The once-sleepy stretch of Riverside Drive tracing through Toluca Lake and into Burbank is undeniably on the upswing in terms of dining and drinking choices, particularly now that The Continental has just opened. A welcome injection of sophistication to the area, The Continental is the brand-new iteration of a longtime favorite Burbank eatery, Mo’s, oft-referred to as the unofficial commissary of nearby Warner Bros. The Continental is now a casually elegant room replete with mid-century-inspired decor. As owner Jay Sadofsky shared at the opening, “We aimed to pay homage to old cultured cool while keeping it contemporary.” Named for two mid-century icons — the Lincoln Continental and the iconic tune made famous by both Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole — The Continental boasts a Cordon Bleu-trained chef. It’s a sophisticated place that takes its drinking seriously, with 14 beers on tap, a new bar program featuring topnotch handcrafted cocktails, and an impressive wine list.
What to eat:
Thai Seafood Bouillabaisse, an exciting new take on the classic French dish, features fresh shrimp, scallops, calamari, and veggies in a creamy broth of coconut, lemongrass, and kaffir lime. Another must is the juicy Continental Burger, made with prime Angus beef and topped with crisped pancetta, tempura-battered pickles and white cheddar cheese.
What to drink:
Like mezcal? Try the Christopher Oaxacan, made with mezcal, pineapple juice, lime juice and agave nectar. Scotch fans should take to the Tattletale, a smokey concoction of Famous Grouse Blended Scotch, Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch, bitters and a smattering of honey.
Don’t be put off by:
The fact that one of those beers on tap is Budweiser. “You can’t take the Bud out of America,” Sadofsky told me.
The gorgeous 35-foot mural depicting Toluca Lake in the 1930s, painted by a Warner Bros scene painter, that winds along two walls.
Old-school jazz band The Sidewinders plays the lounge every Monday night. You might also enjoy the continual loop of “The Continental” playing in the restrooms.
More evidence that this neighborhood’s truly evolving: Lucy’s 51, closed last year, will soon become Foreman’s. The new restaurant and bar, which plans to pour at least 80 American whiskeys, sounds promising — it’s owned by ACME Bar Group, known for downtown gastropubs Sixth St. Tavern and Beelman’s Pub, along with Studio City’s hugely popular Laurel Tavern. I also look forward to trying Cascabel, a recently opened eatery focusing on Coastal Mexican cuisine from Top Chef alumnus Alex Eusebio. And The Red Door, a speakeasy-ish bar entered through an alley, has been open a while and still beckons to patrons who enjoy its stylish but unpretentious vibe, solid cocktails, and the black and white classic films on the TVs.