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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...

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  1. 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

    Vitello's Restaurant
    4349 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604

    Henry's Tacos
    11401 Moorpark St, North Hollywood, CA 91602

    Aroma Coffee and Tea
    4360 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604

    Press Panini
    4389 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604

    1 Reply
    1. re: maxzook

      I just tried Caioti for the 1st and last time, maybe it was a bad night but the pizza was really bland and the sauce was almost bitter, thank god for vitello's.

    2. 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.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        Cedar House is on Riverside and Whitsett, and it looks like they just expanded. Storefront looks to be about triple the prior size, but haven't checked it out yet.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          Is Cedar House child friendly or is more grown up/nice adult (not the food being child friendly as much as will the other patrons be bummed to see a family of four - 3 yr old boys - coming in the door at the earlier dinner hour)? Thanks.

          1. re: burbankfoodie

            You could bring a well behaved kid there

          2. re: Das Ubergeek

            I was horrified at the shoe leather I was served at Skaf's. Absolutely inedible. I was embarrassed.

            1. re: brutusln

              What specifically were you served that was tough? I always order the specials, but I've had the beef and chicken and never thought it was bad -- I order beef and lamb medium-rare.

              1. re: brutusln

                That's unusual. I love Skaf's; its some of the best Lebanese food around these parts. I strongly suggest giving them another go.

                1. re: brutusln

                  Had the same experience. The place had several strong recommendations but of everything we tried, only the babaganoush was acceptable. Bummer, huh?

                  1. re: Steve2 in LA

                    Same with us, albeit it was several years ago, have not been back.

              2. 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.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Kate is always hungry

                  I have to disagree with a recommendation for Mexicali. The only suitable time to go there is when you want a margarita and some food at midnight. That said, their tortilla soup is pretty good.

                  1. re: teach

                    their margaritas are made with bottled sweet and sour mix.
                    it's impossible to get fresh lime juice there.
                    so, imho, if you go to mexicali, don't get a margarita.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      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.

                2. 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!!!

                  1. Italian: Mezzomondo

                    Indian: Gangadin

                    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

                    Gangadin Restaurant
                    12067 Ventura Pl, Studio City, CA 91604

                    Sompun Restaurant
                    12051 Ventura Pl, Studio City, CA 91604

                    1. For the one inexpensive sushi place with good fish-go to Sushi Don Sassabune on Laurel canyon, just notrh of Gelson's (same shopping center as Starbucks)

                      Basic, but amazingly good fish. Very affrodable. Closes early, though.

                      Go to Sherman oaks, a little West, and have more options, like Boneyard Bistro, MAx, Brats Brothers, Il Tiramisu and more

                      There is a LALa's in Studio city, next to Asanebo.

                      I second Cedar House, good Hummus.

                      Ca Dario, on riverside, has gotten some good reviews.

                      For Pho, you can go to Van Nuys and try 999 or the one across the street on Sepulveda (what it the name! I keep forgetting) Also near there is Kyushu Ramen.

                      You might like Daichan in studio city. "Japanese Soul Food" not sushi, but a huge menu of really great japanese dishes. Ok, some sushi, but most people go there for other stuff. Same palce as Nozawa, "Nurasawa" as you say.

                      At Artisan, try the duck confit Sandwich. Have you gone to the newish Press Panini on Tujunga?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Diana

                        I definitely second il Tiramisu and Daichan!

                        I feel like Il Tiramisu doesn't get enough exposure. The food is amazing quality and the service is fantastic. I love going in and just ordering a plate of capellini pasta with pink (tomato cream) sauce with a side of grilled Italian sausage. It's not on the menu, but they'll make whatever you request. I also had an incredible lamb ragu past with butternut squash. Ohhh... To die for...

                        Daichan is one of those lovely Japanese restaurants that definitely takes you to Japan itself. The decor and atmosphere created in this small restaurant is one thing. And then you have your traditional homemade Japanese food. It's a nice change from the popularized sushi fad that goes on in LA. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about how popular sushi is out here! But having Japanese "soul food" is a pleasant change of pace. :)

                        There's also iL Tramezzino on Ventura Blvd, just west of Coldwater that serves good Italian sandwiches and soups. It's a great place to take a friend for an affordable and delicious patio lunch.

                        Sumo Sushi is a quaint little Korean-run sushi restaurant on Van Nuys and Magnolia. Although there's a slight difference from your usual high-quality Japanese owned sushi restaurant, it's still quality sushi, not over crowded with people, and affordable!

                      2. Try Miya Sushi on Laurel Canyon (cross street: Magnolia). Reasonably priced, fresh fish. They also have interesting specials such as Shishito peppers, Chilean Seabass and others.

                        1. Thanks for the great suggestions. I like Aroma, had completely forgotten about it. The food is fine, and it's a great outdoor setting. The desserts are tremendous.

                          Sounds like there are some good lebanese places in the area, I'll definitely try them.

                          Actually went to Don Sasabune for takeout - exactly the kind of sushi I was looking for. Will try Miya Sushi as well.

                          Spumoni and Mistral seem to come up pretty often, wondering if anyone has eaten at either recently?

                          thanks, great board.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: TClark

                            Been to Mistral within past 30 or so days, and while it is still good, yet predictably the same every time, I still prefer Max across the corner at less money and with a much wider selection of tastes, with food that is better prepared.
                            Don't get me wrong, though, I still like Mistral.
                            Spumoni has a somewhat limited menu, is quite a small place, has decent food, yet per this board the gnocchi seem to be the specialty but I really find that to be of no interest.

                            1. re: TClark

                              My favorite dish at Spumoni is Farfalle Amatriciana (sp?). But even more special; Vasik the owner is always there to welcome you with a hug and most often a small "thank you" dessert at the end of the meal... But I agree, what makes them unique is their gnocchi but honestly, I've never tried it...

                              1. re: grrranamal

                                Spumoni is a lovely experience. I find the gnocchi to be somewhat inconsistent in it's density, but the variety of sauces are always top notch.

                            2. The pho place across from pho 999 is pho sa 1. I haven't heard great things about Pho 999 but Pho Sa 1 is quite possibly the best I've ever had. Always crowded (in a reasonable, people can't get enough of the food kind of way), they're open late (sort of- 10 pm) and you can EASILY have an unbelievable meal with a date for under $20. Plus the asian market next door has lots of great, unusual foods to browse and buy!

                              Pho Sa 1 @
                              Sepulveda and Victory Blvd.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: HoneyButter

                                While I love Pho So 1 (their bun dau hu ky, with the shrimp paste-stuffed tofu, is excellent), come down to Little Saigon and go to Pho Thanh Lich... you'll be blown away.

                                1. re: HoneyButter

                                  Interesting experience at Pho Sa 1. Given that I started monitoring my blood sugar, I limit the amount of carbs I eat.

                                  I asked the ever so helpful waiter, what can I get with no rice and the waiter guy (they are all so nice there) asked me how much did I want to spend? huh??? I said... I dunno about $5-6 bucks. He ordered a "meat only" plate for me with a side of greens (and jalepenos, of course) to wrap the meat in. Gotta say, it was heaven on earth. And for $5, it was a good sized portion of thier grilled (?) meat...YUM YUM... ima goin back tomorrow!

                                2. Have you tried the Out Take Bistro? This is one of my favorite places in Studio City. It's an eclectic menu, reasonably priced. Dishes I usually order include the Won Ton Soup, Turkey Chili, Oriental Chicken Salad, Crab Cakes, Ravioli, Roasted Chicken. Nice selection of wines too.

                                  Out Take Bistro
                                  11929 Ventura Blvd.
                                  Studio City 91604

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: omakase

                                    Personally, I think this place has gone way downhill over the years. I used to like this shrimp and scallop salad they had, and my friend always used to get their jumbo ravioli, but last time we were there, nothing was quite right, and the service was so flighty.

                                  2. I keep hearing about Vegan Express. Is it any good?

                                    1. we've only just started exploring the area, but i'll add a couple more suggestions off the top of my head - for indian, we used to like gangadin, but have been converted to lal mirch on ventura; for quick, casual, we like zach's cafe; i like dupars but my SO prefers good neighbor; and of course porto's in burbank. and, if we're talking non-gourmet here, the daily grill makes a pretty good sandwich. dino's for pizza in burbank isn't bad either, but the quality's been a bit spotty in our (limited) experience.

                                      have you tried pinot bistro?

                                      i'd avoid Mexicali but for the margaritas. ditto casa vega, but that place at least has a certain charm.

                                      1. Check out Good Earth, good destination for breakfast.

                                        Very sceptical when I first arrived, I'm really not into health food and normally try to stay as far away as possible. Wife insisted and overall come out pleasantly surprised. Food was surprisingly tasty, very little grease and stomach feels great after, compared to the usual greasy spoon diners.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Sgee

                                          I've never been for breakfast but their dinners are awful... so if, indeed, the breakfasts are worth it, then ONLY go for breakfast. Me, I'll be at Du-Par's.

                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                            Lately, Dupars is not worth going to - Truly a shadow of its previous ownership. And don't get me started on the Bad Earth, either!
                                            Hugo's for breakfast, unless you would rather do the new Studio Cafe(Jinky's with another name), or Jumpin' Java, or Good Neighbor or Vivian's or Le Pain Quotidian, etc.

                                            1. re: carter

                                              I would tend to agree about Du-Par's. It's really been depressing. I have written here several times that it's plainly obvious that they changed the pancake recipe, and for the worse, notwithstanding all the PR hype that they weren't touching that. They also changed the way they make the French toast - crusts are no longer removed, and so the bread doesn't soak up as much batter. Hence, it's less custardy than before.

                                              That said, I just came back from the Valley, and against my better judgment decided that I still wanted to believe in the pancakes. Well, today, they were definitely the best they've been since the ownership change (although not as good as before). Today, the main problem was that they were a bit underdone. I think they didn't have the griddle hot enough (they were a light golden brown, rather than a darker more mocha-like color they are when done properly). But the texture was closer to the original. It gave me some hope.

                                              1. re: carter

                                                100% dead on about the limp earth, how is that place still open. I just tried the studio cafe for the 1st time for breakfast, nice surprise, I've been back 3 times.

                                            1. re: uoha

                                              Is wine bistro still there?? That was our date night place, super friendly with a lovely french decor. Food always dependable.

                                              1. re: MarlaPR

                                                Alive and kicking:


                                                Wine Bistro
                                                11915 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                                                1. re: MarlaPR

                                                  If by dependable you mean mediocre - then yes indeed, it sure is dependable.