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Looking For A New Fun Restaurant With Great Food in the Valley

My wife and I are driving up to the Valley this weekend from San Diego and are looking for recommendations of a fun restaurant with good quality food that isn't too expensive to go with some friends. Ideally, $30-40 per person (we will bring wine). We come up to LA every couple months and usually hit up one of the many great Sushi spots. This time we are looking for something new and fun to try where maybe the chef is putting out some unique dishes. We are open to all kinds of food (Italian, French, Asian, Mexican, American, etc...) and are very adventurous. We will be driving in from Agoura, but are open to anything in Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Encino, Sherman Oaks and even Studio City. Any suggestions? I've been searching the boards, but haven't seen anything jump out. Thanks in advance.

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    1. re: Servorg

      This was my first thought as well. It's near the 405/101 interchange, has a charming chef/owner, and the food is great (and unique enough, in that tagines aren't sold on every street corner).

      1. re: hhewitt

        I think that, at times, when folks come and say they are interested in something "...new and fun to try..." they don't really want us to think outside the box. ;-D>

    2. Rive Gauche Cafe at Hazeltine & Ventura has been there forever, is old-school French, I wouldn't ordinarily consider it a destination restaurant but it's consistently pretty good -- but ask about their corkage policy as they have their own full bar.

      Carnival is a fun, popular Middle Eastern place on Woodman Ave. in Sherman Oaks in a strip mall a little north of Ventura and would certainly be within your price range.

      1 Reply
      1. re: medrite

        The Six in Studio City is great with a nice patio. They only take reservations for parties of 6. It calls itself a gastropub so I'm not sure about bringing your own wine. Varied menu - definitely in your price range.

      2. Raphael in Studio City might be a good choice. The food is excellent, and it's served tapas style (for sharing), which is perfect with friends. The soft shell crab and the brussel sprouts are amazing. Not sure about bringing your own wine though.

        1. i've been very fond of black market lately.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cdub

            Really good suggestion.
            Superb food, yet superb noise as well. You MUST get there at 6pm or before to even have a chance of hearing the people at your table. Same ownership as Local Peasant, fwiw.
            In the former Wine Bistro space on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City adjacent to the Firestone Store, meaning about 3 blocks east of Laurel Canyon.

          2. Thank you for the recommendations. We have been to Carnival and love it. I definitely will consider The Six and Raphael. Both seem to have nice menus. Much appreciated.

            1. Really like Ombra in Studio City. Very good Italian.

              3 Replies
              1. re: perk

                Was there for lunch today. Had the Octopus Salad, which I thought was good albeit a little overdressed and salty, as well as the Orechiette which was kind of like a deconstructed arrabiatta. Pretty good though could have been a little more al dente. All in all, kind of the same ho-hum Italian you find elsewhere in the valley.

                1. re: perk

                  We ended up going to Ombra. Overall, I thought it was very good and reasonably priced. I had the Octopus salad and the Squid Ink Risotto. The salad was a bit too salty, but enjoyable. The risotto was really good and I would get again. The corkage fee was $13 and they waive it if you also buy a bottle from their menu. Thank you for the recommendation.