15 Stops For a Unique Taste of Downtown Los Angeles
Los Angeles encompasses an amazing mix of history, cultures, styles, and stories, which provides the potential for a unique experience for every visitor. If you are heading to Southern California for the first time, it’s highly likely that you have amusement parks and popular sights like the Hollywood Walk of Fame in your plan. And of course, those are great sights in the area.
I hope to provide you with a few new ideas of where to check out to give you a truly unique first-timer’s experience in LA. It’s a difficult task to narrow the options, so to help you plan, let’s focus on Downtown LA (with a bit of Wilshire / Koreatown).
Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles provides this magical mix of classic architecture and sights combined with modern growth. An excellent example of this is Los Angeles City Hall, which used to be the center (and tallest) feature of downtown.
For breakfast, coffee and some quick shopping visit Grand Central Market. One of the most popular stops here is Egg Slut. Their breakfast sandwiches are tasty, but if you have an aversion to lines, the Market has plenty of options. I suggest grabbing a latte at G&B Coffee before jumping in line!
Down the street, visit The Last Bookstore. It boasts creative designs, fun reading nooks (one of which is a safe), and a mix of books and vinyl. The atmosphere creates tons of fun photo ops.
If you have a sweet tooth, Bottega Louie is a must stop! Especially popular are their macaroon’s; you can grab a box of their top 5, or mix and match your own selections.
As you prepare for the evening, I suggest that you consider three scenarios:
- Start at Philippe. This classic spot offers French dipped sandwiches, deli style sides, and spicy mustard that will get your tear ducts flowing. The sawdust on the floor and eclectic crowd really make the experience. Then head to Chavez Ravine to watch the Dodgers play. Dodger Stadium is an iconic sight, boasting a wide range of fans and consistently amazing weather.
- Book a reservation for Baco Mercat to experience a unique blend of flavors. I suggest the Sweet Piggy Flatbread, the El Pesco Sandwich, or Grilled Pork Chop. Roll out of the restaurant to explore Olvera Street or Chinatown.
- Get a crash course on Korean BBQ at Chosun Galbee in Koreatown. A plethora of sides will appear on your table even before you get cooking! But don’t be deterred. Order your meat like a pro and eat up. Then head to the Wiltern for a show. This historic venue maintains an art deco feel with a modern sound.
And to finish your night in or near Downtown Los Angeles, check out my favorite spots:
- Break Room 86, placed in the delivery entrance of The Line LA in Koreatown. The bouncer will walk you in through the kitchen to an unexpected entryway. The drinks are good, the music is always on point, and you may just catch some great karaoke singers (a few who are entertaining because they are THAT off-key).
- The Varnish, a perfect speakeasy-style location that fronts as a restaurant (with excellent food), and allows you to walk through a backdoor to discover a small hidden bar. You may have to wait (given the size) but it is worth it.
- Wurstkuche, an excellent restaurant in its own right, but I tend to find myself here late night. The tap selection will satisfy any beer snob, and the bites will happily address any late night hunger.
Even while touring these spots, it is likely that you will find one or two more places to check out! Enjoy the adventure (and the occasional detour).
To access more information about local restaurants, unique attractions, and special offers in Los Angeles, visit our Destination Guide, or explore Hilton properties in Los Angeles below.
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