3 L.A. Neighborhoods Get Creative on Group Dining

August 7, 2019

On a trip to L.A. earlier this year, I talked about defining food trends and themes in the city with Stacey Sun, executive director of dineL.A., the culinary marketing arm of Los Angeles Tourism. While that is an elusive task, given L.A.'s widespread, globally diverse epicurean scene, Sun sees creative innovation as a common measure.

“Angelenos are open-minded, adventurous eaters, which in turn inspires L.A.’s chefs to take risks and set bold new contexts for dining,” she said. “With access to the best produce in the country year-round, they have abundant food content to explore new frontiers.”

In the boundary-pushing gastronomic centers of Downtown L.A., Mid-City and West Hollywood, I discovered some standout pairings of stellar cuisine with unique event spaces for groups meeting in Los Angeles.

Downtown L.A. Group Dining Highlights


In 2012, chef-owners Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis wowed L.A. with still-hot Bestia, their multi-regional Italian restaurant housed in an Arts District warehouse.

In 2018, the L.A.-born married couple turned to their family roots in Israel, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt to create nearby Bavel. Earning a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant in 2019, their Middle Eastern-driven concept is one of L.A.’s top tickets.

Visitors to Bavel can munch on anything from baba ghanoush—a spread of smoked eggplant, mushroom and eggplant salad, tahini, curry leaf and fried pita—to slow-roasted lamb neck shawarma and braised wagyu beef cheek tagine

Both Bavel and Bestia host private dinners and special events for nine to 20-plus guests, with full or partial buyouts subject to availability.

Border Grill

Early in their celebrated partnership, chef-restaurateurs, TV personalities and cookbook authors Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken were close with Julia Child.

In 2018, they were the first women honored with The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts’ annual Julia Child Award, an award given to those who have made a difference in the American culinary scene.

Today, their pioneering Modern Mexican restaurant, food truck and catering concept Border Grill is fiesta central for groups.

Versatile rentals at the Downtown L.A. location include:

  • The 45-capacity private room.
  • The 75-capacity outdoor patio.
  • “The Whole Enchilada,” or a full rental of the restaurant that has capacity for 250 seated guests or 500-person cocktail receptions. 

While meeting, attendees can enjoy chicken poblano enchiladas, Yucatan pork, vegan crispy quinoa and more from the catering menu offered by Border Grill.

City Market South

In 1909, a farmers’ cooperative founded the City Market of Los Angeles as a central distribution center for their produce. In 2013, the open-air warehouse complex in the Fashion District was reimagined as City Market South. One mile from the Los Angeles Convention Center, this multi-use destination includes enticing dining options for groups.

Housed in City Market South, groups will find pan-Latin fusion restaurant and bar DAMA rents versatile spaces such the 110-capacity outdoor patio and serves up dishes like whole snapper, chorizo and clams, bocadillo, tacos and more.

[Related Content: 5 Notable L.A. Hotels That Specialize in Group Dining]

At Rossoblu, Chef Steve Samson’s Bolognese-inspired menu pays homage to his childhood summers in Italy’s gastronomic Emilia Romagna region. Event venues include the intimate chef’s cellar and outdoor piazza. The restaurant also has housemade negroni on tap.

For large groups of up to 550 people for a seated meeting, or up to 1,000 for a standing reception, the dedicated event venue City Market Social is an excellent event venue option within City Market South. It offers 20,000-plus square feet of full-service indoor-outdoor space.

Planners can choose from a wide variety of preferred catering partners listed on City Market Social’s website, many of which source fish, meat and produce locally.


Nightshade is the debut restaurant from Top Chef season 12 winner Mei Lin.

Coming from premier kitchens including Michael Symon’s Roast in Detroit and Wolfgang Puck’s Spago Las Vegas, Lin’s playful Chinese menu sizzles with dishes like truffled dungeness crab congee and szechuan hot quail.

Updating an Arts District warehouse, the restaurant, outfitted in blonde wood, white brick and hanging plants, is an atmospheric choice for private events, which are available upon request.

Mid-City Group Dining Highlights


Faithfully restored down to the original brick, tile and ironwork, Charlie Chaplin’s original circa-1928 offices now house République led by acclaimed husband-wife team Walter and Margarita Manzke. The dynamic pair bring serious credentials to their evocative modern-French concept.

Walter cooked in five three Michelin-star kitchens around the world, including Spain’s incomparable El Bulli and The French Laundry in Napa.

Margarita earned a 2019 James Beard nomination for “Outstanding Pastry Chef.”

Shareable bites like potato and leek beignets, savory eclairs and gioia burrata toast are tasty starters at République, and mains like pasta, risotto and Sonoma duck breast are sure to satisfy hungry attendees. Enticing, too, are multiple unique event enclaves, including The Bakery, lengthy 34-capacity Kitchen Tables, and intimate Left Bank Wine Room.

Full buyouts for 300 are available, along with catering.

Osteria Mozza

Celebrated L.A. chef Nancy Silverton continues her career hot streak with Osteria Mozza. The restaurant, a part of her Italian-driven Mozza Restaurant Group in partnership with leading restaurateur Joe Bastianich, is a casual concept that’s renowned for its fresh mozzarella dishes served at the white Carrara marble bar and handmade pastas.

Osteria Mozza’s event venues include the private Primo Ministro Room, available for 60-person buyouts along with the adjacent patio. Plus, full restaurant buyouts for 160-seated dinners and 200-person receptions are also available.

Park’s BBQ

In the heart of Koreatown, or K-Town, award-winning Park’s BBQ is widely regarded as the gold standard of L.A. famed Korean BBQ scene. Like many of L.A.’s top restaurants, the two-level restaurant sits in a strip mall.

Serving meaty cuts a la carte or platter style, such as well-marbled wagyu and marinated prime beef short ribs, this award-winning celebrity magnet hosts private parties for 50.

West Hollywood Group Dining Highlights

OTUS Thai Kitchen & Coffee

June Kasama came to L.A. from Northern Thailand to get her master’s degree in economics. Then she answered another calling—her passion for market-driven cooking. The result: OTUS Thai Kitchen & Coffee, which is a true beacon of L.A.’s prominent Thai cuisine landscape.

Highlights of her innovative breakfast-driven menu start with Vietnamese coffee infused with fresh orange and vanilla. The American-Thai menu goes from French toast and pancakes to “It’s a Joke,” Kasama’s playful take on Asian rice porridge (congee, or jok in Thai), topped with poached egg, shittake mushrooms and fresh ginger. Lunch and dinner service plus event hosting for up to 50 and catering complete the picture at this modern eatery.

E.P. & L.P.

Multi-level restaurant, bar and private event venue E.P. & L.P. features one of L.A.’s largest and most scenic open-air decks. Amid 360-degree views of Hollywood Hills and the Sunset Strip, L.P. rooftop guests enjoy Asian-inspired street food and hand-crafted cocktails, with secluded Frankie’s Private Bar for events and functions. Groups can arrange for seasonal private screenings at the attached Melrose Rooftop Theater, which includes a 152-seat restaurant.

E.P. is the main level “Asian Eating House” fusing Thai roots with Chinese, Fijian and Vietnamese influences. The family-style menu is ideal for larger groups that want to sample a bit of everything at the restaurant. Menu highlights include green vegetable curry, braised eggplant and bok choy, dan dan noodles and more.


Groups seeking old-school late-night fun have a ready escape at Delilah on Santa Monica Boulevard. This combination restaurant-lounge from nightlife mavens the h.wood Group pays homage to the Roaring Twenties with a modern take on the supper club. Live entertainment, plush décor, bottle service and upscale comfort food including chicken sliders, baby back ribs and hamburgers set the stage for memorable private events, which can be requested. 

Connie & Ted’s

Seafood-driven Connie & Ted’s honors a loving namesake couple who emigrated to Rhode Island from England as children around 1920. Inspired by the classic clam shacks, oyster bars and fish houses of both the New England and Western coasts, this bright Santa Monica Boulevard restaurant serves simple seafood dishes like fresh raw oysters, chilled shellfish, a traditional New England boiled dinner and Portuguese fish stew.

Connie & Ted’s offers a private dining patio for 16 equipped with large-screen TV for video presentations. The eatery has an open kitchen, so attendees can watch the chef work.

Toca Madera

From mushroom and sweet corn tacos to churro waffles, Toca Madera offers an upscale take on traditional Mexican fare. Items for vegan diners are also available, like the taquitos al gusto and empanadas Oaxaca.

Fetching décor and ambient music create an atmospheric setting for private events. Venues include the 35-capacity Treehouse and 40-capacity Garden, with buyouts for 150 to 300 people and full catering services.

Downtown L.A., Mid-City and West Hollywood CVB Contact Information

Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board

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About the author
Jeff Heilman | Senior Contributor

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based independent journalist Jeff Heilman has been a Meetings Today contributor since 2004, including writing our annual Texas and Las Vegas supplements since inception. Jeff is also an accomplished ghostwriter specializing in legal, business and Diversity & Inclusion content.