In my short visit to LA, I made my way to just about every corner of the city. This inevitably took me to The Valley and a newish gastropub called The Woodman in Sherman Oaks. The place is known for a good happy hour (with prices that are still higher than Pittsburgh), but I couldn’t quite make it in time for that. Instead, I paid for full-price beer and food like some sort of normal human.
In Sherman Oaks and a few other places in LA, there is a breakfasty-dinery type of restaurant called Jinky’s. But it is no ordinary breakfasty-dinery joint. I mean, sure, it has pancakes, eggs, burgers and sandwiches, but it also has something you don’t really see on too many menus – chili. Twenty different kinds of chili, in fact. Not every variety is available every day, but there is always some sort of chili and Jinky’s finds all sorts of ways to mix it into its extensive menu.
Look at the picture to the left, ignore the title of this post and tell me what you see. If you are like me, you probably think that is a burrito. It has the signature Chipotle foil, a nice fold and the grill marks that usually come with a tortilla. But this is no burrito, this is a chicken schwarma wrap from Pita Kitchen in Sherman Oaks, a hole in the wall to be remembered.
Buffalo is still considered an exotic meat in the USA. Never mind the fact that bison are native to these lands and the cattle we chow on come from Europe and Asia. And because it is “exotic” it often fetches a high price at restaurants and is given the gourmet treatment. This is not the case at Billy’s Grill, a tiny diner-style joint in Sherman Oaks.
Up in the valley is a place called Stanley’s that I have been hearing about pretty much from the day I started dating my fiancee. Very little about the valley is exciting, but Stanley’s is in a stretch of Sherman Oaks on Ventura that’s pretty cool, so I found myself surprisingly excited to go. Previously, I had heard they have delicious wings, but we were in a rush and I am not a man who rushes wings. Instead, I went with my arch-nemesis.
In a clear trend of awesome, Brats Brothers is one of the newest gourmet/exotic sausage/bratwurst places to hit LA (okay, they’ve been around since 2007, but just moved to a new location). Within 48 hours of learning of its existence, I made my way out to Sherman Oaks for lunch to see how it stacked up against its brethren. Made up to look all German-like and with a hostess/waitress that was also decidedly German (accent and all), Brats Brothers seemed a little more authentic than hipster-loving joints like Wurstkuche.
After seeing the frontrunner for Most Gratuitously Violent Movie of the Year (Drive, which is great by the way), some people might not have much of an appetite. Those people, though, are not unvegan and the sight of so much blood made me crave some meat. As we had seen the movie in the Sherman Oaks Galleria, my local valley friends took me to a place called Townhouse Kitchen + Bar. I knew little of what to expect, except that football would be on TV and this was a good start.
While I rarely venture into the valley after work hours, I recently took a trip there after dark for a bit of a birthday celebration. The gathering was at the Mad Bull’s Tavern in Sherman Oaks and although I wasn’t quite in a drinking mood (plus I was the driver and Sherman Oaks is a long way from home), I actually found myself in an eating mood. It was five minutes to 11:00 pm and when I asked for a menu, I was told that most of the food, except for appetizers, would only be available until 11. I had to think fast.