For some reason, I feel like everyone has a birthday in January or February. So I've been getting lots of inquiries from friends on what would be a good spot to host a casual yet upscale and FUN birthday party for groups of 6-20. These are some not-so-mainstream restaurants and bars that have little rooms in which you could host events whose prices won't blow a hole through your wallet. Because obviously, a hipster would never dream of hosting anything at Dave n Busters or Buca di Beppo.
See links for venue details. Listed in order from lowbrow (ain't nothing wrong with lowbrow) to highbrow (you gots some money to burn baby):
Boy oh boy, do I freakin love this place!! It's an awesomely authentic Greek restaurant just south of Koreatown serving gyros, lamb, spanikopita (did I spell that right?), and all other things deliciously Greek. It's definitely more on the casual side with the blue and white tablecloths and paper napkins. But that's part of the charm of this place. They have an outdoor patio that's probably good in the warmer months for events, but the indoor restaurant also would be good for a casual sit-down group dinner. Thursday nights offer a prix fixe special and "live entertainment" whatever that means ;) You can always finish off the night with a nightcap at one of the many ktown watering holes...hehe
Location: Koreatown adjacent
Surfas the store claims to be "Chef's Paradise" as it's a chef and restaurant supply store. So judging by that and the constant crowds eating here, you know the food at it's adjoining restaurant is going to be chef-quality good. It's only open during the daytime, so it would have to be a brunch/lunch type party. But on a warm day, surrounded by good food and kitchen stuff is definitely my idea of a fun time :)
Location: Culver City
I've loved this place since my first visit when Caroline on Crack and I decided to pop in on a warm fall afternoon. It's a cross between a casual tea parlor, Giant Robot (the little shop on Sawtelle selling random cutesy Japanese tchotchkes), an anime art gallery, and restaurant. And it was deemed cool enough to host Yelp's 2008 Elite Holiday Party. But what makes it a great spot to host a party is that there's a couple of different rooms. The one in the middle can probably fit 5-10 comfortably and has a projection screen and neato funky furniture to lounge on. The rear area can probably accommodate a lot of people... like 50+. The first time I went, Mercedes Benz was doing some Fashion Week after party there. As an added bonus, the lady who owns this place is super sweet. Not sure how the food is , but the ambiance is pretty awesome.
Location: Culver City
For girls that wanna ogle at hot guys, but feel guilty about doing so because you're married, have a bf, etc, then the Abbey is perfect. It's a West Hollywood gay institution filled with an eclectic mix of people from all walks of life, ethnicity, and ages. I always have a great time here whether I go with my gay friends or not and even had a celeb sighting (Perez Hilton) on one random Sunday night. The atmosphere is non-pretentious and friendly which is a commodity in Hollywood. Food and drinks are both quite yummy and they have lots of little random rooms, so it could easily be turned into a bday party spot.
Location: West Hollywood
Casa Cocina Y Cantina
This is a brand new upscale-ish Mexican-Latin restaurant that opened last week in downtown LA. The thing that really appeals to me are the little "casitas" which look like little pods so you can get some privacy for your group, but also enjoy the larger restaurant should you choose. I haven't been here yet, but if you have, let me know what you think of it :)
Location: Downtown LA
Although this place is pretty mainstream and often becomes a B&T destination on weekends, I still do appreciate it because of the beautifully designed interior and innovative drink selections. For people who have never been, it definitely will leave a lasting impression. It's in an old electricity factory so the motif is depression-era industrial chic. There are lots of little rooms of varying sizes that can host events. And if you go a bit earlier (like before midnight I think), they have a kitchen churning out some yummy food as well.
Location: Downtown LA
Stones throw from the Arclight Cinemas on Sunset and Vine is this little semi-hidden restaurant. Inside is what I can only call "neo-classical-French" with lots of red lighting and ornate furniture and that rotating piano in the center of the restaurant. Upstairs has a little bar that's perfect for hosting a "non-dinner hangout and drink" type party. It'll probably hold 20+ people and when I accidentally stumbled up there once, everyone looked to be having a great time. If you want it to be a dinner thing, this place has some yummy albeit a bit pricey French-European inspired fare.
Location: Hollywood proper
I actually have more ideas that I didn't include on this list. So if you're still at a loss, just hit me up and let me know :)