Exploring LA: Sherman Oaks

Sherman Oaks is a neighborhood of Los Angeles located in the San Fernando Valley. It’s perhaps best known for the Sherman Oaks Galleria, arguably the epicenter of valley culture in the 1980s.

When in Sherman Oaks, the main things to do are eat and shop, plus a bit of outdoor activity. The amount of great restaurants in this neighborhood is impressive. So much so that this post seems more like a dining guide than anything else.

Sherman Oaks is a more densely populated neighborhood, so it doesn’t have as many open spaces as other areas of the valley (like Lake Balboa, for instance) and it is more congested, but that does mean it’s chock full of amazing places to eat and drink.

Along with all the eateries, there are also several places to do some shopping. The galleria has transformed since its ‘80s heyday, plus there are plenty of mom-and-pop shops along the boulevard. Plus, there are also a few great spots for outdoor activities, like Deervale-Stone Canyon Park.

On our journey through this part of town, let’s start with breakfast. Here’s your guide for what to do (well, mostly, where to eat) in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles.

FourNTwenty Sherman Oaks
A classic breakfast at Four ‘N 20, AKA JJ’s Diner

BREAKFAST

“Why would anybody ever eat anything besides breakfast food?” -Leslie Knope

“People are idiots, Leslie.” -Ron Swanson

Four ‘N 20

If you’re a Parks and Recreation fan, or just a person who loves breakfast, head to Four ‘N 20 on Van Nuys Boulevard (they also have a location in North Hollywood/Valley Village). The restaurant, which originally opened as a pie shop, served as the interior setting for Pawnee’s beloved JJ’s Diner on Parks and Rec. They serve breakfast staples, but unlike JJ’s, that doesn’t include waffles.

Nat’s Early Bite

Nat’s Early Bite is nestled in a little shopping center on the corner of Burbank Boulevard and Hazeltine Avenue. This is one of my favorite breakfast spots. It’s a classic diner with a twist, serving fresh baked goods and Mexican dishes (the homemade salsa is amazing). You’ll love whatever you get here, but it is a popular spot, so just be prepared to wait for your table.

Blu Jam Café

Now, the Blue Jam Café is already pretty well known, but no Sherman Oaks guide would be complete without it. It is nearly always packed and you can count on a bit of a wait. It is, however, delicious. Go for the chilaquiles.

Sweet Butter Kitchen

Sweet Butter Kitchen is a cozy cafe and market with generous outdoor seating. The menu is full of baked goods and breakfast classics. Stop by for a quick bite, a cup of coffee, and some people-watching on the boulevard.

Blue Dog Sherman Oaks
Brews at the Blue Dog

LUNCH/HAPPY HOUR

Blue Dog Beer Tavern

The Blue Dog is a low-key, dog-friendly spot with a wide beer selection and great bar food. Between the plentiful drinks, tasty snacks, and abundance of doggos, this is one of my favorite spots. I often get the Sam’s Club BLTA sandwich, but you really can’t go wrong with a burger, or any of the fries, and make sure not to miss out on the spicy mac and cheese.

The Local Peasant

The Local Peasant is located in an unassuming building on Ventura Boulevard. The menu features craft beers and cocktails, plus a variety of elevated bar food. Make sure to try the signature peasant balls — it’s deep fried cheese with cheese sauce, which sounds like it could be too much cheese, but it’s actually the perfect amount.

Tipsy Cow

If you’re in the market for a beer and some happy hour food, head to the Tipsy Cow. This small eatery right on the boulevard has great burgers and brews. Plus, dogs are allowed on the patio, so you can bring your pup along!

The Sherman

The Sherman is a fairly new addition to the neighborhood. Nonetheless, the inside is full of nods to local valley history; the walls are lined with historical photos and the menu is dotted with local names. Stop in for upscale bar food and great cocktails.

Boneyard Bistro
A fantastic spread at Boneyard Bistro, featuring fried mac and cheese, sweet potato fries, and my beloved blueberry lavender lemonade.

DINNER

Boneyard Bistro

The menu at Boneyard Bistro is a barbecue lover’s paradise. If you’re with a group, opt for one of the plates to share so you can sample a variety, and make sure to start with the crispy Brussels sprouts. Oh, and treat yourself to one of their plentiful libations, like the seriously delicious blueberry lavender lemonade (with vodka, of course).

Casa Vega

Casa Vega is perhaps the quintessential valley restaurant. It originally opened in 1956 and has served as a Hollywood favorite throughout the years. As one of the oldest family owned restaurants in the city, it has a reputation for treating its employees like family as well. Come on by to enjoy the classic Mexican dishes and retro vibe.

Bluebird Brasserie

Continuing the trend of eateries with animal and/or color names, we have Bluebird Brasserie (see also: Blu Jam, Blue Dog, Tipsy Cow, plus Surly Goat over in Encino). This recently opened restaurant serves up house-brewed beer and French food. The menu features staples of French cuisine, like mussels and steak frites, plus craft beer and cocktails.

Petit Trois Valley

Petit Trois comes from the same group that operates such LA restaurants as Animal and and Jon & Vinny’s. This chic eatery serves French cuisine and craft cocktails (one of my favorites is the Fleur Du Mal). The fare doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re looking for an elegant place to dine in the valley, this is it.

The Sherman Sherman Oaks
A twist on a classic Moscow mule at The Sherman

DRINKS

The One Up

The One Up is a barcade on the boulevard. Basically, if you like retro arcade games with your beer, this spot is for you.

LATE NIGHT

Crave Cafe

Crave Cafe is a local staple that’s open 24 hours. So, if you’re in need of some late night eats after a few too many beers at the barcade, just head a few blocks down the boulevard to Crave Cafe.

Mel’s Drive-In

Retro diner Mel’s Drive-In, located on Ventura Boulevard, is open until 3:00 a.m. Mel’s is a local chain serving classic American dishes. If you seek late night burgers and fries, you’ll find it here.

Sherman Oaks Village
The palm-tree lined boulevard in Sherman Oaks Village.

SHOPPING

Sherman Oaks Galleria

In the 1980s in the valley, the Sherman Oaks Galleria was apparently the place to be.

The Galleria has since been renovated and now houses a variety of restaurants and shops, plus an Arclight movie theater (I personally enjoy eating in the Arclight restaurant at night, which overlooks the 405, and watching the traffic glide by). It’s also super family friendly and hosts a variety of kid-centered activities. 

Sherman Oaks Village

Located along Ventura Boulevard from around Kester Avenue to Van Nuys Boulevard is Sherman Oaks Village. Here you’ll find some mom-and-pop shops plus a few decent discount clothing stores, like an Urban Outfitters surplus store and Buffalo Exchange.

Westfield Fashion Square

Westfield Fashion Square is your run-of-the-mill indoor mall. It’s not my favorite kind of place, but if you need a mall in the neighborhood, this is the one. (Though if you need any valley mall, Westfield Topanga is better, but more on that in another neighborhood guide.)

Deervale-Stone Canyon Park Sherman Oaks
View from Deervale-Stone Canyon Park

OUTDOORS

Deervale-Stone Canyon Park

As previously mentioned, Sherman Oaks doesn’t have a ton of outdoor space. However, it does have a couple hiking areas, including Deervale-Stone Canyon Park. However, there isn’t much official information online about the park or how to get there.

To get to the park, you’ll need to take Beverly Glen Boulevard, then turn onto Deervale Drive, which is the entrance to a residential community. From Deervale Drive, turn left onto Deervale Place and follow it a little way until it ends. There you can park and easily see the entrance to the park, which is marked with signs providing rules and guidelines.

Deervale-Stone Canyon Park is a public park, but reaching the trail requires you to walk through private property, and you have to park in a residential area to reach it, so just make sure to follow all the rules and be respectful of the local homeowners. Once you’re there, you’ll find a hiking trail along the ridge that offers beautiful views of the valley. Aside from a couple steep inclines, it’s a fairly easy hike.

Fossil Ridge Park

Another outdoor area in this neighborhood is Fossil Ridge Park. However, getting there isn’t exactly easy.

We first attempted to find the park following directions on Google Maps. We followed the directions around the winding, hilly roads until we hit a dead end. Considering how you reach Deervale-Stone Canyon Park, we thought this might not be too unusual. However, upon inspection, that was clearly not how to access the park. After some further research, you apparently have to access the park through a gated community off Mulholland.

So, unless you’re very determined to hike and/or see fossils, this one might not be worth the trouble. Whatever you do, just don’t trust Google Maps to get you there.

Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Recreation Center

This rec center features a variety of sports fields, walking trails, and a children’s play area. It’s probably the most centrally located and easily accessible park in this neighborhood. If you’re looking for some outdoor recreation or play time for kids, this is an easy place to stop.

Deervale-Stone Canyon Park Sherman Oaks
Hiking around Deervale-Stone Canyon Park. Photo by Paxton Swafford.

Los Angeles is so big that visiting another neighborhood can feel like a day trip out of town. Make the most of your time here by visiting all the city’s different areas and enjoying all it has to offer. When in Sherman Oaks, eat, drink, shop, and enjoy some time outside. Cheers!

Find more guides to help you explore Los Angeles here.

Exploring LA: Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles Travel Guide

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