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After my long time favorite and Top 5 Valley stop Joy Feast was unceremoniously close after 11 years, I was culinarily crushed. But fear not! The fine folks have another Valley Village spot and while my Old Friend Sammy is no longer there they did manage to steal the head cook and move him a little further West. The 4-Star rating is because I have only had one meal here, however it was my standard barer Hot-Garlic Pork and it was every bit as good as when they served it in Burbank. The 4-Star review is also because I am not certain on the parking yet. We found a space quickly, but it certainly isn't as multi-5-Ton Friendly as the place on Alameda was. I would expect this to regain it's 5-Stars soon enough because if you know me, I'm going to hit this place as often as my coworkers will let me. (The real test is going to be when I bring my kids and see how the Walnut Shrimp and BBQ Pork Chow Mein hold up. Pressure's on, folks...)
2. Joe's Falafel
This place quickly shot up to my Top 5 in the Valley stops. Perfectly fried to-order falafels, and Joe has been known to pass out a few to those waiting in line. The chicken kabobs, lemon chicken, beef kabobs and beef kafta are all equally amazing. (I would personally go elsewhere for shawarma.) A great place if there is a vegetarian on the crew. If you are ordering the wrap, get it with the house made lafa bread. If you are getting a plate, order the lafa bread as a side. I also substitute baba ganoush for the rice. Definitely cap friendly and a good receipt. There is metered parking across the street in front of the Nissan dealership. Very convenient if you are hitting the UNI or WB Prop Houses.
3. Rocio’s de los Dios
Mole of the Gods? Yes. It is. The name sake Mole de los Dios is as amazing as is their award-winning Mole Oaxaqueno made with 31 ingredients. Did I mention the Mole Poblano, or the Mole Verde or the Pipian rojo or the….it’s all good. No, it’s all great. When you sit down they bring you a spicy shrimp broth to get the meal started right. They also serve everything with the nopaltilla, the most delicious vibrant green cactus tortillas. You can chose either chicken or pork, (I find the chicken to be a better choice) and it comes with rice and vegetables and the amazing mole sauce. It isn’t “trough-sized” portions and it is a little more than our usual $12 cap but it’s absolutely worth going out of pocket for. I’ve had luck parking right in front on numerous occasions. A great spot if Alpha or Air Designs is you next stop.
4. La Maria Restaurant
When working in the valley this is a "once-a-week" stop. Authentic Colombian food at great prices served by the nicest people. There is a Daily Lunch Special for $6.99. It's a smaller yet still filling version of one of the entrees served with rice and beans and a tasty cup of soup to start. If you go this route I'd suggest getting an empanada or two. Still going to be under our $12 cap and you will leave full. The Arroz con pollo (Wednesday's lunch plate) is always delicious. And the classic Sudado de Pollo (Monday) is my go-to. The Criollio sauce is with onions, tomato and turmeric is perfectly balanced and delicious. Another can't miss is the Pineapple Shrimp. Good receipt and plenty of parking on Clyborne. Close to most Valley prop houses, Lenny, Faux, RCV, Advanced Liquidators, etc.
5. Hayat's Kitchen
11009 Burbank Blvd, Unit 117 North Hollywood, CA91601-2480 Phone: (818) 761-4656
This place came recommended to me from numerous people and I finally know why. The first 4 visits I had here all happened within 2 weeks. The chicken Galaba (with vegetables), the Shawarma, the Shish Kafta AND the Lule all hit it out the park. Finally a place that knows what "Medium-rare" means! And the complimentary baklava is the perfect capper. Amazing Lebanese cuisine tucked away in the corner of a mini-mall that's easy to miss. It's across the street from Circus Liquors and even though it looks like a tough place to park, 2 blocks west of Vineland, north of Burbank on Case has enough spaces for a few trucks. (Look for the McDonalds.) It edges up to and over the $12 with some dishes, but trust me, it's worth it.
6. Jabal Lebnan Mediterranean Kitchen
8823 Sunland Blvd Los Angeles CA 91352-2841 Phone: (818) 504-2227
There are so many great spots in Sun Valley it's actually getting hard to chose where to eat! Jabal Lebnan has incredibly flavorful shawarma (read:not over garlicky) tasty kabobs and the hummus is awesome. Incredibly nice family owns this place and they've been known to hand a few extra bites, a little lagniappe while you wait for your food. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, at least I haven't as to date. Definitely able to keep it under $12. And the parking lot behind could hold 5 5-tons. Good receipt. Great food.
11288 Ventura Blvd # F Studio City CA 91604 (818) 980-8450
Billed as "Japanese Soul Food," Daichan is an eclectic tiny place that serves amazing poke bowls, udon and soba noodle dishes and a fish stew that is perfect on those colder days. It also can claim one of the best fried chicken dishes in town, the Hawaiian Garlic Chicken. Admittedly you will go over the $12 mark and the receipts are hand written. And get there before noon. Parking on the north side of Ventura is available early. The “3-Star” rating is only because it doesn't hit every "5-Ton Friendly" mark, it's still one of the best places to eat in the Valley.
8. Porto's Bakery - Burbank
Two Words. Potato Balls. What ever you are getting here you have to add at least 2 potato balls to the order. And ask for a side of Dijon mustard for dipping. From sweet tarts and savory pastries, to sandwiches, (Medianoche and Cubano are my favorites) to the aforementioned potato balls everything is delicious and cheap. We usually only come here for a quick breakfast because that is the only time we can get parking but it's a great lunch spot too. And don't let a long line deter you. These guys are professionals...that line moves..There's an even harder to get to one in Glendale.
9. Mi Latin Kitchen
I love Colombian Food and I'm not afraid to admit it! Great revolving lunch specials that come with a soup and usually rice and salad for $9 so check them out first. Not the fastest place to get out of, so keep that in mind, but if you have time it's definitely worth the stop. Everything I've had here has been good to very good and the empanadas fall under the very good category. Order one of those with the lunch special and water and you're at $12. Usually good parking within a couple of blocks on Burbank. CLOSED MONDAY
10. The Hollywood Way
I've only been here twice but had heard about it from almost every other set dresser I know. Yes there is beer. Yes the waitress wear short shorts. But actually, it's pretty good. I had the pulled BBQ pork sandwich with fries and it was not only a lot of food, it was very tasty. The beer is lost on me at work, and since I only order water it was $12 spot on. I hear great things about their burger as well. Plenty of parking. Another place it is very common to see at least 5 trucks lined up on Hollywood Way.
11. King's Deli
Owned by a fellow Set Dresser, this little sandwich shop took over the Cafe Magazzino spot on Pass and is hitting it out the park with well crafted and tasty sandwiches. Try the house-made BBQ brisket on the recommended egg bread. It comes with a pickle and house-made slaw. Or try any number of specialty sandwiches, like The Rebound served on a fresh Kaiser roll or The Brisket Melt, with it's Sriracha Mayo on that perfect bread. It's not easy to get a truck there, but get there early (we parked 2 the last time). Good receipts. And remember, IATSE and 399 Members get a 15% discount, which if you play it right gets you to that $12 Cap and gets them a bump to 5-Stars!
12. Chinese Deli T&D
I promised a return visit and I delivered. And so did they. Same quality food served by the same wonderful family. Lunch specials in the $8-9 range, cheap enough to split some dumplings along with your lunch plate and still be under $12 a person. I don't think you can go wrong with anything on the menu, but the Kung Pow chicken is what brought back fond memories. Oddly, I have had plenty of luck over the years, and my last two revisits, to park right on Camarillo. A One-Star bump! Good receipts. Across the street from Hy Mart.
13. Hy Mart
If you are in the mood for a lighter meal, and don’t mind a little line, this is the spot. Great sandwiches (try the shakloot wrap, especially good for the vegetarian on the crew) and salads, and entertaining cashier…Love a place that serves Zapps. However, with the accountants being less lenient on “good receipts” have to give the caution. Receipts print out “Dept 1” for the line item. Proceed with caution. But enjoy the good eats!
14. Chiba Japanese Restaurant
Chiba has new digs! It’s still, for me, a once-in-awile spot when I’m on the truck. I have a tendency to go way over cap when it comes to sushi (mainly because a little Bento Box doesn’t “Get me to dinner”) but honestly, this is one of the few places in town I don't mind doing that. And the new spot is quite lovely. Parking on Lankershirm is doable. Very Good food, and now featuring GOOD RECEIPTS!!! 1-Star Bump!
15. Meson Criollo Grill Restaurant
15713 Vanowen Street, Van Nuys, CA 91406 Phone: (818) 904-1099
I have now been to Meson Criollo numerous times since I first recommended it and I can say without a doubt that you have to go here! I contend that you can walk in and blindly order the lunch special and leave ecstatic. $8.99 and it comes with a perfectly crafted and seasoned soup (based on 6 different occasions) and there is still enough cap room to order a crunchy Colombian empanada. Seriously, you need to try this place out. If the lunch special doesn’t hit you in the moment, the Arroz Con Pollo is stellar and so is the Pollo en Salsa Criollo. It works with a Town & Country run or if you are heading north or south on the 405 at lunch, it’s right off the freeway between the Victory and Sherman Way Exits. Plenty of parking up Haskell, except Friday for Street Cleaning.
16. Pita Kitchen
The proverbial hole-in-the-wall, a tiny place that is worth the walk from Moorpark, east of Van Nuys. Best to get there early for a better shot at a spot. Great lunch plates with kabob or shawarma and a choice of 2 sides. Baba Ganoush is a personal favorite. Nothing fancy but delicious and the nicest group of guys crammed in the micro-kitchen. Good receipt. Cap friendly. Not 100% 5-Ton friendly.
17. Carnival Restaurant
4356 Woodman Avenue, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 Phone: (818) 784-3469
Used to be more in rotation and they recently raised their prices, but the food is great. Entrees are big enough to share and round out with an appetizer. And it's not the most truck friendly place, but then again the entire area isn't very truck-friendly. If you find yourself in the area it's worth checking out. Shawarma and gyro plate never let me down.
18. Corner Cottage
310 South Victory Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91502 Phone: (818) 843-2567
Full disclosure, I have never eaten here for lunch. But I have had quite a few of their amazing breakfast burritos. Perfect combo of egg, hash, meat of choice and veggies. And as I write this I realize it's been way too long since I've been here.
19. RJM Mexican Grill
RJM has moved to bigger digs! It's still in the same mini-mall next to the ever changing gas station, (currently Chevron.) I have made my way through the full taco menu and can tell you they are not only delicious they are enormous, (much like the burritos.) Three is really all you especially if you hit the complimentary "Fire & Gas Bar" for mild or spicy black beans and a choice of 10 different salsas. The salmon taco at 3.75 is almost a meal in itself, 4 oz. of perfectly chard salmon served on an enormous house made tortilla. The grilled shrimp and crunchy fried fish (Alaskan cod) tacos are hard to pass up. And if seafood isn't your thing the barbacoa is spot on and the carnitas are tender, juicy and amazing. Don’t forget to check the “Special of the Day” Menu because it’s usually pretty darn special. But RJM is not only great tacos! The grilled fish plates are delicious, especially with the cilantro mashed potatoes and the not-on-the menu Tortas are awe-inspirering. Also give the building heat of the Diablo Shrimp a try. Plenty of parking on San Fernando east of Sunland, on Sunland South of SF, or on Vineland (Behind the McDonalds.) Good reipts and perfect when you are heading to Alpha, Air Design, or really anywhere in the LA Area and just want great tacos…
20. Masis Bakery
This review is confidently based on two visits. (Expect a higher rating soon…) First I had the Cornish game hen, which I highly recommend, perfectly seasoned, tender, juicy with a crispy skin at $8 there's enough left in the cap to split any number of side salads, (I recommend the eggplant.) Next I had the lamb chops, expertly seasoned and served on a flavorful bed of rice with grilled pepper and tomato. And judging by the tastes my fellow diners afforded me (thanks!) everything out of that kitchen is spot on. Another small place with limited seating but most of the traffic is To-Go. Bring your own bottle of water and you're eating big for under $12. And if you are inclined, you can order a sweet something from the bakery counter and have a desert on the company. Counter service and everything in a “To-Go” box. Good receipts. Parking on Lankershirm. It's part of the growing food Mecca that Sun Valley is becoming. And to think, we used to avoid Alpha Medical at all cost at lunch…
21. NoHo Shawarma House
Stumbled upon this place and was immediately drawn in by the open pit fired up right in the parking lot. While it’s hard not to order something from the open flame, you won’t be disappointed if you did, the chicken shawarma was one of the better ones I’ve had in town. Crispy edges, tender and juicy and perfectly seasoned. Oh, and let' stalk about pork shawarma, yes, its a thing...If you go over $12 you’re going to have left-overs. What ever you order, I suggest the ½ fries and ½ rice, just because you can. And if someone you are with insists on going to Roma Deli, let ‘em, and walk across the street actually have good Mediterranean food. (Yes, I went there…) Street parking and good receipts. Expect a higher rating with more visits. If they are as consistent as my first few visits this place is a gem.
22. Tonir Cafe
We are lucky to live in a city with so many incredible Mediterranean Restaurants, and Tonir Cafe is an incredible restaurant. Another hidden gem in Burbank, tucked away on North San Fernando, a perfect place if you’re near Lenny Marvin or Bridge Props or heading to or from Alpha. I find when I can’t make up my mind I tend to go with a Combo Plate and here it is spot on. You can choose 2 sides, and I usually go with the roasted tomato and what they dub as the Eggplant Caviar, caviar wishes it was this good. Real easy to keep it at or under $12 at Tonir, especially with the $8 chicken kabob lunch special, perfect for a lighter meal. Good parking on San Fernando and good receipts.
23. Ay Papa Que Rico
How can I recommend a place on one visit? It's easy when my two buddies shared their dishes with me, (the Rope Veija) was tender and flavorful.) On top of that, when Fellow Traveler and friend Jermey from the mancookgood blog recommend it to me after a few visits himself...that's enough for me. While I did oder the Cubano Sandwich, and it was excellent, I was able to taste some chicken from that grill. Wow! I have a feeling that anything off that grill will taste as amazing. Not bad on the parking and you have to ask for the "Print Out Receipt." I really can't wait to get back here. I would expect a 1-star bump coming soon.
Blaqhaus is a nice new addition the Valley. Big enough to handle our crew of 9 with ample parking to house both trucks. Everyone to a man was satisfied. I went with a lighter, and the only dish really under $12, the tuna sandwich on a lobster roll with fires. Delicious, but I honestly can't wait to try some of the other burgers and sandwiches I saw on the table. Great service, very good food and good receipts. Plenty of parking on Victory.
25. Siri Thai Cuisine
While this part of Burbank isn't easy to navigate in a 5-Ton it is possible to find parking on Burbank or some of the larger side streets. The lunch specials are priced around $9 and come with your choice of rice and a couple of small egg rolls. The Hot Thai basil is a crowd pleaser, and the Pad se-eew is delicious. This is another spot that everyone plays along, orders a lunch special and water, you can split an appetizer or two and still remain under the cap. The Chicken wings are worth fighting over...
26. seventeen cafe
I almost didn't include seventeen cafe in this latest update, usually I like to have a couple or few visits before I recommend a new spot. Then I thought, what the heck, the ladies behind the counter at this band new tiny spot in Sun Valley where so nice, they even have a sign out front welcoming us 44 and 399 guys and gals. Simple sandwiches at $7.50 and well balanced salads at $4.50, served with a smile. Its perfect for those hotter days when you want something a little lighter, yet not so hot that you can't enjoy the back yard patio. This is just another reason Sun Valley is steadily becoming one of my favorite places to eat in Los Angeles.