Some people still like to say LA is a culture-less city. As a very first step in proving those people wrong, we can point them in the direction of this city’s museums. On any given day you can go see ancient sculptures at the Getty, famous modern art at the Broad, or things that will reappear in our nightmares at the Museum of Jurassic Technology. And then there’s LACMA, the museum that everyone ends up at most often.
LACMA isn’t just our most centrally-located museum - it’s also a fantastic one, whether you’re there to learn something about art or take some selfies with lampposts (or both). And before or after your art outing, you’re going to need sustenance. While the area directly around the museum is lacking in restaurants, if you’re willing to go a little farther, you’ll find places perfect for a casual brunch, a fancy dinner, or something in between. Here are our picks for where to eat on your Day of Culture.
You took your parents to the new exhibit and your mom has decided she just “doesn’t get that modern art stuff.” Something she definitely (probably) will like: incredible French-inspired food in a very pretty (and very old-looking) French-inspired courtyard. Republique will please pretty much anyone, but if you want to feel like you’re eating somewhere with a little bit of history and a lot of very good food, then this is the perfect spot.
A day at LACMA turned into a Miracle Mile museum free-for-all and now you’re across the street looking at random old cars inside the Petersen Automotive Museum and you’re starving. Good news, Drago Ristorante is right on the ground floor. The modern Italian restaurant has solid pizzas and pastas and a quiet, casual space that’s a much-needed escape from the screaming schoolchildren out in the lobby. The full bar helps with that too.
Before staring all day at art that you don’t quite understand, you need to put some brunch in your stomach. Skip the long lines at the bigger-name spots in the area and head to Commerson, the seafood-heavy restaurant on La Brea with a brunch you probably don’t already know about. Grab a seat on their front patio, get a little toasty on some bellinis, and order two of their bagel sandwiches. One for now, one for later.
You’re not going to leave LACMA and be able to wander into this incredibly popular Italian place for dinner without having made a reservation about a month in advance. But if your day won’t be complete without one of their pastas, try heading there for breakfast before you go look at art. They open at 8am every day, and far fewer people know this.
You and your friends decided to attend a talk on the history of experimental found video, but it was empty and you felt guilty about getting up and leaving. Now that you’ve learned more than you ever needed to know about how family barbecue footage is actually a metaphor for the stock market crash of 1929, you probably want to eat something unpretentious. Sycamore Kitchen is our go-to spot for a relaxed lunch in Mid City. They serve excellent salads and sandwiches, and the patio is a great place to recover.
You looked at a lot of old paintings of ships today, and now you’re in the mood for some fish. Son of A Gun is a small, nautical-themed seafood restaurant from the people behind Jon & Vinny’s (so, Jon and Vinny), and their lobster roll will satisfy any ocean-related cravings. There are all kinds of seafood on the menu, from raw bar offerings to something called shrimp toast (that you should definitely be eating), but their fried chicken sandwich needs to be on your table.
Your best friend from childhood is in town and wants to go to that salad place they saw Reese Witherspoon was at last week, but you know better. You’re taking them around the corner to Little Ethiopia for lunch at Messob. The casual spot has fantastic Ethiopian food (get the Super Messob Exclusive for a taste of all the best stuff on the menu) and an atmosphere that always feels on the brink of being a party.
Your day date is going great and neither of you want it to end. Head over to Marvin, the best last-minute date spot in LA. This neighborhood French restaurant is one of those places you walk into and wonder why you’re not here every single night. The menu is full of excellent finger food ideal for talking and eating, the wine list is stacked, and the whole place feels like your favorite college professor’s house.
Somehow a quiet day at the museum turned into everyone hopping onto your LACMA plan because they definitely didn’t have anything better to do. Now you have to figure out where to go to eat with your group of six afterwards. Make moves to Genwa, the big Korean BBQ spot at La Brea and Wilshire that, for no good reason, everybody forgets about. It’s more expensive than other Korean barbecue around town, but the quality is worth it.
You’ve gotten all the boomerangs you can out of the lamp post installation and now you’re hungry. Backyard Bowls’ acai bowls fall under the (broad) category of “wellness,” with the bonus being that they taste good too. We like the Island and Green Bowls.
Escuela is one of the most reliable restaurants around LACMA, with a simple, crowd pleasing menu of tacos, tostadas, and very good house made tortilla chips. Perhaps more importantly, they have a generous BYOB policy ($4 per person for whatever alcohol you show up with) in case you want to pick up some beers on your way over.
Normally we’d advise against being at The Grove for anything other than a Drew Barrymore book signing at Barnes & Noble. But 189 by Dominique Ansel is actually a good reason to go. The creator of the cronut has brought his first sit-down restaurant to Los Angeles and it’s surprisingly great. You could head here for a cronut before you hit the museum, or for a dinner that’s both experimental and approachable. On weekends, brunch is dim sum-style, where you can pick and choose dishes for the table to share.