A selection of the better restaurants in Van Nuys, by Charles Perry, The Times' restaurant critic in Orange County. Prices listed are for food only; tax, tip and beverages are not included. NC = no credit cards accepted. AE = American Express; CB = Carte Blanche; DC = Diner's Club; MC = MasterCard; V = Visa. Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas Barbecue, 8136 N. Sepulveda Blvd., (818) 782-2480. There's no decor to speak of, and the outdoor seating is strictly for connoisseurs of auto fumes, but the barbecued meats are tender and smoky, and the coleslaw and barbecue beans are above average. The regular sauce is sweet, but there's a hot one in a red dispenser you can ask for. Open for lunch and dinner daily. Dinner for two about $20. NC.
Fish Broiler, 5530 Van Nuys Blvd., (818) 994-9418. It comes on like a quasi-Seafood Broiler, but this is actually an Italian restaurant masquerading as a seafood place. For all the chowder, mesquite-broiled seafood and nautical trappings, the best things to order here are the fresh pastas--the real Italian dishes such as linguine with broccoli. Open for lunch Monday-Saturday, dinner daily. Dinner for two about $18. AE, MC, V .
Greek Islands, 7040 Van Nuys Blvd., (818) 988-0204. This, on the other hand, is practically a fish broiler masquerading as a Greek restaurant. There are a number of lamb dishes, though, and a wide selection of Greek appetizers such as grape leaves stuffed with meat and pine nuts. Vivid murals of the Greek islands and of course a trio of bouzouki musicians. Open for lunch Monday-Friday, dinner daily. Dinner for two about $20. AE, DC, MC, V.
Hoppe's Old Heidelberg, 13726 Oxnard St., (818) 997-9396. Here's a mellow place to be on a cold night, dark and cozy and thick with German atmosphere. You can lean back into a banquette and load up with masses of solid, savory schnitzel and sausages and roast duckling. Everything starts with a Lazy Susan full of pickled vegetables. Open for lunch Tuesday-Saturday, dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Dinner for two about $24. AE, MC, V.
Landings, 7277 Valjean Ave., (818) 997-7676. A restaurant with a view in Van Nuys. At night, it's modestly dazzling, with brass trim and twinkling of airport lights in the tall windows. The menu is the veal Oscar sort of 20 years ago, and the ingredients, though first-rate, are treated frumpily (the scaloppine aren't pounded thin)--but a new ex-Perino's chef may upgrade things. Open for lunch and dinner daily. Dinner for two about $35. AE, CB, DC, MC, V.
Law Dogs, 14114 Sherman Way, (818) 989-2220. The home of L.A.'s most exotic fast-food chain, owned by a lawyer who dispenses free legal advice on Wednesday evenings and gives a 25% discount to fellow lawyers with proof of bar membership. The dogs--plain (Plaintiff), mustard and onions (Jury), sauerkraut (Police) and chili (Judge)--are actually pretty good. Open for lunch and dinner daily. Hot dogs $1 (Plaintiff) to $1.55 (Monster Judge). NC.
Owl Coffee Shop, 6351 Van Nuys Blvd., (818) 787-0059. Here since 1955, an institution, a monument; still serving meat loaf sandwiches and grilled cheeses. It's usually full of regulars who like to trade wisecracks with a sharp- tongued counter lady (the sign on the wall reads: "This Ain't Burger King, You Don't Get It Your Way"). Open for breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday. Lunch for two about $6. NC.
Sompun Thai Restaurant, 14627 Victory Blvd., (818) 781-7459. The best of the numerous local Thai places. Great pork satay with curry spices and thick peanut dip, luscious thick rice noodles ("gravy noodle"), lively garlic-and-pepper chicken and quite a few unusual Thai dishes such as yentafoe , squid and pork with spinach and noodles in pink broth. Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday-Monday. Dinner for two about $12. MC, V .