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3-HOUR TOUR

Decidedly Un-Mall-Like : Several terrific boutiques line a section of Riverside Drive that extends from Burbank to Toluca Lake.

November 11, 1994|CINDY LaFAVRE YORKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nostalgic Toluca Lake is more than just home to Bob Hope and the birthplace of the "Our Gang" comedies. This charming enclave of sprawling residential pads is rife with charming shops and engaging little neighborhood restaurants. Its decidedly un-mall-like atmosphere appeals to browsers and serious spenders alike.

There are several terrific boutiques along Riverside Drive, extending from Burbank to Toluca Lake, and a particularly noteworthy segment on Riverside runs between Maple and Evergreen streets, which lie on either side of Pass Avenue.

Since the shops are directly on the Burbank and Toluca Lake borders, the cities they call home vary, but all share the same homey feel.

11 a.m.: Start at Priscilla's Gourmet Coffee, Tea & Gifts. This quaint beverage emporium serves as a home away from home to poets, aspiring actors, bell-bottomed groovers and muumuu-clad matrons. Indulge in one of the many regular coffees, or splurge on a frosty granita or a yogi latte (tea and steamed milk). Take a bistro table inside the bustling shop and admire the hand-painted murals, or grab one of the polyurethane numbers out front for al fresco people-watching.

A variety of baked goods (muffins, bagels and some decadent sticky buns) complement the beverages. Like any other coffeehouse worth their weight in beans, the store offers the de rigueur assortment of artistic mugs, thermos carafes, dainty teacups and other caffeine-related merchandise.

Priscilla's Gourmet Coffee, Tea & Gifts, 4150 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake (818) 843-5707.

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11:30 a.m.: Cross the street and walk a few blocks down Riverside Drive to Antique Attic. Inside this rabbit's warren of booths, 12 dealers offer a wide variety of loot ranging from $1 to $15,000. Start at the back and work your way forward to avoid getting sidetracked by the many offshoots. On the left side, blue jeans connoisseurs will enjoy rifling through assorted dungarees in various faded hues of indigo. There are scores of 78-speed records, old magazines and comic books too. Fashion plates won't be able to keep from eyeing an alligator handbag--in pristine condition--for an amazing $85--seemingly steep but far less than the $600 to $800 a new one would fetch.

The store also offers new merchandise: infant clothing in festive, whimsical prints by My Little Cherub selling for between $35 to $50. Oriental art enthusiasts take note: there is a respectable assortment of cinnabar and cloisonne vases, plates and figurines. Perhaps the most noteworthy vases are the giant 19th-Century Italian urns, formerly housed in The Biltmore in Downtown Los Angeles; the pair sells for $15,000. And how about a "General Hospital" poster signed by the cast of this ABC soap opera, circa 1983? It sells for $245, a proverbial bargain for die-hard Luke and Laura fans.

Antique Attic, 4005 Riverside Drive, Burbank (818) 556-7155.

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12:15 a.m.: Saunter a few doors down to Two Sisters, where siblings Marsha Masterman and Jan Wright devote themselves and their store to romantic fashion. Their 465-square-foot boutique is filled with feminine, Deauville-inspired dresses, separates and lingerie, many made by local designers. The shop's rose-colored walls enhanced with hand-painted stencils are lined with ankle-grazing dresses in unusual prints, including some by local San Fernando Valley designer T.T. Mar that are actually hand-stamped.

Demure, one-of-a-kind cloches and sunbonnets enhanced with hand-applied floral and French ribbon trims further enhance the romantic appeal of the clothes. There are sexy slips for sleeping or for lining the sheer dresses, and an assortment of clingy stretch lace T's and tres en vogue thermal cotton tops. Intricate earrings, pins, necklaces and jacket clips are elaborately displayed near the store's back wall to tempt those on stricter budgets.

Two Sisters, 4150 Riverside Drive, Unit C, Burbank (818) 559-1549 .

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12:45 p.m.: Don't miss Trinkets & Treasures, one of the newest arrivals on Riverside Drive at Alameda. The shop, which debuted in April, is home to unusual gifts and jewelry, many made by Valley artisans. Most unusual is the shop's assortment of scrapbooks covered with elaborate trims and sumptuous fabrics. There are baroque-inspired gilded picture frames, as well as more modern brass, pewter and bronze styles.

An extensive collection of vintage jewelry runs the gamut from Blackmoor pins to trendier marcasite pieces. Some pieces--including a few from Kenneth Jay Lane--are signed, a bonus for die-hard collectors. Sabino's not-so-easy-to-find rainbow-hued urns and figurines are also available.

4200 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake (818) 556-3700.

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1:20 p.m.: Duck into Bake It Again, Sam, the neighborhood bagel cafe, for a quick bite. It, too, has outdoor tables. Budget-conscious diners can grab lunch for as little as $1.90 for a bagel featuring any of the shop's flavored cream cheeses. Perpetual dieters may want to try the non-fat tuna salad bagel sandwich ($4.25.)

There are plenty of interesting desserts.

Bake It Again, Sam, 4007 Riverside Drive, Burbank, (818) 846-7118.

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