Vineland Avenue and Burbank Boulevard in North Hollywood is a famous intersection, at least to some. The perfectly silly Circus Liquor is there, with its polka-dotted clown sign lording it over everything else in sight. Of course, that sign (and its parking lot) gained a bit of notoriety in the mid-'90s as the spot where Alicia Silverstone's character in Clueless was mugged.
Nowadays, you'll find a lot more than just Circus Liquors at Vineland and Burbank. For one, there's a big brown strip mall on the northwestern corner, with a Fatburger right up front, beckoning in the hungry and disoriented. There are further delights inside the B-V Shopping Center, like a Middle Eastern borek shop with a single table, some fantastic Lebanese food and a Korean barbecue/noodle/sushi shop, all rolled into one.
Circus Liquor's Valley-famous signage will always rule this intersection, but peek around the corners of the adjacent strip mall, and you might find some pretty damn good eats there, too.
Sis is a storefront-only bakery that specializes in Armenian delights such maneishe and lahmajun, the pita sandwich–like treat that is traditionally topped with ground beef or lamb. There's basically nothing else to order from the cash-only counter, unless you include those boreks, which are soft, filling and a steal at $3 or less.
Those in the know -- read, the large Armenian community of the Valley -- call ahead to order the boreks, maneishe or lahmajun by the box, or spring for the mini versions to take to a party. Considering there's literally only one table with a chair haphazardly pushed into the front window area, you shouldn't be hanging out at Sis Bakery anyway. That is, unless you want to bask in the glow of the cold drink cooler, where Gazōz sodas are plentiful and you can buy your yogurt drink by the gallon. Sis Bakery is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., except on Sundays, when it closes at 3:30 p.m. It does not accept credit cards. 11009 Burbank Blvd., #123, North Hollywood; 818-760-7520.
Just down the way is Arabkir Pastry Bakery, which focuses on the sweeter stuff. Glass cases take up nearly the entire room, with a small rack for breads and any day-old stuff in the corner against the window. There is, of course, lots of baklava to be found, along with an impressive array of cream-filled delights. Cookies abound and fruit tarts line the bottom shelves, bright and shiny from their sweetened glaze.
If you're looking for something more substantial, the cake case to the left has you covered. As with Sis, this is a takeaway place that does a pretty heavy call-ahead business, so don't expect to sit and enjoy, unless you're excited by the prospect of getting flakes of pastry on your shirt while you sit in your car with the air conditioning on. Arabkir is open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sundays until 6 p.m., and is cash only. 11009 Burbank Blvd., #120, North Hollywood; 818-508-5222.