Because you either 1) don't want to go all the way to the Valley, or 2) can't believe no one'll make a stupid 20min drive over the Hill to hang out, here's your guide to the 11 best spots to eat right in the middle, all located on (or a baseball's throw from) Ventura Blvd, in between where Cahuenga becomes Ventura, and just West of the 405.
Ramen by Omae (click here for address and deets)
The most exciting Japanese noodle-slurpery in all of LA right now is this spot in... Sherman Oaks? Yep. What sets it apart? Try a Michelin-starred chef boiling pork bones for 40+ hours for a thick tonkotsu broth.
Casa Vega (click here for address and deets)
Because you will drink many margaritas, eat many chips, much guacamole, and be very, very happy. Also, order a burrito oven-style. Trust us.
Black Market (click here for address and deets)
It's pretty extraordinary how the just-off-Cahuenga section of Ventura's become a gastropub haven in the past few years. Part of that trend's clearly indebted to the success of Black Market, which pairs Top Cheffer Antonia Lofaso and lauded barmen Pablo Moix and Steve Livigni for a team that's killing it on both the burger and booze front.
Blue Dog Beer Tavern (click here for address and deets)
Not only does this (yes, again) gastropub have one of the best burgers in town that you've never heard of, but they've also got an insane beer list, and're walking distance from the Galleria, where you'll smirk at the people waiting in line at The Cheesecake Factory... right before you
also get in line at The Cheesecake Factory stumble up to the ArcLight.
Bamboo (click here for address and deets)
If you've got friends who grew up in the Valley, it's likely that their taste for Chinese food started at this mid-Boulevard staple. But it's not just nostalgia that keeps them in business: Bamboo's a Zagat-rated favorite, with classic deliciousness like a well-salted won ton soup and sizzling hot beef & scallops.
Sadaf (click here for address and deets)
It's as far West as you're likely to go, but it's worth heading under the 405 for this Persian treasure. They've got rice that's boiled with sour cherries and chicken, and juicy, thick savory stews of veal and eggplant. Added bonus: plentiful, under-the-405, shopping cart parking nearby!
Warren's Blackboard (click here for address and deets)
The restaurant at the off-Ventura Beverly Garland Hotel's gonna be renovated later this year, but until then, the new chef -- who's done time at Patina and Westside Tavern -- is working on developing the menu, "blackboard"-style (get it???), at this semi-permanent pop-up. His classic American food includes a monstrous apple slaw-abetted pork chop, and poached lobster with blood oranges.
Sugarfish (click here for address and deets)
The transformation from Sushi Nozawa to Sugarfish -- the most consistent chain of any kind we've ever eaten at, and some of the best under-$50 sushi anywhere -- can't be unobserved: Sugarfish is great. Unequivocally.
Iroha (click here for address and deets)
Okay, props to one more sushi joint: this unassuming, tucked-away spot serves not only hearty helpings of salmon nigiri and crazy-good uni, but they also have the best blackened cod on the Boulevard.
Boneyard Bistro (click here for address and deets)
So, for an appetizer, this BBQ spot (which also has killer ribs) has Kobe beef & chili-filled donuts. You should read that sentence again. Then go here tonight.
Laurel Tavern (click here for address and deets)
More great gastropub food? We're gonna go with... yes. Head here for Cantonese lollipop wings, steamed PEI mussels, and a burger topped with bleu cheese and caramelized bacon.
1. Ramen By Omae14425 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks
2. Black Market Liquor Bar11915 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
3. Laurel Tavern11938 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
4. Warren's Blackboard4222 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood
5. Boneyard Bistro13539 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks
6. Blue Dog Beer Tavern4524 Saugus Ave, Sherman Oaks
7. Iroha Sushi of Tokyo12953 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
8. Casa Vega13301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks
9. SUGARFISH11288 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
10. Sadaf16240 Ventura Blvd, Encino
11. Bamboo Cuisine14010 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks
Run by a Michelin-starred chef, this cozy ramen house in The Valley is known to be one of the best in the city -- and actually lives up to the hype. Offering a variety of upscale Japanese cuisine, Omae has some seriously tasty bowls of ramen on the menu, too, such as the Kogashi ramen, which is made with a pork broth, instead of the usual chicken, and their always-scrumptious and chewy noodles. Trust us, you'll want seconds.
Black Market's a mid-sized Studio City gastrobistro that's merged the talents of a Top Chef All-Star, the dude from Harvard & Stone, and the former GM at Bardot, with a moody interior that looks like a bar Van Helsing might pre-game at before taking on the Count, featuring intricately paneled windows, a multi-tiered mirrored bar, and a half-dome exposed brick ceiling.
This Studio City gastropub focuses on hearty comfort food and a mix of cocktails, craft beers, and fine wine. The pub-style burgers (aka thick and juicy) come in six varieties that range from BBQ to bacon blue cheese, so you'll have no trouble finding the ideal burger for your tastes. Oh, and there are three kinds of fries (regular, gravy, and chili-cheese). Craving a burger and fries? Done and done.
This North Hollywood spot doles out a variety of grub, especially featuring its Mediterranean cuisine with a California influence.
Located in Sherman Oaks, this place is a triple threat after establishing its identity as a BBQ joint, beer garden, and gastropub. You haven't lived until you tried the slow-cooked hickory-smoked pork baby back ribs. Or, equally, the mega platter.
Located just off the 405 in what used to be a dental office (which now looks like a mid-construction Victorian home thanks to wood lattices, antique light fixtures and decor, and a bar and walls made from the original 1940s floors), the Blue Dog Beer Tavern's got a vibe that's part local dive, part sports bar, part vintage flea market. Craft beer is thing place's specialty, and at any given moment they're sure to have more than 60 drafts from LA breweries that'll wash down a house-ground burger with ease. The spacious and surprisingly modern back patio offers some breathing space when the tables inside get cramped at rush hour.
Located in a converted house on Ventura Blvd, this sushi-war survivor’s been holding it down for decades. Offering both trendy dishes (yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño) and Japanese standards (such as bento and tempura), it's no wonder that Iroha has stood the test of time. Be sure to try spicy miso and spicy tuna on crispy spice. The nigiri, too, is highly praised.
Sometimes, you don't want to go to the hot new Mexican restaurant where bartenders are called mixologists and the menu is filled with unrecognizable small plates. You want the Spanish-roofed restaurant that feels like 1950s Mexico in an unironic way, where old-school bartenders make strong drinks with no-name tequila and every table has a side of rice and beans. That's when you go to Casa Vega, a 60-year-old bar and restaurant in Sherman Oaks where uncomplicated burritos and fajitas are the plates du jour and the signature margaritas flow like water.
This back-to-basics spot from Kazunori "Sushi Nazi" Nozawa takes the food he perfected at his namesake restaurant and makes it more accessible to the masses without sacrificing one iota of quality. This sushi spot forgoes flashy rolls and fusion dishes in favor of pure ingredients and simple preparations -- you choose from three set menus ranging from small to large-ish, and while a la carte items can be ordered on top of that, if you pick the right size and trust the master, you really won't need them.
This Persian hotspot is doling out seriously impressive eats -- from their delicious dips (try the Maust Mousier) to kebabs and rack of lamb, no order can go wrong.