Often the butt of Westsider's jokes, "The Valley" is that scary place that non-Angeleno's only know of from various and few pop-culture references: that sketchy party from Clueless or the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie and Samantha visit LA and buy knock-off designer bags only to change their minds and almost get chased down the dirty street by dogs.
As a true Valley girl (yes, go ahead and *gasp,* I grew up in The Valley), I've always known that, while certainly not the prettiest or coolest place, The Valley is just a fairly residential and suburban part of the city. People live there and move there for a more low-key lifestyle; cheaper cost of living, less traffic, and still some beautiful neighborhoods and some of the city's best private schools (Harvard-Westlake, Buckley, Campbell Hall, Oakwood, and Viewpoint are just a few of the schools that reside here), The Valley certainly has plenty of pros.
But I definitely don't deny that it's never exactly been cool. It's frequently lacking in great restaurants, things to do, cool bars, and upscale shops. Although let's not forget that The Valley is the birthplace of some of LA's most famous stripmall sushi joints.
In recent years, though, there have certainly been some positive developments. The new Topanga mall, The Village at Westfield Topanga, the influx of upscale theaters like the Cinepolis in Westlake, and some nicer shopping areas (like The Calabasas Commons and the Tarzana Village Walk) have shown that valley residents are in need of and will support nicer, renovated, and more upscale businesses. There's already a huge number of families and young, working Angelenos in the Valley who can support these businesses, and so the recent developments cater to the current residents without pushing them out (in the typical trend of gentrification that has happened in other LA neighborhoods). Which always made me wonder why there weren't more of these nice establishments popping up?
It seems like other people have started to wonder this because recently, there have been some clues to suggest that, despite its reputation, The Valley may just be LA's most up and coming neighborhood. The first of which is the list of excellent restaurants and bars that now pepper Ventura Blvd, mostly in Studio City and Sherman Oaks. Some of these include Barrel & Ashes, Black Market Liquor Bar, The Fiscal Agent, Tipple & Brine, and Joan's On Third, among plenty of others. Another clue is the creation of higher-end apartment buildings all over The Valley; this means that people actually want to live here, and are looking to move. My third clue: Dave Grohl has his recording studio in Van Nuys, and you can typically spot him all over The Valley. If it's cool enough for Dave Grohl, then it's cool.
And my last and final clue? Star Chef Phillip Frankland Lee (darling of the LA food scene, winner of Chopped, and owner of Studio City vegan joint The Gadarene Swine) is opening up his fantastic small plate restaurant, Scratch Bar, in Encino. ENCINO.
I rest my case.