Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Food & Lib: The One Up

I'm noticing a trend of adult nostalgia restaurants opening along Ventura Blvd. Perhaps this is a response to the hipster locales growing in popularity, but regardless of the reason, the prospect of going out for dinner or to get a drink becomes evermore exciting when there is something offered that seems catered just to you.

That's how The One Up in Sherman Oaks feels to me. For different reasons, probably, than other fans of this new restaurant & arcade, which has created a hybrid rustic, adult haven and 80's throwback nostalgia. The colorful and quirky interior houses a massive bar to the left of the entrance, with shelves and drawers of books, trinkets, and pop art teetering above a counter lined with turquoise blue cassette tapes.

John and I hopped over during lunch on this recent holiday weekend right when the place opened at 12-noon. The tables and seating are purposefully slapdash and mis-matched, big leather couches and curved sofas lined beneath the side windows. Neon lighting beams cult favorite quotes from popular '80s movies and songs, too, which admittedly, made me feel all the feels.

The menu is pretty expansive, ranging from Americana to Vietnamese and fusion of everything in between. I debated about getting an appetizer of Cap'n Crunch Chicken Wings, just to give them a try, but I decided to leave it for another time and order my main dish instead.

Let me just say right now, if you love burgers, you've gotta try one from this menu. They have slider options so you can try all of them if you inevitably can't decide (John and I did that when we came by for Happy Hour a few months ago), but this time, I knew exactly what I wanted: the Jalapeno Whiz Burger. Fried jalapenos w/ a drippy, gooey provolone "cheese whiz" sauce... it is positively to die for. Just scroll down and tell me that's not the yummiest burger you've seen in a long time?

Like I said, it is messy. I learned really quickly that the more sauce I could get to drip out onto my plate, the more sauce I'd have to dip my hand-cut garlic potato fries in. It was a win-win!

John decided on the Neapolitan Burger (pictured immediately above), which is just as ooey-gooey with its burrata topping as mine was with the whiz sauce. The fries are also a must have side.

The best thing about this place is that you can grab a beer, order your food, and then hop over to one of the couches (if they're available!) to check out the movies that they show in constant rotation around the restaurant. Different flicks screen on every television (there are currently three), and they play on repeat every two-ish hours. When we were there, they were showing Back to the Future, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and The Goonies. (When we were there a few months ago, they were screening Big Trouble in Little China and Weird Science, so the '80s movie love runs strong with the One Up crowd.

Then... there's the game room. Just through to the back section of the restaurant, you pass through the bar (order your drink first and they'll bring it to you wherever you are in the back) and you'll come to a line of perfectly retro-fitted arcade consoles. Vertical, horizontal, and Street Fight Plus options... each arcade housing hundreds of classic 8-bit games, ranging from Donkey Kong Jr. to Dig Dug to Gun Smoke. So just like I was in heaven with the '80s movies playing out front, the boyfriend found his mecca standing in front of a console in the back.

The best part? The games are FREE. No quarter slots, so worries... just you, the game(s), and - if you're like me - dying over and over and over again. Click here to check out the lists of games they have right now. The only time you have to give up your spot at the controls is if there's a line to play... then you have to be a good sport and step away if it's GAME OVER. For me, that would be every 60 seconds! But if you go during an off-hour, mid-day or at Happy Hour, you won't have any trouble wasting away an hour reminiscing over all the old classics.

The One Up's space is not only fun, it's beautiful. The staff is nice and accommodating, and it struck me that this would be the perfect place to hold a birthday celebration or get-together. They even mentioned to me that the entire back room can be rented out, so I'm already planning something that could bring all my friends together to enjoy a good drink, crazy-amazing and messy food, and a couple (or a lot) of games.

Place: The One Up
Neighborhood: Sherman Oaks (Ventura Blvd)

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