Sherman Oaks/ Encino Recs
I've been in the Valley a lot recently and need recs on good places to eat!! Anything on/ or around Ventura Blvd. (as far west as Balboa Blvd. and as far east as Woodman Ave would be the area I'm looking for).
I'm totally unfamiliar with the Valley -- so I've been sticking to chains like El Pollo Loco, Roman's for sandwiches, and Fatburger.... desperate for new/unique places to become obsessed with!
I'm open to all types of cuisine. Sit-down, and take-out. Upscale, and hole-in-the-wall.
What are your favorite places to grab a bite in the area?
Just for starters.
Alcazar for Lebanese (it's three blocks west of Balboa, so slightly beyond your geographic area, but worth it).
The Stand for hot dogs and burgers. (A half-block beyond your limit, but also good.)
Chili My Soul. Very good chilis (they rotate between more than 30 types) and the nachos are truly decadent. However, the prices have jumped, so it is expensive for what you get.
Sampa Grill. Brazillian Churascurria. Not as good meats as Fogo de Chao, but the meat is good and the salad bar is awesome -- for 1/2 the price. I loved the ceviche. Now, if only they could recreate Fogo's cheese bread, I would be in heaven. I've only been to dinner which has traditional service, but at lunch I believe you go up to a counter and they cut the meat off the skewer.
Spumoni. Hole in the wall, family Italian. The gnocchis are good. The bolognese is the best I've ever had. Usually, if you have dinner there, they slip you a free piece of tiramisu.
Hoagies and Wings. Good wings and fries. Not the best, but a good option if you want something spicy.
North of Ventura, on Magnolia, just east of Kester is the best local taqueria, Pico Pico Rico. The tortillas are handmade and the carnitas is usually excellent. (The asada can be great, but sometimes it is fatty.) They also have great sopes and huaraches, including huarache con nopal.
La Frite. There is a recent negative thread, but I find La Frite a very dependable, neighborhood bistro. The chopped steaks are quite good (I like the one covered in sauteed garlic) and the crab bisque is excellent.
Leda's cupcakes. Just a little bakery, but the cupcakes are fantastic. Expensive, too. Don't miss the cookies, also.
Thai 'n' I. It's outside your area, closer to White Oak, but they deliver. Get the BBQ ribs. They also have a very sweet crunchy mee krob that is like eating candy. It's my favorite mee krob. The pad thai is also very sweet, but not as much to my liking. You can get a combination of ribs with a choice of sides, including pad thai and mee krob for about $10.
Sushi places abound. Katsuya-Encino, Iwata, Hirosuke, Sushi 4 on 6. I think Katsuya and Hirosuke do the non-traditiona rolls pretty well. (Hirosuke is cheaper, which is why it is a regular place for my family. It is slightly beyond your boundaries). 4 on 6 has a lot of proponents on this board, but I was not very impressed. I had the same reaction at Iwata. For traditional sushi, go to Tarzana to Sushi Iki. It's expensive and has a limited menu, but has some of the best fish in the valley.
For a nice lunch (ala a place for ladies that lunch), Cafe Bizou, Cafe Cordiale, and Stanleys are decent options.
As for Roman's, I'm very sorry. The only item I can stomach there is the shrimp pizza. I love the flatbread style of their pizza. I've disliked everything else there, especially the sandwiches and wraps, which always seem oversauced and soggy.
Just tried Pampa's, an Argentinian restaurant on Van Nuys near Chandler. Nice mixed grill for two for 27 bucks, plenty of food. Not gourmet but a nice variety of dishes including empanadas, pizza, pasta, chicken, fish and meats. Warm service and a great pitcher of Sangria for 18 bucks. Look at their website for their menu. Nice Mom and Pop kinda place. Clean. Easy street parking
Oliva Italian for Italian on Van Nuys
Carnival on Woodman
Jinky's for a decent omelette
The Great Greek
California Chicken Cafe - some good rotisserie chicken and butternut squash
Simon's Cafe on Sepulveda
The Dressing Room for a quick salad
Chili my Soul and Salads Galore in the same strip mall at Balboa w/ Smart'n'Final
Farm Boy - for some sushi, fruit, and fro yo.
Zankou on Sepulveda
Gelson's salad bar
Leaf Cuisine if you're up for raw
...to name a few.
At Sisley, the chopped salad w/ eggplant and chicken, and grilled veggie appetizer
Go a little further east and try the Artisan Cheese Gallery (Laurel Canyon & Ventura).
Good cheap sushi - Sushi Don Sasabune (Laurel Canyon & Magnolia).
Koraku - Passable Japanese comfort food. Not the best, but not bad.
There's actually quite a few great places if you go just a bit north of Ventura.
Mom's BBQ on Hazeltine & Vanowen. (A little north of Ventura.)
Several Thai places up on Sherman Way - Swan Thai & Krua Thai are probably best.
(This area is actually a much larger Thai community than Thai Town in Hollywood.)
Socorro's - Great handmade tortillas. Up on Victory just west of Van Nuys.
Skaf's - Best kebabs - Laurel Canyon & Oxnard.
Check out the Korean mall surrounding the Greenland Market up on Sherman Way & White Oak.
Asanebo for Supreme Sashimi and Sushi
Second Boneyard Bistro, Leda's, Simon's, Gelson's, Chili My Soul, Alcazar, Carnival, pico, pico rico
Studio yogurt or yogurt Zone
Midori AYCE Sushi
Clay Oven Indian
El katracho on Burbank for Honduran food.
Kyushu ramen on Sherman Way
Pho 99 on Sepulveda
Hong Kong 88 on Sepulveda
Zankou Chicken on Sepulveda
Press Panini on Tujunga
Aroma Bakery and Cafe on Ventura in Encino
Aroma (different one) on Tujunga
Caioti cafe on Tujunga
Interestingly enough, no one mentions the two restaurants that I feel have the best food and ambiance for your upscale needs are Max and Mistral, in sherman oaks diagonally across the corner from each other at Dixie Canyon. Max is next door to Maria's and across from Le Petit Restaurant, a good enough chop house-style French bistro with good Moules Frites, etc.
www.maxrestaurant.com for details.
In addition to the many excellent suggestions, I would recommend Watercress for lunch. It's a small, casual cafe w/ excellent panini & salads. Food is all very fresh & carefully made. In Sherman Oaks on Ventura Blvd, 1 1/2 blocks east of Woodman on North side of st. (next to Coffee Roasters, same owner).