The Top 5 Dishes in Sherman Oaks

Discover a new generation of culinary talent in the Valley
Stuffed chicken at Carnival in Sherman Oaks | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Sherman Oaks, yet another San Fernando Valley neighborhood that separated from railroad maven Moses Hazeltine Sherman’s massive landholding in 1927, has expanded over the years and now spans more than nine square miles. Sherman Oaks has a high concentration of Middle Eastern and Japanese restaurants, and of course plenty of gastropubs, which have proliferated all across Ventura Boulevard. Now Sherman Oaks is seeing a new infusion of culinary talent that leans higher end and more creative. Discover five great dishes.

Wild caught sockeye salmon tartare at Augustine Wine Bar | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Augustine Wine Bar - Wild Caught Sockeye Salmon Tartare

Augustine Wine Bar from Dave Gibbs, Dustin Lancaster, and Matthew Kaner is best known for serving rare and vintage wines by the glass from their three-sided marble bar, but Chef Simon Tan’s food keeps pace. Tan previously worked at Mardi, State Bird Provisions and Gramercy Tavern and now presides over the tiny, but ambitious kitchen. Roasted duck gets plenty of love, but we suggest starting with wild caught sockeye salmon tartare. Silky, rosy hued fish is tossed with pickled wild fennel seeds, fennel pollen, fennel vinaigrette, and fines herbes. Each tartare is molded into a disc, topped with punchy pickled turnips, and served with a well-seasoned nori chip. The same salmon also factors into a rice-crusted fillet with zucchini, roasted carrots, and black kale.

Stuffed chicken at Carnival | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Carnival - Stuffed Chicken

Carnival, a family-friendly Lebanese restaurant from chef Afif Al-Hakim and partner Nabil Halaby, dates to 1984 in a strip mall. Mottled tan walls sport peaked arches to display painted murals of Lebanese historical sites and the seaside. Carnival’s probably best known for kebabs and dips, but visit the restaurant on a Friday and you’ll find that day’s stupendous special: stuffed chicken. They stuff a golden brown half-bird with well-spiced rice folded with ingredients like cumin, cardamom, and pepper, plus ground lamb, pulled chicken, and pine nuts. Each plate comes with a dish of pink pickled daikon radish, marinated green olives, punchy pepperoncini, and toasted pita.

Mizlala - Crispy Artichoke Hummus

Mizlala, a next-gen restaurant from successful SBE chef Danny Elmaleh and wife Justine, continues flavorful tradition that Danny’s dad Simon established. Grab a table or counter seat at the open kitchen and order family classics like merguez and tagines, or embark down Mizlala’s modern Mediterranean path. Their basic hummus is a bowl of beauty that blends chickpeas, tahini, cumin, and olive oil. Pair with house-baked, pull-apart laffa bread that’s dusted with savory za’atar and served warm. If you’re lucky, they’ll have a deluxe version of this hummus embellished with crispy artichokes, marjoram gremolata, tangy cured lemon, and a sprinkling of spicy Aleppo pepper.

Toast Café - Ziva

Tel Aviv native Yael Tal was a successful pastry chef and caterer before turning her focus to Israeli comfort food. Toast Café is one of L.A.’s best places to get shakshuka (red or green), but we can’t resist Ziva’s allure. Tal takes the same dough she uses for malawach, multi-layered Yemeni flatbread, and rolls it thinner to form Ziva. The flaky, buttery, horseshoe shaped pastry is sesame-studded and filled with a molten blend of cream cheese, feta, and mozzarella. Each plate comes with tomato sauce, pickles, and hard-boiled egg to complement the rich, savory dish that’s big in Israel, but rare in L.A.