Before it became "America's Suburb" (as writer Kevin Roderick named it), filled with housing tracts, parking lots and shopping centers, the San Fernando Valley was home to an array of small townships, each with its own small commercial districts.
Vestiges of the old Valley remain, on stretches of streets with shops and restaurants that entice residents to ditch their cars and explore on foot. One such area is Tujunga Village, in Studio City, which spans Tujunga Avenue from Moorpark Street south to Woodbridge. Note that 1-hour daytime parking is strictly enforced; that hour will cost you $1 on the meter. You should be able to find free parking on the neighborhood streets beyond.
Here is just a taste of what you'll find here:
This neighborhood staple from the 1960's became infamous a decade ago as the site of the Robert Blake-Bonnie Bakley murder. It was a classic Italian-American joint with red leather booths. Earlier this summer, it re-opened after a complete renovation: It now features elegant wood and steel decor and pale green Parsons chairs, with a sliding glass wall which enables diners to enjoy their antipasti al fresco. The menu is much the same, with a focus on pizzas, pastas, paninis and salads.
Truth in advertising: You'll find a huge selection of both cheese and wine in this small, upscale delicatessen, as well as salads and sandwiches to go.
This Bohemian little boutique carries a full line of colorful, feminine casual attire, jewelry and accessories. When we visited, we found the owner to be friendly and helpful. The prices were very reasonable (more so on the day we visited, as they were holding a 20% off sale).
This unique dessert shop offers a range of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, confections it terms "suck-sicles." Owner Kaileigh Brielle, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu, uses locally sourced produce to create fabulous flavors that change with the season. Strolling the village with your dog? Buy him his own ''pup'sicle. Proceeds go to a local animal shelter.
This may be the only place in the city where you can you buy custom comfort shoes, designed to fit an individual's feet -- made right here in Los Angeles. Styles range from cushioned cork platform sandals to high-heeled booties, in colors you choose. Mother and daughter owners Cissy and Kate also offer a range of locally-produced handbags.
The first thing you notice when approaching Ann Booth's eclectic little boutique are the mannequins. They've got baskets of flowers instead of heads. Then you notice the elaborate painted pavement welcoming you in. The interior is an artistically arranged jumble of colorful clothes, accessories and decorative items, many of which are designed by Booth herself (who will likely be there to greet you heartily and help you find your inner Bohemian).
This eclectic, charming coffeehouse is the spiritual center of Tujunga Village, known for excellent coffee, and incredible pastries. It's the kind of place where folks gather for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Come early on weekends, because there's often a line to get in.
If you're redecorating or simply admire beautiful pieces, you'll find plenty of antiques and treasures in Elizabeth's charming shop. The only problem is finding it open: shoppers are advised to call ahead.
After all that dining and shopping, you may be hankering for a little entertainment. This small theater a few doors down from Aroma Cafe offers equity waiver productions and is one of the homes of the annual Valley Film Festival.
This lovely boutique featuring upscale, casual clothes and accessories has a modern, comfortable sensibility.
Antiques, vintage jewelry and gorgeous gifts make this small store a destination for local shoppers. It even smells elegant, thanks to the aroma of their own line of scented candles.
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