If the most you've ever seen of North Hollywood is the creepy mannequins at the Toyota dealership where the 134 becomes the 101, then you're really missing out on some of the most celebrated historic restaurants in L.A. With the creation of the NoHo Arts District in 1992, the area has become a bustling little village with a restored 1920s feel. While we're talking restaurants here, no post about iconic North Hollywood would be complete without mention of the Foxfire Room on Magnolia Boulevard: its wood-paneled walls and red double doors are a perfect representation of classic NoHo. They don't serve food, but they do provide a beat-up notebook full of local menus. So, where do the locals eat?
Idle Hour Café: Owned and restored by the 1933 Group, this barrel-shaped slice of history was originally built during the early 20th century programmatic architectural trend. Business owners decided that this whole "car" thing was probably going to be a big deal, so they did their best to make their buildings stand out to passing traffic. In the 40s it was a tap room. In the 70s it was a flamenco bar. And then it sat there, just being a barrel until it re-opened in early 2015. Its menu consists of pure comfort food including Sloppy Joes (and a veggie version, the Sloppy Jolene), roasted chicken, and fancy-pants root beer floats.
4824 Vineland Ave, (818) 980-5604
The Federal: This sleek gastropub in a historic bank building is hard to miss when you're headed down Lankershim. It's the kind of place that, when mentioned, is often met with the reply, "I've been meaning to check that place out." While the main room resembles an upscale sports bar, the back bar is where you'll find Prohibition-era decor befitting anyone wanting to impress a date or feel posh. The menu is pricey and standard gastropub, but it's really the ambiance that keeps the locals flocking to the Federal. 5303 Lankershim Blvd, (818) 980-2555
Salsa & Beer: The most important rule for any trip to Salsa & Beer is to make sure you show up long before you're hungry. With an average wait time of 45 minutes during peak dining times, you'd think more people would find their tacos elsewhere. But anyone will tell you that there's a reason people put up with a line around the block, extreme noise levels, and the nighmare parking lot. The food is known to be exceptional. Salsa & Beer features a novel-length menu, a full bar, and a salsa bar that's constantly swarmed with customers. 11669 Sherman Way, (818) 503-1220
Four'n 20 Bakery: Initially opened as a pie shop in 1969, this café and bakery has two Valley locations, both boasting that L.A. standard of luxury, outdoor patio seating. Neither location looks to have gotten any interior updates since opening, nor have they attempted to create a more modern menu. They serve simple diner food, though they provide a "fitness menu" on every table. Their Sunday champagne brunch is a strong draw, mainly because of the price. The most expensive brunch entree (which includes champagne) is $21 and the champagne is truly bottomless.
4723 Laurel Canyon Blvd, (818) 761-5128
Talisman: In true Valley form, this unimpressive-looking restaurant sits in a strip mall next to a dentist office. In the parking lot is a small drive-through smoke shop. And the interior is a confusing mix of Art Nouveau posters, model ships, and a long, dark wood bar. This Russian restaurant is even more odd given that there is no in-between when it comes to how busy they are. Some nights you could wait an hour for a table. Other nights, you can be the only person dining there. What makes the Talisman iconic to North Hollywood? Like many restaurants in the area, one often wonders, "How does that place stay in business?" But the most iconic thing about Talisman is the food. This isn't Russian-American cuisine. This is regional noodle-rich, dough and ground-meat-heavy Uzbek dishes and Russian classics like pelmeni and stroganoff. What sums up the true Los Angeles food experience, no matter the cuisine? The authenticity, of course, and this place is as authentic as it gets.
12900 Victory Blvd, (818) 762-2449