We might have a subway to Santa Monica now, and we’re the official home of 2028 Summer Olympics, but LA’s true success story is probably the rebirth of downtown. Not even 10 years ago, Downtown was a place you went to only for a Lakers game. Now, it’s one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city. From the Arts District to Little Tokyo to the Historic Core, there are fantastic restaurants all over DTLA. Our updated list has the 26 best.
Rossoblu is what we consider a big-deal restaurant, and that’s apparent from the first second you walk in the door. The massive industrial dining room is decorated like a rich person’s Roman loft, and the Italian food is fantastic across the board. You will spend some money here, but Rossoblu definitely feels like an occasion, so you should reserve it for one. Get the charcuterie, the pappardelle, and the grigliata, which is essentially a giant plate of sausage and belly-on pork chop. And, honestly, whatever else on the menu looks good - there isn’t a weak spot on it.
Located on a quiet stretch of northern Chinatown, this modern Korean restaurant (from the people behind NYC’s Momofuku) is a flat-out blockbuster. For a new spot, the service is already a well-oiled machine, and the food is different than anything else you can get in LA. Reservations are extremely difficult to come by, but once you get your chance, we recommend bringing as many people as you can. The best things on the menu (like the spicy pork shoulder) are Majordomo’s large plates, which feed 4-6 people.
A lunch-only pasta pop-up inside of a wine bar (that’s only open four days a week) sounds like something you don’t want to deal with. But your reward for having an “appointment” at lunch on a Friday (or a Tuesday or a Wednesday) is that you’ll get to eat some of the best pasta in the city. For right now, Cento can be found inside Mignon wine bar, but we’re hoping someday it’ll become a restaurant that’s open for dinner, so we can stop with the dentist appointments. In the meantime though, this is a great spot for a solo lunch, since the counter is small and the chef will become your friend in a matter of minutes.
“Complete package” is usually a phrase we reserve for the truly deserving, like Oprah or the guy at your favorite Thai restaurant who always remembers your delivery order. But we feel comfortable inducting The Mezzanine into that club too. The upstairs restaurant at The NoMad Hotel has had every element of their sh*t together from day one, with killer drinks, great service, and impressive, bistro-ish food. You might (rightly) balk at paying almost $100 for a whole roast chicken, but when it comes to your table, you’ll regret nothing.
Lasa used to be a pop-up in the Chinatown mall where you’ve spent too long waiting for Howlin’ Ray’s, but now it’s graduated to being a full restaurant, which we’re very happy about. While the space feels a little like your first apartment out of college when you realized you could paint the walls whatever color you wanted, there’s nothing amateur about Lasa. They serve delicious modern Filipino food, and the service is so friendly, you’ll wonder if maybe they’re trying to recruit you into their cult. That’s definitely not what’s going on, although we’d happily sign our lives over to eat their condensed milk ice cream every night.
If you only have one night in LA and ask us where to eat, chances are we’re going to tell you Bestia. The Arts District pioneer may have been open since 2012 (practically a lifetime in this part of town), but it’s just as busy as it was on day one. Meals at this Italian restaurant aren’t an in-and-out affair - odds are you’ll be at your table for a couple of hours, losing your mind as each dish hits the table. The pastas and pizzas are as good as it gets in this town, and if we could subsist solely on the chicken liver pate toast, we would.
This wine bar/French restaurant from the people behind Bar Covell is where you should take your next early-in-the-game date. And even if you’re past that stage, you should still come here. The space is dimly-lit and kind of New York-y, and the liberal use of pink lighting will make you feel like you’re inside a VSCO filter. The French food here is stellar - particularly the “bread and things” and the bavette steak - and you’ll get to try interesting wines. This place is everything you need for a low-key, romantic night.
Grand Central Market is an essential LA food experience. There’s a mix of old-school tenants who’ve been there for years (China Cafe and their wonton soup, carnitas at Tacos Tumbras A Tomas), new spots (the best falafel in town at Madcapra, Filipino rice bowls at Sari Sari Store), and a whole lot of good stuff in between (Sticky Rice’s panang curry, everything at Wexler’s). Do not enter in any state other than ravenous. There are going to be a lot of tourists, but don’t let that stop you.
Located in that part of downtown where the Historic Core becomes a bunch of government buildings, this modern Indian restaurant’s food is pretty different from most Indian spots around town. Think cheese-stuffed naan, spicy lamb burgers, and a chicken tikka poutine that’s absolutely worth driving for. The bright space is perfect for anything from a first date to a midweek dinner with friends in sweatshirts.
So Long, Hi serves really solid Thai classics in a downtown space that’s perfect for big groups. There’s an astroturf back patio with picnic benches, a pool table, and a ton of board games around the restaurant. It’s the kind of place you can drag your coworkers to after a long day at the office and lead them to quickly decide that you’re in charge of all future outings.
Downtown Los Angeles is home to plenty of special occasion restaurants and places you can pop into on your lunch break, but neighborhood hangouts? Not so much. Except for PYT, the vegetable-focused bistro in the Historic Core. This is a place where you can have a cocktail with carrot in it and a turnip baked in salt, but they will also provide you with a big piece of meat if that’s what you’re in need of. You can use this place for a quick solo meal at the bar, or for a laid-back date night.
Your boss made you go downtown for a Supply Chain Analytics conference today, and you just spent eight hours listening to people tell you about vendor data. You don’t want to talk to anyone else for the rest of the night. For all your solo dinner needs, there’s Shibumi. This Japanese restaurant serves kappo-style food (like fancier izakaya) that you don’t find in a lot of other places in LA - things like Japanese caviar, hemp greens, and the crispy monkfish that we only saw on the menu once, but still have daytime fantasies about.
The fried chicken onslaught in this city has reached manic levels, so let’s just make things easy - go right to Howlin’ Ray’s in Chinatown because it’s the best in the city. Are the hours a little weird? Yes. Will there be a long line? Possibly 3+ hours long. But once you take your first bite of that Nashville hot (and we mean REALLY hot) chicken, it’ll all make sense.
There’s more top-notch Mexican food in this city than anyone knows to do with. But one trip to Broken Spanish will confirm - this place is among the very best. This upscale restaurant a block from Staples is certainly not where you get rowdy over margaritas and burritos. You’re going to order diver scallop crudo and lamb neck tamale and chicharron and lots of really good wine. There are restaurants where throwing down feels good, and Broken Spanish is straight-up euphoric.
When we were all too busy losing our minds over Broken Spanish, the same exact people opened up a casual taqueria down the street, and it’s one of the best quick lunches in the city. Even as it goes full service at night, the relaxed feel stays the same.
In a part of town that loves eating pasta in converted factories, The Factory Kitchen is still one of our favorites. The place itself was among the first to open in the Arts District, and remains a slightly more casual option than some of the other bigger production operations in the neighborhood (read: Bestia). Come in for a quick drink with coworkers after a long day, or go for date night. Just make sure you get some prosciutto - it might be the best in LA.
Welcome to one of LA’s great sushi institutions. This Little Tokyo strip mall joint has lines down the block every day before it even opens, and everybody’s generally waiting for one thing - the sashimi platter. With soup, salad, and over nine massive cuts of premium fish, this $19 plate is one of the best deals in the city and so popular you have to sit in a specific area of the restaurant to get it.
Bäco Mercat would deserve a place on this list just for being the first in what we assume is Josef Centeno’s master plan to take over this particular corner of DTLA. The guy has four entries on this list, and that’s not even all the spots he owns. But Bäco is a great restaurant on its own, serving small plates and their signature taco-sandwich hybrid, the bäco. Just as good for a weekday lunch as it is for a Saturday dinner date, Bäco has become our downtown old reliable.
Rice Bar is a place you could walk past a thousand times and never once think to go in - but that would be a massive mistake. This dime-sized, order-at-the-register joint in the heart of downtown serves the kind of Filipino comfort food you never knew you needed so badly. Think rice bowls topped with sweet and spicy sausage, pickled vegetables, and fried eggs. It’s affordable, fast, and everything your midweek lunch hour could want.
Orsa & Winston is both serious and a little sexy, but the six-course tasting menu restaurant avoids the stuffiness that usually comes to mind when you think of set menu places. The dining room is pretty minimal, but somehow warm and inviting, making the whole experience feel like the best dinner party you’ve ever been to. They’ve also recently added a casual Japanese-ish lunch that’s worth a look for the chicken katsu sandwich alone.
Bar Àma is definitely one of those places you heard a lot more about a few years ago, but we’re here to tell you - it remains one of downtown’s best. This is the fun, casual spot the area desperately needs. Oh, and it’s still serving some of the best Tex-Mex food in town. You really can’t go wrong, but if you don’t order the queso and (off-menu) puffy tacos, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Redbird is like that annoyingly perfect girl in high school you were very jealous of. Located in a totally remodeled old church, the restaurant is both huge and gorgeous, especially that cathedral-ceiling main dining room. But Redbird doesn’t just rely on her looks - the food here is consistently good and often great.
Philippe’s is one of those rare tourist traps that’s actually worth every second. Known most famously as (maybe) the originator of the French dip sandwich, this 110-year-old Chinatown deli is a straight-up LA institution, and a must-stop for anybody making their way around downtown. The double-dip beef sandwich is the obvious move, but don’t forget to grab some macaroni salad either. Just go easy with the at-table mustard - its horseradish levels aren’t for the faint of heart.
One of the newer players in the blood sport that is Los Angeles sushi, Q is more than up to the challenge. This omakase-only spot flies in the bulk of their fish from Japan, and the restaurant feels like it might have been imported in one piece as well. It’s definitely pricey, but the fish varieties aren’t what you normally see, and the attention to detail is second to none. When you’ve got the money to spend, Q is a stellar way to do it.
71Above is a game changer, in that it’s a place you can go for a fancy work dinner that you’ll actually enjoy. It encompasses the entirety of the 71st floor of the US Bank building, giving those clients a view they’d only get while flying out of LAX. Dinner is a three-course prix-fixe situation that is just a tiny bit adventurous, for the group of accountants you’re schmoozing.
In DTLA years, Wood Spoon is ancient. This tiny Brazilian-inspired place opened in 2006, and more than a decade later, it’s still great. With a casual, romantic feel, sneaky good sangria, and an affordable menu, Wood Spoon is the under-the-radar date night spot of your dreams. Get the pot pie.