Studio CIty Is Now Officially Too Cool for L.A. Westsiders

Once known for ubiquitous sushi joints, Ventura Boulevard is now swimming with hip new haunts and the ’hood over the hill is a new boomtown

Studio City has long been known mostly for one thing: raw fish. After all, Ventura Boulevard isn’t called Sushi Row for nothing. “But it’s gotten so cool now, I’m not embarrassed to invite my Westside friend,”  confesses Vicki Nussbaum, executive director of the Studio City Business District. Thanks to a luxe mall, the Shops at Sportsmen’s Lodge, the area now brims with Valley versions of Erewhon, Fred Segal, Sugarfish, and more. It’s shed new light on a walkable stretch already lined with beignet and wine shops and other specialty stores. “I’ve seen Studio City morph from this sleepy little town into this boomtown, this mecca,” restaurateur Frank Leon says. “Now, every restaurateur wants to be here.” And yet, amazingly enough, the neighborhood retains its small-town vibe with a strong sense of community.

Classic Toys Nostalgic for the toys of your youth? Need to get a kid a gift? Or both? Classic Toys lives up to its name. It stocks bubble-making machines, spinning ferris wheels with 50 songs and a light show—better than Santa Monica Pier! Plus, there are plush stuffed animals, mood rings for moody kids, Victorian dolls and paper dolls, model cars and pedal cars, puzzles, princess accessories, arts and crafts kits, toy pianos—you get the picture. Oh, and picture books. 12212 Ventura Blvd., 818-980-0032

Leona’s Frank Leon opened La Loggia Italian restaurant in 1986, attracting acts from Universal Amphitheatre. Thirty-seven years later, it’s been reborn as Leona’s, with fusion sushi/Japanese dishes (corn tempura, portobello mushroom tempura roll) served in a stylish sushi bar, a spacious front room and a garden with a fireplace. With Michelin-starred chef Shigenori Fujimoto (Asanebo), it’s the sexiest sushi joint on Ventura, open till 2 a.m. on weekends. The crowd here likes its fish raw and its ambiance rich. 11814 Ventura Blvd.,

The Shops at Sportmen’s Lodge Since opening in 2021, the Shops at Sportsmen’s Lodge reports hosting 4,200 unique visitors daily. The former hotel/event space retains its charm: outdoor waterways, tall redwoods (six grand a month in maintenance), even ducks. Indoor delights include apparel stores Fred Segal, Reformation, Zadig & Voltaire; food options from Sugarfish, Tocaya and Uovo pasta; plus an Equinox gym and a spanking-new Erewhon. How different can one coconut smoothie be from another? This different: Studio City has never had a “power” grocery store this upmarket. 12833 Ventura Blvd.,

Annabelle’s Book Club L.A. Oprah’s got one. So does Reese. But the new pastel-pink Annabelle’s Book Club LA has something they don’t: 16-year-old owner Annabelle Chang, whose audience is the YA crowd  (her mother, Amanda Brown, wrote Legally Blonde.) Why “club”? “I wanted to create a welcoming space for people to spend time in,” says Chang. “My family helped me realize my dream.” She does the book buying herself, including art and fashion titles. 12200 Ventura Blvd.,

Sara’s Lingerie Sara, doyenne of 36-year-old eponymous lingerie store, has seen more boobs —particularly, celebrity boobs—than a British tabloid. It’s the rare shop that offers bra fittings (sizes A through J) and alterations. Sara and daughter Rebecca Sanfir carry a range of lace antigravitational devices. These frilly contraptions give your entire body—and attitude—a lift. The shop also sells satin peignoirs, bustiers, garters, body chains, and pricey silk corsets. Which won’t hurt your love life either. 12244 Ventura Blvd.,

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