Restaurants for Parties & Special Occasions

Parent Q&A

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Bar that will let you reserve a space for party?

April 2012

Can anybody recommend a bar in Berkeley or Oakland that will let you reserve a large table or a section of the bar for a birthday party? It'll be for about 20 adults. Thanks! Anon

Pizza Rustica on College Avenue let's people rent out the upstairs of their place for parties. great food and drinks and fun atmosphere. anon

Restaurant for company Xmas Party

Nov 2010

My husband and I own a small home based company. We'd like to have a company Christmas party at a nice restaurant and were wondering if there were any recommendations out there. Here is what we're looking for:
- Would like to bring the kids (2.5 & 4) but would still like to go to a nice place. Is there a kid-friendly nice restaurant for lunch or dinner?
- What restaurant would you recommend if we ended up not taking the kids?
- Prefer the East Bay but San Francisco is ok as well
- Would like to spend about $1000 for about 8 adults (and the 2 kids if we take them)
- any other ideas if you think a restaurant isnt a good idea with the kids?
Thanks in advance!! Sara

My small work group loves going to Buca de Beppo in The City. It's not far from BART, very kid-friendly, and fun for all ages! We share dishes and spend much less than $1000 (how about getting the staff gift certificates with the money you save). We've also enjoy Bucci's in Emeryville. We always go late afternoon, so we miss the lunch and dinner crowds. Love holiday parties!

Hi. In Oakland: the people at Pizzaiolo, Sidebar and Dopo have all been really excellent with my toddler, and the food at all three is excellent. T-Rex in Berkeley is another place where they're ok with kids, and the food is good.

If you want to make sure you stay within budget, simply tell them what you're looking for-- most places are more than happy to accommodate and will work with you to offer a plated or family style menu that fits your needs. --

Good Oaktown restaurants bars for 40 somethings?

Sept 2010

I have several friends coming to visit in a few weeks. We are all women in our early 40s and I'd like to take them out a couple of nights to some of Oakland's newer nightspots. I'm thinking a combination of dinner and then on to a bar for drinks. I'd like some place with the Oaktown vibe but where you can have a conversation of sorts. I've been to Lukas Taproom and Flora but otherwise am pretty much a newbie. Your recommendations are greatly appreciated! Looking for some nightlife

There are loads of new places in Oakland to try! Sidebar, near the lake, Camino on Grand Ave, Mua (clubby vibe), Chop Bar. Drinks and apps at Adesso on Piedmont. Boot and Shoe Service...Oakland is happening these days. Have a great time with your friends!

Try Levende East next to Ratto's in Old Oakland. I had drinks there with colleagues and it was really nice. For dinner, Le Cheval is always reliable - very good Vietnamese/California fusion. Also by Old Oakland. Rachel

I really like Tamarindo - Mexican tapas for foodies in a really pretty, upscale setting with an Oakland vibe and delicious food. It's lively but not as noisy as Luca's. Right next door to Tamarindo is The Trappist, which specializes in Belgium beers on tap - very cute place with a Euro feel. Yoshi's is pretty fun if you want to do dinner and a show. Haven't been to Mua or Nex yet, but heard they are fun and Soizic (same owners) was always really good. There are lots of other places! Check Yelp and also this long-standing website has reliable reviews for Berk/Oakland restaurants:

Check out Mimosa or Somar. Also Yelp is a great resource! Angela

We always have fun at the bar at Mezze on Lakeshore. The bartender, Terry, on Thursday and Friday evenings is especially fun and makes great drinks (likes to make them up on the fly as well). Tip him well!! You can also order from the full menu while sitting at the bar. Lakeshore local

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Great Restaurant for a Big Party

April 2008

I'm looking to book a restaurant for a big party (around 30 people). This will be adults only and I'd love to find a place that's not CRAZY expensive but which has great food and a good atmosphere. The ideal would be to find a place with a separate room for parties - although this is not a requirement. I'd love some suggestions from folks out there - Thanks!

Everyone's version of ''CRAZY expensive'' is different, but I have always really enjoyed dinner at Hotel Mac in Point Richmond. My sister had her 40th birthday dinner there and though I don't remember the exact count, it was a good sized crowd. anon

Picante's has great food and a private room upstairs! Brenda

There is a cool new restaurant opening on Solano Ave. next to the Albany Twin Cinema called Rendezvous Bistro. They will be able to accommodate you as I know that they will be hosting a bridal shower there soon, and closing their doors for the occasion. Good luck. Ana B

The Lark Creek in Walnut Creek has a nice private room, very good food, and easy parking. I had a dinner there a few years back for about 25 people and it worked very well. Leslie

I hosted my husband's 40th birthday party at Pyramid Brewery on Gilman St in Berkeley and had a lot of fun. I can't remember how many people were at the party but I would guess 20-30. We had our own separate room. It was casual (pitchers of beer; buffet style eating), so if you're looking for something fancy, this is not the place. The food was good and reasonably priced; I particularly remember that the barbecued ribs were delicious and that they had great root beer (I'm not a beer drinker). Good luck. happy with Pyramid

The Bateau Ivre on Telegraph in Berkeley has a nice dining room in back with a European bistro feel that can be rented for private parties. I recently attended a wedding reception there, and it's our favorite go-to after-movies drink place. The food is pretty good, and they have a full bar.

Festive Venue for Graduation Party

March 2008

I am looking for a venue locally to hold a graduation party in May. Ideally, something in Berkeley or Oakland, festive, and with combined indoor/outdoor space for an afternoon or evening event. Any ideas of great places for celebrations with 50 or so people? I'm open to various environments (restaurants, art spaces, homes, parks). BPN recs are a bit old on this front. Thanks. ABD ready to celebrate

There are two Oakland restaurants that spring to mind - the Tropix Caribbean Restaurant on Piedmont which has great food and a back garden patio. And Tamale Queen on 29th near Fruitvale BART that also has a back garden space - a bit of noise from the BART but probably cheaper/more available for private parties. If you go for a Sunday night you can also try LaPena in south berkeley - no outside space but lots of room and sound stage for a band or DJ etc. Congrats and have fun!

Final Four Birthday Party?

Jan 2008

I'm looking for a place to hold a big birthday party for my husband. Since this will take place during the Final Four, I'd like a place with a private room that has a big screen tv so we can watch the game. It would need to hold about 40 people and preferably where we could bring in our our own food. Something in the east bay would be best, but San Francisco is also a possibility. Does such a place exist? Thanks! Wife of Basketball Fan

I don't know a place specifically, but I do know that friends have rented huge televisions for sporting-event viewing parties. I think many electronic-rental places can set up where ever you want.

There is a great sports pub in San Leandro on Parrott Street called The Englander which may be a perfect venue for your Final Four Fiesta (they are close to the San Leandro BART station which could be convenient for those without a designated driver). They have several private rooms with projection tvs. I am not sure if you can bring your own food but they have a HUGE menu with all of your favorite pub grub staples! Good luck, Zohre

I threw my husband a surprise 40th b-day party in December at a great sports bar in downtown Oakland called Arsimona Bar & Lounge. It's an upscale bar with lots of plasma TVs and they have a private VIP room upstairs. I had about 50 guests and I was very pleased with the venue and the food. Not sure if you can bring in your own food, but it doesn't hurt to ask. The owner is Tem 338-2195 and they have a website Gina

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Suprise 35th Birthday Party for my Husband

Sept 2006

I've checked the archives and would love some more updated and specific suggestions about a fun place to throw a suprise party for my husband's 35th birthday in November. No kids, just adults. I'd love somewhere that has yummy cocktails and food ... and maybe a private room? Thanks! Party momma

Trader Vic's in Emeryville has yummy cocktails, food and private room. May be expensive however

Cafe de la Paz in Berkeley on Shattuck. I have attended several private parties there (in a private room downstairs) and the food is always great, and the bar is in the next room and they make great Latin cocktails like Mohitos, caipirinhas, margaritas, etc., plus any other drink I'm sure you would want. The restaurant isn't always that great when you dine there in their normal restaurant, but the private parties have always been good Anon

My *favorite* restaurant in the East Bay is Olivia (on Dwight nr. Sacramento) in Berkeley - stop by & see: it's just the right size to ''take over'' - there are 2 rooms, one larger than the other, plus a small bar in the larger room. It's intimate, romantic, affordable, and the kitchen is AWESOME (we're NYC transplants, and this chef could cook _anywhere_)b& I've never rented the place, but definitely want to in the future (my husband's 50th?). Swing by, take a look, and here's the website: Happy Party! carollyon

SF Restaurant for my graduation party

May 2004

Hi there, I am graduating this May and my family and I are looking for a good restaurant in the City to have dinner. There will be about 15 of us, and it would be great to not spend over $12 to $15 per dinner plate. We are a rowdy bunch, so we don't need a fancy quiet place. Any leads would be great! thanks cris

I would recommend Pauline's Pizza on Valencia in the city. I don't have their phone number on hand but I'm sure it's listed. They have gourmet pizzas, salads, and more and a lovely large room upstairs for bigger parties. We had our family get-together/rehearsal dinner there and it was a lot of fun. snowshoebunny

Try Alegrias on Lombard. It's a Spanish restaurant that serves tapas--but very generous portions. Great sangria, too! The owners are really nice and it is a great place for a party--if you have enough people they'd probably let you take over the back room. I'm not sure exactly what their prices are as I haven't been there in awhile. me gusta comida

Try Bucca Di Beppo in SF. It's a fun place and they can accommodate large parties. I threw a party there (20 people) two years ago and the total bill (including wine) was less than $400. Anon

Sounds like you would be a great group for Buca de Beppo; 855 Howard Street (between 4th & 5th Streets). Fun atmosphere, huge family style servings.

Buca di Beppo is great for large parties. The food is about $16-30, but they have these family platters (Buca Large) that are HUGE and make it much more affordable, because 3-4 people can share one plate. Be forewarned, it's not the best Italian food you'll ever have, but it's a fun place and can accommodate large parties easily. They're located at 855 Howard street. You can make reservations online through Open Table. anon

You didn't say what type of food you preferred but I'd like to recommend this buffet restaurant on Market and 8th street called Moonstar. They have a website: You can print out coupons for free drinks from their website. They offer a great spread of sushi, seafood and Chinese dishes. The atmosphere is pretty casual and noisy but the service was good. They were very accommodating when I had dinner there with a group of about 30 people. Another plus is that they are located right as you exit the Civic Center Bart station. Donna

Inexpensive Restaurant for Party for 60+ adults

March 2004

I am seeking recommendations for a restaurant where we could host a party for 60+ adults and children. We would like to have lunch served and are looking for something on the inexpensive side; possibly Chinese? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks! Vivian

Le Cheval, which is a Vietmamese restaurant in downtown Oakland, might work for you. They have a very large dining room, with several round tables that seat groups of a dozen. I've had birthday parties there (granted, with no more than 14 people) and I highly recommend it. It is fancy enough to make me feel like I am actually going out, the prices are totally reasonable, it has a full bar for the grownups, and I usually see families with kids there (I usually am in one.) The best thing about it for my family is that there is something for everyone- for the picky pre-teen, for the younger kids, for the vegetarians, for those with wheat and dairy allergies, etc. And we always get a banana flambe for desert- a flaming banana just makes me feel like it's a party. I don't know if they do groups of 60, but they are definitely worth a call. laura

2003 & Earlier

From: Cathy (9/98)

I attended a birthday party at Chef Paul's on Piedmont Ave. On Monday nights (I think), Chef Paul closes his restaurant and holds a cooking school for private parties. The guests are instructed on how to make the wonderful food Chef Paul makes that evening, and are entertained by his wit. The food is great and it's a great environment/scene for a birthday party.

Re: REcommendations for a party for 50 people - Santa Fe Bar and Grill has a garden room (added last year) which will hold more than a hundred, I think, but feels smaller and friendlier. It is lovely and they certainly do cater. -- Barbara (7/99)

Restaurants - Pleasant Hill area

March 2004

I'm so tired of eating at mediocre restaurants in Pleasant Hill. Can anyone recommend any GREAT restaurants in this area? Any price range. I have a 6 month old who normally accompanies me. Thanks very much. Frustrated in suburbia

Amalfi Trattoria-Walnut Creek
The Duck Club-Lafayette

Try Left Bank. It's in the shopping center there by the Century Theatre and Bed, Bath & Beyond off of Contra Costa Blvd. I've been a few times, it's good. There is also a chinese food place in the mall at the corner of Geary and North Main (across the street from Wendys). It's called the Golden Wok, or Garlic Express, or something like that. Never been there, but a few friends have and liked it. Bob

Well, do you like Thai food? If so, you are in luck. You have to drive a little way from Pleasant Hill to get to THE best restaurant in the area. But it is worth it, for both the food and the cordial service. (and reasonable prices) We live in Walnut Creek, and our family LOVES Siam Orchid in Orinda for Thai food. (23 Orinda Way, across from the new Community Center. Go right at the bottom of the Orinda off ramp, then left on Orinda Way at the gas station. They are on the left side in a tiny strip mall right across from the library, etc.) We started going there over ten years ago on the recommendation of my Montessori teaching assistant who just raved about it. We have sampled other Thai restaurants all over the bay area, and we are always disappointed by comparison, because the two brothers at Siam Orchid make the freshest, best Thai food in the land. They make their curries right there at the restaurant from good fresh ingredients. Yum! They are about to move into the larger space next door to them, so there might be a little adjustment period soon, but they will rise to the occasion. Please say ''Hi'' to Nake, Pepfi and Kong for the Glass family. Let me know if you go there and like it. Mimi