Don’t let the fact that this place is located in the corner of a strip mall steer you away. It has a unique atmosphere with beautiful artwork and a dark floral wallpaper that you don’t want to miss. Dark Hall Coffee (same owners as The Coronado PHX) specializes in plant-based drinks and pastries. Lattes, cortados and cappuccinos are all dairy-free. They use a milk blend made from cashews and other nuts. They have quite a variety of vegan pasties as well. Lavender & pistachio cakes, macarons, salted chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls and shortbread drizzled with chocolate are just some examples of the yumminess that they make up daily. My favorite are the galettes. I’ve seen fig apple, peach and blueberry. I love the fruity gelatinous center of the pastry and it pairs well with my coffee. This isn’t the largest place so maybe plan on getting your order to go. Dark Hall is definitely worth a stop in if you are in the area.
Nat’s Early Bite Coffee Shop and Diner is a long time favorite of mine. It’s my regular stop when I’m in the Van Nuys area. They do breakfast and lunch (but known for their breakfast) and are a local favorite. This place has a long history (three decades in the Sherman Oaks area) and has a cool story about the original owner selling the place to one of his busboys. They actually have several Eggs Benedict variations. Some of the favorites are the Corned Beef Hash Benedict, the California Benedict and Canadian Bacon Benedict. On their menu you will also find a killer chilaquiles dish and a Jewish matzoh brie. Breakfast is served all day and comes complete with either a cinnamon roll or a muffin. The line for a table is pretty long on the weekends. But Nat’s is one of those places you don’t mind the long wait because next door is a classic antique toy store that has some really cool stuff that will take you back to your childhood. Most of the people waiting in line hang out in there. Portions are huge and don’t let how the place looks outside turn you off.
Next Door to Nat’s is Big Kid Collectable Toy Mall & Retro Store. It’s located within the same strip mall and sells an eclectic variety of vintage collectibles, toys & ephemera in a retro space. It’s a great place to hang out while waiting for your table and to relive your childhood.
Oma’s Place is a neighborhood sandwich shop and bakery that also offers daily German food specials (such as roladen, schnitzel, Swedish meatballs, cabbage rolls, or brats) in Mesa. This little family owned establishment makes their food from scratch. In fact, there is a kitchen stove with an oven directly behind the order counter where you can see the food cooking. I enjoyed the ‘at home’ feel to the restaurant and found the owner (Astrid Braun) very welcoming as I came in (Oma is ‘Grandma’ in German). The Knoephla soup was pretty good as was the Reuben sandwich. I hope this place does well. I think being located in a strip mall with abandoned buildings all around will make business difficult.