Tacos Studio City

The Sleek Gray Tavern Gastropub Debuts in Studio City

Seasoned chef Jason Francisco draws from global influences for his menu at Gray Tavern, a modern gastropub in Studio City with bold flavors.

Jason Francisco has the skill and experience to make a success of Gray Tavern, a sleek new gastropub with global flair next to sister restaurant Mantee Café in Studio City.

Jason divides his menu into small tapas (from the earth, farm or sea)  and large tapas. I took a dive into the sea for their atypical fish tacos. This DIY duo features a broiled hamachi collar, punchy pineapple kimchi, cooling avocado crema and two sturdy, griddled, house-made, dashi-infused corn tortillas.

The rest of the share-friendly menu sports some funny side notes in red text. For instance, next to a bone marrow preparation with mushroom duxelles, lemon marmalade and crispy Brussels sprouts: “Your puppy will love you!” And next to the grilled Spanish octopus with chorizo dust and bell pepper puree: “Gotta Instagram this!”

The menu also makes Chef Jason’s feelings about substitutions on the menu crystal clear: “Substitutions? Can we not and say we did?”

Desserts are listed on the blackboard, including “cheesecake-ish,” a deconstructed cheesecake with mixed berry compote; creamy dulce de leche brûlée topped with caramelized sugar, and a chocolate lava cake wrapped in a baked crepe that goes by #OMG.

Vibe Time, a.k.a. happy hour, runs from 4 to 7 p.m. and is a great time to visit for $2 off most small plates, plus drink specials. Gray Tavern stocks a full bar that balances craft beer and wine with signature cocktails with funny names like the Dad Bod.

Cocktails Studio City

Gray Tavern takes cocktails seriously, but not their names. [Gray Tavern]

Jason previously worked in L.A. for lauded chefs like David Myers at French brasserie Comme Ça and for Michael Cimarusti at seafood-focused Il Pesce inside Eataly. He also worked at The Sherman in Sherman Oaks before opening Gray Tavern. “Love of food is what drew me into this career,” he says. “Love of merging cultures is what drew me to the Gray.”

Restaurant Studio City

Gray Tavern has one of the nicest patios in Studio City. [Gray Tavern]

Based on Google searches, the building is pretty much unrecognizable from its days as a Mediterranean restaurant and medical marijuana dispensary. Gray Tavern is now one of the sharpest-looking gastropubs in the Valley, featuring a peaked roof, serpentine marble bar and planter-lined back patio with a retractable striped roof. That’s where a wall partially covered with scribble reminds diners, “Nothing is ever black & white.”

10964 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, 818-358-2363

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