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NYer Visiting Burbank

I have to spend a week in Burbank for work and will looking to explore, food-wise, having never spent much time in Southern CA. I'll probably be dining alone mostly, and will need places nearby sometimes but other times will have time to roam. I would probably rather not go fancy, but would love to find interesting local places or ethnic that I can't get in the NYC area.

So, perhaps a trip or two to the San Gabriel Valley for Chinese? We can get good Sichuan, Northwestern / Xian, Lanzhou, Fujian, etc. and ok Cantonese in NYC. What should I try? Asian beyond Chinese? I don't get great Thai or Vietnamese out east. Others?

Mexican suggestions?

For nights I work late and can't travel far, anything in Burbank?

I'm up for any ideas. Thanks.

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  1. You should visit Porto's Bakery http://www.portosbakery.com/content/p... in Burbank since you are right there. Potato balls are always tasty, but other things like the guava/cheese strudel are certainly chow worthy.

    27 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      The Cuban sandwiches at Porto's are the draw, not just the appetizers and deserts.

      1. re: bringiton

        the cuban sandwiches at porto's are not good. stick with the potato balls and desserts.

        1. re: linus

          in your opinion ;)

          i can eat that medianoche all day, every day. and at less than 5 bucks, a steal.

          agree to disagree, as always :)

          1. re: ns1

            silly, i thought it was obvious i was giving the opinion of the deceased saxophone player, albert ayler.

            i don't care for the sandwiches at porto's at all. the cuban sandwich at mambo's is better than the cuban sandwich at porto's, and mambo's is much less stress, the people there are impeccably nice.
            the sandwiches at sweet salt and olive and thyme are much better.

            1. re: linus

              true, but also 100% more expensive.

              1. re: ns1

                yes, they are more expensive.
                however, unlike porto's, they are worth the expense.

                but honey, let's not quarrel in front of the children.

      2. re: Servorg

        you may make your own informed opinion about what's good at porto's but it's about the only place in burbank that remotely resembles a reason to travel to burbank to eat. and you can do lunch there. but you'll have to drive a bit for everything else IMO.

        1. re: barryc

          lots of top chef alumni around here, if you are so inclined.

          cj jacobson (girasol, studio city)
          antonia (black market, studio city)
          fabio (osteria firenze, north hollywood)
          alex (sweetsalt, toluca lake)

          but true, nothing in burbank proper

          1. re: ns1

            burbank proper is a very tough nut.

            the upscale sandwiches and salads at sweetsalt and olive and thyme are pretty good.
            the breakfast burrito at the corner cottage is good; the hot sauce they serve inside or with it is excellent.
            the beer at tony's darts away is excellent. the sausages are pretty good.
            the hot dogs at larry's are excellent.
            i haven't decided about the empanadas at world's finest empanadas yet.
            the kebabs at cafe bravo on the burbank/glendale border are great.
            umami burger is umami burger.
            the fish and chips at big willie's is o.k., but not worth travelling any distance for.
            the french joint on pass, in the same complex as the von's, is good.

            1. re: linus

              I much prefer the breakfast burrito at Larry's Chili Dog on Burbank blvd. I would say it is the best breakfast burrito I've had lately.

              1. re: alliebear

                larrys does have a good breakfast burrito. excellent hot dogs, too.

              2. re: linus

                "the breakfast burrito at the corner cottage is good; the hot sauce they serve inside or with it is excellent."

                One of my least favorite breakfast burrito's in the city. Poor ratio of eggs/meat/cheese/potatoes. The 2 hour wait does not make it better.

                I'm astounded that you can mention the line at Porto's, but neglect to mention the line @ Corner Cottage.

                1. re: ns1

                  I like Corner Cottage though I have not had it in a few years now.

                  1. re: ns1

                    very good point, ns1. there is often a big line at the corner cottage for breakfast burritos, and i did not mention it.
                    mea culpa.

                    of course, if there's a line, i don't go.
                    i tend to go during the week, early, or just after school starts. i walked in there the other day at 8 a.m. and it was empty.
                    weekends, the place is jammed. i stay away.
                    also, they stop serving the breakfast burritos at 11 a.m.

                    there's not a breakfast burrito on god's green earth i would wait two hours for.

                    i guess i should do more investigating about when there's not a line at porto's.

                    1. re: linus

                      "also, they stop serving the breakfast burritos at 11 a.m.

                      there's not a breakfast burrito on god's green earth i would wait two hours for.

                      i guess i should do more investigating about when there's not a line at porto's."

                      On the weekends, you go to CC and buy a burrito. Then you leave and go to costco for a little bit. Then you return back and wait another 10-15 minutes for your breakfast burrito.

                      @ Porto's, it's pretty much a crapshoot around lunchtime unless you go at 11:30a; I've tried going at various times between 12-2p and it's all the same, a random crapshoot.

                    2. re: ns1

                      NS, you disappoint me. The Corner Cottage burrito is sublime.

                      1. re: bringiton

                        maybe a 6.5/10, then dock -7 points for the wait.

                2. re: barryc

                  if i lived far outside the burbank area, i wouldn't travel to porto's.
                  before there was a porto's in burbank, i only rarely travelled to the one in glendale. more likely, i would want to go when in the area, and be scared of the line.
                  has anyone mentioned the line at porto's?

                    1. re: ns1

                      line=waiting forever=still waiting=yep, still waiting=no payoff

                      whatever they put between the bread on porto's sandwiches has only a passing resemblance to "fresh"

                      1. re: linus

                        Give me a break. If you don't like Porto's, fine; but it simply isn't what you claim. Yes, there CAN be a line depending on what time you go, and maybe you'll have to wait a few minutes. It is far from interminable, and if you're getting stuff to go like many other folks, you can - get this - call ahead!

                        1. re: Jack Flash

                          they won't take phone orders unless you're ordering 5+ sandwiches or something.

                          1. re: Jack Flash

                            i have called ahead with large orders and it's much the way to go.

                            as far as not what i claim, i totally take responsibility for hallucinating the crowds of people i see in there and the long waits that ensue.

                        1. re: linus

                          The line at Porto's is shockingly insanely long, however, it moves very quickly. The place is a well oiled efficient machine and you will be ordering within 5 minutes and eating soon after.

                    2. Not hugely familiar w/ Burbank but, for the days where you have more free time, Sri Siam (very little ambiance, but fantastic Thai) in North Hollywood and Cacao Mexicatessen (Mexican) in Eagle Rock aren't super-far, definitely not fancy, and are incredibly tasty (just make sure to check traffic reports b/f leaving!).

                      Even if you can get great Chinese food in NYC, going to the SGV just to get a sense of the vastness of the Chinese community there might be fun.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: ilysla

                        personally, i could spend a week just doing chinese in the SGV, but i'm biased.

                        for example:
                        - pork chop rice and cold chicken sesame noodles, among other things, at old country cafe which IIRC is also open 'til midnight.
                        - you didn't mention shanghai-ese fare, which includes things like soup dumplings/buns called xiao long bao (XLB's for short). din tai fung is the popular choice but there are some decent ones to be had with a lot less fuss & wait time. you can search on that to get more refined recommendations;
                        - if you're big on noodles, you've got places like omar, kam hong, JTYH (as known as heavy noodling II). there are a few others i've neglected to mention, i'm sure.
                        - if you haven't had a beef roll, 101 noodle express, mama's kitchen and flavor garden all have fans, they're within walking distance of each other;

                        thai might be a good choice in terms of proximity to burbank;

                        and given that glendale to the east of burbank has the largest concentation of armenians outside armenia, you've probably got a lot of good options to try armenian food. i wish i could say the same about filipino food given the huge concentration of filip's in eagle rock just east of glendale though i've heard that barrio fiesta isn't bad.

                        1. re: barryc

                          And if the OP is going to be in Glendale investigating Armenian food then they might as well swing by Proof Bakery http://www.proofbakeryla.com/ too.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Not sure what the persian/armenian food scene is in NYC, but Raffi's in nearby Glendale is tasty and inexpensive (at least, it was when I last went there many moons ago).

                            And agree that Proof is worth a trip.

                            1. re: Servorg

                              if all else fails, try a double double animal style at in-n-out in glendale. i don't think that there's one in burbank. and they're open until 1am. it's a S. CA thing; some people swear by the in-n-out double double the way some folks swear by white castle sliders, (which i kinda miss, actually) etc.

                              1. re: barryc

                                Barry, there's an In 'N Out off the 5 Freeway at near Ikea off Burbank Blvd. I was there tonight!

                                761 N 1st St
                                Burbank, CA 91502

                                1. re: granadafan

                                  thank you. yes, i should have remembered that; i've eaten there. i was thinking burbank along the 134 instead of up the 5.

                        2. In Burbank I would suggest the following.

                          1. Porto's. Already mentioned here but well worht the trip.

                          2. Taste Chicago. Outside Chicago, it's my favorite Italian Beef sandwich - they also do a great deep dish.

                          3. Granville. A great little eatery in downtown Burbank with a great bar and friendly staff. Love the Pork Chop dinner. Also great burgers.

                          4. Chadanka Thai is also in downtown Burbank and quite good.

                          5. Caio Christina. Great little Italian restaurant next to Warner Brothers. Highly recommended.

                          6. Olive and Tyme. Excellent sandwich shop and more. Very trendy but excellent.

                          1. Not much in Burbank except some decent franchises, but Glendale, next door, has Porto's for Cuban, Bashan, Raffi's for middle eastern, and Sushi Nishya, a decent if overrated sushi joint.

                            In the San Gabriel valley, notable CH Vietnamese restaurants are Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa, Golden Deli, and Newport Seafood for lobster/crab. I like Noodle Boy for wonton noodles and V K Food products for sublime tofu pudding. In Thaitown, there is Jitlada, but good luck finding Thai people there, Sanamluang Cafe for Thai noodles, and I like Palms Thai.

                            1. The trip to the Thai portion of Hollwood is a short freeway jaunt from burbank. Try Pa Ord or Ruen Pair among others.

                              1. mexican: are you into taco trucks? i've only just started trying them myself, and i can't think of any good ones around burbank, but someone from burbank took me to a spot near western & the 101 (which is probably less than 15 minutes from burbank) i think it was western & lexington where there are two different taco trucks parked next to each other in peaceful co-existence.both trucks have a faithful following while some folks bought different tacos from each truck. i think one of them is el matador.

                                they should be easy find using the search function.

                                it was interesting to do a side by side taste test, one truck had an almost smoky quality to their carne asada - but i can't remember which one right now.

                                and they're open until, what, 4am or so, so it's a late night option.

                                and as far as the san fernando valley (basically everything west of burbank) goes, other than thai, mexican might be your best bet for something you might not find in NYC. a simple search will provide good options relatively nearby.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: barryc

                                  And BeaBeas which I like. And Bistro Provence.

                                2. I cannot stress enough how wonderful Porto's is. I like everything there especially the Cuban sandwiches. I can't say if its authentic or not but I know what I like. Porto's is also a fantastic place to sit and people watch. Don't walk...run over there. It is amazing.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: SIMIHOUND

                                    Any Porto's in a storm, or on a sunny day or something in between the two for you? ;-D>

                                  2. As a long-time Burbank resident, I can vouch for our well- known NON foodie status!

                                    That said, I do like the little French place that was mentioned earlier. It's a hidden gem called "Bistro Provence." It's in a shopping center next to a Starbucks. The chef-owner has a history working for the truly famous Chef Joachim Splichal of the Patina (Pinot) Group. There are some wonderful dishes as well as caring, attentive service. It is at 345 N. Pass Ave. (near the studios and Riverside Drive), Burbank, 91505.

                                    For a local dinner after work hours, I like the also-hidden Olive's Bistro, which is in the Coast Annabelle Hotel on Olive Ave., next to the renowned Safari Inn. (2011 W. Olive, Burb., 91506. 818-845-7800.) This place is a genuine "Cheers"-like experience -- where everyone really does know everyone's name, are exceptionally friendly plus the food is good. We like the sea bass, the pasta with sausage and even the burger. Just ask around you. Your new friends will let you know.

                                    I too like Taste of Chicago as mentioned by another commenter (it's casual and tasty, although I've heard native Chicagoans bemoan it) and Portos (the Cuban bakery) is pretty much beloved. There is a Portos in Glendale and another right in Burbank (at Victory and Buena Vista, I think). Both are indeed crowded and I am not a fan of the parking situation -- but there IS a reason why they are so busy.

                                    In "beautiful downtown Burbank" (San Fernando Road) are chain restaurants. CA Pizza Kitchen, Chevys, PF Changs, Granville. I don't car for chains but to each their own. Nearby is a Mexican restaurant called Alfonso's Granada that a lot of locals like. It's very Americanized Mexican but consistent and inexpensive. (The chains are worse, in my opinion.)

                                    If you want a 1950s diner shop experience, go to Tally Rand on Olive. It's infamous for its Huell Howser-approved turkey dinners and sandwiches. If you want an old studio experience, go to the Smoke House across from Warner Brothers and picture Danny Kaye cooking in the back. If you want a view, drive up the hill (up Harvard or Walnut off Glenoaks -- ask anyone!) and eat average food at sunset at the beautiful Castaways, or also-average food at the much less expensive DeBell Golf Course Grill. Same spectacular view. You can watch the golfers and the deer at DeBell during daytime hours. Very green, peaceful and pretty.

                                    There's also Toluca Lake right next to Burbank with many cute little places on Riverside Drive. Bob's Big Boy is a favorite among car lovers, burger lovers, history lovers and Jay Leno lovers alike. It's a historical landmark (almost) and is also right on Riverside Drive.

                                    Have fun visiting Burbank! Looks like we'll be having great weather for you!

                                    1. Good lord, no mention of Chili John's, especially for a solo diner? You'll probably live at this old style chili joint from the forties. It's counter only seating, so you won't have to worry about filling out a table.

                                      I've heard that the fish and chips are good at the Buchanan Arms, also on Burbank Blvd. It's a pub, so maybe there'll be some barflies you can make friends with.

                                      I like Gary's Bric Ramp steak house - an eccentric heap backed up on the Hollywood Way on ramp to the I-5. It's a small place, so you may feel more comfortable as a solo diner than at Smokehouse, which is a big, rambling place.

                                      For what it's worth, a place called Moore's Deli right in downtown Burbank across from the courthouse recently got written up in the LA Weekly for it's Cuban sandwich. Try it, and you can weigh in on the deeply serious Porto's debate!

                                      Finally, in neighboring North Hollywood there are a bazillion places. Hayat's Kitchen on Burbank has good middle eastern. Definitely try Mofongo on Lankershim for Puerto Rican. And, as somebody mentioned, don't miss Sri Siam.

                                      16 Replies
                                      1. re: MarkC

                                        when moore's deli opened, it was great. i had some really tasty sandwiches there.

                                        the last few times i went, though, they had gone seriously downhill and i gave up.
                                        perhaps a revisit is required.

                                        i was afraid to mention chili john's. i don't know why.

                                        1. re: linus

                                          Don't be ashamed of Chili John's. It's one of the more interesting food destinations in Burbank.

                                          1. re: linus

                                            Why did you have any trepidation in mentioning Chili John's ?

                                            1. re: kevin

                                              well, look kevin, even mark c above called it "interesting."

                                              which i agree with.

                                              1. re: linus

                                                you mean from a standpoint of atmosphere via green bay or the actual eats itself.

                                                i do like it. but i wouldn't call it interesting necessarily.

                                                though maybe the pineapple cream pie is quite interesting.

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  i can't speak for mark c, but i mean "interesting" as in the chili is "interesting."
                                                  as opposed to 'good' or 'bad.'
                                                  that said, i enjoy it. but i'm afraid to recommend it.

                                                  1. re: linus

                                                    I shouldn't have looked at the pictures.

                                                    Is Chili John's supposed to be cincinnati style chili, or it's own thing?

                                                    1. re: ns1

                                                      i'm going to slightly disagree with mark c's otherwise pretty accurate description of chili john's.
                                                      the chili comes in mild, medium and hot, and i don't find the hot very hot. i think of it as more of a midwestern chili than anything texas-y.
                                                      they also have chicken chili. and hot dogs if you want a chili dog.
                                                      you can get the chili over beans or spaghetti, or both, and they have shredded cheese, so it's kind of served cinci style.
                                                      it used to be they wouldn't serve you just chili; i think that may have changed.

                                                      1. re: linus

                                                        Don't they still offer their chili over tamales too? That's the way I've had it in the past.

                                                          1. re: linus

                                                            Yeah, they do as of the last time I was there, which was close to a year ago.

                                                            Also, I really do like their pineapple cream pie.

                                                    2. re: linus

                                                      Interesting, primarily in that the place is interesting, as it dates back to the forties, and you don't see a lot of chili joints anymore, with the chopped onions and oyster crackers.

                                                      The chili I would describe as hearty and satisfying. It is also spicy, like Texas chili, so I would not describe it as Cincinnati style chili, although you can get it over spaghetti.

                                                      The pineapple cream pie is not interesting, and I would skip it. If you're hankering for dessert, Republic of Pie is not too far. Also Quenelle ice cream and bakery on Magnolia.

                                                      1. re: MarkC

                                                        The spiciness of the chili depends on how you want it, actually. It can be mild on up.

                                                        1. re: Jack Flash

                                                          If I'm not mistaken there's only one spice level to the original (beef) chili at Chili John's, but they mild, medium, and spicy levels only change depending on how much beans they add to the chili and beans melange.

                                              2. re: linus

                                                I have to agree with you about Moore's, it has gone downhill. Same thing seems to have happened with their other restaurant Little Flower. The sandwiches are just rather blah now. Funny because they look the same. Such a bummer as I like both places for lunch.

                                            2. Also good for a solo diner - Zankou Chicken is a very tasty, very serviceable middle eastern chain with a branch near downtown Burbank.

                                              1. If you rule out chains and you rule out fancy, you are left with joints like Harry's (pretty good for breakfast), Coral Cafe, Monte Carlo (Italian), Ribs USA, and the aforesaid Chili John's.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: mc michael

                                                  monte carlo is an average red sauce italian cafeteria with an attached market, at best.

                                                    1. re: mc michael

                                                      yeah you'll need a few of em before eating @ Monte Carlo.

                                                2. As said above, North Hollywood (next door to Burbank) has some fantastic Thai food. Apart from Sri Siam and their wonderful fried fish, Krua Thai's pad thai is far and away my favorite (they have two forms, I get the special one).

                                                  Corner of Victory and Vineland in NH on evenings has a couple of very good taco trucks.

                                                  Oh and besides Porto's, there are a ton of great hole in the wall Armenian places in Glendale, also right down the road from Burbank.

                                                  Further afield from Burbank, Koreatown is vast, hard to understand for a first-timer, and home to some absolutely fantastic food. If you have any time, I highly recommend a visit.

                                                  21 Replies
                                                  1. re: Tyus4pt8

                                                    I still really like BeaBeas, but it seems like no on really likes it on the board.

                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                      I have had an amazing breakfast at BeaBeas and really enjoyed it. My 20 year old liked it a lot and she is their target audience. Lots of tattoos, piercings and munchie-like food (as in, "Hey! What if you like put peanut butter on an English muffin with whipped cream? Sounds good, let's try it, dude!"). Okay, so we would have said it that way (without the term dude) in the 70s. Cute place, loud, busy, could be cleaner, creative, fun.

                                                      1. re: susiequeue

                                                        Yeah, I like it.

                                                        Many hounds don't though.

                                                        But the ingredients are still quite good too.

                                                    2. re: Tyus4pt8

                                                      Elena's Greek-Armenian in Glendale has outrageously good chicken and lamb kebab platters for an incredibly good price.

                                                      Other than the pretty garden, I have never understood why people would go to Raffi's over Elena's.
                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                        I have friends who drive from Larchmont to Elena's just for the fries. They are that good.

                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                            the meat kebabs are very good there. they have the best lentil soup ive had in a restaurant. i like the grape leaves quite a bit. the falalfel is very...crispy and a little different.
                                                            salads are fresh and abundant.

                                                            1. re: linus

                                                              Dope. That's what I needed besides the ksbsbs.

                                                              I'll grab the galafels plus some fries

                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                the falafel is odd. sort of donut shaped.

                                                                1. re: linus

                                                                  As long as it doesn't taste like a donut.

                                                                  Unless of course it's a new creation called the falanut or a doughlafel.

                                                                  Anyhow, it's tasty or just interesting ?

                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                    i think they're tasty, but they i don't think they taste like a typical falafel.

                                                                    1. re: linus

                                                                      I used to live in Israel, and while most falafels there had the standard, round shape, some places did the donut shape. In Egypt, the falafels are flattened, or donut shaped, so these may be Egyptian style falafels.

                                                                      1. re: linus

                                                                        Linus, I'll hit that shit up, I trust your taste in food as always (even though we always seem to get into food disputes.)

                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                          Is hitting "shit up" a good thing? Cant it get in your eye? Shouldn't you wipe it off or hit it away??

                                                                          1. re: Thor123

                                                                            "Hit that shit up" translated from kevin's terrible lexicon or vernacular into the Queen's English would entail "Giving the restaurant a requisite visit for the first time".

                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                              Thank you for the clarification.

                                                                              1. re: Thor123

                                                                                No problem.

                                                                                You lost me yesterday on a thousand roses for a single glass of water.

                                                                                Can you translate that one for me too, if you would do me that kindness ?

                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                  The bar we were discussing has been rumored to be frequented by ladies of the evening. I believe the phrase "long cool drink of water" was used in the 30s to refer to an attractive woman. A "thousand roses" is slang for $1,000. No offense to anyone intended.

                                                                                  1. re: Thor123

                                                                                    None taken.

                                                                                    Thanks man.

                                                                                    I was born way way way way after the 30s so that turn of phrase was besides me.

                                                                                    And I never knew the 1000 roses phrase.

                                                                                    Thanks man. I'll take the blame somewhat in asking for your explanation.

                                                                2. re: linus

                                                                  Sorry for the spelling errors

                                                                  Stupid worthless not so smart phone.

                                                              2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                That's what I've been saying for years.

                                                                I'm not quite sure why everyone is always on Raffi's dick, extolling the joint beyond compare.

                                                            2. I expect to be a car-less prisoner of the Marriott Burbank for a conference. Will be arriving the Wed. evening before. Any place walking distance? If not, will I be able to get a cab to & from?


                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Fine

                                                                There's a Daily Grill right there. Not a huge thrill but, handy. And I think some fast food places within walking distance, kind of across the way.