Hidden Gems in Studio City

Lesser-known delights in this historic home of the stars

Hugging the northern slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains, Studio City is a community born out of the entertainment industry. Known for the huge CBS Studio Center from which it takes its name, home of the Big Brother house and where everything from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Entertainment Tonight have been filmed, this "Jewel of the Valley," attracts actors, musicians, and writers, while serving as a hub of the San Fernando Valley.
Yet there’s so much more to this thriving 40,000-strong community. Read on to scratch
beneath the surface of Studio City.

The Hulk Omelette at Aroma Coffee & Tea in Studio City
The Hulk Omelette at Aroma Coffee & Tea  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Aroma Cafe

Located in trendy Tujunga Village, Aroma Café has earned a small legion of loyal regulars thanks to delicious food created from locally sourced ingredients and served in charming surrounds all day. Patrons love to linger over fresh pastries and hand-crafted coffees on the European-style patio or in front of the cozy fireplace. But what really sets Aroma apart is its breakfast/lunch/dinner options. From eggs Benedict and crispy chicken wrap to lobster club and gourmet garlic fries, the portions are generous and the quality consistent. Plenty of vegetarian options, too. The line can be long, but there’s also a reason why folks are prepared to wait for a seat at this strip-mall surprise.

Black Market Liquor Bar Studio City
Black Market Liquor Bar | Photo: Jakob Layman/Black Market Liquor Bar

Black Market Liquor Bar

As befits its name, Black Market Liquor Bar likes to remain anonymous, with only a valet parking sign betraying what lurks within. Beneath a distinctive arched brick canopy is a cavernous yet cozy, candlelit speakeasy known largely through word of mouth. Helmed by former Top Chef competitor Antonio Lofaso, Black Market’s eclectic American menu can match anything in casual dining citywide, complimented by sophisticated craft cocktails and well-chosen wines and beers. Imaginative shareable brunch and dinner plates, pasta dishes, and indulgently comforting desserts like deep-fried fluffernutter and chocolate bread pudding make Black Market that place where you come for the food but stay for the ambiance.


Arguably the most romantic restaurant anywhere in LA, Firefly has become a Studio City destination for couples from far and wide. Spectacular food, sumptuous velvet cushions, and flattering string lighting will enhance everything from a first date to that landmark wedding anniversary, be it on the outdoor patio or in the more intimate library lounge. Not cheap, but worth every penny when ambiance really matters . The chef’s prix-fixe can keep the check from ruining the occasion, and the valet parking is a must.

Hide & Seek Vintage Home Boutique Studio City
Hide & Seek Vintage Home Boutique, Studio City | Photo: Hide & Seek Vintage

Hide & Seek Vintage Home Boutique

With all the amazing vintage clothing stores in the San Fernando Valley, it's easy to forget that there's throwback finds for your home, too. Founded in 2011, Hide & Seek Vintage Home Boutique sources beautiful and interesting pieces, both actual antiques and vintage-style new products, which can help individualize any home. In an era of numbing homogeneity, rare shops like this are crucial to domestic eclecticism and self-expression. And Hide & Seek can breathe personality into literally every room, with collections including linens, art, bath and body, table-top, and accessories.

North Valleyheart Riverwalk
North Valleyheart Riverwalk | Photo: @leothebrindlefrenchie, Facebook

North Valleyheart Riverwalk

While the greening of the Los Angeles River between Griffith Park and downtown L.A. has been heralded for years, similar improvements upstream, in the San Fernando Valley, are more low key. North Valleyheart Riverwalk is a 1.9-mile linear park along a section of the flood control channel that offers healthy exercise in relaxed surrounds plus a few shaded spots for pause or a picnic. While evocative names like Great Toad Gate, Butterfly Garden, and Rattlesnake Wall along the way may oversell the actual rustic charms of the Riverwalk, it’s nonetheless a welcome escape that, by design, is largely hidden from the surrounding urban bustle.

Picture of the inside of PINZ BOWLING KITCHEN + BAR

Pinz Bowling Kitchen + Bar

If you associate bowling with the Grease-era Valley of drive-ins and dance-offs, think again. Because while Studio City’s storied Pinz Bowling Kitchen + Bar – long known as Kirkwood Lanes and then simply Pinz Bowling Center – dates back to 1958, it today epitomizes how retro-hip bowling has become, with clientele including Selena Gomez, Justin Timberlake, and Nick Cannon. (Last time we were there, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello was in the adjacent lane). Pinz’ change of name reflects what’s always been a multi-faceted attraction, comprising the Mid-Century Kirkwood Room restaurant and bar, serving all the classics, plus 32 recently upgraded lanes.

Fryman Canyon Hike Studio City
Fryman Canyon  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Rainforest Trail - Fryman Canyon Park

While Missing Persons famously insisted that “nobody walks in L.A.,” many Angelenos apparently love to hike. And few hiking spots are more convenient for Studio City residents and visitors than the 605-acre Fryman Canyon Park, located near Benedict Canyon at the eastern edge of the Santa Monica Mountains. Leading off the park’s better-known, 5-mile Betty B. Dearing Trail, the harder-to-find (though signposted) Rainforest Trail is a slender, one-mile footpath through foliage that, while not remotely rainforest, is certainly lush by local standards. Although access is semi strenuous, with some steep and brushy sections, the seclusion and shade of Rainforest Trail are well worth the effort.

Picture of the inside of THE SIX SOCIAL HOUS

The Six Social House

The Society of Six was a close-knit community of artists in Northern California during the prohibition era. In their humble cabin they created art alongside home-made meals, brews, and wines. Inspired by this tale, The Six Social House lingers somewhere between gastropub and bistro. Its seriously seasonal menu not only changes through the year but also includes specials representing the peak of their availability throughout the week. Almost everything is made in house and pairs well with handcrafted draft brews and an impressive selection of bottled beers and wines by the glass. Savor imaginative shareable plates at brunch and dinner amidst distant echoes of that original NorCal shack.