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Moving to Studio City

I just looked and it's been nearly 5 years since someone posted a similar thread, and we all know how quickly (some) things change in LA. My family is moving from Westwood to Studio City this weekend, and we're in search for all of your best recommendations. I will take anything and everything, but in particular I'd love to hear your suggestions, recommendations (and places to avoid) for the following:

1. Italian (Dinner-type) -- we love places like Dan Tana's, Vito, Matteo's etc.
2. Pizza
3. Mexican (Dinner-type) -- our favorite west side locales are Don Antonio's, Kay 'n Dave's, and Gardens of Taxco
4. Tacos -- think Tactus Taqueria
5. Sushi
6. Steak -- Prefer prime steakhouses like Mastro's, BLT, BOA, etc.
7. Middle Eastern -- We love Shamshiri
8. Mediterranean -- Something along the lines of Panini Cafe
9. Chinese
10. Bar/Bistro
11. Date Night (Higher-end dining)
12. Neighborhood Bar/Happy Hour

Thanks in advance Chowhounders -- we very much look forward to sampling your suggestions!

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  1. 1. Italian: I"ve heard of the places you've listed but never been myself. I've been to Il Tiramisu and Spumoni (the latter of which is *very* casual and not related to the one in Brentwood) and thought both were quite tasty. I think the places you listed, however, are red-sauce Italian-American places. There's a Micheli's in North Hollywood. Don't know if that would work for you.

    2. Caioti Pizza Cafe
    3. I don't really know much american-ized Mexican places. Maybe Senor Fred's? There's a lot of fairly non-american-ized Mexican places in the valley b/c of the large Hispanic population.... I'm sure a search will turn something up.
    4. Not familiar w/ Tactus Tacqueria....
    5. Sushi: there's a ton of sushi joints in Studio City and the Valley. What kind of sushi are you looking for (Korean-owned places where you can order "specialty" rolls or more traditional places?)
    6. Don't know. It's not that hard to hop over the hill, if you're not too deep into the valley, though
    7. There's a Shamshiri Grill in Northridge. Not sure if just driving to Northridge is closer than going to Westwood. Could also try Carnival, which is much closer. Itzik Hagadol also gets good reviews
    8. Not familiar w/ your reference. I like Amer's Falafel in Encino.
    9. Tampa Gardens. There was also a recent thread on a new Chinese place in Sherman Oaks, although the name eludes me right now.

    Can't help at all w/ the last 3....

    5 Replies
    1. re: ilysla

      Just remembered for fine dining, you could try Brandywine in Woodland Hills. I've never been, but a colleague of mine mentions that her family goes there for special occasions and very much enjoys it.... If you consider places like Roy's and Arnie Morton's fine dining, those are also in Woodland Hills. Perhaps Cafe Pinot closer to home? Someone also posted a review of a place in Granada Hills a few wks/mos ago that seemed to be in the fine-dining category, but I can't remember the name....

      1. re: ilysla

        Arnie Morton's in Burbank http://www.mortons.com/burbank/ is probably considerably closer to the OP - as far as that is concerned.

        Whoops! I see canyde has already suggested the Burbank location in this thread.

        1. re: Servorg

          Sorry, meant Morton's and Fleming's is in Woodland Hills (I think).

          I think the old-school Italian place in Valley Village (mentioned by schrutefarms) is Vitello's? It's on Tujunga near Caioti (and Aroma Cafe). That whole (short) strip of Tujunga is actually quite charming and, IMHO, one of the more pleasant parts of the Valley....

          If we're bringing up Burbank, Pinocchio's does old-school Italian (if you don't mind the 1970's ambiance and counter service).

          1. re: ilysla

            Yes! Vitellos! Thanks!

            Pinocchios is a great Italian market, as well, with tons of hard- to- find-elsewhere goods.

      2. re: ilysla

        Plus 1 on Il Tiramisu. Corner of Ventura and Woodman. Very good family owned Italian with full bar. Casual but nice atmosphere.

      3. Not too far from you do yourself the favor of visiting Joe's Falafel http://joesfalafel.net/ and you can see more about it here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8526... on the LA CH board (definitely try their lafa bread).

        You didn't ask about chili cheese dogs but I'm going to recommend Carney's http://www.carneytrain.com/ on Ventura Blvd. right there in Studio City anyway because they make great chili cheese dogs (ask for shredded cheese and not the slice of cheese they normally give you).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Servorg

          Joe's Falafel just cannot be recommended strongly enough.
          IMHO, they ought to rename it Joe's Falafel's Studio City.

        2. Here's my suggestions to try in Studio City or within a mile or 2 from there, this is where I live too:

          1. Italian (Dinner-type) -- Il Tiramisu or Spumoni
          2. Pizza-Little Toni's, Pit Fire Pizza
          3. Mexican (Dinner-type) -- Loteria
          4. Tacos -- Casita Tacos
          5. Sushi-plenty to pick from
          6. Steak -- stick with Beverly Hills for this
          7. Middle Eastern -- Joe's Falafal or Pita Kitchen
          8. Mediterranean -- Olympus, Cedar House Cafe
          9. Chinese-Golden Chopsticks
          10. Bar/Bistro-Firefly, Federal Bar

          2 Replies
          1. re: Hypnotic23

            you can try Joe Peeps for pizza... Casa Vega for Mexican Harvest Moon Cafe on Magnolia is a pretty good cssual lunch spot senor freds for Mexican...Lidos pizza in van nuys is fairly good...there's a ton of good Thai food in the North Hollywood area which is very close. for a steakhouse I would try arnie mortons in Burbank...loteria grill is good as is the artisian cheese shop right across the street great selection of cheeses and good sandwiches. you're also very close to Hollywood so you'll find plenty of options there as well

            1. re: Hypnotic23

              I'll dissent, lil toni's makes the baby jesus cry.

            2. There's a good old-school Italian in Valley Village, the name escapes me, but it's the infamous Robert Blake place. The food is great.
              Also there's a pretty good falafel joint on the corner of Ventura and Colfax. Arams falafel? Something along those lines. Cheap, casual and tasty.
              Lalas is on Ventura, just east of Laurel, that might fit your mediterranian needs.
              There's Casa Vega on Ventura for Mexican, or Mexicali for a bit higher end. There's also a Chipotle right there, should the need arise. (Laurel/Ventura)

              4 Replies
              1. re: schrutefarms

                "There's a good old-school Italian in Valley Village, the name escapes me, but it's the infamous Robert Blake place. The food is great." = http://www.vitellosrestaurant.com/

                1. re: schrutefarms

                  amir's falafel at colfax and ventura. pretty good.

                  casa vega is so bad its hilarious to go. jammed and dark. margaritas ungodly potent yet barely tasty.
                  mexicali is just bad.

                  1. re: linus

                    Yes, Amirs! Yum.
                    Agreed about Casa Vega, Mexicali isn't too bad, but I totally forgot about Loteria, catty corner (did I spell that right?) from Mexicali.

                2. Thread about Mexican in the SFV here:

                  The Six (bar/happy hr) also has a Studio City branch now. I've never been to the one in the SFV but rather enjoy the one in WLA:


                  1. 1. Ca Del Sol

                    2. Caioti Pizza Cafe

                    5. The original Katsu-ya is in Studio City - from before the fancier, trendy Katsu-ya's opened up. Its pretty good as I recall.

                    6. Not much in the area as I recall - there is a place called "The Steak Joynt" but it doesn't really live up to anything of the sort that you mentioned.

                    9. Kung Pao Bistro is pretty good

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Marvin

                      +1 on the OG Katsu-Ya. Leaps and bounds above the Starck/SBE franchises. I really enjoy saddling up to the bar, ordering the sushi omakase, and getting a steady stream of their greatest hits.

                      1. re: soccerandlost

                        One other thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/893768 you should definitely read through. The suggestions for Mantee and Ombra would be worth trying out.

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Ombra will be closing soon, and will be converted to Spitz.
                          but in that neighborhood, Joe's Falafel is very good as is Mantee.
                          Italian in the area is some of the worst you will find. La Cava in Sherman Oaks is actually better than most, yet....
                          Kung Pao Bistro on Ventura & Tujunga for Chinese.
                          Senor Fred for Mexican dining, and Cactus Taqueria at Tujunga & Moorpark for that kind of Mexican.
                          Steak - Mistral in Sherman Oaks, or head to Warner Center for Ruth's Chris, Morton's, Monty's or Flemings - all within a few blocks of each other.
                          Stanley's Sherman Oaks for salads and great outdoor patio.
                          Le Petit Restaurant Sherman Oaks for great all-around French menu, with great moules frites.
                          Peet's for coffee.

                          1. re: carter

                            Disagree re: Italian. Well, I should qualify that: Mezzomondo is quite good. Others may not be, but why bother when you've got Mezzo?

                            1. re: Jack Flash

                              No argument that Elio's is among the top of the list, but to even mention Il Tiramisu is a travesty. Nice people though.
                              Btw - forgot Black Market Liquor Bar, between Jumpin' Java and the Firestone store at Carpenter. Very good food and beverage, and very popular with the Happy Hour crowd pouring out of the CBS studios behind it.
                              And don't get me started with The Six - dreadful.

                      2. I grew up in Studio City and my folks still live there so I'm up there fairly regularly. Welcome!

                        I don't have great tips for #1, 6, 8 or 11, but I can say:

                        2. Pizza - Pagliaccis Cafe on Vantage for casual pies and slices, Caioti for the OG "California Pizzas"

                        3. Mexican (Dinner-type) - Tony's Mexican Grill has great home made fresh soups

                        4. If you are talking about Cactus, you are in luck, as Cactus just opened a branch on the corner of Moorpark and Tujunga.

                        5. Sushi - so many choices. I like the original Katsu-ya, but Kiwami, just a few blocks west, is owned by the same people, has a nearly identical menu, and IMO is just as good and way way less crowded.

                        7. Middle Eastern -- Pita Kitchen on Van Nuys and Carnival on Woodman.

                        9. Chinese - For Americanized, Chi Dynasty work for me in a pinch *dodges cans and tomatos*. Green Village in Sherman Oaks is supposed to be closer to the "real deal" but I haven't been yet.

                        10. Bar/Bistro - Laurel Tavern has a great beer selection and very good gastro-pub type fare.

                        12. Neighborhood Bar/Happy Hour - so many fun, low-key neighborhood bars. I love the Starlite Room on moorpark and the Chimney Sweep on Woodman. Both are pretty chill but also have pool/darts which can be fun.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MoreMolecules

                          Also, for No. 10
                          The Local Peasant at Ventura and Hazeltine (formerly a Blues Dive Bar).
                          Great Cocktails and small Bites. Similar to Laurel Tavern but a much bigger space to move around in...

                        2. No Thai Food for you?
                          Studio City is quite close to some really great Thai food.
                          Sri Siam is a favorite.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ciao Bob

                            +1. I'd be eating crispy rice salad weekly, if it were closer....

                          2. For Chinese, I agree with others on Kung Pao China Bistro. Great food; just don't be put off by its location.
                            Italian: You must try Gio Cucina in Sherman Oaks. Superb
                            I also agree with others on Sri Siam for Thai. Another great place for Thai is Sanamluang Café. They're open 24-7. It's a noisy, garish place and the parking area is always jammed.
                            For great burritos try Que Rico on Victory just west of Coldwater.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: mucho gordo

                              is that Kung Pao Bistro the same one that was previously in the Take a Bao space?

                              1. re: MoreMolecules

                                You are correct, Kung Pao Bistro was replaced by Take a Bao not much of a fan of Take a Bao except for their carmalized asian wings which are simply addictive and a must try, everything else I can do without.

                                1. re: Hypnotic23

                                  My other question is, is the restaurant "Kung Pao China Bistro" in the Tujunga/Ventura mini-mall the same as the former Kung Pao Bistro that was down the street?

                                  1. re: MoreMolecules

                                    Yes, it is. They 'downsized' for whatever reason and moved into a small strip mall store. No ambience now, and you might not want to eat there, but food is still great.

                                    1. re: mucho gordo

                                      They downsized because 70% of their business was taken out or delivered, and thus no need for such a large dining room and an equally large parking lot.
                                      I have eaten at the new location many times, and while the food is still as good, the ambiance is a little colder, yet I have seen the place full at times, and empty, except for me, at other times.
                                      By the way, they generally have jalapenos in the kitchen, and thus if that kind of addition to a favorite dish might be of interest, just ask for it.
                                      My favorite dish is a special I have created, called the Carter special, which is stringbeans, eggplant, with protein of choice(lamb, chicken, shrimp, tofu) with a Szechuan hot garlic sauce, with jalapenos!
                                      In fact, my nickname to the kitchen staff is Jalapeno!
                                      I like Chinese food as you can tell!
                                      But as many also know, you can have my share of sushi.

                                      1. re: carter

                                        I was a regular customer since they opened in the other location. I knew Jimmy, his wife and Betty very well and seldom found the place empty when I went in. I remember when they enlarged and remodeled to add more tables. Thus, I find it hard to understand how only 30% of their business was eat-in.
                                        I think it had more to do with property itself. Did Jimmy own the building or did the lease expire and the landlord wanted more money that Take a Bao was willing to pay.

                                        1. re: carter

                                          I have never, ever previously understood your persistent devotion to the very, very average-to-bad (in my humble opinion, of course) Kung Pao Bistro but now perhaps I do have a glimmer of insight....that dish sounds OK...is it sauced?

                                          Even so, KPB is no better than the hundreds, maybe thousands, of other lousy "Chinese" places in Hollywood, Westside or the Valley.

                                          1. re: carter

                                            BTW, was the lady who took your order friendly or as cold as a bottle of Tsing-Tao beer?

                                            1. re: mucho gordo

                                              Kitty's demeanor has greatly improved, assuming she is the one you are referring to. She may be a bit more matter of fact than you like, but she is generally the only one on the phones, so sometimes it is a matter of more than one call at a time, or that people walk in concurrently.
                                              CB - There are no better Chinese places in Studio City or Sherman Oaks - Chi Dynasty, Green Apple, Chin Chin, City Wok, etc. are all terrible, and even Bamboo in Sherman Oaks is not as good, although better than any of those mentioned above.
                                              And there is nothing better on the west side, even though Hop Li is about as close as you can get, but why go there when you live in the valley. The 626 is much closer and has a dizzying array of options.

                                              1. re: carter

                                                If you say her demeanor has improved, then, she's got to be the one. I just never knew her name. I thought it was just me that she was cold with because I once complained to Jimmy about her. If you still go in there, please tell her that the old gentleman with white hair and hoarse voice has moved away and misses her terribly.

                                2. I don't know Studio City very well but I enjoyed a meal at Raphael during last year's dineLA. I'm not sure which of the categories it'd fall under, but it was kind of a small plates/tapas place.

                                  Haven't been yet, but tops on my Studio City to-try list is Asanebo for high-end sushi. Previously owned by board-favorite Shunji Nakao, it's now (and for a while) owned by his brother Tetsuya. It had a Michelin star back when L.A. restaurants got Michelin stars.

                                  1. Most probably not within your perameters, but I have a real soft spot for Henry's Tacos. I find myself making a pit stop whenever I pass through Studio City. Perhaps it's a childhood regression thing, but it makes me deliriously happy.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: djquinnc

                                      it's totally a childhood regression thing.

                                    2. Pizza: it's been a while since I was there, but MULBERRY ST. PIZZA in Sherman Oaks is very good--thin, crisp crust.

                                      Sushi: Another vote for KATSU-YA, but it can get very crowded. Ventura Blvd. is known as Sushi Row, so you shouldn't have a problem finding good sushi.

                                      Mexican: the already-mentioned LOTERIA is very good, and CASA VEGA is popular and has been around forever. In Tarzana, SOL Y LUNA is also good.

                                      Tacos: A bit of a drive, but MELODIES (on Reseda at Vanowen) and its sister restaurant LAS FUENTES (on Vanowen just east of Reseda) are good.

                                      Steak: My go-to place is RUTH'S CHRIS in Woodland Hills. I haven't been, but I have heard good reports about LARSEN'S in Encino.

                                      French/Continental: I must add another vote for both MISTRAL in Studio City and BRANDYWINE in Woodland Hills.

                                      Misc.: BONEYARD BISTRO has very good BBQ and drinks, but I don't care for their bistro food. Another vote for ARTISAN CHEESE GALLERY for sandwiches and great cheese. On Tujunga in Valley Village is a great little place called AROMA COFFEE AND TEA, where they also serve food (I've been for breakfast and for after-dinner dessert). I'll also put in another vote for CA'DEL SOL, a nice Italian place in Toluca Lake. It has been at least a decade since I've been, so I don't know what it is like now, but WINE BISTRO was a nice little restaurant--maybe someone else can give an up-to-date comment on it.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: brandygirl

                                        Wine Bistro closed nearly 2 years ago, and in its place is Black Market Liquor Bar, which serves way more than booze. The food is in the tapas format, by and large, but it is very good.
                                        In fact, I wish the wine selection were better, but they do make many of the currently in vogue cocktails if those be of interest. Very popular Happy Hour weekdays with the CBS crowd working at the Radford Studios.
                                        Boneyard's bistro menu has all but disappeared to my disappointment. In its place are many burgers, with only a few token appearances from Aaron's former bistro menu. The burgers are very good, as are the sweet potato fries as accompaniment.

                                      2. I second third and fourth Joes Falafel!! Amazingly good!!

                                        For Mexican, I like driving up Lankershim to Sherman Way in NOHO, to a place called Salsa and Beer. Their meat has an amazing charbroiled smokiness (I am salivating as I write this). Never had anything like it. Two asada tacos, rice and beans for under $8. But it is a huge portion. Addictive bean dip and a full bar. Tons of food and really inexpensive. I am there 2-3 times a week with my girlfriend and we still can't believe how good it is.

                                        Another great place is Daichan at 11288 Ventura Blvd, Studio City. Japanese soul food. Try the poki bowls. Another inexpensive place that is fantastic.

                                        Italian done old school go to Miceli's. Italian home-style cooking with show tunes between courses sung by the waiters. It's a blast.

                                        Aroma Cafe. 4360 Tujunga ave. Studio City. How about a lobster BLT or some amazing pastries and sandwiches?