Eating Guide for Valley Transit Users
As someone who uses public transit exclusively, I tend to look for places to eat that are easily accessed by public transit. Over the years, I have found a few "gems" which I feel are worthy of sharing. I have listed them alphabetically by name and included directions via transit. I do not receive any kind of compensation for any of these (nor do you get any "specials" for mentioning me), and you won't find any chicken eateries (I can't eat poultry) on the list. The address links will open Google Maps in a separate window; in most cases the thumbnail picture on the map page will be of the eatery.
Abe's Deli, 19626 Nordhoff St., Northridge: Their sandwiches are obscenely humongous (I've never eaten there and not had to take part of my meal home in a doggie bag), and the waitresses are your best guide as to what's best today. (½ block east of the Metro 166 and 243 stop at Nordhoff/Corbin.)
Beeps, 16063 Sherman Way., Van Nuys: A Valley landmark, Beeps (no apostrophe) celebrated 50 years of operation in 2006. In typical drive-in fashion, just about everything you could think of -- including breakfast -- is on the menu, and none of it disappoints. If you plan on being a frequent visitor, ask for a Beeper "free fer" card, which entitles you to a free sandwich or burger after you've bought 12. (Literally at the Metro 162-163, 169 and 237 northeast corner stops at Sherman Way/Woodley.)
China Olive, 9224 Reseda Blvd., Northridge: I am not a big Chinese food eater, but this buffet-style, all-you-can-eat restaurant has a wide variety and is a great value. (One block north of the Reseda/Nordhoff stop for Metro 166-364, 167, 240, Rapid 741 and Northridge DASH.)
Happy Dogs, 6235½ Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys: It doesn't look like much from the outside, and some of the tables and plastic chairs are on the sidewalk, but the food is great ... in fact, this shack is very popular with the government workers in the offices across the street. If the weather is nice, consider ordering your food "to-go" and eating across the street along the Erwin Street Mall. (Four blocks north of Van Nuys Orange Line Station, three blocks south of the Metro 164 and Rapid 761 stop at Van Nuys/Victory, midway between the Metro 233, 237 and Van Nuys-Studio City DASH stops at Van Nuys/Sylvan and Van Nuys/Delano, on the west side of the street.)
Lido Pizza, 15232 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys: Don't let the name fool you; this is a full-fledged Italian restaurant where pizza only takes up a small corner of the menu (although I know people who believe their pizza is the best on the planet). Their pasta is marvelous. The same people own Chi-Chi's Pizza at 9080 Tampa Ave., Northridge; while I've never eaten there, the menu is identical. (Just east of the Metro 164, 234, 237 and Rapid 734 stop at Victory/Sepulveda; the Northridge location is in the large-ish shopping center just south of the Metro 166-364, 242, and Northridge DASH stop at Tampa/Nordhoff.)
Little Toni's, 4745 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood: You simply will not believe the pizza at this restaurant, which has been family-owned for more than a generation. (At the Metro 156 and 224 stop at Lankershim/Vineland/Camarillo, at the tip of the triangle formed by Lankershim and Vineland on the south side of the intersection.)
Los Toros Mexican Restaurant, 21743 Devonshire St, Chatsworth: I discovered this treasure, which has been serving Mexican food since 1967(!) when I was looking for somewhere to eat reasonably close to the old Metro San Fernando Valley sector offices. Delicious food, a full cantina for those who imbibe, and an indoor patio that evokes a feeling that you're dining south-of-the-border. (One block west of the Metro 166-364 and 245 stop at Devonshire/Owensmouth; walking distance from Chatsworth Metrolink Station -- Metro 158, 167, 244 and the Orange Line.)
Nat's Early Bite, 14115 Burbank Blvd., Van Nuys: This is a genuine, old-fashioned coffee shop, with good food at reasonable prices. If you are there for breakfast, try one of their large scrambles! The current owner, who started there as a busboy before purchasing it in 1983, has also opened a breakfast/lunch-only spinoff called -- logically enough -- Nat's West, at 8336 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park, which has the same menu as the original location. (On the northwest corner of Burbank and Hazeltine, near the stops for Metro 156, LADOT 549 and Van Nuys-Studio City DASH; the Canoga Park location is one block north of the Metro 152-353 and 245 stop at Topanga Canyon/Roscoe.)
Pizza Cookery, 17976 Ventura Blvd., Encino: If you're expecting a traditional Italian restaurant or pizza joint, you're about to be surprised; the very first thing you're going to notice is the sawdust -- yes, I said sawdust -- on the floor. But don't let the unusual atmosphere deter you, because the food here is great. I'll admit that I've never had one of their pizzas, but their pasta dishes are wonderful and a "small" antipasto salad would easily feed two for lunch. (On the same corner as the eastbound Metro 150 and 240 stop at Ventura/Newcastle; the westbound stop, including Metro 239, is right across the street.)
Springbok Bar & Grill, 16153 Victory Blvd., Lake Balboa: This could be very easily overlooked as it's somewhat hidden from view behind the Vallarta supermarket, but it's a fairly typical sports bar and grill, with the usual fare (they have surprisingly good fish and chips!) and widescreen TVs tuned to ESPN; I think I'd avoid this on the weekends or when there's an evening sporting event that will draw crowds, but it's an excellent choice for lunch or an early dinner. (One block west of Woodley Orange Line Station and the Metro 164 and 237 stop at Victory/Woodley.)
The Munch Box, 21532 Devonshire St, Chatsworth: Okay, I'll admit that I've only eaten here once in my life, and the menu is very limited -- it's mainly burgers, hot dogs, fries, and soda (just try to order something without chili, I dare you, and no, you cannot have an iced tea!) -- but what do you say about a legendary burger shack that usually has people waiting impatiently for it to open at 10:30am? I will warn you to get there as early in the afternoon as possible, as the 5:00pm closing time sometimes gets moved up as business tapers off. Bonus trivia fact: In 2003, The Munch Box was placed on the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission's list of historic-cultural monuments. (Just east of the Metro 166-364 and 245 stop at Devonshire/Owensmouth; a short walk from the Chatsworth Metrolink Station terminals of Metro 158, 167, 244 and the Orange Line.)
Tortilla Inn, 18114 Parthenia St., Northridge: The food is far better than the rather corny name of the restaurant implies (and so are the margaritas, according to dining companions who enjoy them), and the tortilla chips never stop coming, regardless of what you order. (In a strip mall on the southwest corner at the Lindley/Parthenia Metro 239 stop.)
SPECIAL BONUS NON-VALLEY LISTING: Even though this is outside the San Fernando Valley, it is accessible from the Valley via the Metro Red Line, and it is a rather legendary place. Rather than write the review myself, I will defer to Los Angeles Times restaurant critic, Jonathan Gold, who ranked this location #66 in his "101 Best Restaurants of 2014".
Langer's, 704 S. Alvarado St., Los Angeles: Everyone knows that Langer's serves the best pastrami sandwich in Los Angeles. Guidebooks say so. Magazines say so. The MTA Red Line disgorges so many Langer's-bound fressiers that it has been called the Pastrami Express. Still, if you haven't been in a few years, you might be surprised to see long lines on a Saturday afternoon, suuplicants waiting for their shot at the No. 19, a concoction of hand-cut pastrami, Swiss cheese, cole slaw and Russian dressing on double-baked rye bread. The neighborhood may have lost its last vestiges of Jewishness sometime before the Vietnam War, but the pleasures of pastrami will not ne denied. (Literally on the corner of the first intersection south of the Westlake-MacArthur Park Station entrance.)
More listings to come in the future; if you'd like to suggest a location, please use the feedback form.