I'm planning a birthday dinner for a friend from college visiting from LA (originally from NY) and am in charge of putting together a birthday dinner for him this Saturday. The crowd is a mix of extreme foodies (me) to a couple guys who wouldn't be able to tell Ippudo ramen from Ramen in the box. Birthday guy is looking for a place that is has great food but can support a really lively and loud table atmosphere. Cost is also a concern, as we would like to keep it under 50-60 a person with drinks. Neighborhood isn't really an issue, but would prefer south of midtown and in Manhattan (no Brooklyn). Thanks in advance for the help.
PS. Initial thoughts included Sammy's and Stanton Social but I'm sure I can come up with some more original ideas for places