Ok, I am not the biggest fan of hounds who just come on the boards to ask for recommendations...but I'm drawing a blank and would like some help, and promise to repay with a full report on wherever we choose!
Am looking for a spot on the west side for a somewhat celebratory dinner (two upcoming birthdays, and just life in general)...next weekend with my daughter, her husband, and my stepmother. If possible I'd like something mid-range, nice but not outrageously expensive, comfortable for conversation, and perhaps a bit off the beaten track, in the way that after the meal all would say to me, 'this place is great! Don't know how you found it but we will be back!'. (well, that at least daughter and her husband would be back since they live on the west side, stepmother is from NoCal like me and just happens in the area that weekend...)
So the parameters: I will eat anything; would prefer not to spend more than around $30 to $35 per person, NOT including alcohol but including everything else (so looking for entrees in the high teens or low twenties). Daughter and her hubby are Muslim, and don't eat non-halal meat or drink, but they love and will eat seafood of all kinds. Indeed, he particularly loves sushi, but daughter is almost 8 months pregnant, so that's out. (and I don't want to torment her, she actually loves it too). OTOH, stepmother and I are definitely drinkers, and stepmother is pretty knowledgeable about wine, so a good wine list is a big plus, almost a must...Unfortunately, stepmother isn't that fond of Mexican (probably not the best choice for the others anyway, since it is sometimes hard to avoid pork products....). Everyone loves good Italian, but for daughter and hubby, there would have to be a fair number of entrees without meat...California cuisine is good too....we all appreciate gracious, friendly service, and none of us are really into trendy or hip....reservations a must.
We'd much prefer something on the west side, preferably near LAX, Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, Westwood, or somewhere in that general area. Doesn't have to be in a touristy location or have a view or be near the water or anything like that. (Daughter lives just outside of Westwood, stepmother will be coming from Long Beach but is fine with anywhere in the area, I will be staying the night near LAX).
I was intrigued by reports of Lido Grill opening soon in SM, just because D's hubby is Tunisian and might enjoy trying a new Tunisian tapas place, but I am reluctant to try a place just a few days after it opens...and it looks a bit industrial and 'hip', at least for the older ones in the party..Also, while I realize that some of the Persian places in Westwood have both halal meat and wine lists, I haven't found any that really thrill me, and daughter and hubby eat at their favorites often anyway....
I've eaten at Ocean Avenue Seafood in Santa Monica, and thought it was decent to pretty good, but it is somewhat pricier than I am looking for, and perhaps a bit mainstream (in the sense that when I ate there, I felt I could have been anywhere...I don't think it is a chain, but it had a bit of that feel to me). I've seen recommendations on the board for Lobster (? think that is the name) but sounds like that is out of the price range I am looking for...
Personally, if it were just me without the restrictions, I'd probably either head for Mexican food somewhere, or I'd also like to try Josie, but for this group it may be too meat-centric and also perhaps a bit pricey(?).
I don't suppose there is a really, really good vegetarian restaurant on the west side with a fabulous wine list?
Anyway, would appreciate thoughts and suggestions, including dishes to try? As I say, will report back! Thanks!