Give up on Studio City/Ventura?? a few good spots
Places I like in LA: Lou on Vine, Cheebo, Cynthias, Little Door, LaLa's, Bossa Nova, In 'n Out. Not really a true gourmet :)
So, I've spent some time on these boards, and have tried a few of the recommendations in the Ventura/Studio City area - here are two that I like:
Firefly - the only place I'd go back to. A couple good dishes, good atmosphere, nice spot overall
Artisan Cheese Gallary - tuna melt panini - seriously, just order it. Fantastic!
Ca de Sole, Cafe bijou, la loggia, etc: I didn't find anything interesting about these places, and some actual bad experiences - sand in the spinach, bad-tasting short ribs - have pretty much turned me off completely to trying more of these types of restaurants in the area.
Please no sushi recommendations, unless you know of an inexpensive place that has high quality, very fresh raw fish. I enjoy sushi but absolutely don't have the passion for it to justify the prices for non-expense account dinners :) I like some sushi places in LA, and have tried katsu-ya and nurasawa (sp?) over here. I know there are some fantastically knowledgeable sushi/japanse people on this board, unfortunately just pearls before swine in my case...
I'm not looking for local 'greasy' places, pretty much got that covered with In 'n out, Papa Johns (thin crust only), and Hugo's.
Suggestions appreciated! I keep hoping this area has some gems, but can't seem to find them. Will try Palate in Glendale, seems to have gotten some good reviews. Would love to find some good Korean BBQ or pho in the area. Maybe we just need to commit to the drive to get good food...
Give the Caioti Pizza Cafe in Tujunga Village a shot ... the domain of the late Ed LaDou, inventor of the California pizza, and IMHO just about the best pie in the city:
On the same block I also like Press Panini, in the former hamburger stand across from Aroma Cafe. Aroma is something of an acquired taste -- expensive and with long lines, but maybe the most pleasant outdoors seating east of the beach. Vitello's is unfairly tagged as the site of Robert Blake's downfall ... this is very old-school Italian, but the pizza is good. And of course there's Henry's Tacos -- not really to my taste but it has its adherents for strictly yellow-cheese Mexican.
Caioti Pizza Cafe
4346 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604
4349 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604
11401 Moorpark St, North Hollywood, CA 91602
Aroma Coffee and Tea
4360 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604
4389 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604
A suggestion for you: get off the boulevard. Seriously. You're within 10-15 minutes' driving time of some of the very best food in the Los Angeles area. It's mostly ethnic, not fine-dining, absolutely no scene whatsoever. (If you're dining to eat well, you're good to go. If you're dining to be seen, forget it.)
Right in Studio City you have Cedar House, a fantastic Lebanese place on Moorpark and Whitsett (I think? It's been a couple of years), and in Valley Village there's a kosher cafe (Cafe Eilat, just west of Burbank/Whitsett) with the very best baguettes in the biz, and great salads and shakshuka. A little further west and south is Tony's Mexican Grill, at Magnolia and Coldwater; northwest from there, near Burbank and Hazeltine, is Robin Hood English Pub, with the best fish 'n chips and pints in the Valley. (Forget the Pig and Bollocks or whatever it's called on Ventura and Vineland). Go up Laurel Canyon and eat whatever's on the specials menu at Skaf's Lebanese Grill, corner of Oxnard. On Woodman just south of Moorpark is another great Lebanese place, this time with actual decor, called Carnival. Gets a lot of love. Go further west; go to Spumoni, actually on the boulevard just west of Van Nuys, and get the squid appetiser and the gnocchi. Also on the boulevard is Brasserie Mistral, near Dixie Canyon, and Max, also near Dixie Canyon.
Head over to Burbank and try some of the simpler dishes at Granville (they tend to overextend, so beware), or go to Third and Olive, or to Bistro Provence. Who knew there was good food in Burbank?? Have you been to the Smokehouse? Or Mo's, in Toluca Lake? What about Chez Nous?
Head over to Glendale and eat at Raffi's Place, or Shamshiri, or Carousel. Maybe drop in on Joseph's Cuisine on San Fernando for something a bit lighter.
The Valley is odd -- I spent quite a while in Studio City despairing of decent food before I found this board. It helped -- a lot.
In Toluca Lake, try Riverside Cafe at1221 W Riverside Drive. The phone number is (818) 563-3567. Re Mistral, everytime I've tried to make reservations, they've been booked. I live right down the street and so I've seen it for years. Very elegant--good for a romantic dinner. Have you tried Mexicali on Ventura? On Lankershim Blvd. there is the Eclectic Cafe. I tend to prefer one of a kind places. I would definitely agree with Das Ubergeek's recommendations.
Mexicali has a great plate of nachos though. So, if you are looking for a late night spot for drinks and food, Mexicali is a fun choice. I was taken by their nachos. Usually I'm complaining about the lack of toppings (especially cheese). That definitely was not the case at Mexicali.
For chinese food, Kung Pao Bistro just west of La Loggia is quite good, and especially their seafood dishes.
Agree with your assessment of the Italian scene - ugh!
Studio City has never had a great quality food reputation, yet is not a bad place to have fun, eat decently, and not be too ripped in the scheme of things - sushi notwithstanding!!!
Thai (not the most authentic, but tasty, & in a more pleasant environment than some more authentic places a bit north): Sompun.
None of these places will break the bank, and all three will make you glad you live in Studio City.
Mezzomondo Caffe Trattoria
12415 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604
12067 Ventura Pl, Studio City, CA 91604
12051 Ventura Pl, Studio City, CA 91604