Game On!

Chinatown’s decade-long transformation plays it one move at a time
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A neighborhood that was established in 1938 and is still referred to as “New Chinatown” is telling: Change along the pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare Chung King Road happens slowly. But the cautious addition of a bar here and a gallery there has its benefits; the area has strategically preserved the old while ushering in the new. Case in point—Roy Choi (of Kogi food truck fame) relocated his first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Chego!, from Palms to downtown in 2013. “The community has accepted me as one of their own,” Choi says. “The grandmas still elbow me on the street on their way to the market. All is good here. I’m living the dream.” Among other projects in development, Blossom Plaza, a 237-unit mixed-use building, just began construction. Get acquainted with your future favorite hangout.

 

 

 

Food

Abbot's Habit 

Scoops Chinatown

Hot summer days mean flip-flops, floral parasols, and fresh ice cream from one of the city’s best parlors. Get two scoops for three bucks—that’s a sweet deal.

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Hal's 

Chego!

The exclamation point is Roy Choi’s, but we share his enthusiasm for rice dishes like the Chubby Pork Belly bowl. Its Far East Plaza location puts it dangerously close to Scoops.

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Moksha Yoga 

Hop Woo BBQ & Seafood Restaurant

A secret menu takes “animal style” to extremes with dishes featuring hairy vegetables and armadillo.

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Hal's  The Little Jewel of New Orleans

The Louisiana market and deli serves an authentic New Orleans po’boy sandwich. Neighborhood perk: It delivers.

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Cafe Gratitude 

Starry Kitchen

The pop-up restaurant is sticking around, with lunch served inside the Far East Plaza and dinner at Grand Star Jazz Club. Go for the Vietnamese minced beef.

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Bars

901 Salon 

General Lee’s

This Chinese apothecary-style bar, a former celebrity haunt in the heart of Chinatown, serves funky (and fungi) twists on classic cocktails, including an old-fashioned with reishi mushrooms.

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Cerveteca 

643 North

Bartenders here know their history. The cocktail menu has a rye-based drink called Little Italy in Chinatown—a nod to the neighborhood’s origins as an Italian district in the 19th century.

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Art

Venice Beach 

Velveteria

Tacky and tactile, velvet paintings have gone beyond the garage sale and into this storefront museum, which opened in 2013. Owners Carl Anderson and Caren Baldwin have amassed a collection of more than 400 far-out pieces. 711 New High St.

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Venice Beach 

Charlie James Gallery

The bold work of up-and-coming artists has been featured here since 2008. A recent exhibition showcased promising L.A. painter Ramiro Gomez.

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Venice Beach 

The Good Luck Gallery

Paige Wery, former publisher of Artillery magazine, opened this art space for amateurs and outsiders. One show included the debut work of a 103-year-old sculptor.

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Venice Beach 

Coagula Curatorial

Mat Gleason, art world contrarian and publisher of Coagula Art Journal, has a new gallery showcasing counterculture work.

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Venice Beach 

Fifth Floor Gallery

It calls itself a gallery, but there’s plenty of fun stuff to buy: housewares, jewelry, sketchbooks, furniture—many of the pieces by local designers.

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Venice Beach 

Public School and The Poetic Research Bureau

Two literary organizations share a storefront and host poetry readings (the more obscure, the better) and intellectual salons.

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Nightlife

Venice Beach 

Grand Star Jazz Club

Nearly 70 years old, the music venue is still in the swing of things, featuring an eclectic groove of jazz acts, hip-hop and R&B nights, and retro-French pop parties.

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Photographs courtesy (in order): (1) flickr.com/star5112, (2-5, 14)facebook.com, (6)flickr.com/Casey And Sonia , (7)643north.com, (8)velveteria.com, (9)cjamesgallery.com, (10)goodluckgallery.com, (11)coagulacuratorial.com, (12)fifthfloorgallery.com, (13)poeticresearch.com, and (15)betalevel.com

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