Downtown: Eat Your Heart Out

Step aside, power lunchers! Foodies have taken over our city center. Here are 15 of the latest and greatest places to dine in what is now L.A.’s most lively culinary scene

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Authentic Peking duck on the 24th floor of a Ritz-Carlton—from Wolfgang Puck? You bet. Just don’t get so fixated on those succulent spring rolls that you miss the epic view.  »  900 W. Olympic Blvd., 213-743-8824.



John Sedlar’s nueva mexicana sensation is as much a museum of Latin cuisine as it is an avant-garde restaurant. Four menus concentrate on flavors from around the world. » 1050 S. Flower St.,  213-749-1460.


Drago Centro

Huge windows and a leaning tower of wine tell you that you’re in L.A., while pastas by Celestino Drago make you feel like you’re in Italy. » 525 S. Flower St., STE. 120,  213-228-8998.


Bottega Louie

A flashy crowd congregates beneath lofty ceilings in this grand white temple of simple Italian cooking. Try the thin-crust pizzas and portobello fries.  » 700 S. Grand Ave., 213-802-1470.


Mendocino Farms

This bright and shiny marketplace is downtown’s sandwich headquarters. You’ll find local organic ingredients in combos like the French onion soup melt and bacon with homemade peanut butter. » 300 S. Grand Ave., 213-620-1114.


Más Malo

At this downtown branch of the Silver Lake Cal-Mex staple, a former Clifton’s Cafeteria has been transformed into a trilevel space that serves spruced-up tacos, chewy chips, and tequila. » 515 W. 7th St.,  213-985-4332.



Not many restaurants that have passed the century mark still have a hopping Saturday-night scene. Chef Neal Fraser is behind the updated French dips. » 118 E. 6th St.,  213-622-4090. 


Starry Kitchen

Thi Tran’s funky Asian fusion lunch spot began as an underground supper club. Banh mis, wraps, and salads contain wild proteins like Japanese meatball curry and spicy crab cakes.  » 350 S. Grand Ave.,  213-617-3474.

theessentials_masa_tThe Gorbals
Inside the kooky (and ancient) Alexandria Hotel, Top Chef winner Ilan Hall cooks up an international mishmash that includes banh mi poutine, matzo with peas, and Welsh rarebit.  » 501 S. Spring St.,  213-488-3408.


Nickel Diner

A former dive near skid row has been revamped as a charming, foodie-focused diner that just happens to have bacon doughnuts. » 524 S. Main St.,  213-623-8301.


Lazy Ox Canteen

There’s a menu, but it’s the chalkboard specials that showcase chef Josef Centeno’s creativity with New American small plates. Despite the four-star status, the vibe is pubby.  » 241 S. San Pedro St.,  213-626-5299.


Aburiya Toranoko

Meat on sticks, sushi, and other Japanese nibbles are the focus at this gentrified riff on a traditional izakaya, or Japanese gastropub. » 243 S. San Pedro St.,  213-621-9500.



The line encircling the brick beer hall on a Friday night looks as if it could be for an indie rock show. Instead it’s for gourmet sausages, fries, and Belgian brews on tap. » 800 E. 3rd St.,  213-687-4444.


Yxta Cocina Mexicana

Happy hour is abuzz at this off-the-beaten-path haunt from the folks behind El Arco Iris, the Highland Park Mexican food favorite. Margaritas are particularly smooth and thus dangerous.  » 601 S. Central Ave.,  213-596-5579.


Church & State

Edison bulbs illuminate the industrial-cozy dining room at this adventurous French brasserie that cooks up steak frites, escargots, and oysters.  » 1850 Industrial St.,  213-405-1434.

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