THE STUDIO SYSTEM
JUST FIVE MILES OVER THE PROVERBIAL HILL FROM SUNSET STRIP LIES VENTURA BOULEVARD IN STUDIO CITY, A MECCA FOR STAR-SPOTTERS AND THOSE SEEKING TO KNOW THE INDUSTRY’S SECRETS, SINCE MANY MOVIE AND TELEVISION STUDIOS ARE HEADQUARTERED A LIMO’S STRETCH AWAY. HERE ARE SOME OF THE BEST DIVERSIONS IN THE VALLEY.
Byline: Marcy Medina
Apache, 11608 Ventura Blvd., (818) 506-0404. Open 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday – Friday; 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
This bar distinguishes itself from regular ol’ watering holes by offering a stage for some of the wildest karaoke around. A pre-op transsexual runs the varied song selection, and frequent birthday partygoers join the majority-ruling regulars — whose ranks include a man who sings “We Are The World” in every imaginable celebrity voice — from the King of Pop to the Boss. The joint gets its Native American name from a mural depicting three stone-faced Indians in loincloths. Perhaps they are not amused?
Jerry’s Famous Deli, 12655 Ventura Blvd., (818) 980-4245. Open 24 hours daily.
This California chain is known for attracting coleslaw-craving celebrities, especially during the wee hours. But that doesn’t mean it’s not hopping during those power breakfast and lunch hours. Anyone hungry for a New York-style toasted bagel, extra-crispy bacon or a double-decker club will come away satisfied.
Dari, 12184 Ventura Blvd., (818) 762-3274. Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Saturday; 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Since opening in October 1999, Melanie Shatner’s 1,200-square-foot boutique has become a haven for stylish starlets and their costumers, who’d rather pop in here after a long day on the set than go over the hill for their Michelle Mason, Alice Roi and Juicy Couture staples. A former personal shopper, Shatner knows her stuff: she carries pieces from Mayle, Development and Santissima, as well as a slew of cool T-shirts and accessories from Malle, Mikal Winn and Pade Vavre (who also happens to be her buying partner).
Dari means “angel” in Sanskrit, and the shop’s interiors have a suitably New-Age-like bent. Tea is served to customers who nestle in the Morrocan-style canopied couch, while the in-house line of aromatherapeutic candles put the women seeking refuge from the rigors of shopping into the right state of mind. There’s even a psychic performing readings on weekends.
Sports Center Bowl, 12655 Ventura Blvd., (818) 769-7600. Open 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday – Thursday; 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday.
Anyone who thinks bowling nights belong to old-timers need only take a gander at these teeming alleys. From pre-teens to seniors and everyone in between, it seems the whole world wants to get in on the pin action. Add to that the ever-popular “Rock ‘n’ Roll Bowling” after 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, an in-house bar and service from next-door-neighbor Jerry’s Famous Deli, and you won’t want to leave until last call.
BOUND AND BAGGED
Bookstar, 12136 Ventura Blvd., (818) 505-9528. Open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Oftentimes, the rich history of Tinseltown inspires visitors to seek out books on the personalities and places that give the city its glitter factor. What could be more perfect than settling into one of the cozy cafes along Ventura Boulevard for just such a good read? Pick one up at Bookstar, which thankfully loses some of its chain store character because it’s housed Hollywood-style in an old movie theater, complete with neon marquee, which lists upcoming author appearances and storytelling hours.
OLDIES BUT GOODIES
The Cranberry House, 12318 Ventura Blvd., (818) 506-8945. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
For those who can’t wait months for an estate auction or even days for a flea market, this antique mall offers 140 stalls brimming with vintage treasures seven days a week, year-round. You’ll find everything from Bakelite bangles to Tiffany lampshades to embroidered linens. And the best part is you won’t have to lug your finds from place to place; simply ring up The Cranberry House at the end of your trek and pop them in your waiting car as you leave.
Out Take Cafe, 12159 Ventura Blvd., (818) 760-1111. Open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The perfect place for a quick, healthy bite — though it’s easy to become addicted to the crab cakes and Cali-style potato vareniki and borscht. The tightly packed, New York-style tables ensure you’ll get an earful of your neighbor’s chatter, but there’s a good chance it could be your favorite sitcom stars talking shop.
Mexicali, 12161 Ventura Blvd., (818) 985-1744. Open 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily; bar closes at 2 a.m.
This cozy hacienda-style cafe, known for its authentic carne asada and swordfish sandwich, packs ’em in nightly thanks in no small part to its rollicking bar scene. Try the signature “margatini,” a near-lethal mystery mix of south-of-the border sweetness and big-city swagger.
Mishima, 12265 Ventura Blvd., (818) 506-8861. Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The Valley branch of this popular Los Angeles noodle shop doesn’t lack any of its tasty soups and rice dishes, nor is the line to get in any shorter. But it’s well worth the wait for piping hot soba, rice and glass noodles, or anything else you can manage to slurp up with chopsticks. (Traditional silverware is also happily provided.)