The Best Restaurants In The San Fernando Valley

All our favorite places to eat in The Valley.
The Best Restaurants In The San Fernando Valley image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

To a large extent, “The Valley” represents how many people around the world see LA—a sprawling, car-centric suburbia filled with ranch homes, massive movie studios, and celebrities speeding down freeways. But with a population of nearly 2 million people, it’s also tremendously diverse, and home to some of our favorite restaurants in Los Angeles. From Mexican institutions to the best crop of sushi restaurants in America, here's where you should be eating in The Valley.


photo credit: Jessie Clapp


Sherman Oaks

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Anajak has been operating in Sherman Oaks for over four decades, but only recently became our highest-rated restaurant in the city. Why? For starters, you could dine at this family-run Thai spot a hundred times and have a completely different—and incredible—experience each time. Come on Tuesdays for dry-aged fish tacos and collaborations with guest chefs. Show up just about any other night to drink natural wine sourced from a Slovenian commune and eat Southern Thai fried chicken you'll tell your therapist about. Then there’s the omakase—a multi-course, reservation-only experience where outdoor grills shoot twirling embers into the air. There’s no such thing as a dull night at Anajak, so just go whenever you can snag a table the fastest. 

You’ll find one of LA’s best Mexican restaurants between a convenience store and a recycling center. We’re not sending you on a scavenger hunt—that’s genuinely where Birrieria Apatzingan is located. This tiny, six-table restaurant in Pacoima serves big steaming bowls of Michoacan-style birria de chivo (a.k.a. some of the finest slow-cooked goat you’ll come across). The chivo is juicy and tender after bubbling in the flavorful broth for hours and tastes even better with their fluffy handmade tortillas on the side. Make the birria a priority, but we can vouch that everything here is great, including the morisqueta, or spicy, fatty pork spare ribs coated in queso cotija and served over rice. 

Located in the far northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley, Chatsworth isn’t the most convenient place for many Angelenos, but as long as your destination is Les Sisters’, then the trip will be worth it. This Valley institution has been around since the '80s and is home to some of the best soul food in the city. Start with the fried chicken, with its crackly, Cajun-spiced skin, but make sure the spicy, smoky chicken jambalaya is the focus of the meal. For sides, we like to round things out with some gooey mac and cheese and black-eyed peas.

This old-school deli is one of our favorite restaurants in all of LA, and also the best all-around deli. There are always large groups of neighbors swapping gossip, book clubs fighting over plot points, and regulars who haven’t cracked open the menu in three decades. Speaking of the menu, there are over 650 items on it, so you’ll need to come in with a game plan—or just borrow ours: The black pastrami Reuben (swap in curly fries), stuffed cabbage, split pea soup, the latke and blintz sampler, and a nap in the car.

Another one of our all-time favorites. You could come to this tiny convenience store in Northridge for a pack of cigarettes, a Diet Coke, and a turkey sandwich from behind the counter, and walk out with exactly what you need. But that’d also be missing the point entirely. At Baja Subs, it’s all about the secret menu on the wall filled with exceptional Sri Lankan food. You’ll find dishes like biryani topped with caramelized onion relish, garlicky Sri Lankan noodles, and kottu roti, a popular Sri Lankan street food made with flaky roti sauteed with vegetables, eggs, and spices. This is primarily a to-go operation, and though you can certainly order at the counter, we recommend calling in your order before you head over.

Getting to Go’s Mart is probably a journey no matter where you’re coming from, but trust us when we say this sushi bar next to a dance studio in Canoga Park is always worth driving the few extra miles. With bright orange walls, fluorescent lighting, and white-tiled floors, eating here feels a bit like you’ve stepped into a janitor’s closet, but one that happens to serve some of the highest-grade sushi in town. There’s not a physical menu to speak of, just a daily specials board hanging in the back, but the real move is to ask for the omakase. Most days, your check will go well above $200, so Go’s certainly isn’t your once-a-week sushi stop, but if you’re looking to experience one of LA’s great meals, this spot is worth every penny.



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Brothers Sushi opened quietly in Woodland Hills in 2018 (in a former sushi spot that was also called Brothers Sushi), but has since become a go-to spot for all things raw fish. The menu has plenty of things for sushi novices and experts alike, all served in a bright, energetic space that feels like you’re in the heart of the city—not a somewhat sleepy stretch of Ventura Blvd. If it’s your first time, get the $140 sushi omakase. It comes with 10 premium cuts of fish, a few signature appetizers, a handroll, and dessert. On later visits, go for their chirashi that comes topped with over 15 types of seafood.

Open since 1984, Sri Siam has been serving dishes like papaya salad, boat noodles, and khao soi long before you could easily find them outside of Thai Town. But aside from its historical standing, this North Hollywood Thai restaurant also makes incredible food. We suggest the crispy rice salad, the panang curry, and the off-menu radish cakes. Then sit with your feast and watch Wheel of Fortune on the TV in the corner, and don’t be surprised if your server (i.e. the owner) pulls up a chair next to you and starts chatting—that’s just how things are done here.

This tiny takeout window on Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks serves nothing but decadent bourekas, and that's perfectly fine by us. You might wait as long as a half-hour for your order (though you can call and pre-order), but once you taste these crispy, cheese-stuffed pastries, none of that will matter. Four different filling options are available: feta and spinach, mushroom and truffles, ricotta and za'atar, and brown butter with potatoes. All of them are amazing. Get here early, order a few before they sell out, and share the leftovers with a deserving friend.  

We’re just going to say it: Dino’s makes the best pizza in the Valley. With over 38 specialty pizzas, the menu at this Burbank classic can feel a bit like the wild west, so we’ll narrow it down for you: get the lasagna pizza. The Italian sausage, meatballs, and whipped ricotta could easily eat like a mess, but the expert placement of toppings on each slice and a crispy, medium-thick crust keeps things balanced. Dino’s runs a swift takeout operation, but you should make time to eat in their old-school dining room that feels like the sunroom at your grandparents' fishing cabin.

There are certain things that probably come to mind when you hear the term dive bar: dated wood paneling on the walls, chipped swivel stools, crusty locals, and cheap drinks. Oy Bar in Studio City has all those things as well as a food menu that’s worth braving rush hour on the 101. The house burger, topped with Toma cheese, hoisin ketchup, and a heap of cilantro, is a standout, but we also like ordering the pastrami quesadilla and matzo ball ramen during the winter months. And don’t think for a second that you’ll be the only one eating—everybody inside has food on the way.

Cilantro lives inside a Chevron in North Hollywood, and it's easily our favorite place to eat inside a gas station. Lines start early at this order-at-the-counter Mexican spot, and pretty much everybody is there for the excellent $14 burritos. Whether it’s a breakfast burrito filled with eggs and turkey sausage, the off-menu surf and turf with Angus beef and seared shrimp, or house carne asada served enchilada-style, these are well-composed, high-quality burritos that make you realize how many other places are simply phoning it in. That said, don’t you dare leave without getting a carne asada or beef barbacoa taco.

Sushi Note is a wine bar/sushi restaurant hybrid—a dream combination that’s somehow still pretty rare. Whether it’s your first time or your 14th, order the Whole Note omakase. At $140, this isn’t the world’s most affordable omakase, but after eating 12 pieces of high-quality sushi, edamame, miso soup, a starter, a handroll, and dessert, you’ll feel like this meal has more than earned its price point. Then make friends with the sommelier, who will happily course out all the wine you need.

Kobee Factory serves incredible Syrian food in a tiny Van Nuys strip mall. Most people call ahead for takeout, but around lunchtime, you'll find a few locals in their pastel green dining room eating platters of rice-stuffed musadeen, hearty msabbaha dip, and warm bowls of kishik. Make sure to get an order of their namesake kobees, also known as kibbeh: tender, fried patties made from a mix of spiced beef, bulgur wheat and pines nuts. You also can't go wrong with their hummus-filled shawarma wraps or the crunchy, ping-pong-ball-sized falafel.

Cemitas Don Adrian in Van Nuys has been around for nearly a quarter-century and their Puebla-style tortas only continue to get better. Their menu of 20-something tortas can definitely lead to some sandwich-induced stress, so we’ll make things easier on you: order the milanesa de lomo de puerco. It comes with breaded pork loin, bright queso fresco, avocado, your choice of jalapeños or chipotle salsa, and stringy Oaxacan cheese—all sandwiched between a toasted, slightly nutty sesame bun. The only thing that could possibly go wrong with your Don Adrian order is that you like your torta too much and forget to try the other two dozen options on the menu.

Tonir Cafe makes fantastic kabobs, from chicken breast to beef shish. But the standout is the beef lule, made with ground beef, onions, and parsley slow-cooked over an open flame. If you’re looking for an affordable, quick lunch in Burbank, Tonir takeout is your best option. Also, in the event you need a good stoplight car snack, grab an extra bag of pita for $3.

Eating the food from this Panorama City restaurant is kind of like finding $20 in a jacket you haven’t worn since last winter. It will always change the trajectory of your day. From extra crispy pork pata to a rich and thick kare-kare that goes heavy on peanuts, the food here is inspired by potlucks in Filipino home cooking. If you don’t live in the Valley, the journey out here can be a little far, but we’d commit to that drive any day, just for a cup of bulalo soup with beef shank, potatoes, and cabbage.

The menu at Apey Kade is broken into several different sections, but whether this is your first time at this Sri Lankan spot in Tarzana or not, head to the string hopper section. Pick a protein, and it will arrive on a giant platter filled with 10 string hoppers, which are thin noodles steamed and pressed into tiny flat discs, sambal, and kiri hodi, a coconut milk gravy that you’ll pour all over the noodles (and probably also your face). It’s savory, sweet, and a great option for an affordable lunch in the neighborhood that doesn’t involve a salmon roll.

Daichan is a tiny spot in Studio City that specializes in the kind of Japanese soul food you need after a terrible week at the office—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.

Despite a name that sounds like an overpriced drip coffee spot on Abbot Kinney, Coffee For Breakfast is a tiny cafe in North Hollywood that serves traditional Venezuelan breakfast and lunch from 8am-2:30pm. Your order should include any of the cachapas, which are traditional corn-based pancakes stuffed with combinations of meat and cheese, a few beef empanadas, and a cinnamon cafe con leche. The place only has a handful of tables that fill up fast, so expect a small wait on the weekends.

A meal at Shin Sushi costs around $240 a head, but if you’re in the market for a once-a-year omakase experience, you won’t find fresher, more unique fish than at this Encino institution. The chef, Take-san, will chat with you the whole time you’re there, probably ask you about your favorite football team, and offer his own predictions for the upcoming season even if you aren’t totally sure what football is. Then he’ll get to work making sushi standouts that include oysters with firefly shrimp, sea eel, and baby barracuda.

This family-run Armenian spot in Studio City has fantastic food and a room that feels like you’re eating inside your cool aunt’s one-bedroom apartment. As its name suggests, mantee is the specialty here, and while the sumac- and yogurt-covered dumpling dish is among our favorite versions in town, don’t leave until both the dolma and sizzling hot feta have made it onto the table as well.

The pride and joy of not just Burbank, but the entire Valley, Porto’s Bakery is a straight-up classic. The family-run Cuban bakery has been serving guava pastries, potato balls, and everything else under the Valley sun for decades, and built a rabid following in the process. Come here at noon on a Tuesday and be greeted by 100 other people who had the same idea as you. But not to worry, Porto’s is a well-oiled machine and will have you in, out, and eating strudel for lunch in no time.

Operating outside of a grocery store in North Hills (they’re also in Van Nuys and Noho now), San Marcos is a taco truck serving birria that people rightfully wait in line for hours to eat. The crunchy quesataco is a cheesy, salty masterpiece that’ll instantly cure your brain fog after a long night out. If you’re in the mood for just birria though, go for the birria en caldo, a hearty stew filled with a spicy broth, onion, cilantro, and slow-cooked beef for a somewhat balanced breakfast.

Furn Saj is located on the far northern edge of The Valley in Granada Hills, but if you’re within even a 20-minute drive, you need to be eating at this Lebanese restaurant/bakery. A meal at this family-run strip mall spot can be overwhelming—the menu features more than 70 dishes—so we recommend starting with either chicken or beef shawarma (both are among the best we’ve eaten in LA) and ending it with a visit to their baked goods case. The saroukh (bread filled with cheese, onion, and parsley) is crunchy, savory, and just a little spicy, and you can chase it down with some rice pudding at the end.

You simply won’t find many better breakfast spots in The Valley than Gasolina. This tiny Spanish cafe in Woodland Hills feels like a too-cute-to-be-real cafe where sitcom characters congregate to at the end of each episode. With a bright, cozy dining room, It’s the kind of place you could hang out in for several hours and not even realize it—particularly when the food hitting the table is so good. We love the breakfast sandwich topped with jamon serrano and the sweetly refreshing strawberry gazpacho. The star of the show, however, will always be the patatas bravas. It’s slightly spicy, properly crisp, and easily our favorite version in town.

Just when you think you have LA figured out, remember that there’s a sushi bar inside a fast-food burger joint in Northridge, and it serves some incredible raw fish. Right next door to the CSUN campus, Got Sushi? is a journey everyone should make, solely to realize that it doesn’t take hundreds of dollars or a prime spot on La Cienega to get first-rate sushi. There’s no omakase here, but the menu is large and full of every sashimi plate, cut roll, and daily sushi special you want. Our usual move is to sit at the bar and let the chefs pick their favorite cuts for us.

If you live in Northridge, you probably already know you don’t have to drive to East Hollywood to get tremendous Thai food - you can just go Lum-Ka-Naad. For everyone else, it’s time to drive to Northridge. They have a big menu, but you’re narrowing it down to two sections: “Northern Cuisine” and “Southern Cuisine.” These are the dishes specifically from the owner’s home regions, and they are incredible. Start with the turmeric fish soup from the South and work your way up to the khao soi in the North.

Open since 1959, Cavaretta’s is a classic, family-run Italian deli in Canoga Park and one of our favorite quick lunch spots in the west Valley. You can’t go wrong with their Famous Italian Combo (a sub sandwich filled with mortadella, salami, capicola, provolone, and all the fixings) or the house-made lasagna, but what really sets Cavaretta’s apart are their desserts: eclairs, New York-style cheesecake, and the best cannolis you’ll find in LA. If you aren’t walking out at Cavaretta’s with at least two boxes full of sweets under your arm, you’ve done it wrong.

Tel Aviv Grill is an Israeli mini-chain with locations dotted across the Valley. Their flagship in Encino looks like any other fast-casual lunch counter, but the quality of the food here stands out like a pair of Crocs at a wedding. As early as 11am, a line forms out front for their shawarma, schnitzel, and skewers served with a multicolor assortment of Israeli salads and dips. You'd have a great meal here if you just close your eyes at picked from behind the counter at random, but our go-to is the beef shawarma pita stuffed with generous portions of shaved, marinated meat, garlicky yogurt, cabbage, pickles, and chopped salad.

Half-dessert shop, half-restaurant, Baba Sweets in Canoga Park is well known among the SFV Indian community and the most serious of Indian food enthusiasts. The casual, steam-table spot has served some of the best Punjabi food in the San Fernando Valley for over two decades, and should be a mandatory stop whenever you’re in the area. Swing by for their slow-stewed saag, bowls of spicy chloe bhature, and hot from the tandoor garlic naan served on a paper plate. Finish your meal off with a soft, sweet gulab jamun and a complimentary cup of their house chai, in all its cinnamon-y, vanilla-y glory.

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