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Los Angeles/Downtown

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Los Angeles City Hall

L.A. is a city of diverse cultures and many are showcased in or around Downtown. The area's highlights include Grand Central Market, Museum of Contemporary Art, Disney Concert Hall, The Music Center, Olvera Street, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, and the Japanese-American Museum. Downtown is also home to some of the most unique and stunning examples of American and international architecture.

Get in

Downtown LA is simultaneously the hub of the freeway network, road network, commuter rail network, subway / light rail network, and bus network in the region. It is thus accessible from multiple entry points.

By freeway

Downtown LA can be accessed directly via the Pasadena Freeway (SR-110), the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10), and the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5 and US-101). Just outside Downtown LA, these freeways connect to the Golden State Freeway (I-5), the Hollywood Freeway (US-101), the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10), the Harbor Freeway (I-110), and the Pomona Freeway (SR-60).

Drive your car to a parking lot and go by foot from then on. Downtown isn't that big. Most likely, a DASH shuttle has a stop where you want to go.

By commuter rail

If your point of origin is within the urban and suburban areas of Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, or San Diego Counties, you may be able to avail of the growing commuter rail network known as Metrolink [1] to visit Downtown LA. Six of the seven Metrolink commuter rail lines terminate at Union Station in Downtown LA's El Pueblo district. Tickets can be purchased from vending machines at each station, and fares are determined by time (peak or non-peak hour, weekday or weekend) and distance:

  • The San Bernardino Line runs 34 trains on weekdays between Downtown LA and the eastern suburbs (the "Inland Empire"), running through the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, and San Bernardino County. There is also limited weekend service, and terminating in Downtown San Bernardino.
  • The Riverside Line runs 12 trains on weekdays between Downtown LA and the eastern suburbs (the "Inland Empire"), running through the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, and Riverside County, and terminating in Downtown Riverside.
  • The 91 Line runs 8 trains on weekdays between Downtown LA and the eastern and southeastern suburbs (the "Inland Empire"), running through the Orange and Riverside Counties, and terminating in Downtown Riverside.
  • The Orange County Line runs 20 trains on weekdays between Downtown LA and the southeastern suburbs, running through Orange and San Diego Counties, and terminating in Downtown Oceanside. There is also limited weekend service.
  • The Ventura County Line runs 20 trains on weekdays between Downtown LA and the northwestern suburbs, running through the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County, and terminating in Ventura's Montalvo neighborhood.
  • The Antelope Valley Line runs 24 trains on weekdays between Downtown LA and the northern suburbs, running through the San Fernando, Santa Clarita, and Antelope Valleys, and terminating in Downtown Lancaster. There is also limited Saturday service.

By subway / light rail

For those visitors coming from within Los Angeles County, local subway and light rail service may be the best option to get to Downtown LA. Four of the five subway and light rail lines in the Metro Rail [2] system terminate in Downtown LA's Union Station and 7th/Metro Center. Each boarding requires a $1.50 fare. For unlimited rides on Metro Bus and Metro Rail, purchase a $6 day pass on any Metro Bus or in any Metro Rail station.

  • The Red Line subway brings riders from the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood, and parts of the Eastside, cutting across the Financial District, the Jewelry District, the Civic Center, and El Pueblo, passing near the Historic Core and Bunker Hill, making four stops in Downtown LA (7th/Metro Center, Pershing Square, Civic Center, and Union Station).
  • The Purple Line subway brings riders from Mid-Wilshire, joining with the Red Line subway to cut across the Financial District, the Jewelry District, the Civic Center, and El Pueblo, passing near the Historic Core and Bunker Hill, making four stops in Downtown LA (7th/Metro Center, Pershing Square, Civic Center, and Union Station).
  • The Blue Line light rail brings riders from South Los Angeles (also known as "South Central"), Long Beach, and other southern suburbs, to two Downtown LA stops: Pico Station in the South Park district, and 7th/Metro Center in the Financial District.
  • The Gold Line light rail brings riders from Pasadena, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles to three Downtown LA stops: Chinatown Station in the Old Chinatown district just north of the Civic Center, Union Station, and Little Tokyo/Arts District Station in Little Tokyo.
  • There is also a Green Line connecting the city of Norwalk to the beach area of Redondo/Hermosa with connections to the Blue Line and the LAX shuttle bus.

By bus

The major hubs for buses are Patsaouras Transit Plaza (@ Union Station) on the opposite side of the tracks from Union Station itself and the 7th St Metro Center station on 7th between Figuoura and Flower St. Some of the metro buses may not go by the above stops either so check their schedules or the maps.

  • Metro Bus [3] also have local buses numbered #2-96 coming to & going out of downtown at varying distances and to various places. The express buses are numbered in the 400s get on the freeways to travel further out.
  • Big Blue Bus Rt #10 [4] Express bus between downtown and Santa Monica
  • Torrance Transit #4 [5] Express bus to Torrance
  • Foothills Transit #493,497-499,699 & 'Silver Streak' [6] operates buses from downtown, USC Medical Center & Patsaorous Plaza/Union Station to various places east such as San Dimas, Asuza, Pasadena, Pomona, Claremont, Industry, etc.
  • Orange County Transit (OCT) #701 & 721 [7] Route 701 goes from Patsaouras Transit Plaza to Hungtington Beach while the #721 goes to Fullerton Park from 5th & Beaudry.
  • LAX Flyaway [8] offers direct bus service from Patsaouras Transit Plaza down to the airport.

Then of course a number of long distance bus carriers to Kern, Orange, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Diego Counties and beyond. Except for CA Shuttle Bus & Megabus, the other stations or stops are in "skid row" the sketchy areas of downtown east of Main St. It's recommended to take a taxi down to the other bus stations in "skid row" from Union Station.

  • CA Shuttle Bus, Denny’s Restaurant at 530 Ramirez St. (across the street from Patsaouras Transit Plaza), +1-408 294-1798 (), [9]. offers service to San Francisco and San Jose. In Los Angeles they also stop in Hollywood, North Hollywood & Santa Monica. See this link for specifics.
  • El Paso - Los Angeles Limousine Express, 260 E 6th St (Corner of E 6th St & Wall St across from police station), 213 623-2323, [10]. Goes from Los Angeles to El Paso via Phoenix and to Las Vegas on three separate routes. They stop in E. Los Angeles, El Monte and Colton on their way out of town. The East L.A. station is at 4425 E Olympic Blvd Tel: 323-265-3232
  • Greyhound, Autobus Americanos & Cruceros USA, 1716 E 7th St, +1 213 629-8401, [11].
  • InterCalifornias, 655 S Maple St (Maple & E 7th St), 213 629-4885, [12]. From Los Angeles they go north to San Fernando, Stockton and San Jose via Bakersfield, Fresno, etc. They go south to Tijuana via San Ysidro.
  • MegaBus.com, The stop is located at Bus Bay #1 of Union Station's Patsaouras Transit Plaza at t One Gateway Plaza., 1-877-462-6342, [13]. Express bus service to/from San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Las Vegas. Double Deck Coaches with WiFi, Restrooms, Power Outlets and seats starting at $1.
  • TUFESA, 611 S Maple St (Maple St & E 6th St), 213 489-8079, [14]. Offers bus service to/from various points in Mexico, California & Arizona. They also have another station at 2500 E Florence Ave, Huntington Park in east L.A. Tel: 323 588-8330

By air

Downtown LA is not directly served by an airport, but can be accessed via public transportation from Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX) in Westchester and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

From LAX in Westchester

From LAX Airport [15] there are two relatively frequent public transportation options to Downtown LA: the FlyAway Bus, and Metro Rail.

  • For the FlyAway Bus option, simply walk to the nearest platform with a green shuttle sign outside your terminal. The FlyAway Bus will stop at each terminal to pick up passengers bound for Van Nuys, Westwood, and Union Station. Be sure to board the Union Station-bound FlyAway Bus, or you will end up far away from Downtown LA. This express bus uses the carpool lanes and busways on major freeways from LAX straight downtown, and costs $7 each way. Buses run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • For the Metro Rail option, which is usually slower due to the many transfers necessary, first board a free LAX G-shuttle to the Metro Green Line platform at Aviation Station. Then take a Norwalk-bound Green Line train to Imperial/Wilmington station, where you will walk down the stairs and board a Los Angeles-bound Blue Line train. The Blue Line ends in the Financial District, at 7th/Metro Center, connecting to the Red and Purple Lines. Each boarding costs $1.25. If you are planning on using the system further, it may be worth it to purchase a $5 Day Pass before boarding the Green Line train. Trains run until about 1AM everyday.
From Bob Hope Airport in Burbank

Bob Hope Airport is served by two rail networks, both of which use the Burbank Airport train station - walking distance from the main terminal building.

  • Metrolink commuter rail: Use the ticket vending machines to purchase a ticket from Burbank-Bob Hope Airport to Union Station, the main train station downtown. Metrolink runs 15 trains in each direction on the Ventura County Line on weekdays during commute times (use Amtrak at night and on weekends). See the Metrolink Burbank-Bob Hope Airport schedules on the web [16] for exact departure times. This trip costs $5.25 each way and takes from 14 to 31 minutes.
  • Amtrak: Use the ticket vending machines to purchase a ticket from Burbank-Bob Hope Airport to Union Station, the main train station downtown. Amtrak runs 5 trains in each direction on the Pacific Surfliner Line 7 days a week, with the last train departing at 9:13PM from Burbank-Bob Hope Airport. This trip costs $4 and takes about 26-43 minutes.

If you must drive, park at the NE corner of Hill and 9th to check out the Fashion/Garment District. Incredible deals, great restaurants, beautiful architecture (check out the Orpheum and Eastern Columbia Buildings across from the lot). There is also Cliftons further up Broadway, The Arcade Building which, like many of the historic building downtown, is being converted into upscale lofts.

  • Parking: Some people are partial to parking at any one of the lots around the Music Center or Civic Center in roughly the area bounded by Grand to Spring and Temple to 2nd. But Pershing Square has good centralized parking. If you are checking out the Convention Center (only do if you are actually going to a convention there) consider parking there, although it is adjacent to Staples Center, which is a block from the Hotel Figueroa (check out the bar and the Moorish architecture), which is a block from the Pantry...well, you get the idea.

Get around

Downtown is probably the only part of L.A. that one can reasonably cover on foot.

  • Metro Bus[17] is the most extensive bus system in the region. All major streets have at least one (and in some cases, several) bus lines running daily. Base fare is $1.50 and an unlimited-use day pass costs $5. Both can be purchased on board any Metro bus.
  • Metro Rail[18] is the subway and light rail system for Los Angeles County. Downtown LA can be traversed using the six downtown rail stations that are served by four of the five lines in the Metro Rail system. At the northern end of Downtown LA, the Gold Line stops at Chinatown on its way northeast to Pasadena. The Red and Purple Line subways meet with the Gold Line light rail in Union Station, where connections can be made to buses, Metrolink commuter trains, and Amtrak. From Union Station, the Red and Purple Line subways run along Hill Street, making stops at the Civic Center and Pershing Square, before turning west under the Financial District. There they connect to the Blue Line light rail at 7th/Metro Center. From there the Red and Purple Lines run northwest and west, respectively, and the Blue Line runs south through Downtown LA's redeveloping South Park district, with a stop at Pico, towards the city of Long Beach.
  • DASH[19] is a shuttle service run by L.A. Department of Transportation. When your feet get tired or to better expand your travel area use the DASH. It has several convenient routes that whisk you to almost all of the worthwhile spots Downtown. A ride currently costs 50 cents (25 cents for seniors) and pamphlets are available from most MTA stations (Union, 7th/Olive) and convenience stores Downtown (spotty weekend and after-hour service though).

See

Cultural districts

Olvera Street
  • Chinatown, [20]. Primarily centered around North Broadway; unlike Chinatowns in many other cities, it has a wide, main, busy street filled with small shops and restaurants. At about the middle point of N. Broadway in Chinatown is an open market much like those found in Hong Kong. Be sure to haggle!
  • Little Tokyo, [21]. Also known as J-Town, the Japanese district features restaurants, museums, and shops. It sits in the area between Temple and about 5th and Spring through Alameda.
  • Olvera Street, [22]. This is where LA was founded as El Pueblo de Los Angeles. You can take a tour of the city's oldest house to see what it looked like at that time. The plaza is mostly filled with Mexican trinket stands and Mexican restaurants.

Museums

  • Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), 250 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90012, +1-213-626-6222, [23]. Th-M: 11AM-5PM. The permanent collection is fairly interesting, but the changing exhibitions can be more hit or miss. The museum has no 'traditional' art, so bring an open mind. The gift shop (free entrance) is fun for at least 20 minutes of wonder and awe. $12, $7 student (includes admission to Geffen Contemporary).
  • Geffen Contemporary, 152 N. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90013, [24]. A branch of MOCA tucked away in Little Tokyo. Same opening hours and shared tickets as MOCA on Grand.
  • Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. First Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90012, +1-213-625-0414, [25]. Tu-Su: 10AM-5PM. Covers the Japanese-American experience, with a special emphasis on the concentration camps of World War II. $8.
  • Old Plaza Firehouse, 134 Paseo de la Plaza, +1 213 625-3741. Tu-F: 10AM-3PM, Sa-Su: 10AM-4:30PM. This was the original fire station for the City of Los Angeles. Built in 1884, it has been restored to its original condition. The knowledgeable docents offer a peek into Los Angeles in the 19th Century. Free (donations accepted).
  • Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Boulevard (entrance on Figueroa St), +1-213-765-6800, [26]. M-F 11:30AM-7:30PM, Sa-Su 10AM-7:30PM. History of music, with listening posts. Adult $12.95.

Arts

Walt Disney Concert Hall
  • Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), 919 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90015, +1-800-624-1200, +1-213-624-1201, [27]. Gorgeous campus of FIDM and ongoing free exhibits make this a pleasant way to kill a couple of hours.
  • The Los Angeles Central Public Library, 630 W. 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90071, +1-213-228-7000, [28]. Huge library rebuilt in the 1980s and '90s. Almost always has a public exhibition going.
  • Music Center and Disney Hall, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90012, +1-213-972-7211 (), [29]. Impressive hall architecture complete with tours most days. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is open to the public Christmas Eve day with almost round the clock performances by amateur cultural arts groups. The Walt Disney Hall has daily tours, check website for schedules.

Architecture

  • The Bradbury Building, 304 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA, 90013. Built in 1893, the Bradbury Building is one of Southern California's most remarkable architectural achievements. Behind its modest exterior lies a magical light-filled Victorian court that rises 50 feet with open cage elevators, marble stairs and ornate iron railings. The building has been a set for many movies, including Blade Runner in 1982. Visitors without business in the building are allowed into the lobby and up to the first landing of the staircase.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels
  • The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple Street (between Grand Ave & Hill St), +1 213 680-5200 (), [30]. 6:30AM-6PM M-F, 9AM-6PM, Sa 7AM-6PM Su, hours extended to 7PM during daylight savings time. This large and austere cathedral, dedicated to Saint Vibiana, is the head of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It was opened in 2002 at a cost of nearly $200 million, replacing The Cathedral of St Vibiana which was heavily damaged in the 1994 earthquake.
  • Library Tower (US Bank Tower), 633 W. Fifth Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90071 (across Fifth Street from the downtown central library). At 73 floors and 1,017 feet, it is said to be the tallest building between Chicago and Hong Kong. Note to photographers: the Library Tower's security personnel will try to discourage you from taking pictures of this building. As long as you are standing on a public sidewalk you may legally take any picture you like in the United States.
  • St. Vincent court, 7th Street, between Broadway and Hill, [31]. A tranquil hideaway tucked in the heart of the Jewelry District.
  • The Theater District. The Theater District along Broadway has been converted to discount jewelry, electronics and ethnic shops, but much of the architecture and the marquees remain.
  • Union Station. No trip to downtown LA would be complete without a visit to the historic train station, built in 1939 with a Spanish mission exterior. The large waiting room and restaurant is like it was in the 1940s. It is used in lots of movies, including Blade Runner, where the main hall was used as the police station.

Do

  • Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway (110 Freeway), (starts at the intersection of the CA-110 and the CA-101, heading north from that junction), [32]. Drive the Parkway, a National Scenic Byway that runs for 9.4 miles (15.1 km) between Downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena. The Parkway passes from the skyscrapers of Downtown, through Chinatown into the Arts-and-Crafts style neighborhoods of South Pasadena and ends in Pasadena at Colorado Blvd., home to the famous Rose Parade.
  • Angel's Flight, 351 South Hill Street (on the north side of Grand Central Market), [33]. 6:45am-10pm. Ride the world's shortest railway - at only 298'(91m) long, Angel's Flight is functionally an elevator which takes you from Hill Street to California Plaza on Grand Ave. For only 50 cents! $0.50.

Tours

Various groups offer free or cheap walking tours of Downtown LA.

  • Downtown Art Walk, [34]. A free monthly self guided tour--and free walking tours, reservations required--held on the second Thursday of every month, to art galleries and museums in Downtown L.A.
  • L.A. Conservancy Walking Tours, [35]. See the grand Vaudeville/Movie theaters of the 20s and the impressive Art Deco office buildings in several easy to handle walking tours. Strongly recommended for those wanting to grasp a feel of LA's history. Reservations are strongly recommended.
  • Las Angelitas del Pueblo, [36]. This is a group of volunteer docents who give free tours of El Pueblo de Los Angeles to the public.
  • Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: In A Lonely Place bus tour, [37]. An occasional bus tour of sites downtown and in Hollywood from the films, books and lives of Raymond Chandler and his anti-hero Philip Marlowe. $58, includes snacks.
  • The Real Black Dahlia bus tour, [38]. A true crime and social history tour that intimately explores the last weeks of Elizabeth Short's life, asking not "who killed her?" but "who was she?" $58.
  • John Fante's Dreams of Bunker Hill bus and walking tour, [39]. An occasional bus and walking tour of sites downtown and in Hollywood from the life and work of novelist John Fante and his great fan Charles Bukowski, plus crime scenes from forgotten horrors of old Bunker Hill, Sonora Town and beyond. $58, includes snacks.

Sports

  • Staples Center, [40]. Home to five of LA's pro sports franchises; Lakers (NBA), Kings (NHL), Clippers (NBA), Avengers (AFL), and Sparks (WNBA), plus many concerts, shows and conventions.
  • Dodger Stadium - Home to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball franchise of the National League.
  • Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum - Home to the University of Southern California Trojans NCAA football team, members of the Pacific Twelve conference. Site was host to the Olympics in 1932 and 1984, the home to LA's former NFL franchises the Los Angeles Rams and Raiders from 1946-1979 and 1982-1994 respectively, and the home of UCLA football until 1982, when they moved to the Rose Bowl.

Buy

Downtown's shopping districts are sights in themselves.

  • Fashion District,[41] Where style and cheap textiles smash together. Important for the addicted shopper. You can find the district in the Southeast corner of Downtown roughly where Spring and Main meet going Southeast.
  • Flower District (766 Wall Street} [42], The best place to get the best cut and potted flowers and plants, plus just a great site to see.
  • Jewelry District,[43] Wonder where all of those West Coast Rappers get their bling bling? Well, if they are frugal, they get it in the Jewelry District. Bounded by Olive-Broadway and 6th-7th, it is conveniently close to Pershing Square (parking and Red line access).

Some shops stand out:

  • Mikawaya (800 E. 4th St. Little Tokyo) [44], Their moto says it best: "The finest name in Japanese pastries since 1910"
  • Capucci Optics (7th+Fig Mall), Great place to get a pair of great glasses, sunglasses or contacts at a reasonable price. Ask for Fatima for friendly service.
  • Santee Alley (Fashion District), Home of knock off designer labels and everything else you could possibly imagine, located between Santee Street and Maple Avenue, starting on Olympic Boulevard.

For basic supplies, try the Ralphs' supermarket (645 W. 9th Street, between Flower and Hope) or the new CityTarget store at the 7th+Fig Mall.

Eat

This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under $10
Mid-range $10 - $25
Splurge Over $25


Budget

There are plenty of fast food places scattered throughout downtown. If you're headed to Santee Alley, grab a churro ($1) from a street stand.

  • Clifton's Cafeteria, 648 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA, 90014 (Downtown), +1-213-627-1673, [45]. Daily: 6:30AM-7:30PM. Since 1935, located on Broadway, serves cafeteria style food. One should experience the history, the food at affordable prices, and of course view the redwood forest theme. (currently closed for renovations)
  • Cole's Pacific Electric Buffet, 118 E. 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90014 (on 6th, between Main and Los Angeles), +1-213-622-4090 (), [46]. Daily: 9AM-10PM. Bar/restaurant in nearly continuous operation since 1908, but recently shut for a year and a extensive upscale redesign. Along with Philippe The Original, one of the possible originators of the French Dip sandwich.
  • Empress Pavilion, 988 N. Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90012 (Chinatown), +1-213-617-9898. Most people come here for the dim sum on carts but there is also a menu.
  • Famima (various locations Downtown), [47]. Daily: 6:00AM-10:00PM, some are 24 hr. Famima is a convenience store similar to 7-11 but with a fantastic selection of prepackaged lunches, snacks, drinks and fresh fruit. Has a selection of asian drinks, candies, and even hot pork buns at the front counter. $2-$10.
  • Frying Fish, 120 Japanese Village Plaza (Little Tokyo), 213-680-0567. Sushi restaurant with a food conveyor belt built into the bar, located in the Japanese village. Don't miss the excellent California roll!
  • Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA, 90013, +1-213-624-2378, [48]. Daily 9AM-6PM. Huge indoor bazaar of Central and South American vendors. Get fresh tortillas, huge Mexican papayas and tasty Tortas. On Hill and Broadway between 3rd and 4th (closer to 3rd). Conveniently near the Bradbury Building (unique architecture) and the Pershing Square Red line stop (Northeast access).
  • The Original Pantry Cafe, 877 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90017, +1-213-972-9279. The Pantry boasts that it has never closed or been without a customer since it first opened in 1924. (Want proof? The front entrance has no lock on it). Come here on any morning and you will see a line stretching around the block - the wait is worth it, and the fast service will have hot plate of food in front of you within minutes of sitting down. Best place for breakfast after midnight. Cash only.
  • Original Tommy's, 2575 W. Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90057 (On the corner of Beverly and Rampart just west of Downtown Los Angeles), +1-213-389-9060, [49]. Open 24 hours/7 days a week. A Los Angeles landmark since 1946 Tommy's is a can't-miss for any hamburger lover. Serving hamburgers, french fries, hot dogs, and tamales with their "secret blend" of chili you will always find a line for food at all hours, especially late night/early mornings.
Philippe's
  • Philippe's, 1001 N. Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90012 (Chinatown, one block from Union Station), +1-213-628-3781, [50]. Daily: 6AM-10PM. Aaaah...an LA landmark situated a couple of blocks north of Olvera St. and Union Station is a nostalgic shop with hay and sawdust covered floors. Famous for their 'French Dip' sandwiches dipped in au jus ($4.90), but the real reason to go is the atmosphere and the pastrami — the joint opened in 1908 and the menu still features things like pickled eggs and pig's feet. Coffee is ten cents a cup, but their 60-cent lemonade is even more popular. Expect to queue at any time and the place is mobbed on the nights of Lakers and Dodgers games.
  • Señor Fish, 422 E 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90012, +1-213-625-0566. Not really authentic -- it's sort of a variation on Baja-style Mexican -- Senor Fish downtown does just one thing well, but they do it better than anyone. Luckily, that one thing is an important thing: grilled fish tacos. Grilled, not fried. Their Shrimp Taco is amazing as well.
  • Spring Street Smokehouse, 640 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (in China Town, on Cesar Chavez and North Spring), +1-213-626-0535, [51]. M-Tu: 10:30AM-8PM, Wednesday-Friday: 10:30AM-9PM, Sat: 12PM-9PM. The best barbecue in town. 27 microbrews.
  • Weiland Brewery, 400 E. 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90012 (in Little Tokyo, on Central and First), +1-213-680-2881, [52]. M-F: 11AM-2AM, Sat: 5PM-2AM. The cheese fries are to die for. Very affordable place for drinks. One of the few bars with a weekend happy hour lasting until 2AM

Mid-range

  • Engine Co. No. 28, (Figueroa Corridor), [53]. Comfort food at its best. A restored actual fire station that churns out LA's best meatloaf, fried chicken and lemonade, all in an elegant atmosphere with great service.
  • J Restaurant & Lounge, 1119 S. Olive St (at 11th St), +1-800-850-6074, [54]. Dining and entertainment, located near the Staples Center. The vibe is equal parts hip and casual; the large space has a glitzy lounge, featuring live music, and a mega patio with fire pit and skyline views of the city. Inspired décor. Menu is Mediterranean-meets-American.
  • Kendall's Brasserie, 135 N. Grand Ave (at the Music Center), +1-213-972-7322, [55]. Great French menu at a perfect location to catch any of the great evening programs at the surrounding venues. Whatever you order, do not miss their French Fries! Mains from $15.
  • The Nickel Diner (Old Bank district), 524 S Main St (between 5th & 6th), [56]. 8am-3pm, 6pm-10:30pm, closed Mondays. early 1900s style diner, lots of choices for breakfast (try the polenta, or the mountain of french toast) and home of novelty pastries - bacon donuts, homemade pop tarts! Open for lunch & dinner, too. $7-$15.
  • Riordan's Tavern, 875 South Figueroa St., +1 213-627-6879 (), [57]. Good (but slightly pricey) pub food in the heart of downtown near the Staples Center. The Mayor's Burger is a one pound beast with chili, bacon, and all the fixings, or you can try the daily carvery sandwich. Steaks and seafood are also decent, and the drinks are poured stiff. $15-$30.
  • Royale, 2619 Wilshire Blvd (inside Wilshire Royale Hotel), +1-213-388-8488. Located in the renovated Wilshire Royale Hotel, Chef Eric Ernest's new, culinary digs features a groovy cocktail lounge and menu that’s described as "sophisticated yet approachable."
  • The Wood Spoon, 107 W 9th St, +1-213-629-1765, [58]. M 11AM-3PM, T-Fr 11AM-3PM, 6PM-9PM, Sa 12PM-3PM, 6PM-10PM, closed Sunday. Located in a relatively non-descript setting downtown, this restaurant features Brazilian-inspired dishes that are different from what most American restaurants serve as "Brazilian". Rice, beans and plantains are in use, but entrees such as a Brazilian-inspired pot pie and cinnamon water will be new to most diners. Jacqueline, the very gracious chef, will usually make the rounds once the kitchen closes and can tell some very interesting stories about her life after coming to the States. $10-$20 per person.
  • Yang Chow, 819 N Broadway (at Alpine Street), +1-213-625-0811, [59]. Located in Chinatown. Award-winning restaurant. Be sure to order the slippery shrimp and the dry sauteed vegetables (green beans and asparagus).
  • Yorkshire Grill, 610 W 6th St (6th st & Grand), 213-623-3362. M-F 6:00 AM -3:30 PM, SAT 8:00 AM - 2:30 PM. Yorkshire Grill has been operating since 1954, with many a lucrative business deal having been negotiated over the famous Yorkshire pastrami sandwich. Open early, the Yorkshire breakfast dishes are some of the best in the area and their old school diner coffee will get you off to a strong start to your day! Lunch is always packed at Yorkshire so be sure to get there early, however Yorkshire also offers delivery to your home or place of business. $10.
  • Zucca, 801 S. Figueroa St (at Eighth Ave), +1-213-614-7800. Joachim Splichal (of Patina) and chef Giancarlo Gottardo strike the right chord with their sleek, alluring bistro featuring classic Italian fare. The pastas and fresh fish are wonderful - one entrée representing every major region in Italy. Between the cuisine and pleasing milieu, it's quite a lovely dining experience.

Splurge

  • Cafe Pinot, (Central Library Courtyard), [60]. A romantic French/Italian restaurant and a unique setting as part of the central library's front yard.
  • Ciao Trattoria, 815 W. Seventh St (near Figueroa), [61]. Harry Hagani's homage to fantastic Italian food is a cozy and elegant restaurant popular at lunchtime with the busy executive crowd.
  • Cicada, 617 S. Olive St (at 7th St), +1-213-488-9488. M-Fr 5:30PM-9PM. Situated in the beautiful Arts Deco Oviatt Building, Cicada deftly blends elegance of design and superior Italian fare. A chic bar is upstairs, complete with marble dance floor. A perfect place for special occasions, a fine meal before the theatre or just any excuse to be dazzled, both by the atmosphere and the cooking.
  • Nick and Stef's, 330 South Hope St, [62]. Fantastic steak house, run by the Patina restaurant empire. If you like beef, this is some of the best in town, with a glass-enclosed aging room where you can view the meat as it ages. Try the dry-aged Ribeye, it will make your head spin. They also have 12 kinds of potatoes on the menu. Not sure why, but they're all good. In the Wells Fargo Center, across from MOCA.
  • Pacific Dining Car, 1310 West 6th St, [63]. Don't be surprised if you run into a city politician or other public figuers in this LA landmark that is located partly inside a railway train car, and has been open since 1921. Ask for the breakfast menu any time, day or night, for a more affordable and quite delicious menu.
  • The Palm, (across from the Staples Center), [64]. The Palm is a casual white tablecloth restaurant with a mix of Italian, seafood and great steaks. Check out the collection of caricatures on the walls too.
  • Traxx, (Union Station). Fancy-Schmansy restaurant in Union Station. Good food, pricey but the ambiance of Union Station makes it worth a splurge.
  • Water Grill, (the Old Bank District), [65]. The best seafood and overall service period. Perhaps a bit pricey, but elegant and wonderful.

Drink

Cafés

  • Demitasse (Little Tokyo), 135 S. San Pedro Street (On the corner of 2nd & San Pedro), [66]. 7am-10pm weekdays; 8am-10pm weekends. Demitasse serves up coffee, tea & pastries in what looks like a tidy inventor's laboratory. Friendly staff, nice patio. Free wifi! $4-$6.
  • The Parish (Fashion District), 840 S. Spring Street (at Spring & 9th), 213 225 2400, [67]. opens at 8am. Pastries, coffee and tea. Relax in the cafe downstairs, or get a more substantial (aaand more substantially expensive) meal/drinks upstairs. Free wifi. $4-$10.
  • Tom & Tom's (Little Tokyo), 333 S Alameda St, Ste 108 (entrance on 4th at Alameda, in the Little Tokyo Shopping Center). 7am-2am. This place seems to have been built for the kind of customer who brings a laptop or book and stays all day. There are plenty of tables and even some glass-walled booths to have meetings in. Tons of power outlets. Free wifi. (be careful getting here - it's right on the edge of Skid Row.) $2-$6.

Alcohol

  • Broadway Bar, [68]. Dark, popular spot featuring a bar in-the-round and a second floor smoking balcony.
  • Ciudad, [69]. Great mojitos and live jazz music on certain nights.
  • Club Mayan, [70]. Best singles spot downtown! Dress code is enforced. Be sure to check out the annual Lucha Vavoom (lucha libre and burlesque).
  • Elevate Lounge @ Penthouse, 811 Wilshire Blvd, +1-213-623-7100, [71]. Excellent views of the city.
  • Gallery Bar, (inside the Millennium Biltmore Hotel). Upscale cocktail lounge. House drink is the Black Dahlia cocktail, named for the famed victim of the notorious murder, who was last seen wandering through the hotel.
  • Golden Gopher. Ms. PacMan + Jukebox + Classiness. Also sells alcohol to-go.
  • Grand Avenue Sports Bar, (inside Millennium Biltmore Hotel), [72]. Downtown's best sports bar happens to be located inside its most glamorous hotel. But don't shy away expecting a stuffy joint filled with tuxedo wearing guests from the next door ball, you can relax here in your jeans and enjoy the multiple big screen TV's tuned to your favorite game.
  • La Cita. Curious mix of Latinos and hipsters.
  • Library Bar, 630 W. 6th Street, +1 213 488-1931. An upscale pub style bar with a floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall library that houses a wide range of literary classics, while playing great music from Jim Hendrix to The Who. Knowledgeable bartenders offer an extensive beer selection and cocktails that are both classic and innovative.
  • The Rooftop Bar @ The Standard, 550 S. Flower St (at Sixth), [73]. Open daily 12:00PM until 1:30 AM. This unique bar offers a hipster hangout with excellent views of the city from thirteen stories up. Wear warm clothes during cold weather, and be prepared for drink prices in the $10+ range for mixed drinks. Don't forget to try the waterbeds or even jump in their pool for a swim.
  • Seven Grand. Popular whiskey bar owned by the owner of the Golden Gopher and Broadway Bar.
  • The Varnish, 118 E 6th St (inside Cole's). 7pm-2am. Varnish is a restored speakeasy with old-timey music and drinks. Walk through the unmarked black door in the back of Cole's and there you are! mid to expensive.

Sleep

Downtown has a marvelous selection of excellent hotels that cater primarily to business travelers. That means that if you time your visit right (for example use weekends), you can get a great room at a very reasonable price.

Budget

  • The Vagabond Inn USC Hotel, 3101 South Figuera St, +1-213-746-1531, [74]. checkin: 2:00pm; checkout: 12:00pm. Vagabond Inn Los Angeles (USC) offers complimentary continental breakfast, heated swimming pool, pet friendly rooms, satellite TV, restaurant on premise, business friendly rooms, free WiFi, and other services. Prices start at $85/night.

Mid-range

  • Clarion, 1901 West Olympic Blvd, +1-213-385-7141, [75]. This hotel is conveniently located one mile from the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Staples Center.
  • Kyoto Grand Hotel & Gardens, 120 South Los Angeles St, +1-213-629-1200, [76]. A Japanese style hotel in Little Tokyo. Rooms starting at $110.
  • Marriott, 333 South Figueroa St, +1-213-617-1133, [77]. Across the street, has a small older theater in its basement where you can still see first-run movies for under $8.
  • Omni, 251 South Olive St (at California Plaza in Bunker Hill), +1-213-617-3300, [78]. The OJ jury was sequestered here. Convenient to MOCA, Disney Concert Hall, upscale Noe Restaurant and Bar is onsite.
  • Sheraton Hotel, 711 South Hope St, +1-866-716-8130, [79].
  • The Standard, 550 South Flower St, +1-213-892-8080, [80]. A very hip and trendy hotel with designer rooms and a bar and swimming pool on the roof. There is also a Hollywood location. Price starts at US$99/night.

Splurge

  • Figueroa Hotel, 939 South Figueroa St, +1-213-627-8971 (toll free: 1-800-421-9092), [81]. For those looking for something unusual, Figueroa Hotel provides Moroccan styled luxury. Mystic and beautiful, this is where Cirque Du Soleil hosted their premiere party of Varekai.
  • Hilton Checkers, 535 South Grand Ave (located adjacent to the Central Library and the Millennium Biltmore in the Financial District), +1-213-624-0000 (toll free: +1-800-HILTONS), [82]. AAA Four diamond, renovated 1920s luxury hotel. Weekend packages are offered.
  • Millennium Biltmore, 506 South Grand Ave, +1-213-624-1011, [83]. The grand-daddy of all downtown hotels, with its gorgeous lobby and fancy restaurants.
  • Miyako Hotel, 328 East 1st St, +1-213-617-2000, [84]. A downtown Japanese hotel offering classic comfort accommodations, meeting rooms, and a health spa with Shiatsu massage, close to attractions.
  • Westin Bonaventure, 404 South Figueroa St, +1-213-624-1000, [85]. Recognizable from various movies it has appeared in.

Stay safe

The area bounded by 3rd Street, 7th Street, Alameda Street and Main Street is often referred to as "Skid Row" or "the Nickel" and has one of the largest homeless populations in the United States. The Greyhound Station is located here, but the area is unsafe for pedestrians regardless of the time of day.

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