If I read another list telling me to go to Bea Beas or Jinkys or 900 places out in Woodland Hills, tears will flow. Valley dwellers deserve a good and decent life filled with bacon and hollandaise and lox and lines that don’t make you question your life choices. So to my comrades in Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Toluca Lake, Studio City, and Encino: We are good enough, smart enough, and, doggone it, people don’t like us because most people don’t know where the Valley is, but WE know. And we should know where the hell to eat this weekend.
1. Harvest Moon
If you like bacon, which you do because you’re a person who lives, this place makes a version colloquially known as “crack bacon,” which will enhance your life on a molecular level. Thick cut, cooked with sugar, chewy; it’s an important strip of bacon. I asked what their secret was, and they laughed in my face. As they should.
Everything on the menu is good. Their corned beef hash is a memorable stand out, seasoned with a haunting and unexpected flavor of allspice permeating the pulled, not chopped, hash. They also do a house-made biscuit that’s twice as good and flaky than it has a right to be. The only blight on the experience: They don’t serve softened butter. Rather, they give you those traditional restaurant butter packets that come straight from the fridge, brick-like and unspreadable. So for safety I would bring your own Kerrygold in a French pot like a normal person.
To be 100 percent honest with you, this food isn’t transcendent, the service is terrible, they combine their ketchups to the point of rancidity, and it’s one of the best spots in the valley. Why? I don’t know. There’s something that makes your cold rye toast taste better knowing you’re sitting inside of movie history. But their French toast is really good, and they make those old-fashioned half burnt hash browns that harken back to a time when we knew our neighbors’ names. And it’s a perfect place to take kids because it’s so low key, and there are literally no lines ever. Oh, and their coffee is undrinkable.
There arrrrrrrre lines at this place (shout out to gentrification in the Arts District), but it’s worth it. Eating inside is a little bit heinous noise-wise, so try to get a table outside in front or in the alley. Order one of SIX different benedicts, or try their not-authentic but deeply delicious Chilaquiles. Their omelet game is strong and they’re famous for their “shreds,” which are essentially fried shredded zucchini strings with sour cream for dipping (drowning).
4. Eat’n Park
I was under the impression one would park FIRST, but what do I know. The grammatical complexity of a restaurant’s name isn’t important when they make omelets the size of your torso. And they put slices of American cheese on it.
There is one perfect dish here. And it is the only dish to order. It is called The Stack. And it’s comprised of buttermilk fried chicken, bacon, and a sunny side up egg all on Belgian waffles drizzled with cayenne maple syrup. BYE!
This old neighborhood standby has one of those menus with roughly 487 options, multiple signature dishes, many, many ingredients with which to “craft” your own omelet (shout out to bean sprouts), and it offers GRITS as a side. If you need more information than that I’m confused, but fine, they serve breakfast all day. Also, you will see a minimum of three A-list celebs there at any given moment, but be cool about it.
7. Blu Jam Cafe
There is French toast, and then there is the signature crunchy French toast from blu jam. They, too, thoroughly rebuffed my attempts to find out what makes their “secret” batter so addictive. But sometimes it’s not for us to know. They’re also incredibly accommodating with vegan substitutions and have copious gluten free options.
MORE THAN WAHHHHHHH-fulllllls. (Sung to the melody of “More Than Words,” which will now be on a loop in your ears for no fewer than three days). But they do make a fine waffle. Probably the best the Valley has to offer. And while they are “more than” waffles, one needn’t look further than their signature dish. It is busy on the weekends, but there is free coffee while you wait for a table.
Overlooks a lake. Has a CLUB BENEDICT. Fin.
10. Olive & Thyme
This gourmet marketplace and cafe had to move down the street on Riverside Drive to a space three times the size in order to accommodate its exploding business. So perhaps “underrated” isn’t the best word to use. Though they are mysteriously absent from most round up lists. They do a mind-altering fattoush salad with chopped salami for lunch that I would count as the highlight of their menu, but they also make a perfect breakfast. I would allot a minimum of three visits to try all their best stuff, namely the benedict, the brioche sandwich, and their exquisite “eggs your way” plate, served with smoky bacon, tangy sourdough toast, and a glob of sweet seasonal preserves.