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Need a few specific recs for San Fernando Valley

Greetings from the Bay Area. Former resident of LA (late 70's/early 80's), I'm driving down next Thursday to meet up with an old friend who is coming in from NY. She's staying in Van Nuys, and wants to do the Warner Studio tour,. I'm looking for a lunch place either in Sherman Oaks or Studio City. I'm thinking of ging to Arts Deli in Studio City--yes or no?

I also need a rec for dinner. When I lived in SO, we used to go to La Frite--is that still good? Should I consider anything else? I generally don't eat spicy food, I'm not sure if my friend has limitations, so anything Italian, American or gringo-ish Mexican would be fine. BBQ would be great too. Basically, I need lunch and dinner places where 2 old friends can talk and catch up. The dinner place could have music too.

Then I need a good breakfast before I hit the road Sunday morning. My old breakfast haunts were Bagel Nosh and Fromin's--any feedback on those 2 places? I'd prefer to stay on Ventura Blvd as I'll take 101 back north. I am probably going to Brent's Saturday morning to meet someone else. Is there anyplace I should consider?

Lastly, I'll probably be solo for dinner--2 nights. Anything good, easy on the wallet (about $20 pp w/out wine, w/out tax/tip) that I should consider. I'm staying in Sherman Oaks. Boneyard Bistro? Casa Vega?

Many thanks. I miss LA way too much. I've been up here for 25 years and I'm always cold.

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Bagel Nosh
17271 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA

Boneyard Bistro
13539 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Casa Vega Restaurant
13301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

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  1. Do you mean the Artisan Cheese Gallery? If so, I totally love that place. The sandwiches are divine! Big Sugar Bakeshop is down the street if you're looking for a sweet treat.

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    Big Sugar Bake Shop
    12182 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91604

    Artisan Cheese Gallery
    12023 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: attran99

      I agree. I definitely view Artisan Cheese Gallery as a really good gourmet sandwich shop.

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      Artisan Cheese Gallery
      12023 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA

    2. Here's a few yummy places within the area of where you'll be. Hope these warm your soul a little.
      Puro Sabor - Peruvian on Van Nuys Blvd. http://www.yelp.com/biz/puro-sabor-va... - Not Spicy!; Simon's Cafe on Sepulveda/Ventura - www.simonscafe.com ; Aroma Cafe - Ventura/Lindley - aromabakery.com; Pita Kitchen - Ventura/Van Nuys www.thepitakitchen.com/ and maybe Jinky's for breakfast: jinkys.com And, as far as deli...nothing comes close to Brent's, no one. Drive carefully. IF you take the 5, stop at Harris Ranch for a chocolate macaroon - great "pick me-up" for the road. :) KQ

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      Jinky's Cafe
      14120 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

      Puro Sabor
      6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

      Pita Kitchen
      14500 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kitchen Queen

        I agree with Puro Sabor and Simon's. The service at Puro Sabor can be slow when they're busy so keep that in mind. I love Simon's!

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        Puro Sabor
        6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

      2. Art's deli is good but expensive. Fromin's is not so good. The best deli is Brent's in Northridge, if deli is what you want it is well worth the extra few minute drive to Brent's. Their black pastrami ruben sandwich is one of the best in all of LA.

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        Brent's Deli
        19565 Parthenia St, Northridge, CA 91324

        1 Reply
        1. re: wienermobile

          I agree with Brent's and black pastrami reuben, it is amazing.

        2. I laughed at your post because it basically described the childhood haunts that I would go to with my family. If I had missed the 90s and 2000s, and were returning to the Valley, I would probably ask about Fromin's, Art's, and Casa Vega too.

          Fromin's, unfortunately, has long slid downhill. Art's or Brent's, though Brent's is probably too far, are the best delis in the Valley.

          You will find differing opinions on La Frite. I grew up going there -- going back to when it was still Yellowfingers -- and the food is basically what it always was. I find it good, reliable bistro food, and usually have the chopped steaks, salads, pate, or crab bisque. Oh, and it's still run by the same family, so you might have fun seeing how the children of the old owners grew up.

          In the same general area is Spumoni, a small, neighborhood Italian place. I really like their pastas, particularly the bolognese, their sauteed calamari, and their different gnocchi dishes. It's a great place to chat, not noisy at all, and the owners are extremely friendly.

          Marche is a new restaurant in Sherman Oaks that has gotten good reviews. I have not been, but my friends liked it a lot. It is in the center of Sherman Oaks. It might push your price pint.

          Cafe Bizou is another "nice" reliable restaurant in Sherman Oaks. The food won't wow you, but it is a nice space, great for conversation, and very reasonable for what they offer. It and La Frite are my go-to restaurants for dinner with my mom or family brunch.

          Any interest in Lebanese? Alcazar in Encino is fantastic and would be another great place to talk (assuming you are there before the music begins). I generally stick to the mezza (cold and hot small plates) and make a meal from them.

          Casa Vega, like Fromin's, is unchanged since the 1970s. For drinks, that's fine. For food, it means you'll still get the terrible Mexican that you had in 1975. And it will still be nearly pitch-black inside. In Studio City (in the center on the corner of Laurel Canyon and Ventura), Loteria Grill just opened. I have not been, but the Loteria in Hollywood and at Farmer's Market are good. I wouldn't call it gringo-ish Mexican, because it has authentic dishes, but you can definitely avoid spicy. I would second the recommendation for Puro Sabor. If you like ceviche, you will love theirs, and the other Peruvian dishes are interesting. (As a last resort, there is an El Torito Grill in the Galleria. The ambiance and food is a bit of a step-up from regular El Toritos, but not fantastic.)

          Bagel Nosh also is long gone. More than Waffles, the waffle/pancake restaurant on the lower level of what was the Town 'n' Country shopping center (the one with the movie theater in Encino), is still there and a good breakfast place. Jinky's in Sherman Oaks is good and a branch of John O'Groat's just opened in Encino.

          For your solo dinner, you might consider going to North Hollywood to one of the great Thai restaurants there. My personal favorite is Krua Thai. There also are a bunch of great taquerias in North Hollywood and Van Nuys, so if you really want to go easy on your wallet, they are definite options. Las Fuentes or Melody's in Tarzana/Reseda are very casual sit-down Mexican places that I wouldn't recommend for getting together with people after a long time, but are decent solo dining spots.

          You didn't mention Japanese, but Ventura Boulevard still has fantastic sushi places.

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          Krua Thai Restaurant
          13130 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605

          Jinky's Cafe
          14120 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

          La Frite
          15013 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

          La Frite
          22616 Ventura Boulevard, Woodland Hills, CA 91364

          Alcazar
          17239 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91316

          Puro Sabor
          6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

          Cafe Bizou
          14016 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

          Melody's Mexican Kitchen
          6747 Reseda Blvd, Reseda, CA 91335

          Spumoni Restaurant
          14533 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

          Las Fuentes Mexican Restaurant
          18415 Vanowen St, Reseda, CA 91335

          6 Replies
          1. re: Jwsel

            Bagel Nosh moved to 17th and Wilshire in Santa Monica.

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            Wilshire Restaurant
            2454 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404

            Bagel Nosh Deli
            1629 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              As I recall, they were always in Santa Monica. Encino was their second location. But thanks anyway.

            2. re: Jwsel

              We ate breakfast at Jinky’s (Sherman Oaks) this past weekend. It was appalling, hugely disappointing. My Rosemary Omelet was thin and rubbery, with very little filling: a few bits of dried up chicken breast and a ‘butter pat’ of boursin plopped on top. I never even found any artichoke inside. This for $12.50! Pathetic. The Lox Benedict was little better: muffin looked like it had been steamrolled, and the entree itself was delivered tepid. The 'blueberry' pancakes were really undercooked. I’ve breakfasted at better diners. And I’m unhappy because we ate there on recommendations I read here. Guess I’d better be more judicious in future (maybe we should have opted for John O'Groats).

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              John O'Groats
              10516 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

              Jinky's Cafe
              14120 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

              1. re: lalf

                just my ten cents, but i feel like Jinky's has gone downhill in the recent years...

              2. re: Jwsel

                Agree with Jwsel - some of LA's best sushi restaurants on Ventura Blvd. Asanebo, Nozawa, Katsuya and Kiwami are all excellent.

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                Asanebo
                11941 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                Katsuya Hollywood
                6300 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                Kiwami
                11920 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                1. re: Ginger9

                  Those are all great, except for Nozawa, which should come with a big warning about the quality of the fish.

              3. I'd like to take a contrary view on Fromin's. I eat there all the time and find the breakfast food pretty decent. Not spectacular, just decent. That's what you expect for breakfast. People on these boards often recommend Brent's or Jinky's, and those are pretty good, but if you go to those places be prepared to wait, because these places are insanely busy. And forget about service. Fromin's at least is not insanely busy and the service is good and friendly.

                On Casa Vega - while I'll agree the food is just your standard gringo Mexican food, it's just fine, and you really go there for the experience of it. It's a scene that is pretty unique in LA and a lot of fun. I often see celebrities there. It's worth a trip if you're going to be in LA for a short time.

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                Fromin's Restaurant
                17615 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91316

                Casa Vega Restaurant
                13301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

                2 Replies
                1. re: writerinla

                  Sorry, here is yet another opinion on some of the suggestions:
                  Casa Vega is just as bad today, maybe more so, as there are so many better options for Mexican food today than there were then:
                  Senor Fred, Loteria Grill, Poquito Mas - all in either Studio City or Sherman Oaks, all on Ventura Blvd., with the latter more of a fast casual place than fine dining, yet as a solo it works perfectly.
                  Brent's and Art's for deli are still the choice.
                  The local breakfast spots would include Hugo's on Riverside Drive, just east of Coldwater Canyon, Vivian's in Studio City on Ventura near Vineland, and John O'Groans(o'Groat's actually, but....) in Encino on Ventura east of Hayvenhurst.
                  STanleys in Sherman Oaks for salads and decent dinner fare, plausible prices, and a superb patio out back, weather permitting.
                  Cafe Bizou is a no-no if you want to talk - food ok, but the noise in the place is deafening. And you might be the youngest person in the place.
                  Le Petite Restaurant, south side Ventura next door to the Great Greek at Dixie Canyon, is good and reliable for Bistro fare, with full bar and pleasant ambiance.
                  Raphael in Studio City is a newer place on Ventura east of Colfax, with its ownership formerly of Bel Air Bar & Grill. Nice place, good food, yet fairly limited menu. Definitely able to talk here.
                  Italian - Ca de Sole at Cahuenga/Lamkership intersection adjacent to Universal Studios. Some sections are quieter than others, so ask for that when you reserve.
                  La Frite is still reliable and enjoyable, and yes, the kids now run the place.

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                  La Frite
                  15013 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

                  Senor Fred
                  13730 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

                  Cafe Bizou
                  14016 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

                  1. re: carter

                    Thanks for all the recs. I had a funny feeling I was stirring up some controversy asking about some places but heck, I had to try. Nostalgia and all that.

                    This has been very helpful indeed. I haven't spent much time in the Valley on my trips back. This will be interesting.

                    Thanks again.