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My daughter wanted to have her birthday dinner at Vynl (it had everything we were looking for) but they just told me they will not do reservations for a large group (15) on a Saturday night.

I am now trying to find something else that would appeal to teens - not only the food but the atmosphere as well.

Any suggestions? I am looking for $30 pp and we are open to any location in Manhattan.

As far as her palate she is not very adventurous - she does not like spicy and is not a fan of seafood.

I realize all of these requirements limit the possibilities but I would appreciate any suggestions or help.

Thank you

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  1. If you are willing to go up to $40 pp (which I realize is a big if), I would recommend Otto. The food and atmosphere seem right for this occasion and they are very good with groups.

    2 Replies
    1. re: prdct

      We just had a nice lunch at Otto with wine, pizza and pasta fr $30 pp. we did not have dessert.
      How about Balthazar, Pastis or The Dutch?

      1. re: Motosport

        Will any of those places even take a reservation for 15 people? I don't even know where they'd put them at Balthazar (is there another room downstairs?). I guess the communal table at Pastis? At the Dutch, they might try to force you to use the private dining room below.

    2. Thank you for your suggestion prdct. I have seen Otto suggested before but not sure if the menu is what she wants. She wanted something a little different.

      Unfortunately I can't go higher on $ since we are going to a show also.

      She is so disappointed that Vynl wouldn't accomodate us because she loved everything about them.

      Thanks again :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Penny2013

        Perhaps you can explain to your daughter the difficulties of large groups in Manhattan restaurants, which tend to be on the smaller side.

        Smaller groups are usually separate parties at separate tables, arriving at different times, so a large group means that the overall timing of "turns" is less efficient. They have to hold empty tables for you...so if the restaurant is really busy, it theoretically can get multiple turns of smaller tables more quickly than waiting for a large group to vacate. And you want Saturday night, the busiest night of the week.

        And very likely if Vynl had been to accomodate you, you would not be able to order a la carte, but forced into a prix fixe menu, priced above your stated budget. It's harder for the kitchen to make sure the entire group's food all comes out at the same time while maintaining quality (especially serving food at the right temperature). Hence, the prix fixe. You'll be better off going somewhere that does family style anyway, but that's usually Chinese or Thai food or pizza (which you stated she does not want).

        And since it is a group of teens, they won't be drinking in alcohol. I was going to suggest The Smith, but then I saw that they have a food and beverage minimum. Their group menu isn't too expensive but it's unlikely you'll meet the minimum without alcohol.

        Even Hill Country's cheapest package is $32pp. It might work for you if she likes the atmosphere. Since BBQ does not have to be cooked a la minute, that helps ease the street on the kitchen.

        $32 Per Person
        Add Hors D’oeuvres for $5 Per Item
        1 Starter, 2 Meats, 2 Sides and 2 Desserts of your Choice (Minimum of 10 people)

        At least you called ahead and tried to make a reservation. Some people try to walk in with that many people and are disappointed when they are turned away...

      2. If you'd like an "out of the box" suggestion think about Bowlmore Lanes. Our group has hosted parties there that were reasonable. Basic bowling, pizza and snacks. Not fine dining but decent fun. It's in the W Village and sort of "cool!"

        1. Thank you so much kathryn!

          I tried to tell her that she may need to cut her guest list down but she already mentioned to her friends that she was inviting them - wouldn't be nice to uninvite them now.

          I will have her look at Hill Country & The Smith but to be honest nothing will compare to Vynl in her eyes...yet (the disappointment is still too fresh lol).

          Motosport I actually suggested that to her and I got the "eye-roll"...

          What about Cafeteria or something along those lines?

          Thank you again for your suggestions!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Penny2013

            Make sure you go on the Smith's site and check out their minimums for big groups. It's probably going to put it out of your budget.

            Also for any place you are considering, I'd call and make sure they have availability for the night you want. Before getting her hopes up.

            1. re: kathryn

              Spitzer's might be a good spot. They have those long tables that would fit 15 people,Although they used to check ID's, so i'm not sure if they let teens in. Maybe Inoteca on Ludlow St is a good choice too. Or Pulino's or DBGB. Or Otto might be perfect.

            2. re: Penny2013

              Ah! Teen daughters!! I have one teenaged daughter. She's 30 now. Not much has changed.
              How about Rare? The Chelsea location is "cooler."

            3. Thank you again everyone for your suggestions!

              The Smith looks fun just because of the photo booth.

              Rare looks nice too.

              Of course I will have to check with the "Boss" first.

              No one mentioned Cafeteria? I don't know how the kids will like the menu but how is the food there? It looks like they could accomodate large parties.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Penny2013

                Really I would check with the restaurant first, and not your daughter.

                The Smith EV has a $1400 minimum before tax and tip for Saturday nights.

                Cafeteria doesn't seem very "teenage"y to me, more like college age kids? It's also hard to get a sense of pricing from their site. I would contact them FIRST to make sure they are in your price range AND have availability for 15 on the date you want. They could be totally out of your price range once you say you have 15 people.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Cafeteria does have a price room. The food is not great, but 15 year old girls seem to like it. My daughter had her birthday celebration there with her friends. Not my kind of venue, but didn't matter, I wasn't invited!

                2. re: Penny2013

                  As noted below, Cafeteria is fun for teenagers -- my daughter's pick for her 15th birthday. I meant to say below that it has a private room, but it also can accommodate groups in the main room. The food is not delicious, but if Vynl appeals, this should as well.

                  1. re: MrGrumpy

                    I think she said no pizza/pasta, since she said no to Otto (which is very good suggestion, but alas).

                    FWIW, you can tell your daughter that Vynl looks terrible, ha. I wouldn't ever want to eat somewhere called, well, Vynl.

                  2. Though I wouldn't eat there, I've read here that similar parties have been held at Ruby Foo's.

                    1. Thank you everyone for all of your suggestions and input. I really appreciate it.

                      After another exhausting search we found Elmo. I haven't checked with them yet to see if we can be accomodated but my daughter seems to like it better than Cafeteria (based on the online menu & couple of pictures).

                      Any thoughts about Elmo?

                      I thank you all again :)

                      5 Replies
                        1. re: Penny2013

                          I think the food's a little better at Cafeteria than at Elmo, and alhough I haven't been to either in years, I'd ask her to choose between The Carrie Diaries and The New Normal. If the former, Cafeteria. If the latter, Elmo.

                          1. re: Penny2013

                            Where are you even finding these places? Neither Vynl or Elmo are really "chow-worthy" if you're looking for good food. But at this point that might be secondary.

                            1. re: loratliff

                              She is not looking for a fine dining experience. It is more about a fun and young atmosphere.

                              1. re: Penny2013

                                Right, that's why no one here has recommend Per Se. But there are plenty of "fun" and "young" places with good food. Rubirosa, The Smith, Spitzer's, Otto—many of the places CHers have recommended that you've shot down for one reason or another.

                          2. what about The Park? food is decent/ok, prices may be a bit on the high end of your scale (looking at group menus entrees range from 12-25 from burgers to steak) and i think its pretty scene-y.

                            1. Try Alta in the village. It's tapas and you can get by within your budget. They have a mezzanine level where they can probably put a group of teens. It might be slightly out of your daughter's realm but doesn't hurt to inquire.

                              You mentioned your daughter has a limited palate but think if you study the menu she and her friends can easily find something, plus since it's tapas = small/med plates so conducive to sharing and good to try different things.

                              I think if you call the restaurant beforehand you can try to tailor the menu in advance as well as a virgin cocktail menu since they're all teens.

                              As far as Elmo, I used to go there every so often and it's not all gay guys. There's lots of college kids (at least there used to be) and girls night out type groups. They only thing is that it really might not be good for teens only because it's got the prowl vibe, esp. late at night. I haven't been to Elmo in a couple of YEARS so I don't know what it's like now.

                              Does she not want Italian or no pizza/pasta-specific places? You can always do veal, chicken, vegetable platters (group menus).

                              Does she want more of a theme restaurant or is she really looking for a trendy place?