Travel Guides for Un-tourists


14 Standout Restaurants in Downtown LA

by Fernanda DeSouza

posted on October 27, 2017

It can feel a bit overwhelming to tackle the downtown area of any big city, and Los Angeles is no exception. The central business dristrict that drives the city's core is filled with major sightseeing, parks, museums, bars, and especially food. If you're having a hard time choosing where to eat in this bustling neighborhood, we're here to help. We've compiled a list of some of this hood's most exceptional culinary experiences so you don't miss a beat (or dish).

Photo Courtesy: eat_byul

This Little Tokyo institution is tiny, and very, very popular. If you have any expectation of being seated quickly, we suggest dining solo; otherwise, expect a wait. Either way, it'll be worth it, as you'll find some of the best ramen in LA on this bare-bones menu.

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Tonkotsu ramen, tsukemen, takoyaki

Photo Courtesy: preuxandproper

DTLA's Preux & Proper combines two different concepts: a vibrant, frozen daquiri-spinning downstairs bar room featuring soul food small plates, and an elegant, upstairs dining area with a more extensive, NOLA-style dinner menu. Pick your poison.

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House andouille sausage, smoked beef heart pastrami toast, black tiger prawn gumbo, 36 hour prime boneless beef rib

Photo Courtesy: bordergrill

Elevated Mexican food doesn't seem all that avant-garde now, but back in the '80s when Border Grill owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger started their small chain, it was brand new. Visit for a guaranteed good time and a throwback vibe.

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Border guacamole, chicken poblano enchiladas, tres leches cake

Photo Courtesy: brokenspanishla

LA native Ray Garcia has become one of the most talked about chefs in town. Broken Spanish, the upscale, perfect-for-any-occasion sister to his more casual BS Taqueria, serves modern Mexican cuisine that is as beautiful as the setting itself.

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Pollo prensado, tostada, tamales, chicharrón, and carnitas

Photo Courtesy: forkfeed

There are many styles of sushi; some focus on creativity, others on looks. The traditional omakase at wood-clad Sushi Q has a different philosophy, solemnly focusing on the flavor of the fish. Be aware: the simplicity comes with a hefty price tag.

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Photo Courtesy: ji.kimm

Hidden within Mignon and open for lunch Wednesday through Saturday only, Cento serves superb pastas and sides that rotate regularly based on season. A visit might just transport your mind to Italy.

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Agnolotti, uni spaghetti, raviolo, oriechiette bolognese

Photo Courtesy: eggslut

Eggslut got famous for serving everything from perfect coddled eggs to cheeseburgers (with fried eggs, of course) out of a food truck. They've retired the truck, but the menu's concept hasn't changed. Start your day right with a Fairfax and some coldbrew. (Yes, the line snaking around Grand Central Market is insane, but the reward makes up for it.)

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The Fairfax, The Slut, The Gaucho

Photo Courtesy: foodballin

This trendy spot creates heirloom grain bowls in tiny downtown digs with clean countertops and a high turnover rate. Mix and match flavorful Filipino treats, then stay to watch the talented chefs craft your custom bowl right in front of you.

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Eggplant torta, braised pork belly, Spam sandwich

Photo Courtesy: metropolisdtla

You can almost smell the Provençal wildflowers at this airy, light-flooded bistro located in an old atrium. Sit on lawn chairs next to a sparkling fountain, enjoy light, seasonal dishes with French flair and a local twist and dream yourself far away.

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The menu is seasonal and depends on market availability.

Photo Courtesy: myhungrymonster

If there's such a thing as a Mediterranean izakaya, it's Bäco Mercat. The dimly-lit, always-buzzing spot is a metaphor for Downtown itself: a little bit of everything creates a lot of character without taking itself too seriously. This is quintessential LA.

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Bäco sandwich (especially the original and the toron), coca, caramelized cauliflower, blistered okra, salad

Photo Courtesy: redbirdla

From the stunning interior details to the gorgeous, seasonal food and the skillfully crafted cocktails, visiting this former church is akin to a religious experience. Is RedBird an everyday place? No. But it's a superb special occasion spot.

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Foie gras, chicken pot pie, barbecue smoked tofu, braised goat gemelli

Photo Courtesy: glowofthedawn

Don't go to Shibumi expecting sushi or ramen. Go to experience the intricacy, precision, and creativity behind the ingredient-centric dishes, a result of David Schlosser's longtime love affair with Japan. Sit at the bar and prepare to be mesmerized.

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Chilled corn soup, silky egg tofu with uni, grilled heritage pork in koji, and California holstein beef strip

Photo Courtesy: orsaandwinston

Everything about Orsa and Winston feels thought out. From the meticulously-plated tasting menus to the casual, structured lunch service to the black and grey decor, every aspect of the experience has been considered.

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The tasting menu

Photo Courtesy: bstaqueria

Feast on tacos, clams and lardo, and chicharrones in this lively, colorful downtown spot. Molinillos hang from the lofty ceiling, and greens coat the veranda on the patio with plenty of seating. Save room for dessert; the churros are amazing.

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Lemon-pepper chicken chicharrones, bologna with escabeche, clams and lardo, snapper Veracruz, chorizo and papas taco

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