Los Angeles’ booming Arts District is home not just to many distinctive murals and galleries, but also some of the hippest restaurants in town — and one stand-out craft brewery. Follow the itinerary below for the perfect day in this cool-yet-welcoming neighborhood.
Morning: Pastries and Street Art
Start your day at Bread Lounge, whose popularity in a city that made the low-carb diet famous is testament to the quality of its offerings. Order one of the flaky pastries, like a ricotta cheese Danish with white chocolate and cranberries for now and a Kalamata olive stick, spiced with za’atar, for later. Wash it all down with a latte made with Stumptown beans.
You can work off those calories with a self-guided tour around some of the district’s most dynamic murals. This part of town is noteworthy for its street art, which ranges from the political to the frivolous. Start at “Bear in L.A.”, a monochromatic and almost poignant painting of a horizontal, snoozing bear by Roa, a Belgian artist. Next, see if you can spot a couple of related murals across the street and around the corner.
Walk north a block on Imperial Street towards the cheerful, colorful collection of polka dots on a white background, a mural by The Most Famous Artist, which, incidentally, looks stellar on Instagram. A few more blocks north brings you to the rollicking pattern and neon colors that cover an entire exterior wall of Art Share, a community arts space. This one is by cult British artist INSA.
Just a couple minutes east of the INSA mural, it’s worth popping into Voyager Shop, which sells the California cool lifestyle via beautiful accessories and housewares from local brands like Crescioni and Totem, plus an in-house collection of minimalist silk and linen clothes. Elegant, made-in-LA denim dresses by Achro and funky diaries imported from Japan are two things to look for.
Afternoon: Gallery Time, Beer Tasting
Stop in for lunch at The Daily Dose, tucked away in an unassuming, vine-strewn little walkway, and serving super-fresh sandwiches like The Guildsmith, a riff on a traditional grilled cheese that’s served on a baguette topped with guacamole, tomato, Aleppo pepper and house-made chipotle tomato sauce. Pair it with a Disco lemonade, made from Meyer lemons and agave-marinated cherries. If you need a caffeine injection, try a super-strong espresso to get you back on your feet.
Royale Projects, a contemporary art gallery dedicated to promoting West Coast artists as well as some of the most interesting and experimental work in town, is a must-visit for a peek into the trendy L.A. art scene. Stop in for a look at the current exhibition, which could be anything from a mixed-media group show to site-specific, large-scale installations. (It’s open to the public Thursday through Sunday and by appointment other days.)
By then it will probably be time to give your legs a well-deserved rest by pulling up a chair at Mumford Brewing Company, a craft brewery featuring original IPAs, milk stouts and even a brown ale flavored with coconut and vanilla. (Bonus: The airy tasting room has its own collection of murals.) Sample the current drafts with a flight of four, and don’t forget to ask how the beers — which have monikers like “DAAANNNGGGG!”, “Air Quotes” and “People Mover” — got their names.
Evening: Dinner and Drinks
You’ll want to start out at the Hotel Indigo for one or few pre-dinner drinks. For dinner, Bestia’s bustling, high-ceiling dining room in a former warehouse offers a warm setting for one of the city’s most raved-about Italian menus that fills the tables nightly. Think dishes like fresh agnolotti with braised oxtail and brown butter, pizza topped with clams in escabeche, and a decadent roasted marrow bone. The cocktails, too, are uber-inventive, boasting ingredients like pamplemousse liqueur, hickory smoked sugar and pistachio oil. End the night with a few rounds of pinball and maybe a game of Ms. Pacman at Eighty Two, where arcade meets hipster bar and you can order a craft cocktail named after a Mario Bros. character.