Great Nights Out: Downtown

When the workday winds down, this multifaceted neighborhood revs up. Here are the places to hit, whether you’re cutting class or cutting loose

If you are in your 20s:

villainsVillains Tavern
Gothic meets mad scientist at this new watering hole, where church pews serve as seating and cocktails have names like Fatal Hour. The location (beside a barren tract of industrial land that abuts the L.A. River) is appropriately eerie, but frequent musical acts make for an inviting atmosphere. 1356 Palmetto St., 213-613-0766.


lowendLow End Theory
On Wednesdays the bare-bones Airliner Club in Lincoln Heights hosts this magnet for fans of underground hip-hop, electronica, and dubstep. DJs spin sets to a packed house (breakout producer Flying Lotus sometimes shows up). Note to the bass averse: Bring earplugs. 2419 N. Broadway, 323-221-0771.


Also stop by:

  • Tony’s Saloon
    2017 E. 7th St. 
  • Seven Grand
    515 W. 7th St. 
  • Rooftop Bar at the Standard
    550 S. Flower St. 
  • Bar 107
    107 W. 4th St. 

If you are in your 30s:

If the TED conference relocated to a bar, it might look like this monthly party for tech-savvy creative types. Brief talks by innovators in (mostly) new-media fields are the centerpiece, though we’ve also heard lectures on sustainable tree houses  and tantric sex. Alcohol flows, facilitating decidedly non-Web-based connectivity. Various dates and locations.

boteggalouieBottega Louie
An after-dinner drink at this Italian restaurant-bar feels like an occasion, thanks to soaring ceilings, white marble floors, and gold-leaf accents that evoke a 19th-century European arcade. A bustling open kitchen and trendy patrons bring the place squarely into the 21st century. 700 S. Grand Ave., 213-802-1470.


Also stop by:

  • Caña Rum Bar
    714 W. Olympic Blvd. 
  • Art Walk
    Various locations 
  • Redwood Bar & Grill
    316 W. 2nd St.
  • Blue Whale
    123 Astronaut
    E. S. Onizuka St.

If you are 40+:

Post Staples Center, head to the bar at this upscale Latin restaurant. Bartender Julian Cox mixes some of the city’s finest libations, combining traditional Mexican ingredients (chapulin salt, chipotle peppers) with fresh fruit and artisanal spirits. 1050 S. Flower St., Ste. 102, 213-749-1460. 


engagementpartyEngagement Party
Part art opening, part happening, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s monthly after-hours event features concept-heavy interactive projects (a  remote-control car race, a dance-a-thon) by collectives-in-residence  plus a cash bar. Finish the night by exploring the galleries, Night at the Museum style. 7-10 p.m. first Thursday of the month, 250 S. Grand Ave., 213-626-6222. 

Also stop by:

  • Conga Room at L.A. Live 
    800 W. Olympic Blvd. 
  • Cicada Club
    617 S. Olive St.  
    631 W. 2nd St. 
  • Millennium Biltmore Hotel
    506 S. Grand Ave.

If you are in your 20s or 30s:

  • The Varnish
    118 E. 6th St.  
  • The Falls
    626 S. Spring St

If you are in your 30s or 40+:

  • Downtown Independent Theater
    251 S. Main St. 
  • The Edison
    108 W. 2nd St.

If you are in your 20s, 30s, or 40+:

  • Wurstküche
    800 E. 3rd St.  
  • Aloud at Central Library readings
    630 W. 5th St.
  • Corkbar
    403 W. 12th St. 
  • Trader Vic’s
    800 W. Olympic Blvd.

Photographs by Mindshare: Catherine Wygal; Bottega Louie: Gina Sabatella; Rivera: Jessica Boone; Engagement Party: Patrick Miller