Studio City is a quiet and suburban neighborhood in the Valley where a lot of people live because they’re sick of forking over half their paycheck to live in West Hollywood. But that doesn’t mean things don’t go on here. It takes one quick drive down the main drag of Ventura Blvd. to realize that restaurants are quite literally stacked on top of each other. Whether it’s a family-run Lebanese restaurant, a BBQ spot by the French Laundry chef or one of the most famous sushi restaurants in the world, there’s no reason to be eating poorly in Studio City. Here are the 16 places to concentrate on first.
The Bellwether has been open for a few years now, but this American-ish restaurant is still very much the golden child of Studio City. The almost all-white space strikes a good balance between being somewhat fancy and completely casual, so it’s a great option for your visiting parents or your boss who expects things a certain way. The patty melt here is a must, but the menu has a huge range of fresh California-type things, and the excellent cocktails will come in handy when your boss asks you how you’d run the company differently.
There is an insane number of sushi restaurants in Studio City. And when you’re in the market to throw down and pretend like you didn’t notice the price of the toro sashimi, go to Asanebo. The high-end strip mall spot has a warm, wooden interior and some of our favorite sushi in all of Los Angeles. Though they do offer their whole menu a la carte, you’re here for the omakase. If you’re a first-timer, we recommend going for the $140 omakase “B” course which will get you every signature dish on the menu. The smaller “A” course offers 12 pieces of sushi plus appetizers, soup, and dessert for $85.
Daichan is a strip mall spot on Ventura that specializes in Japanese soul food you need after your co-worker admits she’s dating your ex and that it’s serious - like spicy curry udon, Japanese-style fried chicken, cold soba, and gigantic tempura rice bowls. That said, the main draw at this family-run cafe is the “original poki bowl.” Decades before chopped raw fish in plastic bowls became part of the LA food pyramid, Daichan was cranking out giant portions of fresh fish on top of rice and lettuce, so that’s probably what you should order here.
If you’re wondering where all of Studio City is at any given point, the answer is Aroma Cafe. This all-day spot on Tujunga is most popular around brunch, but you should expect a line at all times. And everybody’s here for two reasons: a big menu full of sandwiches, salads, and wraps and a giant back patio that’s ideal for running lines before your 2pm CW callback. If you’re there for breakfast, we like the brioche french toast and Nutella donuts.
Mantee is one of our favorite Armenian restaurants in Los Angeles. The family-run spot on Ventura has a tiny interior that feels like you’re eating inside your aunt’s one-bedroom apartment, and a big back patio. Their namesake dish (meat-filled raviolis topped with garlic yogurt sauce) is good, but you’re simply not allowed to leave without some dolma (stuffed eggplant) and their plate of sizzling hot feta.
The Barrel & Ashes opening in 2014 was one of the biggest the Valley had ever seen. And for good reason - the guy behind the casual spot on Ventura had just come from French Laundry in Napa and the BBQ-heavy menu was fantastic. The excessive hype has died down, but Barrel & Ashes is still a great place to drop in for some brisket and a well-made cocktail when you completely forgot that tonight was your night to plan dinner. You’re not allowed to leave without getting the hoe cake.
Having a great and affordable sushi spot in your back pocket at all times is an essential part of being a LA resident. And in Studio City, your affordable sushi spot should be Iroha. Located behind a folk art boutique, the large space has a big patio that feels like you’re eating sushi in the jungle. The menu is too big for its own good, but you really only need to concentrate on a few things - the spicy tuna on crispy rice, spicy miso soup, and any of their bento lunch boxes (soup, salad, rice, three pieces of sushi, and choice of sashimi or tempura for $20).
The opening of Girasol in 2013 was a game-changer. The guy running the place was trained at Noma in Copenhagen, and it’s hyper-modern menu and space frankly feel like a place that should be in Denmark and not one block off a 101 Freeway exit. While the allure of all that has worn off (as has the gastronomic foam that still graces some of the plates here), Girasol is still one of the best fine dining experiences in Studio City. The menu is full of tons of good stuff (the smashed potatoes, octopus salad, and crispy snapper are musts), and the wrap-around front patio is a great place to drink some wine and watch the sun set.
Come to Laurel Tavern any day of the week after 4:30pm, and you’ll find every after-work drinks situation in the Valley going down. And yet, this casual bar feels the furthest thing from an industry spot. Prices are reasonable (especially during their daily 3pm-6pm Happy Hour), the bar food is solid (their burger is among our favorite in the city), and every one is there to decompress until traffic on Laurel Canyon dies down.
Joe’s Falafel is technically in Universal City, but this tiny strip mall spot has such good food, we’ll ignore neighborhood boundary lines. Plus, its location around the corner from Cahuenga pass location is around the corner from all the major studios, making it the ideal pilgrimage for your lunch hour. You can’t really go wrong with anything at this order-at-the-counter spot, but the beef kabobs, chicken shawarma, and yes, the falafel are all good places to start. Everything falls under $15.
You swiped right and finally found someone who you can sit in a booth with while you exaggerate your work accomplishments. Black Market Liquor is a bar/restaurant on Ventura with good cocktails, a big craft beer list, and tons of first-date-friendly small plates like the fried cauliflower, hummus, and burrata. The atmosphere inside gets progressively rowdier as the night goes on, but never gets so loud that you’re screaming at each other.
Artisan Cheese And Wine is a wine bar/cheese shop that happens to have our favorite sandwiches in Studio City. Whether it’s the Spanish turkey with marcona almonds and roasted red peppers or the prosciutto and brie baguette, all of Artisan’s ingredients are fresh and fantastic. And yes, that includes the cheese. The front patio is great for a quick lunch, but the wine bar inside hosts weekly jazz nights, making it a good option for a last- minute date night.
Katsu-Ya is one of the most recognizable sushi brands in the world, with locations from LA Live to Dubai. Most of those locations, however, are owned by a global nightlife corporation and cater to a stiletto-wearing club crowd. That’s not the case at the original location in Studio City. This strip mall spot is independently-owned, meaning prices are lower, quality is higher, and the low-key space is filled with people who are actually there to eat good sushi. You should order the crispy rice with spicy tuna and a few baked crab hand rolls, but always flip the menu over to see what’s recommended that day. If you sit at the bar, ask for Chef Patrick. He’s a sushi wizard.
The Front Yard is the all-day restaurant inside the Garland Hotel that shouldn’t be written off as another sleepy lobby cafe. It’s a party pretty much any day of the week, with a healthy mix of studio workers getting drunk on their lunch hours, retirees getting drunk because they can, and hotel guests getting drunk while their kids play in the pool. And on top of all that, the food is good too. Weekend brunch is the most popular meal here, but cruising up their front patio and ordering the TFY burger and a martini is an ideal lunch.
Lal Mirch is one of our go-to’s for Indian food in the valley. The colorful, family-run spot along Ventura has a large menu of standbys, and at lunchtime, all those staples are in the $10 range with soup, rice, and naan included. They also have a ton of vegetarian options.
Henry’s Tacos does not have the best tacos in the world, but that’s OK. This old-school taco window has been in the neighborhood since the ’60s and is a Valley classic. You come here on a Friday solo lunch run or after your kid’s soccer game, eat a bunch of $2.75 hard and soft shell tacos, and be back in your car in 20 minutes. Cash only.