The Downtown LA Lunch Guide

Your best options for a midday meal in DTLA.
Rémy Martin

photo credit: Jakob Layman

As much as we like to imagine ourselves hanging out on some quaint streetside patio enjoying a latte and a sandwich, lunch in Downtown LA is more often than not a matter of necessity. Either you work in one of those tall buildings, you got called for jury duty, or you're looking for something comforting after getting lost in that weird Target on Figueroa. The good news is that DTLA has great lunch options for any occasion, as long as you know where to look. We've got you.


photo credit: Nikko Duren


Downtown LA

$$$$Perfect For:LunchGetting Work Done
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A block away from attractions like Grand Central Market and Angel’s Flight sits DTLA Cheese Superette, a tiny cafe and grocery store with a peaceful dining room that feels worlds away from the tourist chaos. The charcoal-colored space on Broadway and 4th has a couple of dreamy window tables and a washed-out indie playlist, making it a great option for posting up during the day and getting work done. There’s a deli counter lined with imported cheeses and salty cold cuts to bring home for a BYO charcuterie board, but we suggest prioritizing the lunch counter in the back. The smallish menu features buttery toasted sandwiches (the BLT with melted gouda is a standout), classic soups, and giant salads. Stop by when you need some reprieve and a bit of dairy in your day.

Fabby’s Sandwicherie is a torta counter serving the most luxurious sandwiches in the neighborhood, made with chewy, Jalisco-style birote rolls. Pressed on a griddle until toasty, these sandwiches are stuffed with things that wouldn’t be out of place at a French bistro. The beef bourguignon torta is our favorite, with wine-braised short rib, pommes puree, zippy carrot and onion escabeche, and melted oaxacan cheese that glues it all together. Fabby’s is more of a sit-down spot than a grab-and-go operation, so plan accordingly if you’re in you have a small time window.

Pane Bianco is a lunchtime-only sandwich and slice shop from the Pizzeria Bianco people. At lunch, Pizzeria Bianco offers just whole pies, so as great as its pizzas are, if you're looking for a solo lunch at Row DTLA (or a quick meal that can fit in your lunch hour), Pane Bianco is the better option. While we liked the mortadella sandwich we tried, the New York-style slices should be the priority here. Our current favorite is the green slice topped solely with a delicious spinach cheese sauce that tastes like a dip we’d eat too much of on Super Bowl Sunday.

If you're excited about the idea of eating ramen for lunch, but don't want a bowl of rich tonkotsu broth to lull you to sleep at 2pm, head to Afuri in the Arts District. Everything about a meal here is refreshing, from the windows pouring tons of natural light into the industrial space to the yuzu-infused shio ramen with enough acid to cut through the salty, fatty chicken stock. Said ramen is always our order, here. Its thin noodles spring back against your chopsticks, chashu melts away, and the entire bowl is light enough to leave room for some karaage or gingery gyoza.

Pine & Crane's DTLA location is the rare casual spot that makes you want to stick around for a long sit-down meal. Not only does the breezy, open-air restaurant have one of our favorite patios in LA, but they also serve excellent Taiwanese dishes. We especially love the bowls of steaming wonton soup with chewy housemade noodles, the beef rolls with salty-sweet hoisin sauce, and doughy pan-fried pork buns. You could hypothetically be in and out of Pine & Crane within an hour (most of the food arrives in a matter of minutes and costs less than $15), but we suggest coming for lunch with an ambiguous end time to properly enjoy the all-day menu and cocktails.

This tiny takeout window will remind you of the fast food joint you likely grew up on, except no cows were harmed in the making your lunchtime burger. Located inside a food court, Vegan Hooligans specializes in vegan remakes of fast food classics that rival their originals, like a stacked bacon cheeseburger with chipotle mayo, and a "crunchwrap" stuffed with ground soyrizo and "not-cho" cheese. Drop by the next time you need a fantastic plant-based lunch.

Bargain-hunting for great lunchtime sushi is not for the faint of heart (or the hangry). We'll make it easier for you: go to Sushi Gen. If you go for lunch and don't get the $23 sashimi platter, you're doing it wrong. Just arrive early—lines from well before opening.

Full disclosure: you won't casually stumble upon this Arts District taco window because it's concealed by a parking lot, foreboding gates, and dusty industrial lots. But when you do find Ditroit, you'll get a quick, standout lunch of high-end (albeit pricey) taqueria staples. There are crispy "daily catch" fish flautas, cochinita pibil tacos that ooze with citrusy juice, and a palo santo-cucumber-yuzu agua fresca that you'll want to sip poolside.

Gumbo Boys is a walk-up window that serves every Cajun-Creole comfort food you can imagine. And while your first order should be the forearm-sized po'boys come bursting with fried shrimp and soft shell crab, it's nearly impossible to skip past the menu's other delicious fried things: baskets of hush puppies, okra, and pillowy beignets capped in mounds of powdered sugar. If you've got room, tack on an order of their andouille sausage gumbo—it's smoky, full of snappy sausage, and a lot spicier than you might think.

There's usually a line outside Little Tokyo udon specialist Marugame Monzo during the lunch rush, but once you try their thick, bouncy housemade noodles, you'll understand why. The famous dish here is the uni cream udon, made with just enough sea urchin to give it an ocean-y punch. The truth is you can't go wrong with any of the cream-based udon (the miso carbonara version tastes like a warm hug) or the cold udon with shiso and ume. Fill out your lunch with a side of tempura as you watch the kitchen cut and roll every massive noodle by hand behind the counter.

Located in the same Fashion District food court as Vegan Hooligans, this Thai takeout counter works well for a quick to-go curry. The menu is full of staples you've probably had before, like pad kee mao and gra pow, plus some you haven't (like yellow curry rigatoni). Either way, the food at Holy Basil features bright and bold flavors that make dishes here taste like you're eating them for the first time. If you're looking for a good place to start, get the tom yum soup with roasted chili jam, lemongrass, and galangal. If you're eating on-site, expect a minimalist set of outdoor tables and stools.

$$$$Perfect For:BrunchDining SoloLunch


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Rappahannock is an ideal lunch option because eating oysters in the middle of the day while the sun is out is our preferred state of human existence. It’s located at Row DTLA (a.k.a. the warehouses where the old American Apparel factories used to be), and sitting on the patio feels like you’re weekend-ing in a historic town on the East Coast. The oysters are flown in fresh every day from Virginia and they taste like it, but concentrate on their trout dip, lobster roll, and oyster po’boy as well.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Shiku in Grand Central Market is a Korean spot from the couple behind Baroo that serves a mix of recognizable comfort dishes, like kimchi pork belly and doenjang-marinated chicken, and creative banchan, like spicy kimchi corn or japchae made with seaweed. The best way to try a little of everything is to order their rice boxes that come with sides of the daily banchan. But don't overlook the Korean fried chicken or crispy mandu—you might need that extra snack at 3pm.

If you know you'll be eating solo lunch at your desk today, you better find something good to shove into your mouth. That's where Dune comes in. The tiny Mediterranean cafe in the Fashion District offers a few outdoor tables where you can eat some of LA's best falafel, but it also functions as a well-oiled takeout operation. Everything from the enormous falafel sandwiches to the hummus plates with lamb, flatbread, and marinated cabbage is excellent, but our go-to is the chermoula-drenched fried chicken shawarma sandwich. It's one of our favorites, even if some would quibble if it's a wrap rather than a sandwich.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

$$$$Perfect For:Dining SoloLunch

Broken Mouth is located in the middle of the chaotic Fashion District, but it’s the kind of calm, high-quality lunch spot this part of downtown could use. You’re coming here for fantastic Hawaiian and Filipino food: the garlic shrimp plate is simple, buttery goodness, the teri chicken sandwich is huge and juicy, and the bread pudding is worth saving room for. Plus, everything falls at or below the $15 mark. Broken Mouth offers sit-down service, but the place is quite small, so full team lunch outing this isn't—use it for takeout or a solo meal.

The parking situation near Sonoratown isn't great, but these legendary housemade flour tortillas are worth walking a few extra blocks. These buttery tortillas melt in your mouth, and the smoky carne asada tucked inside these tacos is tender with the right saltiness. The standard asada tacos always hit the spot, but our move is the caramelo, which is about double the size and comes topped with pinto beans, jack cheese, salsa roja, avocado, and diced cabbage.

This casual hand roll-only sushi concept has been around for a few years, but because of the Sugarfish name and its quality sushi, Kazunori is as popular as ever. Come any day of the week and you’ll find people waiting to eat the best-priced sushi Downtown. The service is quick and efficient, ensuring you’ll get back to the office in time for whatever meeting is on your calendar.

photo credit: Garrett Snyder

$$$$Perfect For:Lunch

Guzzu Bento-Ya is the dictionary definition of “under the radar.” This casual Japanese lunch spot is housed in what looks like an industrial building from the Eisenhower era, but inside you’ll find a chill cafe with movies projected on the walls. The menu revolves around double-decker bento boxes. On the first level, you’ll find rice, pickles, a cured egg yolk, and your choice of protein (we love the salt-cured, grilled mackerel or crispy pork katsu) and, on the second, a rotating variety of tasty little salads and roasted vegetables. Each of these gorgeous bentos costs around $20, but the fully loaded setup makes them feel like a deal.

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