Ella's JüsEXPAND
Ella's Jüs
Michele Stueven

Burritos, Sandwiches, Charcuterie and Wine: The Best of L.A.'s Northern Region

Read about this year's Best of L.A. Food & Drink issue here.

Best Pressed Juices and Smoothies: Ella’s Jüs

Ella's Jüs is a neighborhood favorite for pressed-on-the-spot juices such as the Body Greens combo of apple, ginger, cucumber, lemon and spinach, or the Magic Mix of fresh pineapple, apple and mint. They're served ice cold with just the right amount of ice, so they don't get watered down. Fresh frozen mango and pineapple combine in the delicious SunBae Smoothie with strawberries, while the Savage mixes apple, pineapple, spinach and mango juice. Top it off with a wellness shot of turmeric, ginger, wheatgrass, kale and spinach or activated charcoal and lemon to put you on the straight and narrow. For bigger appetites, create your own acai or oats bowl with toppings that include chia seeds, flax seeds and amaranth; seven different fruits; and a list of add-ons such as activated charcoal, chlorophyll, hemp seeds, bee pollen and collagen. —Michele Stueven

16045 Sherman Way, Van Nuys; (818) 946-8083, ellasjus.com.

Best Bread: Breadologie

Small-batch bakery Breadologie is famous throughout the San Fernando Valley for its incredible daily selection of baked items. Classic croissants come in chocolate ganache, blood orange, pistachio, cookies & cream and almond. The smell is intoxicating as you walk through the door, with the aromas of sourdough, baguettes, a wide variety of brioche and pretzel croissants wafting through the air. You also can grab a warm pan loaf, boule or batard of whole wheat or multigrain. If you're a super yeast-head, Breadologie conducts seasonal baking sessions where you can learn to make your own. —Michele Stueven

17517 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills; (818) 488-1390, breadologie.com.

Cilantro Grill's off-menu California burrito
Cilantro Grill's off-menu California burrito
Courtney Lichterman

Best Burrito: Cilantro Mexican Grill

Deep in the core of North Hollywood, on a stretch that feels as if it's composed entirely of storage unit facilities and wholesale kitchen granite warehouses, sits a gas station where most of the people parked at pumps aren't getting gas. Instead, they're inside at Cilantro Mexican Grill, a small restaurant run by chef Adolfo Perez, a graduate of the Pasadena branch of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. While everything at Cilantro is excellent, the restaurant is best known for its burritos, which come off the line with impressive frequency. Made with especially light tortillas, they can be filled with anything from beef tongue to fresh grilled shrimp. The vegetarian version includes an unexpected medley of lightly sauteed, remarkably flavorful onions and corn, a combo that has a simultaneously sweet and spicy taste. Or go for the off-the-menu California burrito, topped with super-thin crispy fries. —Courtney Lichterman

7214 Whitsett Ave., North Hollywood; (818) 765-7998, cilantromexican.com.

Best Sandwiches: Sweet Butter Kitchen

Sweet Butter Kitchen is a charming neighborhood spot on Ventura Boulevard for indoor and outdoor early eats. It's great for breakfast but sandwiches are the real stars here — and be warned, they are massive. The house-roasted turkey with Dalmatia fig jam comes grilled with St. Agur Bleu cheese and mozzarella on rustic millstone bread with arugula salad. My favorite is the curry chicken salad, made with pulled chicken, celery, red onion, Fuji apples and a light yogurt dressing on grilled Millstone bread, served with a mixed greens salad. Vegetarians can delight in the Yoga, a tower of homemade cannellini bean puree, roasted cherry tomatoes and dressed arugula on grilled Millstone with arugula salad. —Michele Stueven

13824 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 788-2832, sweetbutterkitchen.com.

Castaway charcuterie board
Castaway charcuterie board
Michele Stueven

Best Charcuterie With a View: Castaway

After a recent $10 million overhaul by John Tallichet of Specialty Restaurants Corp., the 12,500-square-foot, 54-year-old landmark Castaway, perched atop the Verdugo Hills, has reopened with a multilevel restaurant that guarantees a dramatic view from every table and a sprawling patio dotted with fireplaces. With an extensive selection from the charcuterie station, you can build your own board with duck prosciutto, bresaola and Culatello di Zibello (a prized Italian ham). The assorted European cheeses include Ewephoria, a sheep's milk gouda from the Netherlands; Red Dragon, a cow's milk cheddar with mustard seed and Welsh brown ale from England; and a tangy blue Cabrales from Spain. House-made pickled vegetables, fresh and dried fruit and plenty of grilled bread round out a complete meal or a fun share for the table. —Michele Stueven

1250 E. Harvard Road, Burbank; (818) 848-6691, castawayburbank.com.

Best Spanish Food: Gasolina Cafe

"Food/Coffee/Tea/Fuel/Life" is Gasolina Cafe owner Sandra Cordero's mantra. She started with catering company Cordero Negro and now serves her Spanish-influenced specialties in a brick-and-mortar in Woodland Hills. There are eight Spanish toasts to choose from, including pan con manchego y membrillo (toast with quince paste and manchego sheep's milk cheese); pan con tomate y jamón (toast with garlic, heirloom tomato, olive oil and 18-month aged Serrano ham) and a Spanish-style French toast with fresh fruit and piloncillo syrup on weekends. For lunch, try the shrimp sliders with lettuce, pickled onion and tomato aioli on brioche. It's a good place to fuel up on artisan coffee and tea as well. —Michele Stueven

21014 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills; (818) 914-4033, gasolinacafe.com.

Best Happy Hour: The San Fernando

You can't beat a $6 happy hour for beer, well drinks and wine, plus classic bar food like beef sliders, hot wings and chili cheese fries, in this casual midcentury joint. Signature cocktails like the Ricky Ricardo ("rum, Champagne and Lucy's ideas") or the Bad Bunny ("bourbon and magic") go for $12. Check the website for weekly schedules, because there's a different occasion every night. Start the week with an all-night happy hour that goes from 4 p.m. to midnight. Tuesdays are jazz night, with music and $6 burgers, and Wednesday is whiskey night and karaoke. Weekends are for live music and burlesque. —Michele Stueven

5230 San Fernando Road, Glendale; (818) 244-6442, thesanfernando.com.

Augustine Wine BarEXPAND
Augustine Wine Bar
Ryan Tanaka

Best Wine Bar: Augustine

Possibly one of the best additions to the drinking landscape in the city is Augustine, featuring an international list of wines and beers by the glass, including rare vintages dating back to the 1800s. Drawn from the personal collection of co-owner and musician David Gibbs, the wine list rotates, so repeat visits to this pretty bar are an absolute must. Bonus: It serves a delicious assortment of cheeses and charcuterie to keep that glass of Tempranillo company. —Janelle Bennet

13456 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 990-0938, augustinewinebar.com.

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