Joan’s On Third is quite unrivaled in Los Angeles. It is a near perfect Mid-City lunch spot that is a hybrid sandwich shop and market, very much a petite Southern California cousin of Dean & Deluca. Aside from Joan, it’s unrivaled. The Oaks Gourmet is a compacted version of this idea and Artisan House Downtown is trying to be a Joan’s but is a bit rough around the edges. Is anyone competition? Yes, there is competition–and it’s in Toluca Lake.
Olive & Thyme is a painfully adorable sandwich and market on Riverside in Toluca Lake. They sell cheeses, they sell wine, they sell sandwiches, they sell salads–they can do everything these other market/restaurant hybrids can do but with a more laid back, homey feel. The space is this hyper-clean white and green space with a large glass window to allow plenty of sunlight to spill in (and, it also gives you a nice view of a Chipotle, which inspires a pat on your back for not eating there).
A few weeks back, a friend suggested we have lunch there. I hadn’t heard of the place and, from the name and concept, my interest was definitely grabbed. When you approach the lunch place, it’s very busy and full of people eating and enjoying a little glass of wine. It is far more welcoming than Joan’s and, although just as packed, manages to not inspire near nervous breakdowns regarding where you are going to sit. We ordered at the register to a welcoming hipster type who affirmed that, yes, our orders were great.
I went with the Spicy Chicken Sandwich, a brilliant and smooth West coast sandwich that ties in Latin influence within a chicken filled grilled cheese. There were plenty of other menu items that were quite appealing, from the bacon, avocado, tomato B.A.T. sandwich to the “Let’s Be Frank” hot dog to the large Cobb Salad to the classic Wedge. One thing I noticed while eating our meal was that the place is very much a well kept secret by “Industry” folk, as lunchers were a mix of persons from the Disney, ABC, Freemantle, SAG, Warner Brothers, CW, and other film and television offices surrounding the lunch spot.
If you’re in Toluca Lake or West Burbank or even Studio City looking for a good and easy lunch, definitely try Olive & Thyme. You can also find more from them on their Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.