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Boston restaurant for birthday party?


I'd appreciate it very much if you guys could help me out with this! I'll be in Boston exactly a month from now and I want to have a birthday dinner at a restaurant in Brookline, where my hostess lives (but anywhere else is fine too). This doesn't mean I'll be paying for my guests' dinners, I'd just invite everyone and each would pay for their own, and I'd bring the cake.

But some of the restaurants have said that if I'm reserving space for ~30 people, I'd have to book the whole restaurant and pay for a private event.

Here's what I'm looking for in recommendations:
- a restaurant big enough to accommodate a large-ish reservation (20-30 people) without having to close the restaurant to the general public and make me pay for a private event

- Price Range (per meal per person): $15-$30

- Cuisine: I'm open to a wide range, but I would be especially interested in Japanese, Modern/New American, Asian Fusion, South American, French, Spanish, etc. Also interested in upscale burger places, high quality seafood, and tapas. (Not interested in Italian!)

- Location: anywhere in the Boston metro area should be fine. Brookline would be easy for my hostess because of her work schedule, but I've heard the South End, Back Bay and Cambridge have nice spots too so I don't want to rule anything out completely.

Thanks a lot!!