Dear Mr. Gold:

I recently moved to Van Nuys and cannot seem to find a gourmet restaurant anywhere! What I mean by “gourmet” is the quality of the food. Any great ideas?

—Sara, Van Nuys

Dear Sara:

Nobody would accuse Van Nuys of harboring secret “gourmet” landscapes. But if you are in the mood for the splendid Chilean food at El Parron (try the pastel de choclo), the garlicky homestyle Cuban cooking at El Criollo, the South African curries at Spring Bok Bar & Grill, the Argentine parrilladas at Mercado Buenos Aires, or any of two dozen different kinds of tacos, Van Nuys may be one of the great undiscovered restaurant neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area. When you want barbecue, there’s Dr. Hogly Wogly’s up on Sepulveda, which may be more popular than is good for it; when you want Thai, Sherman Way’s restaurant row is only a couple of minutes away. (I like the noodles at Krua Thai in North Hollywood.) Robin Hood British Pub is a more than passable place to drink beer and eat fish ’n’ chips. Kyushu Ramen is better than you might expect. The Lebanese food at Skaf’s Grill in neighboring North Hollywood has hordes of fans. Are any of these “gourmet”? No. You’d probably have to drive a few miles to Max, Pinot Bistro or Boneyard Bistro for that. But they’re really pretty good.

—Jonathan Gold

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