Hidden Gems of Burbank

Downtown Burbank Car Classic | Photo courtesy of Visit Burbank

There’s a lot more to Burbank than Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood, Hollywood Burbank Airport and Porto’s Bakery. Here are 13 things only Burbank insiders know about.

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Photo courtesy of Center Stage Gallery, Facebook

Center Stage Gallery

Center Stage Gallery celebrates the work of top animators. But it’s not what you might think. Instead of cels, the four year old gallery showcases the personal work of these artists, many of whom work at local studios. Recently they highlighted the hemp sculptures of Max Narciso who has done work for Disney and Warner Bros. Next up are the watercolor landscapes of Matt Jones, perhaps best known for his work on Inside Out. Monday and Wednesday evenings, the gallery hosts sketch events ($10 with advance registration or $12 at the door) for aspiring artists 12 and older with a costumed model. Beginners are welcome. There is no formal instruction. But there is generally a pro on hand with a tip or two.

847 N. Hollywood Way, #100, Burbank

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Commonwealth | Photo courtesy of Visit Burbank


When Commonwealth opened three years ago off the beaten track, at the site of a former Colombian eatery, it raised the bar on dining in Burbank with dishes like tender grilled octopus and fried Brussels sprouts tossed in a chili vinaigrette. There are only a dozen tables in the “globally inspired,” dinner only, small plates restaurant. So reservations are recommended. Though the six seat dining counter is set aside for walk-ins. They expect to get their liquor license any day now. Until then, it’s beer and wine only.

222 S. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank

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Photo courtesy of Cydwoq Shoes, FacebookFacebook

Cydwoq Shoes

Cydwoq Shoes are understated but always interesting. They are shoes that make you look twice. And while they are sold at various boutiques around the country, the Burbank store, open weekdays only, and also home to the workshop where they are handcrafted, is the motherlode. Prices for the men’s and women’s designs, all custom made to order, range from around $200 to $500. But be sure to visit the back room, where you can snag some bargains. Here you will find designs that were returned but never worn—maybe they were too big or too small for the original purchaser or the color wasn’t to their liking—as well as some shoes that are especially made for stock.

2102 Kenmere Ave., Burbank

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Photo courtesy of Ladies & Gents Night Out

Ladies & Gents Night Out

The last Friday of every month, some 30 food trucks—both savory and sweet—park on Magnolia Boulevard just east of Hollywood Way for Ladies & Gents Night Out (formerly just Ladies Night Out). It’s a street party, with many local businesses offering special promotions. Henna artists and face painters set up tables on the sidewalk. There’s sometimes live music. But mostly there is food, and plenty of it. Deciding which trucks to hit may be the hardest decision you make all month. 

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Los Angeles Equestrian Center | Photo courtesy of Visit Burbank

Los Angeles Equestrian Center

If you’ve ever looked north at just the right time while heading west on the 134 freeway, you might have spotted what look like stables. This is Los Angeles Equestrian Center, a sprawling facility that is home to 20 some independent trainer businesses, including the Traditional Equitation School which offers lessons to riders of all levels, both kids and adults. While visitors are discouraged from entering the barns, the center hosts many events throughout the year, most of which are free. So if you’re a horse person and need a fix, check the calendar.

480 Riverside Dr., Burbank




While in Cali, I had to come check out @morphebrushes

A post shared by Aurora (@glamrora) on Mar 4, 2017 at 6:17pm PST

If you happen to see a line out the door of Morphe on any given Saturday, you might think they were giving something away or having a big sale. Nope. People are just mad for their make-up brushes. The most popular of the hundreds of brushes, which are displayed neatly along an entire wall of the spacious storefront, is the M439 Deluxe Buffer, a chunky $13.99 foundation brush. In addition to brushes ranging from $2 to $20, the shop stocks the Morphe line of eye shadow and lip color. The women and men working the floor are happy to give customers all the hand holding they need. With so many brushes, it can be hard to decide which ones to add to your arsenal.

3424 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank

 Forager Panini    |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa
Forager Panini  | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Olive & Thyme

Two of the many reasons that Olive & Thyme is often packed: country sourdough bread topped with avocado, burrata, juicy heirloom tomatoes, a scattering of fresh basil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper; and sweets like dense red velvet brownies studded with white chocolate. The light filled, very California café with the requisite espresso bar and cheese counter serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as Saturday brunch. (It's closed Sundays.) Olive & Thyme is also a swell place to score gifts for the foodies in your life. Think fancy pasta, SQIRL jam, and exotic salts in pretty packages.

3821 W. Riverside Dr., Burbank

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The Perky Nerd | Photo courtesy of Visit Burbank

The Perky Nerd

If you think “comic book store” and “charm” are mutually exclusive, then you’ve never been to The Perky Nerd. Less than a year old, the cheery, female owned shop stocks over 100 titles. You can also enjoy a cup of cold brew here while chilling in the lounge area and playing one of the many board games on hand. No wonder the shop is a popular first date destination. The Perky Nerd also hosts reading clubs for grown-ups—Reading Rain Bros for the guys, and Perky Bitches for the gals—as well as frequent special events.

1606 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank

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The SmokeHouse | Photo by Lindsay Blake

The SmokeHouse

One of Burbank’s most historic restaurants, The SmokeHouse was founded in 1946 at the corner of Pass and Riverside Avenues, then moved to its current location in 1949. Thanks to its proximity to Warner Bros. Studios, the restaurant has long been frequented by movie and television luminaries, including Kevin Costner, Jennifer Aniston, Robert Redford and Andy Garcia. George Clooney is such a fan that he named his production company “Smokehouse Pictures” in its honor. For generations, The SmokeHouse has appeared in films and TV series, including La La Land, Argo, The Office, Desperate Housewives and The Rockford Files.

4420 Lakeside Dr, Burbank

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Photo courtesy of Starlight Bowl, Facebook

Starlight Bowl

Among the acts that have performed at Starlight Bowl, high in the hills of Burbank, are Berlin, Ozomatli, Eddie Money and Engelbert Humperdinck. It’s a lovely venue, with dynamite city views, especially from the popular grass seats. Tickets are affordable. And patrons are welcome to bring their own food and drink, just no hard alcohol. (Note the rules for special engagement events are different.) Their annual July 4 extravaganza, complete with fireworks, usually sells out within a couple weeks. So mark your calendar. Ticket sales open mid May.

1249 Lockheed View Dr., Burbank

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Beer flight and sausage at Tony's Darts Away | Photo by Joshua Lurie


Tony Yanow changed the trajectory of the Burbank beer scene by taking over and upgrading Tony's Darts Away, a neighborhood favorite. This wood-paneled establishment features twin patios, dartboards that are perpetually under fire, a pool table, craft beer reading library, and a food menu with an emphasis on sausages. California craft beer courses through 38 taps, divided by IPA and Not IPA. Yes, India Pale Ales are that prominent in California, and represented accordingly at Tony’s. Expect some of the state’s best IPAs from leading breweries like Bear Republic, Russian River, and Green Flash.

1710 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank

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Photo courtesy of Urban Press Winery, Facebook

Urban Press Winery

Urban Press Winery opened just a few months ago but already has become a neighborhood darling. It’s a great looking space with a crystal chandelier overhead and rustic wood floors, the equivalent of dressy casual. In the front, patrons can try their hand at blending like the pros at the blending bar. Of course, many prefer to sip one of the 18 wines from winemaker Giovanni D’Andrea. Glasses range from $8 for a Chenin Blanc to $20 for a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend. And while you can order some basic snack food, they are super chill about customers bringing in outside food. More than a few have discovered the happy marriage of Guisados tacos - which is a couple doors down - and Urban Press Winery’s Tutto Bianco, a blend of Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc.

316 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank

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Walt Disney's Office Suite at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank | Photo courtesy of D23

Walt Disney Studios

Disney fans tend to be an enthusiastic bunch. So it’s a bummer that Walt Disney Studios in Burbank is closed to the public. There is a workaround however. Gold and Gold Family Members of Disney’s official fan club, D23 (the 23 refers 1923, the year Walt Disney founded the company), are invited to several events on the lot every year, including studio tours featuring Walt Disney’s office suite and the Walt Disney Archives which contains thousands of items, from film cels and Mary Poppins’ hat to the first ticket ever sold for Disneyland. (It was one dollar.) There is an additional fee to attend these events and reservations are required.

500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank