Some places that I have tried recently and enjoyed are the following:
Kyushu Ramen for ramen.
La Fogata for the machaca tostada.
The pho place near the OK Chinese food place. I liked this place better than Pho So 1, but the service was slower. I thought the flavor of the broth was better. I think the place is called Hong Phat.
7400 Van Nuys Blvd Ste 105
Van Nuys, CA 91405
15355 Sherman Way Ste N, Van Nuys, CA 91406
La Fogata Mexican Restaurant
5142 Van Nuys Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Zancou Chicken on Sepulveda North of Burbank is good. There's also an Argentiinian restaurant/market on Sepulveda near Victory in a mini mall, can someone help me out with the name? I thought it was good and a lot of fun. I also recommend Nat's early bite for breakfast on the cornor of Burbank and Hazeltine. Iwata for sushi on Ventura near Van Nuys (just east in another mini mall).
the korean restaurant (i forget the name) on the corner of sherman way and van nuys on the same corner as the boston market is pretty good.
as others have mentioned, the ranch house (excellent tri tip salad), puro sabor, and the thai scene on sherman way that begins east of woodman.
La Perla Del Pacifico-Colombian seafood on Sherman Way
Antojitos Latinos-Colombian across from VN DMV
Mi Ranchito and Mi Casita Salvadorean on Van Owen, both excellent, Metapan on Sherman Way
Mercado Buenos Aires on Sepulveda for best Argentine parrilladas in LA at a bargain.Always local Argentines present, especially when there is a soccer match.
El Katracho, Honduran on Burbank Bl.
Best Mexican in the valley in nearby North Hollywood at Don Huarache for D.F. style food.
I also concur with Puro Sabor, Las Quenas,the Thai scene on Sherman Way,and Simon's.
You're not in a bad place at all.
A buddy & I had some pretty good 'cue last week at (I think it's called) Ranch House BBQ & Grill. Tasted yummy & authentic to us.
HUGE beef ribs
Great garlic rolls
Excellent Caesar salad
We'll be going back.
6157 Van Nuys Blvd (West side of Van Nuys Bl., a few blocks south of Victory)
If you have a car and you like cheap ethnic food, you are really in for a treat.
First, open-air markets -- I assume you mean farmers' markets. There's one in Encino on Sunday mornings and another in Studio City on Sunday mornings, but the granddaddies are the Wednesday and Saturday Santa Monica markets, which are not TOO far, and the Sunday Hollywood market.
Now, on to restaurants.
Bob is exactly right. You MUST go to Puro Sabor. It's hands-down the best Peruvian in SoCal. If you tire of Puro Sabor, the owner used to cook at Las Quenas, on Sherman Way and Bellaire in North Hollywood (and I give the edge to Las Quenas for ceviche, particularly with octopus).
There is also a quite serviceable Oaxacan place on Vanowen a few doors west of VN Blvd., on the north side of the street, and Super Pollo on VN Blvd. and Hamlin has great rotisserie chicken and addictive fries with the juice dripped on. YUM. Also go to El Gallo Giro in Panorama City on VN Blvd. -- their aguas frescas bar is the stuff of dreams.
If you like Filipino breakfast (garlic fried rice, fried eggs, and the meat of your choice), go to Manila Good-Ha on Woodman a block south of Roscoe and order tapsilog (sweetened cured beef with eggs and rice) or tosilog (pork belly). Make sure to get chopped tomatoes and coconut vinegar to put on your rice. I believe it costs $4 for a mountain of food.
An amazing array of cheap-as-dirt, authentic Thai places awaits you on Sherman Way in North Hollywood, the next town over from Van Nuys. From Woodman to the 170 freeway you will find great Thai -- Sanamluang, Sunshine, Swan, Bua Siam, Cha Chaa, Khun Dang, Krua. Just south of there on Vanowen and Coldwater Canyon is another great place, Sri Siam.
On the corner of Victory and Sepulveda is a Chinese market, 99 Ranch; next to it is Sam Woo, which is quite good for Chinese barbecue. Also serviceable Cantonese (not to the level of the San Gabriel Valley, but nothing in the SF Valley is...) is BBQ Unlimited, on Sherman Way between Ethel and Coldwater Canyon, in the same plaza as Sanamluang.
In the same plaza as 99 Ranch is Pho So 1, which has very good pho but very, VERY good bun dau hu ky and bun cha gio thit nuong (cold rice noodle salad with greens and either tofu stuffed with shrimp paste, or grilled pork and egg rolls). Get a glass of ca phe sua da (very strong coffee with condensed milk, poured over ice -- it comes as a filter on a coffee cup and a glass of ice, so let the coffee drip through, mix the coffee and milk in the coffee cup, and pour it over the ice). Under $10.
If you tire of Asian food, on Victory and Woodley is a South African bar that serves pretty decent pub grub like boerewors and mixed grills. If English pubs are more your thing, there's arguably the best fish & chips in the Valley at Robin Hood, on Burbank Blvd. and Hazeltine, technically JUST over the line into Sherman Oaks.
For Lebanese food, there's Skaf's on Laurel Canyon and Oxnard (closed Sundays) -- get whatever's written on the whiteboard. Also very, very good is Carnival, which is on Woodman and Moorpark in Sherman Oaks. For a cheap, great falafel sandwich, go to Top Falafel on Coldwater Canyon and Victory (the entrance is behind Burger King).
For pizza, I like D'Amore's on Coldwater Canyon and Magnolia in Sherman Oaks, and Ameci Pizza (several branches -- one in Van Nuys on Sherman Way near Sepulveda).
This is really just scratching the surface... let us know what you like.
re: Das Ubergeek
Skaf's is brilliant.
Puro Sabor is perhaps my favorite place in the city - a shocking wonderland of fried beauty.
Also: Simon's Cafe. Excellent, excellent couscous royale (with the best chicken kebab I've had in a long time), genius baba ganoush - just excellent all around. Great lamb tagine. Excellent Moroccan.
re: Das Ubergeek
re: Das Ubergeek
re: Das Ubergeek
GO! Seriously, Puro Sabor is super tasty, and fairly inexpensive. I believe my wife and I ate there for $50, and we WAY WAY WAY over-ordered. We easily could have split a main and their scrumptious Alfajores (Dulce de Leche filled sugar cookies), which probably would have totalled $15, maybe $20.
re: Das Ubergeek
I've been going to the Pho So 1 on Reseda at Sherman Way for years now, but based on this and a couple other posts, decided to try the one on Victory/Sepulveda.
What a disappointment.
The broth in my pho wasn't bad, but it wasn't terribly interesting either: it lacked flavor. And the plate of herbs was pretty short on the herbs. I'd eat it again if I were hungry and nothing else was available.
But the real turn-off were the spring rolls, which were filled with about 85% rice noodle, some BROWN greenstuff, and one-and-a-half smallish tasteless shrimp which had been bisected, pressed flat so they looked bigger, and laminated onto the inside of the wrapper. (Perhaps the spring rolls on Reseda aren't much better; I don't know, I don't usually order them.)
The ca fe sua da was, according to the gf, fantastic. Maybe I should have ordered one of the dishes you recommended, but I wanted pho, and based on their lackluster performance tonight I doubt I'll return.
Don't miss Puro Sabor for great Peruvian. Do a search on the board for recent posts about the place and things to order. There is a Farmer's Market on Thursday mornings at the Erwin Street Mall where the Van Nuys Courthouse is located, which is just a block or two south of Puro Sabor.
re: Bob Brooks
Two of us went to Puro Sabor on Friday evening. It was great. We shared a ceviche. The steamed fish and shrimp chowder were excellent as well. Both of us had strawberry mixed juice and were stuffed when we left.
We tried Mom's BBQ for the Beef Ribs, The Village Pizzarra and Apple Pan for a burger. I keep looking at the boards for places to try. I have to be careful with some of the Asian influenced food since I am hightly allergic to Ginger and that is found in abundance in alot of cuisine.
I am still waiting to goto Zankou's chicken, I like their Tarma's.
I am thinking on Thursday trying the Erwin Street Mall Market, we went to the Encino market today and next weekend hitting Olvera Street, I have heard this is a place for mexican vendors, culture and history (am I right?)