Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) has emerged as one of the city’s most trendy and colorful neighborhoods. Destination-worthy restaurants, bars/clubs, museums, attractions and architectural marvels now populate this highly walkable, modern district, in which the Hotel Indigo Downtown Los Angeles is ideally situated. All this plus a helping of some of Los Angeles’ most buzzworthy gay bars and clubs: Watch out, WeHo and Silverlake.
Here’s a guide to some LGBT-friendly DTLA musts:
Food & Drink
One-year-old Otium was dubbed L.A.’s “most ambitious new restaurant in years” by the Los Angeles Times, thanks to James Beard Award-winning, ex-French Laundry Chef Timothy Hollingsworth’s extensive locavore-centric menu. Reflecting the ethnic diversity of modern America via stunning flavor and texture combinations, the menu offers such dishes as uni with yuzu and tofu sorbet and a Middle Eastern-influenced dry aged beef tartare with bulgar, mint and yogurt.
As one of North America’s best cities for sushi, don’t miss KazuNori for delectable hand rolls or the 37-year-old fave Sushi Gen, beloved for both fish quality and surprising affordability. Seafood lovers will also find nirvana and palate-tingling creativity at chef Michael Cimarusti’s two Michelin-starred Providence.
Meanwhile, there’s something for everyone, from craft coffee to L.A.’s eggs-centric Eggslut, at the 39-vendor Grand Central Market. Cole’s French Dip may be a DTLA institution, but the speakeasy occupying a former storage room, The Varnish, remains a well-kept secret. And there are several distinct craft cocktail bars with varying themes, décor, and libations — parlor, gothic, and tiki — at Clifton’s.
Located within sprawling entertainment complex L.A. Live, The Grammy Museum celebrates American music and the Grammy Awards through permanent and temporary exhibits. The Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and REDCAT theater, hosts numerous music performances and some LGBT film screenings and events during July’s OutFest.
For music for dancing and imbibing, a recent crop of LGBT bars has inspired LA Weekly to dub DTLA the new “gayborhood.” The two-level Bar Mattachine combines superb craft cocktails (bonus: a non-alcoholic Kombucha bar), dark and wood urban-chic décor and fun nightly events with colorful drag queens, club kids and a solid music groove.
Redline also whips up above-average drinks, dancing, performances by RuPaul’s Drag Race stars and a Sunday brunch to boot. DTLA’s largest and busiest gay bar, Precinct packs them in thanks to a diverse mix of music — rock ‘n’ roll — and themed nights including Latin, bear and drag, organized by some of L.A.’s most beloved nightlife fixtures.
Meanwhile, DTLA’s oldest LGBT bar, The New Jalisco, is predominantly Latino with pumping sounds and ample opportunity to flex your Spanish.
DTLA is chock full of galleries and museums — large and small. While The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles currently boasts three locations within L.A., DTLA’s Arata Isozaki-designed MOCA Grand is home to its main galleries, flagship store and Lemonade café. Admission is free for the innovative, striking contemporary art museum The Broad, but tickets are required for some temporary exhibitions.
The second floor of fantastic indie book/record shop, The Last Bookstore, is home to the eclectic local Spring Arts Collective’s Gallery and Store: It’s one of the almost three dozen participating galleries in the monthly second Thursday DTLA Art Walk. The latter also runs sporadic free tours of DTLA’s plentiful street art murals, while LA Art Tours leads several weekly outings.
At DTLA’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising — alumni include Santino Rice of Project Runway/RuPaul’s Drag Race fame — under-the-radar FIDM Museum & Galleries boasts a permanent collection of over 15,000 garments, accessories and other fashion-centric items dating back to the 1800s.
Featured in the original Blade Runner and many other Hollywood movies, the iconic, five-story Bradbury Building is an architectural landmark, thanks to a skylit atrium, cast iron railings, wood and marble details and hydraulic elevators.
Scandinavian design-o-philes will find delights — and potentially a home’s worth of new furnishings and goods — at Austere, a 5,000 square-foot Nordic goods showroom that Swedish founder Fredrik Carlstrom has described as “a lifestyle magazine with all my favorite things… come to life.”