LA eats for a big group
December 30, 2013 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Where can my large family go eat on a Friday night in Los Angeles?

My sister is getting married in LA in a few weeks and we have 12-14 family members who want to get together the first night we're all in town (a Friday). Everyone is staying at the Luxe Sunset hotel and will have a car, but we would like to avoid spending a lot of time in traffic. What would be a good, decently-priced place (entrees under $20 would be terrific, but mid-twenties is OK)?

A couple of things that might be helpful in narrowing down the list:
- my mom and my aunt like to go to places where hip young people go
- my mom will not eat seafood, so nothing seafood heavy
- my family is loud, especially when my mom and her sisters get together
- the rehearsal dinner on Saturday will be Mediterranean food, so we'd like to avoid that
- my mom will REALLY want to make a reservation (and I imagine we'll need one for a group this large), so it would be great if the place took reservations

Thanks so much!
posted by cheeserk to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hip, young, big groups, and affordable may together leave your solution set pretty small. I would recommend Buca di Beppo in Santa Monica. Great for huge (loud) crowds, in a happening part of town, everything is served family style, and on a per person basis I think you could get out near that $20 mark (not per entree, but again, it is family style and their entrees feed multiple people).

I think they would gladly take a reservation for a party of that size. You might even end up in a special private room or something.

Have fun, eat up!
posted by milqman at 6:00 PM on December 30, 2013


A bit pricier than you're looking for but might I suggest Tavern in Brentwood. If that doesn't work I'd still focus on that bit of Brentwood area given proximity to where you are.

(Honestly. Where hip young people go on Friday nights and entrees under $20 in LA, c'mon..)
posted by drpynchon at 6:02 PM on December 30, 2013


I also came to suggest Buca Di Beppo (I've only been to the one in Pasadena).. great place for a family event like this.... (If you go to Pasadena, ask for the Pope table).
posted by HuronBob at 6:03 PM on December 30, 2013


Sorry to threadsit, but, I should have mentioned that I know all of those things together are a total long shot, and I just wanted to share what would be ideal. We can compromise on basically anything (other than probably the drive and entrees need to be kept under $30). Thanks again!
posted by cheeserk at 6:13 PM on December 30, 2013


The Farmer's Market at The Grove. Lots of different restaurants, great people watching, inexpensive meals. You can't make reservations but you don't need to.
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:16 PM on December 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not as hip but nearby and in your price range: Chin Chin, also in Brentwood. I may be snobby, but I am personally anti Buco Di Beppo, unless you're into a 100*kitschier version of Olive Garden.
posted by drpynchon at 6:20 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


El Coyote is cheap and I would think kitschy enough to qualify as hip -- maybe? Definitely cheap, large, loud, and a good place to take tourists.
posted by kmennie at 6:28 PM on December 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't know hip from a hole in the wall, but Pizzicotto looks good to me.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:49 PM on December 30, 2013


I'd recommend booking a table at Gyu Kaku in Beverly Hills. Good for groups, in fact it's fun for groups! It's a Japanese BBQ place, where you cook your meat at the table. Don't know the price off the top of my head, but it's family style so you should be fine, especially if you get there during happy hour. No trendy young people, just go to a bar afterwards. I'm not up on the trendy bars these days, perhaps someone else can recommend that.

I also un-recommend Buca Di Beppo because I'm a snob and I don't like their food.
posted by Joh at 6:55 PM on December 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is Persian too close to Mediterranean? There are a bunch of Persian restaurants on Westwood Blvd. and they are all good for large parties. Not exactly young and trendy, but definitely in your price range.
posted by mogget at 6:57 PM on December 30, 2013


There are also a ton of proper Korean BBQ places in Koreatown that are great for groups, but I've only been with Korean speakers, not sure how manageable they are if you don't have anyone to translate. We often go to Dong Il Jang on 8th, near Western.
posted by Joh at 6:58 PM on December 30, 2013


Someone mentioned the Grove. If that's where you go, I really like Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill.
posted by Dansaman at 7:11 PM on December 30, 2013


Border Grill in Santa Monica would be a good option. The upstairs can accommodate your party (and you must make reservations for a groups over 9), entrees will come in right around $20, the food is always good, and besides being eternally cool on their own, your guests might even know chefs/owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger from television. Bonus: The city just opened the huge new parking structure so parking and traffic in DTSM aren't as bad as it's been.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:36 PM on December 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


C&O Trattoria might be a good fit for you! It's pasta and a general Italian spread.

This is where I did a couple of big family dinners back when I lived in LA. It's in Venice so it wouldn't be too much of a drive from where you're staying... only about 8-10 miles or so, so maybe 20-30 minutes depending on how close to rush hour you're going.

It's not so much of a "hip young people" kind of place, but the food is good, it fits your price range, there's lots of good pasta, the garlic knots are famous, there's self-serve chianti, and it's a really good family kind of place where you can be loud and festive and have a great time.

I think you can reserve tables for a group like that, I've seen groups there plenty in the past.

As a bonus, it's right on the beach, so you can take a nice beach walk before or after you eat.
posted by Old Man McKay at 7:41 PM on December 30, 2013


Yah, my experience with Buca has not been great, either.

Border Grill would be good choice. What it lacks in hip (it's been around a while) it makes up with celebrity chefs and LA icon status.
posted by notyou at 7:43 PM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seconding C&O. Every hour the staff passes out lyrics to Italian standards, and there's a huge sing-along. No reservations that I recall, but the garlic knots are free while you wait and the chianti runs on the honor system.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:23 PM on December 30, 2013


Plan Check (Sawtelle branch) scratches most of your itches: young, hip, good prices, non-fish menu options, loud people OK, reasonably close to your hotel. However, I'm not sure if they accept reservations -- might be worth a call? If they'll take a reservation, they might be able to seat you guys all together in the smaller room off the main room. Or, if it's as unseasonably warm in a few weeks as it is right now, the outside eating area would probably allow you to all sit together as well.
posted by nacho fries at 8:54 PM on December 30, 2013


The Stinking Rose on La Cienega might work.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:19 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looks like Taste on Melrose in West Hollywood can work with a big group -- there's contact info for large-party reservations right on the website. Good food, hip clientele, kind of a loud atmosphere.
posted by mirepoix at 11:53 PM on December 30, 2013


Thirding C&O. It's hilarious. The singalongs alone are worth the visit, and the food is great.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 4:01 AM on December 31, 2013


No Buca Di Beppo, it's a chain and not hip nor iconic LA.

Seconding El Coyote, but suggesting El Cholo in Santa Monica as perhaps slightly better for a nice setting and lots of young people. You can walk around the promenade before or after dinner. Border Grill is also great, but I think the food is actually touch and go and I prefer El Cholo though it's definitely more kitschy.

If you're willing to go a bit higher in price Sushi Roku in Santa Monica is also fun and right on the ocean.

The farmer's market is an inspired idea and you can walk around The Grove too (always celebrities around, though perhaps not on a Friday night). I recommend Short Order if you want a sit down restaurant - yummy burgers.
posted by rainydayfilms at 6:38 AM on December 31, 2013


Hey, what about Roy Choi's A-Frame?

No reservations, but they may be able to work with you for a large group.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:23 AM on December 31, 2013


Sam Woo's, in Chinatown/downtown L.A. Delicious. Have the duck!
posted by ergomatic at 9:40 AM on December 31, 2013


I'd actually recommend the downtown location for the Border Grill. It's a lot more likely to be able to accommodate a big party on short notice. I've never had a bad meal there, though they tend toward the squashes too much during the winter.

You could also try Loteria, but getting reservations this late might be a task.

Shame that Baco Mercat doesn't do family style on Fridays. Might still be worthwhile.

You could also try Acabar — their food is French by way of the Spice Road, which means everything from Cote de Beouf to satay.

(One of the complicating things is that there are a bunch of different Mediterranean joints in LA with different flavors — Baco Mercat's quasi-spanish pizza sandwiches are pretty different from Acabar's broad fusion.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:24 AM on December 31, 2013


OP, to guide our answers: what time do you guys want your reservation to be for?

If it's before 9 pm, I think you are going to be putting your clan in a world of hurt if you try to get from the 405/Sunset area to any restaurant more than a few miles away on a Friday night. Assuming people are flying in / driving to L.A., that day, and have already tangled with the shitshow Friday pm 405 traffic to your hotel, I don't think more driving crosstown in grumpy-making traffic is a great plan.

If you are planning to have a late dinner, then that opens the possibilities up hugely.
posted by nacho fries at 12:35 PM on December 31, 2013


Tar & Roses!
- my mom and my aunt like to go to places where hip young people go: CHECK
- my mom will not eat seafood, so nothing seafood heavy: CHECK
- my family is loud, especially when my mom and her sisters get together: CHECK
- the rehearsal dinner on Saturday will be Mediterranean food, so we'd like to avoid that: CHECK
- my mom will REALLY want to make a reservation: CHECK
- entrees need to be kept under $30: CHECK
- avoid spending a lot of time in traffic: CHECK*
Plus the food is supposed to be very good.

* ~5 miles against traffic, no freeway or freeway on/off ramp congestion, no Lincoln, and you'll even miss the heart of DTSM traffic. You can park two hours for free at the library if you don't want to valet. Go Sunset > Allenford > San Vicente > 7th > Tar & Roses. (405 construction updates here for day-of tweaking.)
posted by Room 641-A at 11:14 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will throw my weight behind Tar & Roses, and the excellent traffic-avoiding/library parking tip as well. Perfect!

It can be tough to get a reservation there, esp. for Friday prime time, so you'd want to jump on the phone pronto to lock it in. If you can only get a later dinner reservation, though, you guys could always head down to Santa Monica a little early, get apps/drinks elsewhere, and then rock on up to T&R afterwards. I think the library parking is open till 11 pm.
posted by nacho fries at 9:54 AM on January 1


Oh jeez, not Buca di Beppo, it's barely a step above the Olive Garden. I have the impression that Border Grill is a bit cheesy, but it's on Jonathan Gold's best LA restaurants so maybe I'm wrong? Plan Check is probably a bit too pubby, but is supposed to be fairly good. For the record, I work for a place that designs hip restaurants in LA, if that helps my cred here. I would suggest the following places might work:

- The Upper West (http://www.theupperwest.com/), in Santa Monica. Definitely hip, good California style food, price I think is about right. They have a separate room you can reserve, if you want.
- Sunny Spot (http://sunnyspotvenice.com/), in Venice. Same comments.
- Nth that Tar and Roses would be good. Totally park at the SM library, super easy.
- Chaya (http://www.thechaya.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/venice-holiday-lunch-menu.pdf) could be an option - sort of Asian fusion (a very LA concept), there are several locations in Venice, Beverly Hills and Downtown.
- The most hippest and impossible to get into suggestion that you could *try* is Gjelina in Venice, which everyone is obsessed with, but reservations are a huge PITA. Give it a shot if you're brave though.
- A bit expensive for you, but definitely good is Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica. (http://www.rusticcanyonwinebar.com/images/menus/RC_dinnermenu.pdf)
- LA Farm might be an option. There is one in Santa Monica and I believe another in Beverly Hills.
posted by annie o at 10:15 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Border Grill has kinda cheesy decor, but the food is generally really good with swerves into greatness. I'd also rec Street, but it's too small for that kind of group.

(I'll also say that I thought the Luxe was further east; looking at the map, since it's past the 405, going west makes a lot more sense.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:25 PM on January 1


Is Lexington Social House still a thing? I'd heard decent recs for that too, but I haven't tried it myself.
posted by klangklangston at 11:28 PM on January 1


And, apparently I'm still thinking about this - you could look at Axe, in Venice (http://www.axerestaurant.com/menus.html)
posted by annie o at 9:25 AM on January 2


klang, Street in its current form is closed for now. I hope the concept stays because I never made it there. :-(
posted by Room 641-A at 3:52 PM on January 2


We had a birthday party with about 14 people, on a Friday night, at Wokcano in Santa Monica. The prices are closer to $20 but the location is right. They also have "cabanas" (tents) that can seat 16 around (although likely 12 if you aren't that close to each other) which you can rent for a small added charge. We started with the tables outside but went to a cabana when it started showering (one of those rare rainy days).
posted by calwatch at 9:40 PM on January 4


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