Bistro 1491 in Albany. Parking can be a little gnarly, but hardly anyone goes there at dinner time yet the food is surprisingly good. Excellent salads, nice fish 'n' chips, fried chicken. Simple food but with nice creative twists. Definitely meets your price point, and you can check about the BYOB.
A "hidden find" that no one seems to know about is Seison in Oakland's Hotel Washington, across from the Convention Center on 10th. They are not high-end and one hard-working guy does EVERYTHING, from bartending to reception to waiting and bussing tables! Sometimes the kitchen sends up something different than you ordered. BUT - when they do a dish well, it's a total home run. We have had a spectacular paella for $17. A great housemade berry cobbler dessert another time. Tell them to watch the salt, and that you want to order the deepfried chicken wings and deepfried catfish chips off the bar menu. Those two are always perfect and a great way to start the meal. It is dead quiet simply because no one ever goes there, LOL. The windows look out onto the street but they are darkened, so from outside, the place always looks closed. Go into the hotel and the reception desk for the restaurant is a few steps to the right. With such a large party, give them a heads-up, because they will pull in extra help for the evening if they know you're coming. Most important: IGNORE THE WEB MENU. It's long outdated and the current menu bears no resemblance to it!
Quiet, big and cheap - that's a hard criteria to fill! Good luck and hope you find something good.
I believe Elevation 66 (also near San Pablo and Central) has a private room you can use.
Cafe Venezia also has a private area in back. Reports are that the food has improved since their remodel.
Lanesplitter on the patio on a monday
Oghane (ask for your own table in the front, which is usually lunch only)
T-Rex? If you can get a quiet table
Au Coquelet - other book clubs use it
King Tsin? Sun hong kong?
Starry Plough - very quiet on a monday, food is pub grub but beer is +++
Nomad Cafe (if they let you)
One strong feature of y*lp is the ability to filter based on open-time, bar ... then just scan through and see if there's anything you like. Yelp is not perfect, but I do use them to jog my memory
Comal in Berkeley has a great bar and good food. There are large tables in the back, covered patio for your group. The owner installed an innovative noise control system that I think works very well, so that people can hear each other. You might check the menu on-line to see if it fits your price point.
Also, Marzano in Oakland recently expanded into the store-front next door, and has a room for larger parties. Again, I'd check the menu on-line, and maybe call the restaurant to see about your group.
Grand Oaks Restaurant & Sports Bar in Oakland, on Grand Avenue near the Piedmont border. Early bird menu served from 5PM to 7:30PM, with entrees in the $11.95-$14.95 price range. Full bar. They have several banquet rooms, so even if there are some sporting events on the TVs and the restaurant is crowded, the back rooms are plenty quiet for conversation.