Malibu Wines birthday fun - Photo by Mar Yvette

Ask Mar: LA Birthday Restaurants

As a food & fun expert, I’m always asked to name my favorite restaurants, the hottest of-the-moment spot or what places an out-of-town friend should not miss. So I figured why not post some of these emails, tweets and Facebook messages with my answers. Hence, the Marpop series, “Ask Mar.” Keep in mind these are super informal exchanges with no regard for proper sentence structure, grammar or punctuation. (Trust. I’m an editor & writer first, so I just want you to know that I know. And yes, I use ampersands whenever the moment strikes me.) Remember: If you have a question, just Ask Mar!


Hi Mar,
How are you?
I hope you are having a wonderful day 🙂
My husband’s bday is tomorrow and I am desperate to find a fun upscale (but not way too expensive) place to host a dinner for 10-12 people. I know you are the Restaurant QUEEN and am hoping you can point me in the right direction. HELP!

Thanks so much!

Sent from my iPhone



hey girl!
omg, you’re a last-minute party planner!! ok, so here are some places off the top of my head that i think would be good for what you’re thinking — check their menus online for more details.

Chaya Brasserie on Robertson & Alden – they recently brought on a new chef (haven’t been in since, but i’ve tasted his food before @ Test Kitchen and it’s yum) — food is French-inspired Japanese, nice space has plenty of tables, tall ceilings.

Delphine @ W Hollywood – lovez this place – so light & airy right in the middle of Hollywood — think Cote de Azur — good seafood + sceney scene + pretty space = fun times.

Cleo – hot spot @ the Redbury Hotel on Sunset & Vine – owned by SBE so you know it’s see-and-be-seen & the food is yum. mediterranean small plates. brussels sprouts will CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!!

Culina @ Four Seasons – LOVEZ this place! surprisingly not too pricey, good areas for groups, delish modern Italian from chef Casanova (yes, that’s his name!) & flawless service. outdoor patio w/heat lamps & citrus trees everywhere is great. if u go early enough you’ll see Larry Flynt in his gold wheelchair – RidonK!!!

Bottega Louie – if you’re willing to drive Downtown LA, this place is fab-u-lous! it’s VERY loud, very big, very urban and just gorgeous. you’ll feel like you’re in Prague or somewhere cool in Europe. love the macarons.

Mas Malo – so casual, really fun spot downtown, right across the street from Bottega. awesome underground cantina area – reminds me of the Parker in palms springs – perfect for a group. if not, plenty of space in the main room and in the mezzanine level. do the beef & pickle tacos, chip & salsa flight and pozole – the bomb!!!

There’s also Napa Valley Grille and Glendon Bar & Kitchen, both in Westwood — Napa has tons of space & private rooms while Glendon has a cool upstairs area you can reserve for private parties.

Cecconi’s – gorgeous interior with that teal color everywhere – pretty patio with trees, sceney scene, tasty Italian fare – call about the private dining room w/Damien Hirst painting.

AND … Malibu Wines is phenom!!! I know this is a dinner thing, but if you’re ever thinking of an outdoor weekend or weekday celebration, this place is great – it’s first-come first-served, free music, lovely outdoor scene up in wine country canyons & it’s BYOP (bring your own picnic!) — all you gotta do is buy a bottle of wine every hour-ish.  i’ve spent an entire day here with family – lovez.

hope this helps – let me know where you end up!


Now … what’s your question?

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Kristen H. at 4:23 pm

    I just ate at Red O last week! It was A-mazing!! It’s definitely worth a try if you can get in..the atmosphere & food are craaaazy good 🙂

  2. aram at 2:23 pm

    I think Mas Malo is the clear winner here, in terms of affordable and fun – very festive and hip – and tacos and finger foods never add up to that much $… also they have a ton of party space… a big balcony area that overlooks the main room and then a private area downstairs which is very very cool w/ its own bar etc.

    Also, we have had a couple of great bday parties at Velvet Margarita in Hollywood – velvet art on the walls, very Mexican Elvis, back patio, also pretty cheap and great drinks.. right on Cahuenga in the thick of things…

    I would also consider Malibu Cafe up at Calamiqos Ranch (right around the corner from Malibu Wines mentioned above) – it is outdoors, music, they serve dinner, wine, great property to walk around.. perfect for a group party…

    Then there is Stella Rossa on Main Street in Santa Monica… it’s pizza but it’s awesome pizza and they have salads and other things… the scene is great and the price is definitely right…

    I could say the same of the Misfit, also in Santa Monica – very informal, food is great, right on the promenade, fresh food and pretty cheap…

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