The corner of Sherman Way and Woodley Avenue has changed a lot throughout the years. It’s been home to a Circle K, Kitty World, and, of course, the recently departed Toys R Us — which left Valley natives feeling all types of ways (speaking from experience here). In the last year, that corner has been home to the new(ish) Van Nuys Vallarta.

The grand opening of the new Van Nuys Vallarta

At 9 a.m. on April 27, 2022, the new store — which replaced the store on Woodley Avenue and Victory Boulevard — opened its doors to the public. Originally planned for 8:30 a.m., the event was delayed by 30 minutes due to, frankly, the number of people in attendance. (I was there and have one thing to say: The Vallarta parking lot was on and poppin’!) Shoppers can push their carts around the store 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

Keeping true to their roots, Vallarta invited Grupo Folklorico de West L.A. to kick off the ceremony with dances from various Mexican states and regions. As we enjoyed the show, we got a cool freebie in the form of a voucher, which we could redeem for a goody-filled bag.

The company is also positively impacting the Van Nuys community far beyond handing out vouchers. In fact, according to opening remarks made by Vallarta representatives, the Mexican grocer made five $1,000 donations to local schools. These include: 

  • Bassett Street Elementary School
  • Birmingham Community Charter High School
  • Mulholland Middle School
  • Van Nuys Elementary School
  • Van Nuys High School

The grocery store invited the Van Nuys High School marching band to play at the celebration. They were, in a word, electric. Between speeches and awards, the drumline went hard. It was a great opportunity for young musicians to showcase their talent in their community. After they wrapped, we walked into the store through the self-opening doors.

A look inside the new super-Vallarta

The first step inside really paints a picture of how expansive the store actually is. There are more than 20 sections and aisles, all decorated in vibrant colors that transport you to a Mexican mercado (much like its sister Vallarta in Canoga Park, photographed below).

Right off the north entrance, there’s an area called la cocina. Spanish for “the kitchen,” this section is divided into a sushi cantina, where you can grab prepackaged sushi; a taquerí­a, serving up faves like al pastor, asada, carnitas, lengua, etc.; and a section for all things carnitas, or pork, and pollo rostizado, aka rotisserie chicken.

Other amazing additions are a tortillerí­a, which offers handmade tortillas and chips; an aguas frescas bar, where you can customize traditional drinks, like horchata and jamaica, or get some wellness shots; and a tamales kiosk with a variety of options, which is open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. 

Perhaps my favorite, though, was the guacamole bar — because you can ask a rep to customize the guacamole to fit your personal spicy and limey needs. There’s also a cremería, where you can get fresh cheeses and creams, along with a deli section for delicious cold cuts. As if that wasn’t enough, you can also walk up to the new Vallarta’s ceviche bar to pick up ready-made ceviches. If you’re in the mood to try your skills in the kitchen, there’s also a fresh seafood counter. 

And, of course, you can’t have a proper mercado without a carnicería or a panadería, so you’ll find both at this location. The last part that’s equally cool? There’s a dulcería where you can get classic Mexican candy, like Pelones and Pulparindos.

Final thoughts on the new Vallarta in Van Nuys

Yes, it’s sad to say goodbye to Toys R Us, but keeping the lot active with what I call a “super Vallarta” feels like the proper way to honor the history of that locale.

Vallarta reps did not provide a comment as of date of publication.

Author

I was born in the San Fernando Valley and have lived here most of my life, minus a few months when I lived in San Jose, California and different parts of México. My life's mantra is mulitas, tacos, micheladas, and tequila—and I firmly believe that "The Valley" only applies to the 818. Sorry, not sorry.

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