Nat's Early Bite anchors a slightly-nicer-than-mediocre mid-Valley corner strip mall, but walk inside and you immediately know it's a big step above ordinary. A spacious, down-home restaurant with just enough stripped-down country kitsch to give it that “authentic city diner” feel, Nat has two big selling points: near-perfect comfort food and an easy vibe. There's also a great backstory: Over the years, owner Nat Elias formed a close bond with 18-year-old Mexican busboy Victor Carlos, an eager immigrant working his way up the restaurant's ladder. When Elias finally decided to retire, he “sold” the restaurant to Carlos in a special arrangement, allowing Carlos to make payments over time. Nat's serves fantastic breakfasts and lunches with bountiful homemade sandwiches, egg dishes, pancakes, etc.; exhibiting perfect cultural mirroring, it serves matzo brei as well as its Mexican equivalent, egg-based chilaquiles. 14115 Burbank Blvd, Sherman Oaks. (818) 781-3040,

—Adam Gropman

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