It’s porn central and Burbank’s the movie-studio hub. There are definitely unsafe parts of the Valley, e.g., Van Nuys. I think Bob Hope called it “Cleveland with palm trees,” which pretty much describes a lot of LA.
BEEPS FAST FOOD
It’s a drive-up burger stand called Beeps that’s been there since the 50s. Do you really have to ask why you should go? 16063 Sherman Way, Van Nuys, 818-781-0830.
Can you get any more goddamned American than this? Regular old saucy, sloppy, delicious BBQ for white people, complete with gratis paper bibs with big red hearts on them, as well as peanuts in the shell that you’re supposed to throw on the floor. Once, when we went to eat here with our boss, he passed out in his office afterward with the door locked. 2711 W. Olive Ave., Burbank, 818-841-8872.
SADDLE PEAK LODGE
Cigar-chomping fat cats can feel right at home—the place is an actual lodge, and they might as well have dragged the deer they just shot up here to have it skinned and roasted for a hunting party of ten. But not “hunting party” as in “Ooo-ee, I need some chewing tobacco” hicks—“hunting party” as in the same weekend warriors who have those Harleys with the extra-wide seats and sidecars. But if you’re in the mood for some venison, elk, pig, or squab, Saddle Peak is the place to go. 419 Cold Canyon Rd., Calabasas, 818-222-3888.
Owner and chef Katsuya Uechi has opened a bunch of Katsu-ya spots. By a bunch, I mean six. A nice little empire, for a reason (despite the often lousy service). It’s solid, pricey sushi that will keep you coming back… when you can afford it. 11680 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, 818-985-6976, is the original.
While not quite as notorious as it was ten years ago, Nozawa is still known as the home of the official Sushi Nazi. You get what chef Kazunori Nozawa thinks you should get—no exceptions. But that ensures everything is fresh from the fish market—velvety
that melts in your mouth, pillowy yellowtail on top of warm, vinegary rice. Here’s a tip: Order a spicy-tuna or California roll and see what happens. 11288 Ventura Blvd., Ste. C, Studio City, 818-508-7017.
We are not vegans, we have never been vegans, and we don’t want to be vegans. However, we do have friends who are all of the above, and we definitely agree that Vegan Plate is a Thai place that makes both vegans and carnivores happy. Vegans who don’t like the taste of meat might want to avoid their soy-chicken and soy-steak options, since we think they taste like the real thing, with none of the weird rubbery stringiness you sometimes get with soy products. We could eat the hell out of that orange chicken all day. And it’s pretty funny that Vegan Plate is right across the street from a McDonald’s. 11943 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, 818-506-9015.
Yet another tasty, realistic-meat veggie spot in the Valley, this time of the Chinese persuasion. As a matter of fact, the “meat” is so realistic that it’s sometimes debatable. Another outstanding dish of orange chicken, please! 17823 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills, 818-360-3997.