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Sherman Oaks lunch ... ?

Need some help for a lunch I'm having next week. Here are the criteria:

I'm meeting two old friends from high school. The live and work in the Valley -- I work in Westwood. I'm willing to drive over the hill to have lunch with them, but as the travel time makes this a long lunch for me, I need some place that's at least close to the 405 freeway so I can get over and back in a reasonable amount of time.

We used to meet at Nat's Coffee Shop (Hazeltine and Burbank) and we once met at a pub farther east on Burbank (Irish something? I can't remember the name). But we're looking for something else.

We tried California Chicken Cafe, but it's not my thing. I don't like chicken (or cheese) and making a lunch out of just the side dishes was sort of starchy. One of my friends is a vegetarian.

So -- to repeat --

I need a freeway accessible restaurant for lunch in Sherman Oaks area that will appeal to at least one vegetarian and one non-dairy/non-chicken guy. It also has to be reasonably quick (no three course meals) - but don't want fast food.

(Keep in mind that Ventura Bl is a pain at that time of day, so having to travel too far up or down Ventura is problematic. Nat's worked because Burbank is desolate by comparison.)

Thanks in advance everyone ...

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  1. Carnival. Just off woodman on the 101. Good schwarma.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cdub

      Another good call (between this and Simon's Cafe it would be a tough choice).

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      Carnival Restaurant
      4356 Woodman Ave, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

      1. I had a nice lunch at the new lunch spot Sweet Butter. It is right across the street from Stanley's and they have a bunch of vegetarian friendly items. Sat outside and enjoyed a nice salad and book.

        4 Replies
        1. re: PD Girl

          The menu for Sweet Butter looks great. They are seving Intelligentsia coffee too. Nice. I already want to try the trio of sliders with Niman Ranch beef. Which salad did you have?

          Thanks for bringing this place to the attention of the board.

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          Sweet Butter
          13824 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91423

          1. re: PD Girl

            But if you do go, be reminded that there is no inside seating. All seats are either on the awning-covered sidewalk, or in the middle atrium that while covered, is still not fully enclosed nor wind-free. Pick your day based on the weather.
            Stanleys has a fully enclosed patio in the rear and has a myriad of salads, soups, burgers including a very respected turkey version, and have tailored to many a dietary need over the 25 years of existence.
            www.stanleys83.com for info

            1. re: carter

              Love Sweet Butter! A great addition to Sherman Oaks. Excellent salads, soups, sandwiches, quiche, desserts, etc. There are many heaters on the patio; I was there on a chilly day, but was still comfortable. Service can be slow there though, so be forewarned if your time is constrained.
              Also, Simon's Cafe on Sepulveda, right near 405 exit. Middle-Eastern food and plenty of vegetarian options.
              Jinky's on Ventura Blvd & Stansbury, one block east of Beverly Glen (fr: Westwood you can take Bev. Glen to save time). A bit similar in feel to Nat's, although perhaps a bit more upscale.
              If you have time to go east on 101 to Woodman (or again take Beverly Glen so you don't have to travel down Ventura Blvd), highly recommend Natas on Fulton & Ventura. Wonderful Portuguese cafe & bakery. Lots of interesting choices for lunch

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

              Sweet Butter
              13824 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91423

              1. re: archer

                Good call on Simon's Cafe for this.

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                Simon's Café
                4515 Sepulveda Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

          2. Hamburger Hamlet is on Van Nuys Blvd near Ventura. Also, Marmalade Cafe at Ventura and Kester

            1. for Italian, there's also Cucina Bene on Sepulveda, just south of Ventura that is *right off* the 405.

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              Cucina Bene
              4511 Sepulveda Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

              1. Been to Jinky's and Sweet Butter. Both are over priced for the quality and amount of food you get. The food is OK at Stanley's but the service leaves a lot to be desired. The bartenders are down right rude unless you're a regular and even then they are pretty slow.

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                Jinky's Cafe
                1447 2nd St Fl 1, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                Sweet Butter
                13824 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91423

                6 Replies
                  1. re: Servorg

                    I don't mean to sound like a total grouch. I like Tom's #7 on the corner of Burbank Blvd. and Cahuenga in Burbank/North Hollywood. Their Tuna Melt is great. Good breakfast specials too. Try Bobby's in Woodland Hills for breakfast.

                    1. re: elyseevan

                      Some day I'm going to make it out to Bobby's for breakfast. Normally I like old school places a lot.

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                      Bobby's Coffee Shop
                      22821 Ventura Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91364

                      1. re: Servorg

                        I like old style places, but hubby and I were totally disappointed in Bobby's, nothing special.

                        1. re: paprkutr

                          Have you had breakfast at Nat's Early Bite in SO's? If so how do you like it?

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                          Nat's Early Bite
                          14115 Burbank Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91401

                1. Hugo's has good vegetarian choices - is freeway close to Coldwateer CYn - no Ventura Blvd. - good variety.

                  1. Simon's cafe is great for a lunch with mixed eaters. I go fo the vege plate. It's really convenient, right off the freeway at Ventura and Sepulveda.!

                    1. I second the recommendations for Simon's.

                      Technically in Van Nuys, but the Sam Woo BBQ and the pho places at Victory and Sepulveda are right near the 405 exit and allow you avoid Ventura Blvd. The vegetarian offerings at the pho places will be very limited, though.

                      I would have normally recommended La Frite, which is at Ventura near Noble, so close to the 405. However, it just underwent a Gordon Ramsey conversion on Kitchen Nightmare's and the initial comments have been underwhelming, mainly focusing on the much higher price-points for the food. I have not tried it yet, so I cannot speak from experience.

                      Cafe Bizou is on Ventura, but you could go to the Woodman 101 exit. It's always reliable and I would recommend Bizou for food over Stanley's.

                      If you were interested in Mexican, a total hole in the wall is San Marcos Grill at Hazeltine, a half-block south of Oxnard. That might be too casual for what you're looking for. It's order at the counter and only has about three tables.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jwsel

                        Jwsel - San Marcos Grill - nee Jerezano.
                        Different, the same, cleaned up, better, what?
                        Not trying to hijack this post, but there is a need to know, maybe even on another post.(?).
                        ps - I have always felt Bizou's food to be just functional, in a room that is way too loud.
                        Stanleys has that back patio which is its salvation. I realize Bizou has one as well, but much smaller, tables closer together, and just not all that confortable.
                        Agree on your assessment of La Frite - with all the things we have read, you really wonder whether or not to try it again.
                        Have always enjoyed meals before, yet now, not sure whether there will be a Now.

                        1. re: carter

                          San Marcos Grill: The ambiance is pretty much the same and it's a little disconcerting that they have the old menu on the wall, but it's not the one they have in the restaurant. I liked the food at El Jerezano and have not noticed any decline. I tend mainly to have tacos and the ones I've had are quite good -- bigger than El Jerezano's small ones. They also have some specials that I think are different. I had a chile relleno there that was excellent.. When you eat in the restaurant, they give a very good bean dip with the chips. I think the salsas are better, with several options. (If I remember El Jerezano, they just had red and green salsas. San Marcos Grill has a salsa bar.)

                          San Marcos has a taco cart outside on weekend nights, which is convenient, but it's a little odd because you still order at the main restaurant counter and then go get the tacos outside.

                      2. thanks everyone ... all sound good .. Simon's cafe sounds like a good choice

                        1. i love simon's cafe, so i'd concurr with the others. merguez sausage is dynamite, and the eggplant in candied ginger sauce is exceptional (grab an order of that to go), and the falafel is some of the airiest best that i have ever had. it is very freeway convenient (basically it's right under the 405 freeeway).

                          1. We ended up going to Roman's Bakery on Ventura Boulevard -- my friends thought some of the choices here were a bit too expensive for lunch.

                            I had a very good turkey club with bacon and avocado on it. Came with pretty good sweet potato fries. One friend had a salad, the other a korean bbq wrap. They said they liked them. I thought it was funny that the sign for the Korean bbq wrap said "trendy and unique" -- which seem to be opposite qualities.

                            Thanks again for the replies.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: PaulF

                              Since the place is Korean-owned, even more surprising!