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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Topanga Social: Downtown Eats Finally Come to The Valley


By M.K.

-TTDILA got to go to a preview experience of The Topanga Social Food Hall which opens Thursday, May 11th at the Westfield Topanga.

Topanga Social is located at 6600 Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Canoga Park, CA and will welcome guests seven days a week from 11am to 10pm with expanded weekend hours along with exciting community and family-friendly programming in the future. More information can be found at and @eatplaytopangasocial.

The Topanga Social has opened its doors for food lovers, welcoming them to try some delicious dishes from all around Los Angeles. Topanga Social is a cashless dining experience that uses an all-new eclectic ordering system. Each restaurant has a tablet stationed out front where diners can order from any restaurant at Topanga Social, meaning you don’t have to travel all over Topanga Social to order from their diverse selection of restaurants. Once your order is placed you can sit back and relax in the general dining area or in the small lounge where the tables have chargers for your various devices. The system will then send you a text telling you which restaurant has served up your food. 


One restaurant that caught our attention was The Slab, known for their BBQ-style cuisine. On tasting their brisket and ribs we were blown away by the flavors. Their brisket was incredibly tender, and the meat just melted in our mouths. We noticed that their ribs were grilled instead of smoked, which left us feeling wanting. While they could have been better on the smoky flavor front, it's hard not to appreciate how succulent these babies tasted, nonetheless. Although, we also found that they overdid it with the sauce on the ribs as it drowned out some of the meaty taste.


Temaki by Seaweed Handroll Bar is a restaurant that specializes in sushi rolls. During our visit to The Topanga Social, we tried their salmon roll which contained sliced salmon, wasabi mayo, sliced lemon, toasted nori, and sushi rice. We also tasted their yellowtail roll which contained toasted nori, yuzu sauce, yuzu kosho, serrano pepper, micro cilantro, ponzu sauce and sushi rice. Lastly, we tried their spicy tuna roll which contained spicy tuna mix, toasted nori, sliced avocado, sliced cucumber radish sprouts toasted sesame seeds and sushi rice.

While, the flavors of the first two rolls were excellent - with a great balance of acidity and freshness - the same cannot be said for the third roll. The main issue with it was its pasty mouth feel - which detracted from its overall appeal substantially. Additionally, all three rolls suffered from poorly cooked rice - it was thick and mushy like something you’d get from a supermarket.

Overall Temaki by Seaweed Handroll Bar serves delicious sushi rolls with bold flavors marred only by some uninspired ingredients (like poorly cooked rice) not living up to expectations.


Katsu Sando is a Japanese restaurant that focuses on sandos or sandwiches. We tried two offerings - the Chicken Katsu Sando which included katsu breaded chicken breast, katsu sauce, wafu slaw served on toasted milk bread and the Honey Walnut Shrimp Sando which had a katsu-breaded shrimp patty, honey shrimp sauce, candied walnuts, katsu sauce, wafu slaw and was also served on toasted milk bread.
Unfortunately, both sandos left much to be desired. The Chicken Katsu Sando was thin with an almost non-existent flavor profile; it came across as dry and lifeless. Meanwhile, the Honey Walnut Shrimp Sando tasted predominantly sweet due to the heavy use of candied walnuts and sugar in its recipe. The touch of shrimp could be discerned only slightly while being dominated by all the sweetness.
Overall, our impressions about Katsu Sando were underwhelming as both main ingredients in each sando lacked substance.


Dtown Pizza is a pizzeria that served us two types of pizza - the "1946," which is their classic Detroit-style red stripe pizza with oregano, parmesan, and tomato sauce, and the "D.B.M." or Dtown Burrata Margherita pizza which comes with burrata, pesto, confit tomatoes, and olive oil.

While both pizzas were decent enough in terms of taste, they didn't stand out as particularly special. The 1946 lacked any unique flavor beyond what one would expect from a typical tomato sauce. On the other hand, the D.B.M. was comparatively better due to its combination of fresh ingredients such as burrata cheese and pesto; however even that did not come across as extraordinary.

Although there wasn't anything overtly wrong with either pizza at Dtown Pizza, neither was impressive enough to justify going out of your way for. Nonetheless it may still be worth trying if you're craving some standard fare without any frills. And yes, the dough, while unique, doesn’t really deserve any sort of special mention, it was simply there.


Dumpling Monster is a restaurant that specializes in dumplings, serving us both pork and chicken varieties. While the dish was decent enough, it didn't live up to expectations due to its chewy texture and lackluster taste.

Both the pork and chicken dumplings tasted like frozen dumplings that one could buy at Costco for less than half the price. Sadly, there wasn't anything particularly noteworthy about either variety; they simply failed to stand out as flavorful or unique.

Dumpling Monster falls short in terms of quality compared to its price point. It might still be worth trying out if you happen to be in the area but otherwise you may want to explore other options for your dumpling fix.


Fat Sal's is a sandwich shop that offered us three different sandwiches, but unfortunately, none of them are worth mentioning. The bread is unremarkable and deflates instantly upon biting into it, while the flavors are something you might expect from any run-of-the-mill cafeteria.

If you happen to come across Fat Sal's by chance, you may find it suitable enough as a quick bite to eat - assuming you have money to throw away, don't have particularly high standards for your food. 

Otherwise, it's not somewhere I would recommend going out of your way to visit.


Amboy is a burger house that offered a cheeseburger, but unfortunately it failed to impress with its lackluster flavor. The burger tasted no different than the Double Del Cheese Burger found at Del Taco.
While Amboy may hold some appeal as an upscale burger experience, those seeking exceptional burgers would be better off elsewhere. Ultimately, if you're looking to spend more money on something easily obtained elsewhere, Amboy might be worth considering - otherwise, it might not be your best option.


Burrata House is a restaurant that served us two dishes: a panini on ciabatta bread with Italian extra virgin olive oil, pesto, organic tomatoes, and burrata by Disefano Cheese Co., as well as a grain salad bowl with field greens, burrata by Disefano Cheese Co., prosciutto crudo di parma, Italian extra virgin olive oil, organic tomatoes, arugula and farro.

Both dishes were executed well and delivered everything promised. However, the flavor of the tomatoes was somewhat underwhelming compared to what one might expect from a high-end establishment like Burrata House.

Despite this minor shortfall in ingredient quality, Burrata House remains an excellent choice for those seeking sophisticated yet wholesome Italian cuisine.

CANDY STORE is, as the name suggests, a candy store that we visited. While there isn't much to say about the establishment itself, it did offer us free candy during our visit.

We would rate with full marks because who doesn't love free candy? Whether you're looking for nostalgic treats or new sweet obsessions, has something to satisfy every craving.


Garden Creations is a restaurant that focuses on salads, but we were offered soup during our visit, which I found odd and out of place given the establishment's focus. The soup itself tasted like something one might find at a fast-food chain such as Subway.

Unfortunately, it seemed that other patrons also shared this sentiment, as the restaurant was deserted when we visited. While some people say, "you don't make friends with salad," it seems that the same could be said for soup.

My experience at Garden Creations was underwhelming due to its apparent lack of focus and low-quality offerings.


Hey Hey Boba is a popular spot that specializes in boba teas, and we were able to try both the green tea and black tea flavors during our visit. While both teas tasted good, they were also incredibly sweet-- which may be off-putting to some patrons.
Upon inquiring about the sweetness level of their drinks, the staff explained that while the black tea was pre-sweetened, simple syrup and sweetened cream are still added during assembly. The same goes for the green tea flavor, though it has a unique floral taste when consumed on its own.

If you have a sweet tooth and love boba teas then Hey Hey Boba may just be perfect for you! However, those who prefer less sugar may want to take note before trying their drinks.

Want to read about each new place, jump to the next page!


During our visit to I Love Micheladas, we were initially looking forward to trying their signature drinks. However, the staff instead offered us Tacos Dorados made with heirloom Oaxaca corn and free-range chicken picadillo, topped with pickled cabbage and guacamole.

Unfortunately, our experience with these tacos was quite disappointing. The flavor of the tacos was overwhelmingly corn, while additionally mute and lacking in seasoning --with a texture like old beans-- leaving much to be desired. The guacamole topping was sour, bitter, and watery in its consistency.

We appreciate the restaurant's attempts to offer unique takes on their dishes, however this item fell short of our expectations. We hope that I Love Micheladas can re-evaluate their menu offerings and improve in the future.


During our visit to Jaybirds, we were excited to try their Chicken and Waffles dish which consisted of a juicy chicken tender, golden waffles, and crisp dill pickle.

However, we found this item lackluster in terms of flavor. While the chicken had a mild heat to it, there was no distinct seasoning or additional sauce to enhance the overall taste (there was a small amount of syrup between the waffle and chicken tender). The waffle did its job well in keeping the food mess-free but offered little else besides providing a plain backdrop for the rest of the dish.

While Jaybirds' Chicken and Waffles presentation is appealing, there remains much room for improvement when it comes to taste and flavor profile. We hope that this restaurant can re-evaluate their culinary offerings and strive towards creating more flavorful dishes in the future.


During our visit to Mad Lab, we found the staff to be very welcoming and the ambiance was enhanced by playing old episodes of Dexter's Lab on one of their TVs.

However, when it came to coffee offerings, we found ourselves underwhelmed. The coffee served tasted like any average cup of joe without any unique or intriguing flavors that stood out.
Though the presentation was aesthetically pleasing and well-made.

Mad Lab is an excellent place for anyone looking for a laid-back atmosphere and friendly service, it leaves much room for improvement in terms of its drinks’ menu. Perhaps offering more diverse flavor profiles would help elevate their overall experience.


During our visit to Man Eating Plant, we were impressed by their all-plant-based menu, offering a range of meat substitutes and unique dishes. We tried the fried shroom bao, which came with a lotus steamed bao bun, beer-battered king oyster mushroom, cashew hoisin, chili oil, pickled chilis, and herbs.

We were not disappointed as the dish had outstanding Vietnamese-inspired flavors that offered an explosion of taste with each bite. The perfect balance between sweet and savory was noticeable in every component of the dish.


Located near the entrance to Topanga Social, Margarita Garden is a small bar that serves margaritas. During our visit, we found little to comment on regarding the establishment itself.

However, we do want to recognize the hard-working bartenders who were tirelessly preparing and serving an unending stream of margaritas throughout our time there at Topanga Social. The excellent service provided by them was apparent in the quality of each drink served.

While there wasn't anything extraordinary about Margarita Garden aside from their standard offerings, it's clear that the staff's unwavering dedication ensures patrons will have a pleasant experience.


Tail O’ the Pup is a hot dog shop that we visited, where we tried their standard offerings of a hot dog and corn dog. We found the hot dog to be impressive, with just enough snap and smoky flavor notes to make it stand out amongst other places.

On the other hand, unfortunately, we were disappointed in their corn dog as it was mostly flavorless and overly greasy. The oiliness detracted too much from any enjoyment we could have had with this dish.

In summary, while Tail O’the Pup's hot dogs were well received by our party for providing an excellent smokey taste and texture balance, we recommend steering clear of their lackluster corn dogs.


Our experience dining at Mini Kabob was quite unusual to say the least. While we were expecting miniature kabobs as per the restaurant's name, what we received instead was half a falafel.

Unfortunately, this offering fell well below our expectations, with the falafel being drenched in oil and leaving little impression on us after trying it. It is not clear why Mini Kabob would opt to represent themselves in this way.


Oakberry is a specialty shop that sells AÇAÍ bowls, during our visit we tried their peanut butter AÇAÍ bowl with fresh strawberries, bananas, and blueberries.

We are happy to report that the fruit in this bowl was exceptionally fresh, with the bananas being a standout ingredient for their quality of flavor. The AÇAÍ itself was also delicious and refreshingly sweet with notes of tartness.

Overall, our visit to Oakberry provided us with an enjoyable and refreshing break from mostly disappointing offerings elsewhere. We highly recommend stopping by if you're looking for a tasty and healthy treat!


During our visit to Poke Me, we found it to be a standard poke shop with nothing particularly unique about it.

If you are specifically craving poke and don't want to have the fresh sushi at Temaki, then this could be a suitable option for you. However, there wasn't anything that stood out as exceptional or noteworthy compared to other options in the area.


Primos Donuts is a small doughnut stall situated towards the back of Topanga Social. During our visit, we found it to be a standard offering with nothing particularly noteworthy about its donuts.
While the individual boxes provided added convenience, the taste and quality of the donuts themselves was average and didn't leave any lasting impression.

If you need a quick sugar fix this could suffice, but there are likely better options out there for those looking for a more memorable and satisfying doughnut experience.


Rock and Reilly's is a bar that can be found in the center of Topanga Social complex. The Irish theme is evident, with a good selection of drinks being served.

The décor of the bar provided a nice touch of class to the overall Topanga Social experience, adding an element of sophistication to what could otherwise be considered a more casual setting.

Looking for an enjoyable, upscale drinking environment? Then Rock and Reilly's would be worth considering.


Shrimp Daddy served us 3 large, messy shrimp that were cooked and served with the shell still on, which made the entire thing difficult to eat. To add insult to injury, the unflavored shrimp meat inside wasn't worth the hassle of peeling them.

As if that wasn't bad enough, they also served us Hawaiian macaroni salad that was far from edible. The consistency was like wall plaster and tasted like 10-day old shrimp - an incredibly insulting experience indeed!

Shrimp Daddy (thankfully located near the bathrooms) is not worth visiting without some major improvements in their kitchen and menu options.


Truffle Brother's Market, located towards the back of Topanga Social complex and next to, is a new marketplace that offers an impressive selection of truffle-themed foods ranging from cheese, oils, chips, and sauces.
While there were no prices listed during our visit, their selection is enticing enough to create a promising outlook regarding their potential success in the future.

For something unique and different in terms of food options or want to explore the many uses of truffles in cooking and snacking, then I would recommend checking out Truffle Brother's Market at Topanga Social.


Wanderlust Creamery is simply the best ice cream shop you'll find in the valley and a fantastic enhancement to Topanga Social, especially if you're searching for something sweet.

During our visit, we tried their mango sticky rice ice cream and yuzu ice cream - both of which were excellent. Wanderlust Creamery has a top-notch selection of flavors that will satisfy any craving.

I highly recommend checking out Wanderlust Creamery if you're ever in the area. Their high-quality ingredients and creative flavors make it stand out from other ice cream shops in the valley. Don't miss out on this sweet treat!

Topanga Social offers an eclectic mix of food and drink options that caters to varying tastes and preferences. With everything from upscale bars like Rock and Reilly's to sweet treats at Wanderlust Creamery or truffle-themed foods at Truffle Brother's Market.

Despite some disappointments such as the lackluster offering at Poke Me, Shrimp Daddy being absolutely disgusting or Primos Donuts being just okay - there is still more than enough selection to get your fix.

On top of that, features such as Margarita Garden with its hardworking bartenders or Oakberry's refreshing AÇAÍ bowls add value to the overall Topanga Social experience.

In conclusion, while there may be a few misses here or there, Topanga Social has plenty more hits for the discerning foodie. Whether you're looking for something unique, tasty or just fun - this location is sure to have it all.

Still more restaurants to come.