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Wife's 30th birthday dinner (6-8 people, $120/person w/ wine) tapas/unique shareable food

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hello hounds.
I'm looking for a dinner spot for my wife's 30th birthday (Nov 17th). There will be 6-8 of us, with some foodie friends from Chicago as well. I'm looking for a place that would be good for sharing courses as we drink heavily throughout the night. Some of my wife's favorite spots are: Alta, Morimoto, C&S, Gemma, Blue Ribbon Sushi, Bond St., Buster's Cafe, Kefi...
Budget would be around $120/person including wine.
I'm looking for a place that is not as expensive as Morimoto or C&S, but has a great ambiance/energy to it. (I basically want her friends from Chicago to think that NYC is cooler)

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  1. Salumeria Rosi ( http://www.salumeriarosi.com/en_ny/home/ ) has a table in the back that will seat six, not sure about eight. They could probably set it up for you. Wonderful food, very NYC vibe. I've taken many out of towners and they all love it. One caveat: make sure, if that's what you want, that you''ll be allowed to linger. On busy nights they will sometimes tell you that they're going to have to kick you out for the next seating.

    1. for food and drink alone, i adore alta...and it can get a good vibe at times. too early or too late, it's kind of dead. casa mono /bar jamon could do the trick, and i believe you could get by under budget.

      hope you have a great time!

      1. I recommend Txikito. I believe you could reserve there, too, if you can pin down the exact number and it's at least 6. I have no idea whether it's cooler than what's available in Chicago, but it's very good.

        1. Tertulia takes reservations for groups of 6-12 people, up to two weeks in advance to the date. Large group reservations are offered a Chef’s Menu for $55 per person for food, which should leave plenty of room for wine, I think.

          1. For Spanish tapas I'd also consider Salinas - they seem to get overlooked for the trendier Tertulia and Txikito sometimes, but they're quite solid, and the chef is pretty creative.

            Sounds like from your wife's likes that ACME might be a good option as well. Prices are pretty reasonable, food is great, very hip scene, foodie-appropriate venue. If it's a weeknight getting a rez for a large table might not be too big an issue, but they do fill up quick, so they're a place you'd want to move ASAP on, weeknight or not.

            Also, the difference between a six-top and an eight-top can be important. For some restos, over six people and they switch you to a set prix fixe menu. Some places don't even do seatings larger than six - i.e. with six people you could try for Babbo, say, but seven you'd be SOL.

            I don't know that you'll convince anyone from Chicago that NYC is "cooler" with just one meal. It's the Second City of food, many would argue, and many of their inhabitants will argue 'til the cows come home that they're the first city. They'll counter your EMP with Alinea, your WD-50 with Moto or Graham Elliot, and point out that we don't have Mexican food on the level of a Bayless here. (Which, admittedly, is one of the few area where Chicago gets a point over NYC...)