VB Editor in Chief Linda Grasso Shares Some of Her Favorite Valley Spots to Nibble & Sip

What meets her muster.

  • Category
    Eat & Drink, People
  • Above
    With Valerie Gordon at Valerie Confections. Photographed by Shane O’Donnell.

Grab & Go Sushi

Farm Boy, a Korean-run mini market in Sherman Oaks, has the best market sushi in the Valley. Whether you get the rolls or a sashimi bowl (brown or white rice), you can taste the freshness of the fish. The only negative is that you have to navigate a ridiculously small parking lot that Farm Boy shares with Trader Joe’s. 

Cuppa Joe

The intoxicating smell of fresh roasted coffee welcomes you the moment you enter Laidrey. That’s part of the reason I love this independent, woman-owned micro roastery. If you think the beans smell good, taste them! Interior is hip, spacious and comfy. Parking is a cinch. Chill music doesn’t interfere with conversation. Laidrey is what Starbucks used to be before it went a little sideways: a place with premium coffee and a neighborhood vibe.


Sweets generally aren’t my thing, but there is something about the coconut cake at Doan’s Bakery in Woodland Hills, a bona fide Valley institution, that sets me silly. The texture is not overly dense, and the frosting is not cloyingly sweet. When I set that coconut cake on the table when I’m entertaining, I always get oohs and ahs. Best to order in advance. Another fave: the stunning Fallen Fruit Cake at Valerie Confections that graces our cover. More on that cake here.

Casual Hangout

My husband loves craft beer and I love wine. When we have a lazy weekend afternoon in front of us, we like to go to Malibu Wines & Beer Garden, a spot run by the Semler winemaking family. Located at the stables on a historic estate in West Hills, the garden is canopied by mature pepper trees that come alive at sunset with twinkling lights. On weekends they have an acoustic guitar and singer doing classic rock tunes. Hungry? Hit the on-site, wood-fired pizza truck. 

Wine Bar

Augustine Wine Bar in Sherman Oaks had a fire this past spring, and the owners are currently rebuilding. The moment they reopen, I’ll be the first one in the door. Sommeliers take pleasure in turning customers on to a world-class selection of varietals. That’s why we love to sit at the bar, but there are also plenty of comfy seating options. There is a pleasant lack of snobbery: Sometimes I just want to pay under 20 bucks for a good basic glass (dare I say a California chard?), and I don’t feel embarrassed about asking for either. Order food—really good—or don’t. Regardless, I never feel rushed. Another great experience: Augustine’s sister wine bar/eatery, Mirabelle, in Valley Village.


Hands down: Hank’s (Sherman Oaks and Calabasas) has the best bagels in the Valley. Made on site every day, the bagels are warm, chewy and fresh. On weekends there’s a queue down the block, so order online first. Tip: Ask them to cut the cream cheese by half. Too much of it takes away from that wonderful fresh-baked experience.

Bread & Hummus

Every time I’m in the West Valley I stop at Lodge Bread to pick up a couple loaves of seeded sourdough bread. I typically get one loaf sliced for sandwiches and freeze the other. I use the sliced loaf for everything: making croutons and bruschetta, accompanying cheese, slathered with peanut butter for breakfast. I also buy Lodge’s homemade hummus. My favorite is the wild mushroom, but it doesn’t have a very long fridge life. I also like the fava bean when available. Most often I get the regular variety. Go before noon on weekends for best selection.

Eat at the Bar 

As people who don’t always plan, my husband and I often eat at the bar. Granville in Studio City is our go-to place for that. You can almost always get a seat, the bartenders are friendly, and the food is consistently pleasing. My go-to order: lettuce wraps for appetizer and pork chops or the spicy shrimp pasta for main course. Bonus: Alex Davis, the personable manager. He always comes over to say hi and make sure everything is above-board; he cares about the dining experience in a way that I rarely see at restaurants today.


I don’t eat hamburgers often, but when I do, I want it to be top-notch. That’s why I go to Laurel Tavern. The meat tastes fresh, has the proper fat content, is perfectly cooked (I like it medium rare) and served on premium buns. The fries are always hot and perfectly salted. Decent wine and craft beer selection, too. If you care about conversation, get there before 8:30 p.m. on weekends. The place has a loud bar vibe as the evening progresses.