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Van Nuys, California

  • m
  • Mariela Mar 4, 2004 01:44 PM

Is this town to be avoided completely? I've been told it's not safe unless you're right on the Sherman Oaks border. I know someone who is thinking of moving to the 5900 block of Cedros Avenue because it's easy to rent an apartment there with a dog that weighs 40 lbs. Also, any good Mexican and Italian restaurants you would recommend in this area?

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  1. Right outside of Van Nuys on Vanowen and White Oak is Adrian's Trattoria. Everything I've tried there from appetizers to pasta dishes has been really great! It's owned by a very nice Greek couple and the place has been there for quite a while. Give it a try!

    As for living in the Van Nuys area, sad to say it's not the greatest, but it has it's pockets of lovely residential areas. My best friend lives on the 5800 block of Cedros and it's a safe enough area.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Lulu

      Adrian's is definitley worth a try. They have one of the best pizzas I've tried in L.A. For comparisons sake I also like Joe Peeps and Miceli's meatball pizza but have yet to make it to L.A. favorite Casa Bianca when they're open. Make sure to ask for extra sauce at Adrian's - it delicious!

      1. re: moxiela

        Good call on Adrians. I think they may also have a schnitzel. I don't get pizza anywhere else. What about Dr. Hogly Wogly Tyler Texas BBQ. Even by Van Nuys standards its the DMZ but the ribs are great.

        Van Nuys Solidarity Forever!

    2. Van Nuys isn't so bad. I live on the 6500 block of Petit. Just stay away from North of Victory and East of the 405 freeway. The 5900 block of Cedros isn't so bad.

      As for food, it's in the middle of everything. Maybe there isn't much in Van Nuys per se, but smack dab in the middle of the SF Valley isn't so bad. Sam Woo and 99 Ranch market on Victory and Sepulveda, Costco right on Sepulveda, Lola's/El Loco de Pollo on Victory and Kester.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Greg

        Hey, I beg to differ politely with you on that estimation of Van Nuys! I live north of Victory (but West of the 405) in a lovely area known as Lake Balboa (adjacent) off of Sherman Way near Balboa and the homes are pretty nice. Now as far as food goes, I have to agree that Van Nuys proper has pretty slim pickins, but if you want good, huge portions of Mexican food you can head a little more east on Vanowen to Las Fuentes (I think it's near Vanowen and Reseda) -- really great, always busy, prices are cheap. And for retro BBQ, there's the Valley Ranch BBQ Restaurant on Sherman Way just west of Hayvenhurst. That's my story and I'm stickin to it!

        1. re: ChefLisa

          Hey, I meant more of the northeast quadrant bordered by Victory and the 405. Like Van Nuys and Vanowen is a bit sketchy, but the upside is that there is a Tommy's right there and all the adult bookstores and pawn shops you will ever need.

          Good call on Valley Ranch. Gotta love the short ribs.

          1. re: Greg

            I think the best thing on the Valley Ranch menu is the Super Sandwich with pulled pork.

            Beep's on Sherman Way is also a good place (diner) for breakfast or lunch.

            I agree on El Criollo - good Cuban food

            Pho So 1 is one of my favorite pho places.

      2. h
        Hershey Bomar

        El Jerezano is in Van Nuys, Hazeltine just south of Oxnard.

        1. You do not have to travel too far south to be in the heart of Sherman Oaks, with many Italian restaurants, including Panzanella, Fabs, Il Balcone, Il Tiramisu, La Pergola and Oliva, with all doing a decent to much better than average job. Also many more in Studio City.

          1. Hey Van Nuysers: Has anyone ever been to the Matterhorn? (Second inquiry--first, under Gustaf Anders head went unanswered, though people had alternative ideas for schnitzel. What about Matterhorn?)

            6 Replies
            1. re: juny1cat

              Lived in the valley all my life and have never heard of it.

              1. re: Suzanne

                Maybe this is the one?

                Link: http://www.matterhornchef.com/

                1. re: WLA

                  That's it, all right. But has no one ever been there??

                  1. re: juny1cat

                    OK, OK, yes, I admit it, I've been there. I didn't respond earlier because it was years (more than 6, probably) ago and I assumed more recent diners would respond -- but, with that qualification, and since no one else is biting:

                    My recollection, a bit fuzzy, is that I found it rather campy but in a mostly good way, warm and silly; but the food was just sorta OK, better than the Austrian food that our new governor used to serve at Schatzi but not much. I have some recollection of having read a rave from some local food critic, don't remember who, and that is what enticed me to try the place, and then I was disappointed because our very high expectations were not met.

                    Thinking back, I am pretty sure I had the Bernerplatte (smoked pork loin, bacon and sausages, served with sauerkraut and string beans) and that my verdict was: adequate, but that the next time I wanted some substantial Mitteleuropan food I'd probably prefer to head back to Warszawa (not a Swiss-German restaurant, obviously, but close enough for me and a great place) or even to one of the Wolfgang Puck establishments for some schnitzel. I don't remember what my dining companion had but I think she wasn't overwhelmed either.

                    That website is a kick, though. I might be persuaded to try again just to experience the " Yodeling & Entertainment for the whole
                    family. "

                    1. re: juny1cat

                      I go there every eight or nine months or so. Food is solid if not spectacular, but when that urge for food from the Heartland of Europe strikes, it's nice to have this place handy. The place is vast and kitchy but comfortable. The staff is friendly. Prices are a tad high, but not unreasonable. I recommend it.

                2. re: juny1cat

                  I've been there. Pretty decent, not great. Kind of kitschy. I read recently that they were closing the restaurant (owners are retiring), so you should make sure they're still open.

                3. I bought my first house in Van Nuys 2 1/2 years ago and I love it -- it's a nice mix of geriatric original owners and first time homeowners. Parts are becoming gentrified (because of the current real estate market) which is good or bad, depending on how you look at it. Encino and Sherman Oaks just give me the creeps -- too many bad remodels and leased BMWs.

                  In terms of good food -- it's not in the Cedros neighborhood but try El Criollo cuban on Victory Boulevard at Coldwater. The ambiance of a laundromat but great food. For good, really cheap mexican try Papas & Beer on White Oak and Van Owen.

                  Have fun and welcome to the neighborhood.

                  1. It's not in Van Nuys proper, but go west on Victory Blvd. past White Oak and try the FIREHOUSE #2. It's not quite the fast food joint it seems at first glance. They're from the Greek Islands, and they serve some oddball but very tasty Greek specialties in addition to the usual burger-fries-soft drink combos.

                    On Burbank Blvd just east of Kester is an Ethiopian Restaurant called Langano. The food is excellent. The people are great. The prices are cheap. The place is criminally under-patronized.

                    Try the Robin Hood pub on Burbank Blvd, just east of Woodman. It's nothing fancy-dancy or touristy like the pubs in Santa Monica. You'll swear you've been transported to old Blighty. It's certainly not gourmet fare. The vegetables are from a can, and so are the shrimp that they stuff into their avocados. The place looks slightly worn. Still, the beer is wonderful, the vibe is mellow, and the staff is kind.

                    1. Socorro's in a mini mall on the N/E corner of Sherman Way and Kester is the best Mexican food in the area. No frills hole in the wall , with mostly Mexican clientele and waitresses that speak limited English, but good food and very cheap. No margaritas here,but they do have beer. Try the costillas. The homemade corn tortillas are the best. This along with Las Fuentes in Reseda, which someone else mentioned in a different part of this thread, are the two best Mexican restaurants in the valley.

                      1. Pho So 1 (by 99 Ranch) is in Van Nuys. And while Las Fuentes (as mentioned in an above post roughly three years ago) was already mentioned, I still continue to mention it in terms of my recommendations in the Valley.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: SauceSupreme

                          I'm curious, how does Las Fuentes stack up against Carillos or Dos Arbolitos for the Valley best Mexican fare?

                          1. re: wizardx

                            I grew up in Reseda & Las Fuentes was a regular spot for me as it's lil sister shop just 1/2 a block away called Melodys they are great too (reseda & Vanowen). Now that I live In Sylmar though I go to Carillos alot. It's good but in a more old school mexican food way. I think both are equal because they have their own perks. Firehouse #2 is another good suggestion... But Adrian's is a great place for Italian. It's family owned & the owners are always cooking in the kitchen. Cute little Austrian couple... Also in Van Nuys on Van Nuys just after Burbank is 4 & 20. Good food & just after that is another little mexican joint that I forgot the name but it's good has a big Orange sign...

                            1. re: jzam

                              I think the Mexican joint with the orange sign is La Fogata!

                        2. Van Nuys does have its food -- in addition to the aforementioned places, there's Super Pollo on Van Nuys Blvd and Hamlin; Mom's BBQ on Hazeltine and Vanowen (which, "officially", is Valley Glen, we're not Van Nuys, we're not, we're not, we're NOT!! *stamps foot*); El Criollo Cuban restaurant on Victory and Fulton; San Remo on Victory and Woodman; the cemitas poblanas place (Don Felix?) on Victory and Kester; the Argentine grocery on Sepulveda and (Roscoe?).

                          There's Manila Good-Ha on Cantara and Woodman; El Gallo Giro on Van Nuys and Roscoe; Pho 999, across from Pho So 1 and the 99 Ranch; and Nippon Ramen on Sherman near Sepulveda. There's Vallarta Market on Victory and Woodley, and Springbok Bar and Grill right next to it. Robin Hood Pub is on Burbank near Hazeltine, and there's a good coffee shop kittycorner to it. That's all IN Van Nuys (which includes Lake Balboa, Panorama City, most of Valley Glen, all of the so-called "North Sherman Oaks", and any other places I've forgotten who have decided that the key to real-estate riches is to dissociate themselves from the stain of being called "Van Nuys").

                          As for the security... there are good pockets and bad pockets -- there are good pockets as far north as the 8800 blocks, and bad pockets as far south as the 5400 blocks. I live juuuuuuuuuuust over the border into North Hollywood and our pocket is truly lovely, but ghetto-adjacent.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            I have to weigh in on San Remo as we live a couple of blocks away and ate there once when we first moved in. ONCE being the relevant term. The concise way to describe the place is "unremarkable". If you're okay with really forgettable American-Italian cuisine, it's the joint for you. Chef-Boyardee on the other hand is just as good,more affordable and eminently more convenient

                            1. re: Steve2 in LA

                              Well, as you can tell by the date on my post, I haven't been in 2+ years so it's quite possible that it's gone significantly downhill. I remember it being pretty serviceable red-sauce Italian.

                          2. Sam Woo
                            Pho 99
                            Pho So One
                            Kyushu Ramen
                            Hong Kong 88
                            Katrolchko
                            Gourmet on the Go
                            Zankou

                            and more..

                            nope, van nuys is great!

                            1. Not Italian or Mexican, but I recommend Koko's Middle Eastern wholeheartedly. It's at 16935 Vanowen in Van Nuys.

                              1. Parts are nice, especially Lake Balboa, as another person pointed out.

                                Restaurants:

                                Salsa and Beer: was Papas and Beer. Good cheap Mexican food.
                                Las Fuentes - really good Mexican food, also cheap.
                                Vinh Loi Tofu (sorry, it's actually in Reseda, but I'm pluggin' it anyway)
                                Morazan - really great pan con pollo and pupusas
                                Sam Woo's - everything I've had here is delicious. Singapore noodles are good.
                                El Gallo Giro - I seem to remember the carnitas being good here. Tortas were a little dry when I went last. Good bread.
                                Adrian's Trattoria - everything we've had is good so far, nice people.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Blueberry Buddha

                                  We live in Lake Balboa, an enclave of Van Nuys. I've started to say Lake Balboa as opposed to Van Nuys because my friends were aghast when I moved to "Van Nuys!" Lake Balboa is actually quite nice. Most of the houses are well-tended and many even have flower gardens.

                                  In terms of food, we just tried Pho So 1 (Vietnamese) the one on Victory and Sepulveda. While the ambience was very clean school cafeteria (it's rated A) the service was extremely fast and friendly, the food was delicious and authentic, and all-in-all we were VERY satisfied with our meal.

                                  We had the table griddle of beef and shrimp bo tom nuong vi, an order of cha gio spring rolls (which were fantastic!) and the tai pho (noodle soup with rare beef that cooks itself in the soup)

                                  I'm pretty sensitive to MSG but haven't yet felt the effects yet so I don't think the food could have contained much -- plus it was SO fresh. And the shrimp was cleaned, which I was very impressed with.

                                  My husband had the jackfruit shake which he said was delicious.

                                  I would highly recommend Pho So 1. Well, at least the one on Victory & Sepulveda. I plan to work my way through the menu.

                                  1. re: Blueberry Buddha

                                    fwiw,
                                    when going to vinh loi tofu, i highly recommend my eating strategy for the place:

                                    order everything on the menu, then sit down and eat until you burst.
                                    the food is great AND cheap.
                                    it's out of the way,so you won't want to make many trips, especially with gas prices being so high (the gas will cost more than the food).

                                  2. Van Nuys definitely has its sketchy side, but for food, let's not forget the terrific Peruvian Puro Sabor on Van Nuys Blvd. near the civic center.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: rudy buci

                                      Went to Puro Sabor last night. It was worth the drive from Santa Clarita - Really delish!!! (On V.N. just S of Victory E side of street)
                                      Had the seafood soup, fried Plantains with the cheese sauce and S.O. had the Lomo Saltado -a stirfry of steak, chicken and shrimp over french fries. The owners daughter Joanna was there to assist our every need. Kind, accommodating and very friendly. Her mother does the cooking. She brought me a tastse of the corn punch. Cloves and cinnamon make up the pronounced flavor. If you like that and can have sugar -order it!!! I can't have the sugar but, the "taste" she brought was nice. 42$ for the 2 of us incl.tax and tip and drinks. Call ahead and if there will be entertainment, sometime there is.

                                    2. Van Nuys is the armpit of the valley. I grew up and lived there for approx 25 years. The bright spots are Lidos Pizza, on Victory Bl/Sepulveda. This is the only place I have to go when I am back in the area. Adrians on Vanowen is solid for real italian food. Adrian is from the streets of South Philly and he brought some authentic recipes from the east coast. He and his wife Lucia run the place.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: RobertP3635

                                        Everyone seems to love Lido Pizza, but I don't understand the appeal at all. Pretty bland and mushy the couple times I tried it. But I'd really like to give Adrian's a shot.

                                        1. re: October

                                          Adrian's is not bad. It's mostly red-sauce Italian but it's tasty for what it is, and pretty easy on the wallet.

                                          1. re: October

                                            I respectfully disagree about Lido Pizza.

                                            I assume you're talking about the pizza being "bland and mushy". Well, their sauce is one of the best in town (it's full tomato flavored with a nice tang to it), and I've been eating there for years and never had a mushy pizza.

                                            If anything, once in a while they overcook the pizza and it's too crispy.

                                            Seriously, they're usually consistenly very, very good...that's why they've been around since 1950 or thereabouts.

                                            You should give it another try! I usually get pepperoni, but have tried other toppings as well. They're all great!

                                            1. re: GK in SO

                                              I live in poor old maligned Van Nuys, in a ghetto 'hood in my just-appraised $500,000 ranch house (near Kester & Burbank). As long as I keep the shotgun loaded and at the ready, we've managed to somehow survive.

                                              Fantastic list of Van Nuys eating establishments -- kudos, VN CH-er's!

                                              May I add NATS EARLY BITE (I'm shouting again) on Burbank at Hazeltine (old-school diner-style food, great breakfasts, so-so dinners) and WON'S COFFEE SHOP at Gilmore and Van Nuys (old-school red-pork-rib-style Chinese/American food).

                                              And please, whatever you do, don't forget the Sherman Room (Sherman Way and Balboa) which is now technically (IIRC) in new, modern, upscale Lake Balboa.

                                              -cb-