Downtown Restaurants Make Party Planning a Snap
Every office has one: the picky eater. Whether it’s someone who only eats chicken. Or never eats chicken. Or counts their carbs with a pocket calculator. Or doesn’t eat vegetables that have traveled more than 80 miles, because of the resources it uses up.
And nothing kills the mood at a festive catered event faster than people holding empty cocktail napkins. That’s why ordering the catered meal for an office party can be an exercise in problem solving.
Thankfully, there are a growing number of no-fuss Downtown eateries that do the problem-solving for you – restaurants that do more than just cater, but that offer up extensive options, customized menus, and even hold your hand through the ordering process.
Now if only they could come with conversation fodder.
Original Texas BBQ King: Nothing says “summer is here” like a paper plate piled high with hickory-smoked barbecue. But plastic forks and brown-stained napkins aren’t always kosher. That’s why this famed City West barbecue joint not only customizes their food offerings to your event but also how it is served – plastic tubs or heated, steel serving trays.
All the grill offerings and all of the classic sides are available for parties (corn on the cobb, mac-and-cheese, and collard greens). Barbecue King smokes all its meats in barrels with sticky homemade Texas-style sauce. Their baby back, beef and pork ribs are big sellers, as are the authentic beef links, tri-tip, and roasted chicken.
And having catered everything from construction sites to high-rise cocktail parties, Barbecue King can be no frills or turn on the elegance depending on your budget.
BBQ King is at 867 W. Cesar Chavez Ave. (213) 437-0881.
Weeneez: This new addition to the Downtown comfort food scene has a Chicago hotdog shop feel without the bad attitude. So you don’t have to worry about letting them into your office suite.
Weeneez specializes in half-smokes, foot-longs and steamed hot dogs smothered in an ungodly but delicious amount of secret recipe chili and high-class accoutrements.
They’ll do more than deliver too. Ordering at least two hours in advance gets you your own personal hot dog stand to accommodate all tastes – dose it with as much hot sauce, cheese, fresh cut onions or dill spears as you like. They even offer veggie dogs and meatless tamales for the vegetarians among you.
Weeneez is at 500 S. Spring St., (213) 817-6002 or weeneez.com.
Los Angeles Pizza Co.: Brand spanking new, this unique fusion pizza parlor in City West looks beyond the California, Chicago or New York-style, offering instead an eclectic mix of Italian, French and South American cooking. Don’t bother looking for the typical barbecue chicken pizza; here it’s a rotisserie turkey pizza. Instead of a Mexican pizza, they cook up an El Salvadoran take on the pie with traditional papusa spices.
The catering menu also includes three kinds of empanadas as well as Filipino and El Salvadoran finger sandwiches of sweet and spicy pork. For catered orders, they also offer discounts on pizzas and will deliver to your event or office.
Los Angeles Pizza Co. is at 712 N. Figueroa St., (213) 626-5272.
Center at Cathedral Plaza: You wouldn’t normally think of a cathedral as a place to party, but the architecturally stunning structure also offers a fully equipped conference center and event site – a sort of one-stop party shop. Or as planners like to call it, a place where you can find “heavenly food, spirited service.”
The Cathedral catering department, run by Levy restaurants, serves up plenty of menu ideas from a fiesta table full of Latin favorites to Filipino specialties to an elegant tea. As summer approaches, you can also host your corporate cocktail party on the plaza under the stars with tray passed hors d’oeuvres and elegantly presented food displays.
Make your event even more interesting with a docent led tour of the Rafael Moneo-designed cathedral.
Cathedral Plaza is at 555 W. Temple St., (213) 680-5269.
Mendocino Farms: The trendy “slow food” mentality – of basing meals around farm-fresh, seasonal produce that takes advantage of nature rather than battling it – has come to roost in Downtown catering. And its biggest purveyor could be Mendocino Farms.
Much less rustic than it sounds, this upscale, assembly line-style sandwich spot in the California Plaza Water Court delivers breakfast, lunch and dinner spreads for catered events. Forget the coffee: Once morning conference-goers see the “brunch burrito buffet” of applewood bacon, pesto and artisan goat cheese wraps they’ll be wide-awake. The lunch offerings span most of Mendocino Farm’s regular sandwich menu: turkey and French brie, steak BLT and the vegetarian Caprese.
The dinner options get a little fancier, with kobe beef lollipops, smoked gouda mac and cheese, and mushroom caviar. But you can always buy Charles Shaw to offset their high-class cheese plate.
Mendocino Farms is at 300 S. Grand Ave., (213) 620-1114.
Big Mama’s and Papa’s: There’s something to be said for large portions, and nibbling on just one crab cake won’t cut it. That’s where this Financial District pizzeria comes in, like an Italian grandmother telling you to mangia, mangia. The obvious choice is the infamous 36-inch pizza (the “Big Papa”). But they also offer a huge smattering of traditional party platters and Italian finger foods.
The calamari rings come in half trays and full trays, as do the zucchini sticks, potato skins and chicken breast tenders. Meanwhile, the spicy buffalo wings come in a 100-piece bucket, perfect for the corner cubicle guys that are into eating contests. For those less interested in sports bar snacks, Big Mama’s and Papa’s serves everything from antipasto Greek salads to shrimp scampi – just don’t expect small sizes.
Big Mama’s and Papa’s is at 657 S. Flower St., (213) 627-5556.
Organic To Go: If you make a habit of forgetting to call the caterer for your office events, there’s one menu you should have taped above your desk: Organic To Go. Offering same day catering, the Downtown location manages to balance the reliability of chain catering with the zest of a farmers market food stand.
They offer old standbys like turkey pesto cranberry and grilled vegetable and feta while sandwiches like the curried chicken salad with mango chutney, and wild Alaskan lox and cream cheese mix up the monotony.
And since Organic To Go is out delivering packed lunches to the office masses anyway, there’s no minimum to what you can order, which is great for a downsized office that still knows how to party.
Organic To Go can be reached at (310) 837-9944.