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8 Spots for Food and Fun You've Got to Visit in and Around Sherman Oaks

A woman wearing a black mask sits under a yellow umbrella. Behind her is a store that's painted in bright yellow and says "Crème Caramel LA." The awning provides shade as well and has the words "coffee, custard and pandesal" written on it.
Kristine de la Cruz of Crème Caramel LA sits by her dessert shop on Burbank Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. Her brick and mortar has called South San Fernando Valley home since 2013. | Jean Lim Flores
Dessert maven Kristine de la Cruz first opened Créme Caramel on Burbank Boulevard in 2013. Since then, de la Cruz and Créme Caramel have become proud members of the Sherman Oaks community. De la Cruz shares some of her favorite, no-fuss, down to earth places to check out in the area.
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Since its founding in 1927, Sherman Oaks has been a highly-prized neighborhood with homeowners in nearby areas petitioning that boundaries be re-drawn to be included in the coveted area. Today, Sherman Oaks is known for its shopping malls, boutiques and eclectic specialty shops along Ventura Boulevard. This main drag is also where Ludo Lefebvre's Petit Trois, the newly-opened second outpost of Melrose staple Osteria la Buca, brunch hit Blu Jam Café and many other stalwarts have made a home. In contrast, a few main streets away, stretches a more subdued version of the neighborhood, on Burbank Boulevard, the definitive boundary line of the northernmost border of Sherman Oaks. At the corner of Burbank Boulevard and Kester Avenue sits a little, yellow bakery that stands out like a glorious California sunrise against a clear blue sky. Inside the cozy shop, you will find dessert maven Kristine de la Cruz at the helm of Crème Caramel LA, a Filipino American-inspired bakery.

A self-taught pastry chef, de la Cruz began her professional culinary career with 20 years of marketing and promotion experience as a road manager for a music production company. Using an original family recipe from her aunt for leche flan (an indulgent Filipino dessert using egg yolks, condensed milk and evaporated milk) as inspiration, de la Cruz and her partner and co-founder Sean, started their business in 2010 and quickly found success. "We were in four farmers markets and at the end of 2011, we were in six markets. And by the end of 2011 we were at 15 farmers markets supported with production out of a rent-by-hour commercial kitchen," said de la Cruz.

Learn more about Crème Caramel LA, an unassuming shop in Sherman Oaks serving some of the best Filipino-baked goods in town, on "SoCal Wanderer."
Crème Caramel LA

With success came the need for a permanent retail location, which took them to Burbank Boulevard in 2013, at an Armenian bakery owned by a husband-and-wife duo on the brink of retirement. "Living in Silver Lake, being in the Valley was new to us. Even though it was farther than we wanted, we came over here and immediately, I said that I can see us here," said de la Cruz. Driving around, they saw kids playing in the streets and the community feel instantly drew the couple in.

Since then, Crème Caramel LA has been slinging Filipino-inspired desserts like the taste of the mellow, creamy, coconut-like flavors of this "ubiquitous Filipino purple potato" called ube or their version of the traditional breakfast pastry, where a bagel and pandesal are re-imagined into a chewy adaptation. From delivering their comforting pandesals to frontline workers in the neighborhood to hiring and training local youths, Crème Caramel LA has truly become part of the Sherman Oaks community. We asked de la Cruz to share some of her favorite, no-fuss, down to earth places to check out in the area:

Bill's Hamburgers

A cheeseburger packed with a grilled patty, melted yellow cheese, iceburg lettuce and sliced pickles is held up against a blue sky. In the background is a sign that reads, "Bill's Burgers."
Located on Oxnard Street, Bill's Burgers serves up simple cheese burgers with minimalist ingredients. | Jean Lim Flores

"Bill's Hamburgers on Oxnard: It's a shack, a literal shack and he's been there for probably more than thirty years?" (Currently in his 90s, owner Bill Elwell actually opened it in 1965, so you can do the math). De la Cruz says to check them out while you still can. "He's still running the grill over there and at one point during the pandemic, they were saying that he was going to close but he's still up and running the business over there. It's just street burgers, nothing fancy about him. He's simple and curmudgeonly." As a purist when it comes to burgers, it's just the way de la Cruz likes it. She doesn't hesitate to recommend "straight up, the cheeseburger." The waft of seared beef patties, minimalist ingredients paired with the ooey gooey melt of the American cheese will satisfy any burger purist. It's cash only and expect to wait a while for Bill to serve up your burger.

MacLeod Ale Brewing

Macleod Ale - San Fernando Valley - SoCal Wanderer
Located in the heart of Van Nuys, Macleod Ale houses a chill environment and an extensive selection of small batch, British-inspired beer on tap. | Jean Lim Flores

Established in 2014, this craft brewery has forged itself into the heart of industrial Van Nuys and has built their own cult following along the way. "They've been super supportive; we've even done a few pop-ups there," says de la Cruz. The environment is chill with an extensive selection of small batch, British-inspired beer on tap including in-house favorites, cask ale, unique staff batches like fruity ambrosia and tasty fired-up pizza with flavor-packed toppings such as jalapeño poppers. Don't drink beer? There's also Nitro Cold Brew from Jameson Brown Coffee Roasters on tap. Pair that with CVT's quality soft serve ice cream, which they also serve, for a ridiculously delicious affogato alternative.

De la Cruz recommends simply ordering whatever the staff suggests. "It's all amazing," she says. You'd be hard-pressed in finding another brewery in Los Angeles with beer and wine on tap, hard kombucha, nitro cold brew coffee, pizza and soft serve ice cream under one roof. It just might be too perfect. This valley favorite has tons of bar games, is dog-friendly and family-friendly. Be prepared to jockey for some parking if you end up coming on a busy night.

Studio City Farmer’s Market

A small child walks down an aisle of farmer's market vendors. The child is wearing a striped pink and white shirt and tan sandals. A clear blue sky stretches above the market and palm trees dot the skyline.
The Studio City Farmer's Market offers a wide array of fresh, organic produce, seasonal stone fruits, hand-pressed Salvadoran pupusas and other locally grown eats. | Jean Lim Flores

Just outside Sherman Oaks' official borders, this farmer's market gets a special nod for helping this powerhouse get her foot in the door in the business and for doing the same for many other burgeoning operations. "The Studio Farmer's Market is fantastic!" She highly recommends her friend, Rondo's award-winning jam from Coldwater Canyon Provisions. It's a perfectly sized farmer's market, not too big, not too small, not too overwhelming. It has everything you would want, from fresh, organic produce; micro greens; seasonal stone fruits; hand-pressed Salvadoran pupusas paired perfectly with the oregano-infused spicy cabbage slaw (curtido); specialty nut butters; refreshing agua frescas that taste like summer-ripened fruit; wild flowers; homemade toddler food; farm fresh eggs with bright yellow yolks and everything in between. If you're keen on running into some Hollywood celebrities, you may want to keep your eyes peeled for the occasional star sighting!

Rustic Spoon

An exterior shot of the Rustic Spoon restaurant standing next to Créme Caramel. Window art on the Rustic Spoon reads, "Thai Cuisine" with images of various Southeast Asian dishes. A red and white striped awning partially shades the window.
Located in Toluca Lake, the Rustic Spoon offers a variety of Southeast Asian eats from chicken pho to pad thai. | Jean Lim Flores

The sisters who opened their first location in Toluca Lake must be doing something right. They have expanded to three Rustic Spoon locations since the original location opened 10 years ago. An array of different Southeast Asian flavor profiles are offered here, from the clear broth steeped in fragrant spices of the chicken pho or the filet mignon pho, down to the perfectly chewy, sweet and tangy pad Thai noodles topped with crunchy bean sprouts and peanuts. "Yellow curry is my go-to dish at Rustic Spoon. I love the super fresh ingredients," said de la Cruz. The curry is mild and aromatic with chunky vegetables. Customers can choose between meat or vegan options. Rustic Spoon sits next door to Crème Caramel in Sherman Oaks and features a collection of Crème Caramel desserts on the menu. "The Rustic Spoon employees came by and noticed that we sold honey thai tea crème caramel and mango crème caramel so they started carrying them at all their locations," said de la Cruz. Talk about a winning combination!

Crème Caramel

Various desserts are contained in plastic containers. Some desserts in the mix include calamansi cheesecake, buko pandan créme caramel, ube upside down pie and vanilla créme caramel.
Various desserts are contained in plastic containers. Some desserts in the mix include calamansi cheesecake, buko pandan créme caramel, ube upside down pie and vanilla créme caramel.
1/3 The selection at Créme Caramel offers decadent desserts like pies and cheesecakes infused with common Filipino flavors like ube, pandan and calamansi. | Jean Lim Flores
A woman pulls out a tray of desserts from a steel holder.
A woman pulls out a tray of desserts from a steel holder.
2/3 Kristine de la Cruz of Créme Caramel pulls out a tray of desserts at the Créme Caramel kitchen. | Jean Lim Flores
A patron holds up a plastic cup filled with ube horchata, a purple, milky drink. The drink is topped with a red straw and condensation drips down the sides of the cup.
A patron holds up a plastic cup filled with ube horchata, a purple, milky drink. The drink is topped with a red straw and condensation drips down the sides of the cup.
3/3 Créme Caramel offers riffs on various SoCal sweets with Filipino ingredients like this ube horchata. | Jean Lim Flores

Just when you think it can't get better, Crème Caramel LA is working on expanding their footprint just around the corner from their original location. With a growing menu of decadent desserts like crème caramel — the rich and creamy Philippine custard — cheesecakes and puddings in flavors that range from calamansi citrus fruit (a tart Philippine hybrid of lemon/lime and orange flavors) and pandan (hint of vanilla, coconut and almond) to banana nutella bread pudding and strawberry upside down pie, you're barely scratching the surface of their dessert options. Stay tuned on exciting developments as the bakery continues to grow their offerings and create more space for the community to enjoy their desserts!

Lake Balboa and the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Center

Birds fly over a lake. Across the body of water is green grass and clusters of dark green cherry blossom trees. To the right of the photo are docked swan paddle boats.
A highlight at Lake Balboa and the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Center is the 27-acre lake, which is home to many ducks and local wildlife as well as cherry blossoms. | Jean Lim Flores

Adjacent to Sherman Oaks, Lake Balboa and the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Center provide a myriad of family-friendly recreational opportunities from fishing, kayaking, walking/jogging, golfing, tennis, picnic tables and more. Families often enjoy picnics by the 27-acre lake, which is home to many ducks and local wildlife as well cherry blossoms. De la Cruz says that for her, "it's a chance to breathe fresh air and take a break from the hustle and bustle."

Napoli’s Pizza Kitchen

A whole pizza in a pizza box is half cheese and half cheese and pepperoni. Behind it is a logo painted on the wall that reads "Napoli's Pizza."