*Sorry, due to some weird re-formatting that somehow happened, the punctuation went kablooey. When I get a chance I'll fix it. Until then, please realize I do know how to use a question mark.
On occasion, my husband and I will splurge - but most of the places listed are reasonably priced.� We usually avoid trendy places with mediocre, yet pretty, dishes.� Also, I'm willing to do without atmosphere for amazing service and mouth-watering food - though I would prefer to have all three.�
I don't claim to be a gastronomic "expert." I just love really good food.
The first three are all on Antique Row in Canoga Park
Cavaretta's Deli - 22045 Sherman Way, Canoga Park 818-340-6626
Do you love good cannoli?� Try Cavaretta's - opened since 1959.� I love this place.� Every time I go to Cavaretta's I take a number, wait and chat with the other hungry customers.� It's crowded, noisy and full of lots of Italian specialty foods.� They have fresh bread, good Italian sausage, exceptionally good mozarella and feta...all kinds of edible treats, including that cannoli I mentioned. � The Italian sub is my favorite sandwich here; it's got that real deli taste that a chain like Subway can't ever duplicate.� Hey, I even picked up a hand operated pasta maker here for a friend's wedding gift.� You can park on Sherman Way, but I always like parking in the back...something about coming through the backdoor adds to my Cavaretta's experience.
Pastries by Edie - 21608 Sherman Way, Canoga Park - 818-340-0203
Edible (and extremely delicious!) works of art.� Their pastries are as colorful and as esthetically pleasing as tiny masterpieces. My daughter and I, while walking Antique Row and perusing vintage shops, ducked into Pastries by Edie.� We tried some of their decadently silky and luscious gelatos.� My two favorite flavors were the latte menta (a creamy mint) and mango.� And then, overwhelmed by the pastry choices, I went for three mini cheesecakes with glazed strawberries.� Yum!� I hadn't seen pastries that beautiful since my last trip to Paris...oh, and they were rich, sweet and creamy as good cheesecake should be.
And then, as I held my delicate little cakes in a plastic box while scanning the racks at Out of the Closet, an employee, upon seeing my box of treats, said, "I know those!� Aren't their pastries amazing?" He then said his favorite are the fruit tarts in chocolate lined cups...I'll have to remember that.
Follow Your Heart - 21825 Sherman Way, Canoga Park
A natural, vegetarian food market and restaurant - good tasting, healthy food in a funky atmosphere.�
The store's filled with health foods, healthy cookbooks, natural cosmetics and scents, incense and hand-made gifts.� It's located in an area of Canoga Park known as antique row, for the plethora of antique, vintage and collectible stores near-by.
Le Bon Bread - 21928 Ventura Bl., Woodland Hills
Le Bon Bread is a quaint French-style bakery.� When you park in the back, you're likely to glimpse and smell the bread being made as you walk toward the front.� They make quiches, brioches, croissants, tarts, eclairs, sandwiches on their freshly baked bread, and more - including coffees: capuccino, espresso and latte.� There are tables inside and out.
Cheebo - 7533 Sunset Boulevard (just West of Guitar Center)
The next time I have a friend visit from out of town I may have to take them to Cheebo for lunch. Why? Because it’s sooooo LA! Remember Annie Hall’s last scene at the Source on Sunset Boulevard? Cheebo is more LA than that. With its organic menu, art-covered tangerine walls and rock star and movie-type clientele, Woody Allen couldn't create a better only-in-Hollywood scene.
Though the sky was blackish-gray and drizzling, the moment my daughter and I entered Cheebo, sun seemed
to pour through the mosaic of colored glass panes and land right on
Slash from Guns 'n Roses. Even though the
small room was packed and servers swooshed by carrying towers of pita bread on
hummus, Slash – with his full black curls and pierced nose - was hard not to
Though the sky was blackish-gray and drizzling, the moment my daughter and I entered Cheebo, sun seemed to pour through the mosaic of colored glass panes and land right on Slash from Guns 'n Roses. Even though the small room was packed and servers swooshed by carrying towers of pita bread on hummus, Slash – with his full black curls and pierced nose - was hard not to notice.
After being seated next to a group of guys, we discovered the crayons placed on our table and began coloring away on the white paper-topped table. My daughter worked on her hot pink heart, while I scribbled some Psychedelic amoeba-like orbs.
The guys next to us - some independent film people, I’m guessing from what they were talking about - pointed out their own tablecloth art: One blood covered dagger and some boobies.
“Well, that about sums up guys, right there,” I said, glad they laughed instead of being offended.
Our lentil soup and Mediterranean plate arrived. Everything was fresh and tasty. As we ate, Slash walked by, dressed in black jeans and black T-shirt. My eyes locked on his muscular, tattooed bicep… Oops, I was staring. But it’s a small place and I was facing that way… Oh, come on! To not stare at Slash when he was only two feet in front of my face would just be lame. I stared. I ate. I colored. I liked Cheebo.
Sushi Tsune - 18373 Ventura Blvd Tarzana, CA (818) 705-3400
It's delicous and really fresh sushi served in a friendly atmosphere (the room's lack of atmosphere is greatly warmed by the people).� The chefs are very friendly and approachable.� And the people who eat there� - regulars for years - all seem to be part of the Sushi Tsune family.� Ever since friends brought my husband and me here a few years ago, it's the only sushi place we go to lately.� Without our friends divulging their secret, we probably never would've discovered it, since it's hidden in a mall - just east of Reseda Bl.� Everything I've tried there is tasty.� I always like the rainbow roll (cut) and for a great flavor and texture sensation we like the crunchy roll (cut).� They always have interesting specials on the chalk board.� But whatever we get, we never fail to finish the meal with a serving of the fried tempura green tea ice cream.
Angelini Osteria - 7313 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles (4 BLOCKS WEST OF LA BREA)
Angelini Osteria's food is incredible.� My shrimp salad was so amazing it had me thinking I never really had shrimp before.� My husband's grilled bistecca alla Fiorentina was the best damn tasting T-bone steak I've had in a long, long time.� The seafood risotto was a blend of creamy, spicey risotto filled with fresh sea food.� And, oooohhhh, the tiramisu was a wonderful way to end the meal.
This place is a splurge for us...but worth every dollar.
Arroyo Chop House - 536 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91105 (626) 577-7463
This steak house is another wonderful splurge.� First, the atmosphere is perfect - Craftsman style dark wood, amber lighting, alive with the sound of the piano tinkling, happy chatter from patrons and sizzling steaks from the open kitchen.�
Uh, my steak - an herb encrusted prime rib - looked like one of those brontosaurus steaks from the Flintstones, and any moment the side of the table where my plate was set was going to tip over.� It was huge!!�
When I cut into my medium-well prime rib, as thick as it was, it seemed to melt.� And once it touched my tongue, it did.� The meat was so tender and juicy it really seemed to melt in my mouth.� And the flavor was superb.� While it came with three different sauces, I preferred to eat it just as it came.� Oh, and the garlic mashed potatoes were really tasty too.� My husband was just as impressed with his rib eye, which he somehow managed to make disappear, leaving only the bone.
I, on the other hand, had to drag away my huge portion of left over prime rib.� Seriously, the bag felt like it weighed five pounds.
Anyway, I have to say it was the most amazing prime rib I've ever tasted.� Oh, and if you still have room order a Grande Marnier souffle....mmmmm, heavenly.
Great service!� Enrique the waiter is fantastic!! Plus, great atmosphere and great food...a great experience.
Chili John's - 2018 W Burbank Blvd, Burbank (Cross Street: Keystone Street) #818-846-3611
Good tasting, body-warming chili.� Click here for all sorts of info, photos and history.
Cafe Bizou - 14016 Ventura Bl., Sherman Oaks - 818-788-3536
A meal at Cafe Bizou feels, to me, like a quick trip to Europe - from the cottage atmosphere to the food.� Everything I've eaten there, from the salads to dessert, has been very good.
Casbah Cafe - Located in Sunset Junction at 3900 West Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake
An eclectic Moroccan inspired cafe/boutique with the most delicious pastries (the tarts are amazing!), coffees, teas, French and Northern African treats behind the glass counter.� I use to go here when my daughter went to the Conservatory of Music , down the street.� I'd have a tart and Moroccan Spearmint tea for breakfast...what a way to start the day.
More Than Waffles -� 17200 Ventura Bl., Encino (in the shopping center) 818-789-5937
Looking for great breakfast in the Valley?� I highly recommend More Than Waffles.� I've only gone once, but what a great experience.� It was a Saturday, the weather was spectacular- clear blue skies.� We ate outside under an umbrella while listening to talented musician J. Michael Henderson play great music with his keyboard and guitar.�
Who knew eating waffles could be a romantic experience, but since J. Michael asked my husband if he had any song requests, my husband suggested "Michelle" by the Beatles - which is my name; so there I was eating the most airy and delicious Belgian waffle, which I smothered in fresh apricot preserves and maple syrup, while being sung to...with the nearby fountain trickling in the background.� Ahhh...heaven.
And all the other food, besides waffles, looked amazing, too.
The Bowery - 6268 Sunset Bl., (at Vine) - 323-465-3400
A cool little bistro just down the street from the ArcLight theater.� Hungry before a film, my family and I stopped in here, and were nicely surprised with the bistro type fare.
Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles - 1514 North Gower St., Hollywood (Check out this video of King Cotton singing the Roscoe's chicken 'n waffle song from the movie Tape Heads.)
Many in L.A. have tasted Roscoe's amazing Carol C special (juicy inside, crisp outside, perfectly spiced fried chicken on a fluffy, butter and syrup drenched, golden waffle) by now, but this place is a personal favorite of mine.
The first time I ever tasted this exotic combo was when Herb "Roscoe" Hudson, himself, served this at a wrap party for the movie "Tapeheads".� It was the very same night I was introduced to my husband by our now long time friend King Cotton of the Bonedaddys. (So If my husband has anyone to blame it's King.)
Shortly after the wrap party, King asked Bo Diddley to play on a song King wrote called "Say Bo."� While King and Bo played and my husband produced, Herb Hudson, on a few occassions, brought over some steaming hot Carol C specials to the Culver City studio himself -� in honor of Bo, I imagine.
The first night I met Herb Hudson at the "Tapeheads" party, I leaned over the catering table and said, "This is soooo good! You should open a restaurant."� He was so humble to cater the food himself, I never imagined he already had a soul food empire on his hands.� And at the time, I was clueless that King had a whole scene in "Tapeheads" singing the praises of Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles (this eventually became my favorite part of the movie.)
Mr. Hudson now has other locations in the L.A. area: Pasadena, Downtown L.A.. and Long Beach.� I've only been to the one in Hollywood.� Be prepared to wait out on the sidewalk a while.� There are way more people who want to eat there than there are tables.� It's worth the wait.
Roscoe's...good enough to sing about!
The White Harte Pub - 22456 Ventura Bl., Woodland Hills 818-224-3822
A cozy little English pub right in Woodland Hills.� A toasty fire place, a dart board, frothy mugs of beer, fish and chips and other English fare - how can you go wrong?� I've only been there once, but we had such a good time and I enjoyed this place so much I thought it should be mentioned.� For more info, check out L.A. Daily News' article.� And they have entertainment there as well.
Bale Valley - 7223 De Soto Ave, Canoga Park (818) 348-8578
It's a divey little Vietnamese restaurant in a crappy area...but the soup is yummy.� A Vietnamese friend introduced me to this place.� I always get (I don't know the name) this noodle soup with crab, shrimp, cilantro, jalapenos (I think) and topped with lime and Vietnamese hot sauce...it's not only tasty, but just the right thing for a very bad head cold.� The last time I had a miserable cold, my husband picked some soup up for me - and my head cleared right up.
Los Toros - 21743 Devonshire Street, Chatsworth, CA 91311 (Near Topanga Bl.)
I can't believe I've lived in the Valley so long, and only now - thanks to our friends' recommendation - just discovered this great Mexican restaurant.� Right away, I loved the atmosphere - brightly colored mosaics of tile decorate the floors and kitschy Mexican art covers the walls of this humongous restaurant.� Our host led us through a maze of many eclectic rooms before we were seated at our cozy booth right near the lively and crowded bar.� The whole place buzzed with energy.�
The food was great, too!� Good thing, right?� And just as our friends had told us, the bean dip and salsa were extremely good.� I could have been satisfied with those and chips...well, as long as we could wash them down with their wonderful margaritas - so good I had two.� I ordered the shrimp fajitas, which arrived sizzling, accompanied with beans and rice.� Everyone at our table was very happy with their meals - plenty of food, great atmosphere, really great service and nice prices, too.�
My friend Fred, after spilling his soda, even received a sippy cup from our waiter.� Now, how can you beat that?�
Los Toros has been right there in Chatsworth since 1967, and I only just discovered it...oh well, as they say (whoever they are), better late than never.�
Check out the Los Toros website.
Topanga Pizza - 22994 Ventura Bl, Woodland Hills 818-222-4944
Don't let the name deceive you, there's more than just pizza served here. The owner was once a chef at Spago.� The food (pizza, pasta, chicken and fish) is really good, yet unbelievably inexpensive.
The dish I always get is the salmon with ginger-lime sauce, topped with golden, fried onion slivers and served with crisp, yet tender veggies, while my husband likes the chicken picatta.� All meals are served with their delicious garlic rolls.� For dessert, the key lime pie is a tart, yet sweet, dream in a buttery-crumb crust.� Slurp!!� and the creme brulee's lovely; rich yet light.� If that's possible.
Taste of India - 21833 Ventura Bl., Woodland Hills 818-999-0600
My favorite dish here is the navrattan korma (a mix of vegetables in creamy, mildly spicy sauce) - this is probably the one item I would choose to eat on a deserted island... if I were ever forced to make that choice.� I like to pour it over their vegetable biriani (rice and vegetables), top it with mango chutney and eat with the lucsious garlic nann (Indian bread).� I call often enough to order food to-go, that the man answering the phone says "Hello, Michele," as soon as I order the full order of Tandoori chicken.
Dar Maghreb - 7651 W. Sunset Bl., Hollywood, CA 90046
This is where my husband took me for our first date waaaaay back in the '80s.� I was impressed.� An evening at this restaurant is an experience.� Surrounded by the Moroccan architecture - arches, columns and an open courtyard revealing the stars - diners, seated on low cushioned couches and surrounded by colorful pillows, are treated like royalty.� Your hands will be drizzled with orange blossom scented water, the better to eat with - as these are your utensils.� You'll have many different courses brought to you in stages as belly dancers perform.� Moroccan dining isn't just about food; it's an event.
We've gone there quite a few times since that date long ago, and my favorite dish is always the b'stilla: a flaky, filo dough crusted pie, dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon and filled with eggs and chicken.� Savory, yet sweet and nearly melts in my mouth.
We go here when we can splurge, as it's quite expensive.� This is a good place to go with a group, considering the amount of food and price.
Here's the Dar Maghreb restaurant site, for all the details.
The Original Farmer's Market - on Fairfax and 3rd in the West Hollywood area.
Whenever I want to feel like I'm back in Europe, I head over to the Farmer's Market.� The second I walk in to the crowded courtyard, my senses become overwhelmed� with the aroma wafting from an array of different ethnic dishes.� The sights and sounds of all the different people surrounded by the food stands energizes me.� The last time I sat on one of their communal tables to eat my sushi I struck up a conversation with an older man, and a younger woman - all of us strangers until we had lunch together.
Du Pars - 12036 Ventura Bl., Studio City
When I'm tired of cooking and I want someone to mother me with comfort food, I'll go to Du-Pars.� A few weeks ago, after an afternoon of perusing vintage clothing stores with my husband on Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank, we headed over to Du-Pars.� The uniformed waitress chatted to us about her childhood in Pennsylvania and pointed us toward the rhubarb and banana cream pies after we devoured our open-faced hot turkey sandwiches and french-fries with brown gravy.
Du-Pars site has all the info and other locations.
Duke's Coffee Shop - 8909 West Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood (next to the Whiskey)
My husband, a musician, remembers many breakfasts in the '70s spent at Duke's - a rock-n-roll hang, conveniently located next to the Whiskey.� The omelette I had was real tasty, the orange juice fresh squeezed, the coffee was good and the vibe was energetic and eclectic.� And! Keanu Reeves was sitting at the counter with his motorcycle helmet at his feet... for those who care about that sort of thing.
Bob's Big Boy - 4211 Riverside Drive, Burbank
Burgers, fries, shakes and more...including time travel back to the '50s.� This original Bob's is so beautifully restored and the town of Burbank so quaint - I feel like I've been blasted back to the past every time I visit Big Bob.� The food is all-American tasty fare and the atmosphere is great!� They even have car-hop service on Saturday and Sunday nights, as well as a classic car show on Friday Nights.�
The Italian Deli - 4876 Topanga Canyon Bl. Woodland Hills (Near Dumetz) 818-340-0515
And if you're in Woodland Hills, or heading over Topanga Canyon on the way to the beach, why not stop at The Italian Deli?� Family owned since 1969, this little deli - a few doors down from another Woodland Hills favorite, Blinkie's Donuts - has humongous, tasty and nicely priced sub sandwiches with names like The Godfather, Bellybuster, Vito's Vegan - to name a few.
Not only can you grab some sandwiches for a picnic on the beach, there are pastas, salads, desserts and an array of other Italian specialty items in their tiny deli & market.� The Italian Deli, unlike all-the-same and boring Subway chain stores - feels like a small town market...because it is.
China Garden - 21618 Ventura Bl., Woodland Hills 818-347-0100
If you're looking for a good Chinese place in the West Valley, I would definitely stop at China Garden.� Everything I've ever had there has been extremely good.� Check out the menu on the China Garden site.
Galco's Old World Market - 5702 York Bl. Los Angeles (Pasadena area)
In my opinion, soda taste 100% better when it comes from a glass bottle.� When I remember car trips as a kid, I think about stopping at gas stations for cold orange Fanta or Bubble-Up, and chugging from the chilled bottles.� To truly quench my soda thirst, I head over to Galco's where they have aisles of shelves stocked with my childhood favorites and some really obscure sodas as well - all in glass bottles!!! My recent favorite is SunDrop soda - lemony-lime with a bit of pulp floating on the bottom of the green glass with yellow and red lettering.
Hey! You can even order soda online.
Versaille - 17410 Ventura Bl. Encino 818-906-0756
Cuban Food!� Really good and lots of it.� My favorite dish here is the lemon-garlic chicken, with black beans, white rice and plantain.� Yum!
Gorikee Cafe - 21799 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills
I read about this Restaurant in the Daily News. It's a relatively new Cal-Asian fusion restaurant run by a chef that used to work at Chaya in Venice.
My husband and I got dressed up for a pre-night on the town dinner at Gorikee and almost didn't enter after seeing the place. It's in dire need of an atmosphere make-over. First, it's in a shopping center. But with some red table cloths, drapery, dimmed lighting and candles I would at least feel like I'm not in a sandwich shop. Anyway, my husband and I decided to ignore the bright lights and horrid atmosphere, and entered.
I'm glad we did! The food was great. We started with the lobster and crab pot stickers. They were light and crispy. The lobster and crab, both fresh and flavorful. The sauces that accompanied the pot stickers made me want to lick the plate they were sooooo tasty.
My husband ordered the pan braised filet mignon. The tender, juicy filet came with lightly whipped, and exceptionally good mashed potatoes, crisp broccoli and asparagus. I had lobster medallions, moist and buttery, in a white truffle sauce, also with mashed potatoes and bright, crisp asparagus. It was the best meal I've had in a while.
The waitress, a perky little German woman, never let us feel ignored, which helped to out-weigh the horror of the glaring bright lights and lack of atmosphere.
I'm glad we ignored the decor and entered, but I'm seriously tempted to send them an anonymous note with some decorating tips. It wouldn't take much to fix the problem and the night would have been even more wonderful if we didn't feel like we were sitting in a mini-mall - which we were... but would've liked to pretend that we weren't.
Hal's Bar and Grill -
1349 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice 310-396-3105
Our friends brought my husband and me to Hal's last night, and we were very pleasantly surprised.�
Right away I loved the energy that filled the loft-style (cement tables surrounded by large pieces of artwork under beamed ceilings) room.� The loud talk of the crowd bounced off the walls; not great for hearing, but the over-lapping clatter felt like a party.� And, oh, the strong gin and tonics (waaaay more gin than tonic) didn't hurt the party mood either.
Between the four of us - who shared bites - I got a good sampling of Hal's dishes, and was impressed.� The Caesar salad had a nice garlicky bite; the calamari, extremely fresh - crisp on the outside, moist inside - and accompanied by a nice creamy and spicy sauce; the onion rings were very good and better than most I've had, and my husband's rib-eye steak in wine sauce was incredibly good...maybe the best thing I tasted of the dinner dishes we ordered. I had the seafood grill (scallops, shrimp, salmon and tuna) which was very good - fresh and perfectly cooked (browned yet moist fish) but not quite as delicious my husband's steak.
If our friend Marv hadn't recommend it I would never have thought to order bread pudding.� But, oooooh, am I glad we did.� It was moist, sweet, rich and creamy,� topped and infused with fruit (I'm not sure, but I think it was cranberries, apple and pear) with shavings of dark chocolate which blended perfectly with the raspberry in the sauce.� All four of us shared that one decadent plate, and it was more than enough.
Las Brisas - Located in Laguna Beach (about 1.5 hours south of L.A.)
My husband and I have gone here twice, and both times the dinners were unbelievable... but the view of Laguna Beach - especially at Sunset - makes my knees weak!� The last we dined here, we were seated with a window view of Laguna's main beach just as the sun was setting, so the pink light was bathing me as I sipped an icy, salty-sweet margarita and nibbled on crisp, yet tender calamari.� For dinner, I had a brochette of scallops and shrimp accompanied by (I believe) a creamy tarragon sauce (which made me want to lick the plate).� Here's their site for more info.