The Valley Specialty
Banh Mi My Tho
304 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra
You can find respectable banh mi joints locally, but hardcore foodies will tell you this hole-in-the-wall deep in the San Gabriel Valley is the real deal. For a little over $3 you can get a warm baguette packed tight with anything from chicken to grilled beef to BBQ pork, all the fixings, and the option to add an egg on top. (Tip: Always add the egg on top.) They also make excellent Vietnamese iced coffee.
3121 W. Olive Ave., Burbank
With four L.A. locations, you can count on this reliable coffee shop to be nearby no matter where you are. It's a very popular spot for work and study, which means they're used to having laptops—they also play a work-friendly soundtrack. Some locations have larger food menus than others, so make sure to check the website if you're hoping to stick around for lunch. In the coffee department, Coffee Commissary brings in a different guest roaster every few weeks, which mixes things up a bit. There are also locations in West Hollywood, Hollywood, and Culver City.
4351 Woodman Ave., Sherman Oaks
At this Sherman Oaks café, there are classic sandwiches (BLT, club, Philly cheese, etc), and there are artisanal grilled cheeses, of which the spicy short-rib option is the standout. Tender pulled short ribs serve as the base for grilled onions and peppers, and melted jack cheese—all made even better with a substantial kick of spicy aioli. All in all, a favorite in the Valley.
Italia Bakery & Deli
11134 Balboa Blvd., Granada Hills
Every town needs an old-school Italian deli, and Italia Bakery has all of the prerequisites in terms of ambience: strip mall location, hand-painted sign, Italian flag out front, and family members behind the counter. While the classic Italian sandwich is great, the best order here is actually the prosciutto sandwich—it comes on a soft roll, basically overflowing with delicate, thinly-sliced meat and an incredibly soft, creamy mozzarella. This is also an amazing source for cold-cuts if you’d prefer to make the sandwiches at home yourself.
Joan’s on Third
12059 Ventura Pl., Studio City
A coffee bar with pastries, a counter for prepared salads and sandwiches to go (or linger over), and a mini-grocery's worth of delicious cheeses, wines, snacks, and frozen treats. Though there are a million tables, they're generally always full; and parking in the area is scarce. That said, it's great for a mid-week breakfast or lunch. (The original Joan's is in West Hollywood.)
Juice Served Here (Closed)
12186 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
In addition to being incredibly convenient for satiating juice cravings (there are locations sprouting up all over the city) this the perfect juice gateway drug for cleanse newbies: Beyond their most popular drink, Green Milk, which is like having dessert for dinner, the Charcoal Lemonade is delicious, despite the suspiciousness of drinking montmorillonite clay and activated charcoal (in contrast, the jalapeño-laced beet juice is tough to swallow). You can also add in extras to ease the process: We opted for the raw soup (a carrot-based gazpacho) and the coconut superfood bar (nice when you miss the sensation of chewing). Bonus points for the DO ME (FIRST, 02, 03, 04, 05, LAST) directions on the caps and the recent addition of lifestyle-y giftables at most outposts. There are additional locations in West Hollywood, Pasadena, Venice, Downtown, Silver Lake, Hollywood, and Santa Monica.
10115 Riverside Dr., Toluca Lake
The people behind Kreation Café, a certified green eatery specializing in dishes made from local farmers market produce, have applied the same philosophy to their juice bar. Juices are made with 100% organic fruits and veggies purchased within the same zip code. The result is deliciously fresh juice for whatever you're craving or need (detox, energy, etc.). They also have "juicemobiles" for those who can't make it to one of their brick and mortar locations (Venice, Marina del Rey, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, and South Beverly Hills), and cold-pressed juices and cleanses you can order online.
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams
12073 Ventura Pl., Studio City
These purveyors of ultra-creamy ice cream got their start in Santa Barbara in 1948, and the heritage of their brand is hugely important to them. Their dairy is sourced from grass-fed cows which are raised just north of LA on the central coast, and they've been working with the same creamery since they got their start (eggs are cage-free, too). This is the kind of place where classic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and the not-so-classic chocolate-covered strawberry reign supreme, and it probably goes without saying that kids can't get enough of it. You can buy this creamy goodness at many upscale grocery stores, but we prefer to have it scooped for us at either their Grand Central Market or Studio City locations.
4013 W. Riverside Dr., Burbank
From their yummy fried chicken sandwich to the delicious salted caramel 'cutie' pies, this is the place to indulge. There's soda floats, beer, and wine to boot. (Simplethings also has locations in Santa Monica, Westwood Village, and West Hollywood.)
Sweet Lady Jane
16403C Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks
Prettily decorated cakes and baked goods are mainstays here, though we hear the best thing on the menu is actually the tuna fish sandwich. They make their own mayo, and serve it on freshly baked rosemary bread. There are also Sweet Lady Jane bakeries in West Hollywood and Santa Monica.
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