When you’re 17 and dressed up in a dapper tuxedo or sophisticated mermaid dress on prom night, where else would you go but out on the town? Lodi’s finest restaurants are a prom night staple, bringing hundreds of teenagers in for a bite to eat before the big dance. Student picks ranged from fast food and chain restaurants to the upscale and the expensive. Several local restaurants and students gave their insight on what to expect when dining fancy on prom night.
Sushi, sashimi and stir-fry at Shangri-La Asian Bistro
Don’t be daunted by the menu. Shangri-La offers a lot of different choices for everyone, from sushi to soup or teriyaki, which can be helpful when organizing a large group of hungry people. Impress your date with your chopsticks experience, but if you’re in a big group, there are things to look out for.
“People that come in big groups often want to split checks. Bring cash so that it makes everything easier,” said restaurant manager Dan Chan. “Also, when the servers bring out the food, often customers will be preoccupied with conversation and not notice when food has arrived. Pay attention to see if the food coming out is yours, so it is not sent back by mistake.”
All the class of wine country at Towne House Restaurant
Prom-goers may see a lot of familiar faces at Towne House Restaurant, with 50 reservations already on the books this season. Teens aren’t always jumping for the steamed mussels and caviar on the menu, owner and restaurant manager Kathryn Munson said. Guys often go for the beef, while girls stray away from the heavier items, sticking to pastas and salads.
She says having a designated person organizing the reservations makes all the difference.
“We love to know that it’s a group going to prom. If people do planning ahead of time, we can do a less challenging menu with a better price range. We know students are more money-conscious, and we want them to feel comfortable here,” Munson said.
“Our filet mignon is $42, so we can do a different cut of beef or the salad portions can be smaller to be lower priced. It’s so they know how much it is going in. Usually the dinner is a formality, so keeping it kind of simple is best.”
Casual comfort with burgers and ribs at Lodi Beer Company.
Another popular destination is the often-packed Lodi Beer Company, although teens are not there for the alcohol but typical American comfort foods such as ribs and burgers. It might be a good idea not to get too stuffed, before a night of dancing and other activities like laser tag.
One tip from Lodi Beer Company may save some further embarrassment.
“It’s always good to call ahead with an accurate number of people when making reservations,” said host Sam Iliadias. “And know that we don’t reserve the outside area or the bar.”
Colorful Latin American cuisine at Alebrijes
Some like to spice up prom night with a little Mexican food at Alebrijes, most sticking to common favorites like tacos and enchiladas. This restaurant is a little more casual, so don’t worry too much about any potential embarrassments. Focus on not spilling your soda and keeping the conversation moving.
“Go early to get a good spot. We have an online system where you can make a reservation and it goes in automatically,” said owner Ruben Larrazolo. “If you show up without a reservation, sometimes we don’t have space, but we try to accomodate everyone.”
Upgrade to linens and silver at Rosewood
Just down School Street from several other popular location is a white tablecloth establishment that some teens may go to before prom to feel a little fancy. Rosewood Bar and Grill doesn’t skimp on atmosphere.
Fanciness only goes so far with some students, who still frequently order pizza and salad. Keep that upscale feeling by using a fork and knife to eat this saucy meal.
General Manager Scott McLeod offers this advice: “Be on your best behavior and tip accordingly — only if the service is good.”
Most places will add the tips into the bill with large groups. Decide if you want give extra tips for making your group comfortable.