Downtown Los Angeles, with its many hotels, venues and arts and cultural attractions, is a magnet for visitors. But locals also head to LA’s revitalized downtown for dining, recreation, shopping and nightlife. Here’s a sampling of some of their favorites, ranging from the legendary to the hip:
For 24/7 Fare
Whether hunger pangs strike at 3 p.m. or 3 a.m., The Original Pantry Cafe comes in clutch. Now owned by former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, the 24-hour restaurant claims to have been in continuous operation since opening in 1924. Its long history is a testament to its quality comfort food, including everything from country fried chicken to spaghetti and meatballs. Whether you’re hankering for a waffle for dinner or steak for breakfast, The Original Pantry Cafe has got you covered.
The View From Above
Towering above Los Angeles lies the glamorous Perch, a rooftop lounge offering indoor and outdoor seating complimented by expansive views of the surrounding city, creative libations to quench any thirst and an inspired French bistro menu. This downtown jewel also features a roster of live jazz acts nightly. Sipping a perfectly-mixed cocktail while gazing at the glistening L.A. skyline as talented musicians strut their stuff? A night on the town doesn’t get much better.
Local Food Hall
Celebrating its 100th birthday this year, the Grand Central Market boasts a variety of vendors doling out both local and international specialties. Think everything from a freshly baked baguette from Clark Street Bread to authentic Southern barbecue courtesy of Horse Thief to an expertly cooked burger from Belcampo Meat Co.
Open since 2012, Grand Park boasts everything from interactive fountains to lush grassy lawns. The 12-acre space — which calls itself “The Park for Everyone” — also features a full slate of outdoor performances and events, making for an ideal urban hangout, day or night.
Not the Last Bookstore
In an era when bricks-and-mortar book sellers are going the way of the dodo, The Last Bookstore is a thriving exception. With a tongue-in-cheek name nodding to the slow extinction of many of its rivals, the 22,000 square-foot space is a browser’s delight. Featuring everything from rare used books to hard-to-find vinyl records, the proudly independent shop is a downtown hub, hosting high-profile signings, local authors and podcast recordings.
The Original French Dip
A local staple since 1908, Cole’s offers both an impressive backstory and exemplary grub. Known as the oldest bar in Los Angeles, the establishment has been designated one of the city’s “historic cultural-Monuments.” The spot even claims to have invented the French dip sandwich — thin slices of hot roast beef on a French-style roll with a side of gravy for dipping. As the story goes, Cole’s concocted the item to assist a hungry customer who was craving a sandwich but recently had dental work. Cole’s is also known for its roster of highly knowledgeable bartenders, regularly earning accolades as one of the best bars in the U.S.