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Find an event caterer near Cleveland Park, DC

Find an event caterer near Cleveland Park, DC

31 near you

Find an event caterer near Cleveland Park, DC

31 near you

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Top 10 Event Caterers near Cleveland Park, DC

Event Caterers Cost Guide

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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

How do you find a good caterer?

Reviews, interviews and menu tastings will help you find the right catering choice for your big day. Start by screening possible wedding caterers based on past reviews. If a caterer you are interested in has a review that concerns you, ask them about it; how they respond will be very telling. Next, ask about their availability for your wedding date.

If the wedding caterer is available on your date, it’s time to talk about menus and prices. Be clear about what your maximum budget is find out what choices this will allow you. Caterers may custom-create a menu for your event, or they may have menu templates within different price ranges that can guide your decision. A clear budget gives the caterer clear parameters within which to work and offer creative suggestions. Schedule a menu tasting to confirm you love your wedding menu. Once you have a menu and date, and have paid a deposit to reserve the caterer’s services, confirm additional details including when the food will be delivered to the site, what kind of service will be provided, how many servers will be onsite and for how long, and who is responsible for setup and cleanup. The more specific your contract, the fewer worries you’ll have on your wedding day. Get more smart hiring tips here.

Do you tip a wedding caterer?

Tipping 15 percent to 20 percent on a $3,000 catering bill can feel daunting — especially in light of all the other costs of throwing a wedding — but tipping your wedding caterer is standard practice. Be sure to ask your caterer about their specific policies. Many catering companies include gratuity as a line item on their bill. If tipping is not automatically included in your total, a good approach is to tip all the people involved the day of the event rather than paying one lump sum to the catering company. For each server and bartender, you can tip $20-$50, depending on how long they were onsite and whether they did exceptional work. You can also tip the chef; experts suggest $50. It’s also a good idea to tip the catering manager, the point-of-contact person who keeps the catering service running smoothly the day of your wedding, ensures all the food looks beautiful and is plentiful, and resolves any mishaps. Industry pros recommend tipping the catering manager $100-$200. If gratuity is not included and you’re tipping individuals, set aside $200-$500 in cash to be safe.

How do you serve food at a wedding?

Food service at your wedding will affect your catering costs and influence the atmosphere of the reception. Buffet style is more informal; plated meals are a bit fancier; family style encourages sharing. Read about the different food service styles to select your preferred wedding catering choice.

  • Buffet: Caterers can drop off prepared foods for a DIY and budget-friendly buffet option where you set everything up and food is entirely self-service. For a fuller-service buffet, the caterers set up food, oversee the buffet throughout the event, and clean up afterwards. For food only, prices per person might average $16-$18, while a service buffet may start around $20-$22 per person. Adding food stations can increase per-person costs by at least $3-$5.
  • Family style: Servers bring large platters of food to guest tables in courses. It’s less formal (and less expensive) than a plated meal, but more formal and higher-cost than a buffet. You’ll need large tables to accommodate the platters, so plan accordingly when renting furniture for the event.
  • Plated: A plated event is a formal dining experience; waitstaff serve your seated guests for each course, fill their drinks, and attend to them throughout the dinner. A plated dinner is typically the most expensive option for both food and service.
  • Food trucks: Similar to buffets, with food trucks your guests get their own food and bring it to their table. A food truck gives a relaxed and playful vibe to your reception.
  • Cocktail reception: If you don’t want a formal seated dinner, you can opt for a wide assortment of passed appetizers at an extended cocktail hour reception.

What should you look for in a caterer?

A delicious meal is a critical element of a successful wedding, with happy guests fondly remembering your fabulous wedding food. The right caterer for you will be:

  • Available: Even the best caterer is no good if they aren’t available on your wedding date. Ask early before you get your heart set on someone.
  • Affordable for you: Find a caterer that you can afford. Having a spending plan ahead of time will mean you won’t overspend on food.
  • A good personality fit: Wedding planning is stressful, so work with someone that you can get along with and communicate with easily.
  • Experienced and recommended: Ensure the company has a proven track record with events of your size and the references to back it up.
  • Transparent about money: Steer clear of shady pricing. Find a caterer who is very clear about costs and is happy to talk you through budgets and pricing options.
  • Transparent about food: Find someone who is clear about where they source their food from and where it is prepared.

How much should catering cost for a wedding?

The cost of wedding catering will reflect the level of service, the menu you choose, the luxury you desire and the number of guests you invite. Where you live also plays a major role in your wedding catering costs. The regional cost to do business and local cost of food will affect your catering bill. There is no set price for wedding catering, because each wedding and each menu is different. This is why many caterers provide a per-person price. This allows you to break down what it costs to feed each person based on the menu you want. Working with your caterer, you can adjust menu items, service level and more to accommodate your budget and guest count. Keep in mind that wedding catering costs are not just for the food. The bill reflects all the components that go into commercial food catering: a commercial kitchen, ingredients, staff, insurance, marketing and more. Here are some examples of average costs:

  • Three-course plated meal, moderately upscale, for 125 in Los Angeles: $14,000. Because of staffing costs, a true plated meal costs about twice as much as a staff-assisted buffet.
  • Buffet meal, standard menu, for 100 in Los Angeles: $5,000.
  • Per-person cost for hors d'oeuvres, dinner and nonalcoholic beverages: $24–$37, depending on menu selection, in Southern California.
  • Drop off prepared food for 50: $1,000 in North Carolina. Price does not include any service, setup or breakdown.

How much does it cost to hire a caterer?

Catering prices depend mainly on how fancy you want the food and service to be and how many guests you’ll have. When you’re first looking to hire a caterer for your event, consider how many guests you’ll have and your total food and drink budget. The national average for event catering is $340, but catering prices can range into the thousands depending on your menu, guest count, and service.

Event catering is a broad term that covers everything from fully prepared, ready-to-eat food that the hosts plate and serve themselves to full-service, multicourse meals, including rental of linens, glassware and other items, with service staff organized by the catering company. Usually a caterer will determine cost based on the type of event you’re having, how many guests will attend, the level of service you desire, and what type of menu you’d like to have. For example, if you have a set catering budget, say $1,500, and you plan to have 50 people attend, that means you have $30 per person for food. If you have the same budget with 100 people, you have $15 per person for food. In this way, the number of people you want to attend your event and the level of food you want to serve them determines how much catering will cost.

How much should catering cost per person?

Catering prices can range from about $10 per guest on the low end to $150 or more per person on the high end. Catering costs represent the quality of food, presentation, variety, ingredients and service. But catering prices are more than the cost to cook the food that will be at your party; they also include the cost for the company to do business. Here is a simple breakdown of catering prices:

  • Menu: The food you serve your guests will directly affect the price per person. Organic ingredients, complex recipes, elaborate presentations, or high-ticket items like lobster or filet mignon all add to the cost.
  • Service: Buffet, family style, plated dinners — how you serve the food affects the cost per person. For example, a true plated meal can cost about twice the price of a staff-assisted buffet because of staffing costs. Hiring waiters, bartenders and cleanup crew will all be calculated into the per-person catering price.
  • Drinks: Providing beverages and alcoholic drinks for guests greatly increases your catering budget. Hosting an open bar can cost as much per person as the meal.
  • Rentals: Seating, plates, glassware, etc., will all have an effect on the cost per person for catering. For example, a plastic conference table that seats 10 costs about $6 to rent on average, while a wooden farmhouse table is about $80 to rent on average.
  • Business costs: Any catering cost will also include the cost for the company to do business such as insurance, employee wages, commercial kitchen space and more.

How much does wedding catering cost per person?

Wedding catering costs will always vary based on the number of guests you’re inviting, the menu you want to serve, and the way the food will be served to your guests. As you interview wedding catering companies, you’ll be presented with a cost per person for various menus. On the low end, wedding catering may cost approximately $15-$18 per person. This would include prepared food only, with no setup or service of any kind. The starting price for a simple buffet meal with minimal service typically averages $22 per person. Opting for the same menu with all organic ingredients could raise your costs to about $33 per person. A moderately upscale menu (finer ingredients, more elaborate presentation) could range from $24 to $34 per person. High-end wedding catering cost truly has no limit. Lobster, filet mignon, specialty seafood, organic ingredients — menu choices like these can boost your cost per person up to $150 and more.

Reviews for Cleveland Park event caterers
Michelle C.
I debated between giving 2 and 3 stars for this caterer. 3 is being very generous, but 2 felt cruel although would have been warranted. I personally did not get to taste the food for our event, but unfortunately received many negative reviews from staff and attendees. Reviews mentioned that the caterer's food wasn't very pretty or tasty and that the shrimp was very poor quality, which I was surprised to hear since the pictures on the caterer's website were beautiful and reviews were positive. The fact that several attendees took the time to email me to let me know their opinions on the food made me feel like the overall performance was not very good. The caterer also arrived late after our event had begun, did not call to let us know that she was running late, or apologize for being late once she arrived. I'm not sure what the circumstances were for the late arrival, but planning for an event in DC on a Friday evening should ALWAYS factor in extra time. I'm hoping that our event was a learning experience for the caterer. It's unfortunate, given that our nonprofit's mission seemed to be in alignment with this caterer, but we will never use this caterer again.
Taste the DifferenceTaste the Difference
Jake R.
The food was amazing, everyone loved it (breakfast) and the catere was very friendly and easy to work with. I would definitely hire again for another event.
AC CateringAC Catering
Julia E.
Jose and team was so great! He catered a corporate event for us and our team was so impressed with the food and service. Would hire him again in a heartbeat. Thank you for making our event such a success!!
Key Ingredients CateringKey Ingredients Catering
Jade N.
Lots of Love Catering catered an event I hosted for a non-profit organization in DC. The event was a networking brunch and I had my heart set on a few items (chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, more). Tashira was sooo accommodating and patient with me as we went back and forth about the menu. She was able to provide everything we wanted for a great price and delivered! The food was great. Everyone enjoyed it and was excited about it. Good presentation as well. We will definitely keep her as a contact for future events.
Lot's of Love CateringLot's of Love Catering
Matthew W.
With only 4 days of notice, Catering Reserved put together a proposal, several communications back and forth to make sure our menu was suited to our needs, a walk through of the venue, all the while being very attentive to our goals even given the time constraint! The event turned out just beautifully and the entire staff at Catering Reserved did a great job at the event. I recommended them without hesitation.
Catering ReservedCatering Reserved
Tina A.
Chef Fleming did a wonderful job catering my event. She was on time, the food was Delicious and she worked with me from beginning to end to make my event a success. i have recommended her to several of my colleagues and family. She is the best!!
Lot's of Love CateringLot's of Love Catering
Angel D.
Chef Scott Sunshine and his team were great, punctual, catered food was good and cleaned up well at the end. Will definitely reach out to them for our next event.
Chef Scott SunshineChef Scott Sunshine
Lauren C.
Brendon and Liliahna Catering did a wonderful job catering our large corporate event. The food was flowing all evening, we heard from many attendees that it was delicious! A big thanks to him and his wonderful crew!! They even showed up with fresh flowers just to make things look even better.
Liliahna Luxury CateringLiliahna Luxury Catering
Thumbtack Customer
We had a wonderful experience from the friendly, professional service to the delicious food. I would recommend them to cater any event and definitely plan to use them in the future!
Potomac Hospitality Group & CateringPotomac Hospitality Group & Catering
Melanie M.
Chef Niki catered my promotion dinner at my firehouse. I appreciated how I was able to view and sign the contract online and pay through a cash app. However, I was surprised to pay in full prior to delivery of service but I admit to being naive about the process of catering an event. Nikki was fair in price. The amount of food was very generous. The food was delish and the guys are still talking about how tasty it was. I only gave four and not five stars due to the late arrival of food. (40mins after agreed time.) Overall, I would recommend Chef Nikki to cater future events.
Chef Nikki S.Chef Nikki S.
Rachel M.
We hired Tony and his team very last minute to cater a party for over 80 people. They were quick to respond and worked with us seamlessly to provide the food on time for the event. The food was excellent and guests were extremely pleased with the variety of options. We will definitely be using Tony and his catering team again!
Home Grown CateringHome Grown Catering
Thumbtack Customer
We hired Key Ingredients catering for our big Election Night Party this year (200 people), and they were absolutely wonderful! Shoutout to Carla Bettini, who was so helpful, professional, and friendly throughout the entire process. Everyone said that the food was great at our party, and the decorations and decor that came with the catering spread was absolutely beautiful! 6/5 stars! I had such a great experience with this catering company...you should definitely hire them for your next event!
Key Ingredients CateringKey Ingredients Catering
Thumbtack Customer
I appreciated the flexibility of the catering team to work with my to refine the menu before we even had our event. The delivery was prompt and thoughtful. And most important: everything was delicious. Definitely will be a repeat customer.
Key Ingredients CateringKey Ingredients Catering
Alex B.
Top of the city catering was responsive, professional, and worked very well with us to plan and execute the event. The food was delicious, and I felt like I had a great partner every step of the way. This was for a corporate holiday lunch event, and we have received nothing but compliments from the 100 people that were invited.
Top of the City CateringTop of the City Catering
Tamara M.
Mercedes went above and beyond our expectations. We are not from the DMV area and were hosting a professional networking event in downtown DC in conjunction with a national conference. Mercedes was so helpful in assisting us with deciding how much food to order, and she went above and beyond with the setup. Additionally, Tamika the bartender that Mercedes connected us with, was AMAZING! And the food was delicious- our networking event was for a group of registered dietitian nutritionists, so we are a very picky crowd when it comes to food. There was literally zero stress related to our catering, thanks to these ladies. I highly recommend Mercedes Jo Events for any catering needs.
MJE CateringMJE Catering
Stephanie B.
Top of the City exceeded our expectations for our wedding November 2018. From the moment we met Maribel and Noel they were exceptionally reasonable, flexible and understanding. The day of the event went seamlessly. The food was amazing and the staff was a joy to work with throughout the entire process. We would highly recommend them to anyone having a catered event in the DMV area.
Top of the City CateringTop of the City Catering
Michelle T.
Top of the City Catering offers incredible food paired with first class service. Maribel, the owner and her most professional staff did an amazing job at a military retirement party where the guests are still raving about the food and service. She is our go to caterer for all our events going forward. St. Jane de Chantal in Bethesda would give her six stars if we could.
Top of the City CateringTop of the City Catering
Yasmyn B.
I originally hired A Family Affair for a holiday party for my office. They worked with me to create a wonderful menu. As it turned out I was tasked with another office event to put together and only had 3 days to work with. Fortunately A Family Affair was able to cater the event. I left the menu completely up to Chef Darryl. We agreed on a few appetizers and the attendees and myself were very pleased. We especially loved the cilantro shrimp with mango salsa. He arrived earlier then planned, and had everything beautifully setup 30 minutes before the luncheon. We've used a few caterers before with so so results. We will now be using Family Affair for all our events.
A Family Affair Catering LLPA Family Affair Catering LLP
Leonisha D.
Made with love catering went above and beyond my expectations. I hired them for my husbands 45th bday party. Everyone loved the food! The salmon and Cajun shrimp pasta was a hit. I will definitely hire them again for my next event.
Made with Love CateringMade with Love Catering
David L.
All of our guest loved the food and your servers were very professional and kept everything filled up and looking it’s best! Thank You so much for a great event. We will recommend you to anyone that ask us about a caterer. Sincerely, David & Michelle
MJE CateringMJE Catering
Colleen O.
Unfortunately I wasn't there to receive the food, but the catering team dropped off everything in time and set up without problems. I only had to provide a few basic details about the event time, location, and menu preferences and the MK team handled everything else. Good job!
MK CateringMK Catering
Ashley M.
Dinner club was the best decision I could have made for my event. Super professional and helpful. They were able to work around my schedule to help make the best menu for my party. They are very affordable. And the day of the event, they arrived on time. The set up was perfect. I requested a drop off. They gave me everything I needed to assure that I would fine throughout my party. I would definitely book with them again, and I recommend others use this company when planning any event that needs catering.
DinnerClub Hospitality LLCDinnerClub Hospitality LLC
Alexia G.
OMG! The entire experience was amazing. Chef Nikki was super responsive, assisted with the menu selection, consistent communication and was on time. We ordered jerk chicken, salmon, yellow rice and green beans. All of the food was amazing! Jerk chicken done the right way. All of the guest couldn’t stop talking about the food. Even the Chef who attend the event was giving kudos about the food. Will defiantly be our go to cater for our events.
Chef Nikki S.Chef Nikki S.
KaBria B.
I had the absolute best experience. The food was AMAZING, the presentation was amazing. He was so nice and professional. Will def being using him for any next event I have. This was honestly the BEST catering experience I have ever had. Thank You Thank You for making my birthday brunch sooooo amazing.
A Family Affair Catering LLPA Family Affair Catering LLP
Quanice F.
I had a last minute order for an event within 3-4 business days and Mercedes handled my order promptly and with ease. I was frantic because I had a caterer back out but when I told her how much food I needed, she was very accommodating. She was amazing - highly recommended.
MJE CateringMJE Catering
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