A Walking Tour of Sherman Oaks

Photo courtesy of Ultrazone Laser Tag

Even though the San Fernando Valley is known as one of L.A.’s largest regions, there are local neighborhoods that are easily navigated and pedestrian friendly. The historic and upscale neighborhood of Sherman Oaks is one of those areas, especially along Ventura Boulevard, which one can explore on foot. Many of L.A.’s favorite restaurants and stores have Valley locations in Sherman Oaks, which is just “over the hill” from Bel-Air and Beverly Hills. Though it’s nice to come across familiar brands, there are numerous local gems that make Sherman Oaks truly a delight to explore on foot.

Sweet Butter Kitchen

Enter through wrought iron gates and experience a breakfast wonderland at Sweet Butter Kitchen. Step inside their rustic marketplace to order one of their delicious lattes to go, or find a cozy place in their herb-covered garden patio to enjoy the rest of your meal. Sweet Butter Kitchen serves up a variety of morning options, from freshly baked muffins to filling breakfast sandwiches and piping-hot omelets. Their locale is family-friendly and efficient, so whether you want to take it easy or grab-and-go, Sweet Butter is a great way to start your day.

French Toast  Made With Portuguese Sweet Bread

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Optional: Natas Pastries

If you’re looking for a different breakfast experience, head down the block to Natas Pastries, a Portuguese bakery and cafe. Tucked in the corner of the Sherman Oaks Village shopping area, Natas is named after their signature pastry, a crispy puff pastry filled with a crème brûlée–like custard. For breakfast, start with a bica, an espresso shot, and either a warm pastry, egg scramble with ChouriÇo, or French Toast made with Portuguese sweet bread. They serve all day, so you just might find yourself back here for lunch or dinner, where you can also indulge in some Portuguese wine.

Freakbeat Records

Now that you’re fueled for the day, head along Ventura Boulevard and step into Freakbeat Records. You don’t need to be a music “freak” to appreciate the extensive collection of new and used vinyl rock, soul, jazz, funk and disco. No record player? No problem. Freakbeat also has a huge CD collection with musical genres ranging from country to classical. There are DVDs, books, magazine, and various vintage posters waiting to be discovered. If you’re looking to score gems on a budget, tuck into their 99-cent room for thousands of LPs and CDs that are priced so low, you’ll want to dance.

Books On the Boulevard

For more rare finds, head down the block and across the street to Books On the Boulevard. In a time when independent bookstores are as rare as the books they’re selling, BOTB specializes in hard-to-find, out of print and used books. Everything they sell is in great condition. If you happen to meet the owner, Lisa, she will personally help you and answer all your book-loving questions. With shelves stocked from floor to ceiling, it’s easy to get lost in here for a few hours.

Casablanca Salon & Day Spa

If relaxing after lunch is more your speed, then Casablanca Salon & Day Spa is calling your name. Pass through large wooden doors and enter a Moroccan-inspired salon that is both elegant and calming. Their services range from hair treatments to nail services in their salon, while their spa offers an extensive menu of facials, massages, body scrubs and waxing. Spend just a few hours here you will leave feeling fresh, rejuvenated and ready for an evening of fun-filled activities.

The Harvest Bar

Need a little afternoon pick-me-up that’s also healthy? Head down the boulevard a few blocks to The Harvest Bar. This intimate, minimally-designed space offers a selection of fresh juices, smoothies and super-food bowls. Though they have a full menu, the move here is customizing your order. For those really in need of a caffeine fix, there are a few cold coffee drink options. All their produce is fresh and locally grown with the intent on providing the maximum number of nutrients per gulp, sip or spoonful.

Panzanella Ristorante

After a day of shopping, laser tagging and pampering, you’re ready for a drink and a delicious dinner. Panzanella Ristorante, part of the famed Drago family’s collection of L.A. restaurants, serves Italian and Sicilian cuisine in a modern, smart atmosphere. Expect numerous traditional dishes served with exceptional flavor and authenticity. It’s the perfect setting for a romantic evening or a family dinner. Their Involtini Di Melazane Con Spaghetti (baked spaghetti wrapped with eggplant), Veal Milanese, and Risotto di Carmela (a mushroom risotto named after Mama Drago) are among the dishes that make this restaurant a culinary destination.

The Sherman Burger | Photo courtesy of The Sherman

OPTIONAL: The Sherman

The Sherman opened March 2016 in the space that formerly housed Tipple & Brine. The Sherman kept the rustic chic decor and added historic photos of Sherman Oaks for a warm neighborhood vibe. Chef Jason Francisco (previously at The Tasting Kitchen) features upscale American cuisine with a focus on fresh and sustainable ingredients. Starters include Harmony Farms bison tartare, lobster ceviche, jumbo wild caught shrimp scampi, and duck bacon mac & cheese. Mains include The Sherman Burger with Harris Farms short rib, chuck and brisket; wild boar porchetta with wild mushroom and spinach risotto; and the 20-ounce Cowboy Cut Bone-In Ribeye with roasted harvest vegetables. Craft cocktails include the signature Sherman Martini with Ketel One Vodka, served “slightly dirty” with jalapeño bleu cheese stuffed olives. For a nightcap, seek out The Attic, a speakeasy that’s discretely located on the second floor of The Sherman.

On the Thirty

The night is still young, and Sherman Oaks has some great options for after dinner drinks. Just down the street is On The Thirty, a wine bar known for carrying 30 boutique California wines by the glass, 30 California craft beers on draft and by the bottle, and a toast-worthy mixology menu. Their knowledgeable servers can make suggestions if you want to try something new. The vibe is casual and cocktails like the Blackberry Smash and Thunder Buddy are all too good. Should you need a snack to balance out their drinks, On The Thirty has a noteworthy gastropub menu.

Optional: The Local Peasant

Located east on Ventura, The Local Peasant is another great destination for drinks. Following what seems to be the local trend, their atmosphere is rustic-cool, and their motto is “Eat... Drink… and be Local.” This neighborhood spot has an extensive craft beer, wine and cocktail list. The in-depth food menu specializes in American comfort food, so be sure to stop by on another night and bring your appetite. But until then, enjoy cocktails like the El Diablo, Moscow Mule and Basil Pepper Martini.