Find a caterer near Arlington, VA

Find a caterer near Arlington, VA

Find a caterer near Arlington, VA

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Top 10 Caterers near Arlington, VA

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 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 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.

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 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 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.
Reviews for Arlington caterers
Shanta W.
We hired Impeccable Occasions to provide food for our office party . Leading up to the event , the caterer was responsive to our calls. However, on the day of the event , we tried contacting her multiple times before hand to touch basis and after when our food did not arrive at the scheduled time. There was no communication from the caterer to let us know there would be a 2 hour delay . Two hours later, after our agreed scheduled drop off time for the food and after our event was over , I received an email from the caterer that the food was on its way . This was in response to the email I sent asking if she was still coming. Because there was no contact by the caterer to let us know the food would be arriving 2 hours late , we had to make other arrangements 1 hour before the event was supposed to begin to order food from another restaurant . Thankfully the caterer refunded us our deposit however we still have not received an apology from the caterer. We would of understand if the caterer would have informed us that they would be running behind , however we did not hear from the caterer until 2 hours later and after we was forced to buy food from another restaurant to save our holiday event . A suggestion would be to always keep the client updated regardless of the situation.
Impeccable OccasionsImpeccable Occasions
John C.
Yvonne and Blue Zucchini Catering did an amazing job catering our wedding reception. From the very beginning, Yvonne was easy to work with and gave us many options within our budget. She worked with us and created a menu that suited all of our requests. The food was delivered on time so we didn't have to stress out. About the food.....absolutely AMAZING! All of our guests raved about the food. There was not 1 item that anyone was disappointed with. The meatballs, quesadilla's, and empanada's were incredible, as were all of the other items we ordered. We could not be more impressed. I highly recommend Yvonne and Blue Zucchini Catering to anyone looking to cater an event.
Blue Zucchini Catering CompanyBlue Zucchini Catering Company
Thumbtack Customer
I am the family party planner so when we planned a company sponsored happy hour, I was tasked with finding a caterer. I received several proposal from caterers on Thumbtack but decided on Chef Myles for his total solution. Everything was included; no hidden costs after the contract was signed. The food was prepared on premises under less than perfect conditions in an office environment with a small kitchen. The food was excellent and plentiful. Chef Myles staff were friendly and accomodating. I received many kudos for my selection of the caterer and the delicious food but the kudos should definitely go to Chef Myles and his staff. Thanks, for making me look good Chef Myles!
Chefs 2 Go Catering and EventsChefs 2 Go Catering and Events
Thumbtack Customer
Mercedes was wonderful to work with...prompt to answer emails and phone calls. Best of all: the food was outstanding in flavor and presentation. I would definitely recommend MJE Catering to others!
MJE CateringMJE Catering
Cynthia P.
Chef Nikki is “THE BEST!” Her food was absolutely delicious! Everyone and I mean everyone was and still raving about how great the food tasted. She’s personable, punctual and extremely professional. She has a client forever!!! I highly recommend her for your next catering function!
Chef Nikki S.Chef Nikki S.
Isiah D.
I had another caterer that dropped out last minute and I found Devon 3 days before my small gathering. Devon was quick with responses and very professional. On the day of, he was on time and the food was hot. My friends raved about the food. I would definitely recommend Devon.
Tailored EatsTailored Eats
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Jackie catered a breakfast in our home the morning after our son's bar mitzvah. She delivered exactly as promised, honored our dietary restrictions, and our guests specifically commented on the many good quiches she made. The only note I would make is that for coffee service, she only needed to bring regular flavored coffee and regular milk/cream, which we could have advised on if asked.
A Private AffairA Private Affair
Anne M.
Working with Richard was terrific. He responded to my Thumbtack query right away. He was helpful, flexible, and supportive in a difficult time of a memorial service. We worked out everything in terms of menu, number of attendees, venue, etc., right over the phone, and then met ahead of the service to plan the room layout. Richard was right on time and catered perfectly for our needs. And so important-the food was terrific! I had many positive comments back to me.
Clever CocktailsClever Cocktails
Rowena B.
Hi Mary and Noe, You are awesome to work with! The food and presentation was top notch! The guests were impressed and we are so happy with everything. Please let the (ladies) staff know how much I appreciate their professionalism and constantly checking and cleaning as well. Excellent service!!! I will surely call you again for our next client event/party and will recommend your Catering Company to colleagues and friends. Bravo! Thank you! Best, Rowena
N&M Divine Cuisine & EventsN&M Divine Cuisine & Events
Misty J.
Chef Myles was late arriving and setting up. During our conversation, he said he always arrives at least three hours before the event for setup, so I expected him at noon, since the event started at 3:15. He and his team actually arrived around 1:30, and were still in the midst if setup when the event was to start. The catering staff included a bartender, but she did not arrive until sometime after 3:30. The staff was friendly and the food was good, with the exception of the chicken skewers which were very dry and not seasoned.
Chefs 2 Go Catering and EventsChefs 2 Go Catering and Events
Anca D.
This was my first experience with a caterer, as I usually entertain with my own home-cooked food. I had been understandably nervous and afraid that something may go wrong, or the food would not meet my expectations. But Chef Jackie was amazing! She delivered exactly what we agreed upon, and very timely on a winter- like Friday. She is also a lot of fun. Our guests enjoyed the food and presentation. Everything was good, but the poached salmon (an entree) received accolades, and the mini crab cakes (an appetizer) just disappeared from the table! I would recommend her services to anyone. Thank you, Jackie.
A Private AffairA Private Affair
Rachel T.
I cannot recommend Sandra highly enough. She was such a pleasure to work with all through the process of planning a brunch to celebrate our children's baptism. She talked through the menu and the schedule with us well in advance and kept in touch as she pulled all the pieces together. Her food was beautiful and absolutely delicious. And, she was attentive to every detail. She brought tablecloths and accents to match the colors of our kids' outfits and arranged beautiful flower arrangements to help decorate the house. She was cheerful and clearly invested in making sure we had a beautiful event. We have found our event caterer and look forward to working with Sandra again in the future!
Creative Visions Cuisine, LLCCreative Visions Cuisine, LLC
Jeannette R.
FANTASTIC!! I can’t say enough good things about John, he delivered in perfect fashion. I have a less than ideal schedule and took on hosting my brother’s baby shower. He worked with my schedule, was very responsive and able to easily work with an ever-revolving guest list. With a busy work life, John was a godsend to have. The first menu he sent looked amazing and needed no revisions, and then his professionalism the day of the event was incredible. He set everything up beautifully and the food was AMAZING! My brother said that his biggest disappointment is he knows that he will not be able to order this food on a regular basis. Johns credentials are impressive, which left me no doubts he would deliver the best. John went above and beyond, and this definitely made his services such a value. I couldn’t have asked for more, and will be referring him to everyone including corporate functions. I have certainly found my go to caterer for any event in the DMV area!
MaddieAnns Perogies and CateringMaddieAnns Perogies and Catering
Corey d.
Firstly let me say, regardless of how this review leaves you feeling, you should hire the exotic Chef. She was so pleasant, accommodating respectful, and just and overall pleasure to work with. Everything arrived on time with all the bell and whistles. So there are no complaints there. Let me also state that my event was a party of 20+ and we had more than enough for everyone. Now on the downside: I didn't care for the taste of some of the food. My menu consist of BBQ ribs, Curry Chicken, rice n peas, white rice, collard greens, cornbread, salad, cake, deviled eggs, and mac n cheese. The ribs were excellent. The chicken was good but the curry chicken was fried so it soaked up all the gravy and we had none for our rice. That kinda ruined the cohesiveness of the meal. The mac and cheese also was a little bland. The deviled eggs were decent and the cornbread muffins were good. The cake got mixed reviews from my guest. Overall, I'm still very pleased with the exotic Chef. I will definitely hire her again but I'll have her cook personally for a smaller group rather than her company catering such a large event such as the one I had. Even speaking about the issues afterwards, she was very professional and took full responsibility. Thank you again for everything. Can't wait to come back the DMV and try your menu personally.
The Exotic Chef (Personal Chef &Catering Services)The Exotic Chef (Personal Chef &Catering Services)
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