While The Valley is often crapped on for not being a destination for LA's chicest eats, there are plenty of ultra-cool spots that are challenging this perception. Some have been quietly garnering esteem for years, and others have just splashed onto the restaurant scene in a big way. As the original destination for some of the most iconic strip mall sushi joints (*ahem* the birthplace of Sushi Nozawa and Sugarfish), it's no surprise that many of the SFV's best restaurants are unpretentious hole-in-the-wall spots that focus on churning out great food. These 5 places prove that there are plenty of fantastic spots bringing even the most discerning foodies to the 818...no matter how reluctant they may be.
1. Scratch Bar & Kitchen, Encino
Valley born and bred, up-and-coming Chef Philip Frankland Lee decided he wanted to be "part of the solution" to The Valley's food scene, reinventing his creative small plates restaurant, Scratch Bar + Kitchen, in a strip mall in Encino. Since opening, Scratch Bar has only continued to gain steam, becoming one of the toughest tables in the SFV to book. And though reviews have been mixed (which, I wonder, if these could have been informed by Valley discrimination), it's clear that Chef Philip Frankland Lee is bringing a much needed creativity to The Valley's food lovers; and hey, we're happy to have him!
2. Barrel & Ashes, Studio City
Did you know that this low-key BBQ joint is actually by the same Chef as Otium? That's right! Before The Broad boasted one of the hottest culinary destinations in the city, Chef Timothy Hollingsworth was smoking meats at Barrel & Ashes in none other than Studio City. The restaurant finds a delicate balance between classic, messy BBQ flavors and modern, trendy elements. With ridiculously tender and flavorful meats, and the best hoe cakes (ok, maybe the only hoe cakes) I've ever had, Barrel & Ashes is still going strong...especially for brunch!
3. Go's Mart, Canoga Park
Consistently hailed as one of the best, most creative sushi joints in all of LA (it's a favorite of Jonathan Gold), Go's Mart is probably THE most unassuming restaurants ever. Tucked into a strip mall in Canoga Park, the space is bare and minimal (and not in a trendy way), with a few industrial fridges towards the entrance and a small sushi bar at the back. But don't get turned off by the less-than-glamorous interior. Trust the chef and partake in a very traditional omakase experience; with no set price or courses, you just let him know when to start and when you're full. And definitely don't embarrass yourself by expecting rolls or other sushi fare. Their offerings are strictly sushi, but each course is unique, luxe, and immensely satisfying. Serving bites like toro with caviar, gold leaf, and truffle oil, it's no wonder the meal will run you a good $150/person, but if you're a true sushi obsessive, you've got to start saving...NOW.
4. Maradentro, Studio City
Maradentro is so great that they even opened a second outpost in Brentwood. Their fresh, seafood-focused menu highlights local, seasonal ingredients with a Mexican-contemporary flare. With a drink menu that's equally as impressive as the food, Maradentro is giving the Valley not just another Mexican joint, but an upscale restaurant to also get our drink on.
5. Batterfish, Encino
Described by Eater as "LA's best fish and chips," Batterfish in Encino is a casual hole-in-the-wall to get authentic British cuisine. And why not? The pick your own flavor batter concept is going over well with residents of the SFV and the rest of the city. Plus, Batterfish is BYOB, so why not grab some beers and treat yourself to a fried fish picnic?