Where To Eat & Drink In The Arts District
Restaurants and bars to check out first in the Arts District Downtown.
Aside from that one time Obama drove through Brentwood on his way to lunch at Canter’s in 2014, no LA neighborhood has received more attention over the last decade than the Arts District. And for good reason. The sprawling LA river-adjacent neighborhood was once full of empty warehouses, food processing centers, and actual artists. Nowadays, it’s home to some of the city’s best restaurants, a palpable nightlife situation, and some actual art. It’s one of the most rapidly-changing neighborhoods in the city, so here’s the guide to make sure you’re eating and drinking at all the right places.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
With a sweeping indoor and outdoor space, Damian’s dining room looks like two Pinterest boards had a baby together. There are industrial concrete slabs that double as benches, large wooden tables to sit at, and so many plants you might wonder if you’ve wandered into a botanical garden. Dinner at this upscale Mexican restaurant feels like a dream, one where you’ll eat rockfish ceviche swimming in olive oil and gruyere-stuffed quesadillas, or drink a kimchi-infused martini. And although you may recognize Damian’s famous siblings (ex. Pujol, Cosme, etc.), where it shines isn’t IN comparison to them—it’s unique to LA, perfect for special occasions, fancy date nights, or whenever you want to eat gorgeous guacamole by the pound.
There’s a lot happening at this Korean deli in the Arts District, which is why we recommend grabbing a table and a round of drinks first to get your bearings, and then heading back to the deli counter. This is where you’ll order everything (whether it be from the deli case or the kitchen) and trays fill up fast. From spicy kimchi pozole and chilled acorn noodles in shirodashi vinaigrette, to warm, doughy potato bread, the food at Yangban is exceptional and unlike anything you can really find in LA right now. They also open at 11:30am, making it a great solo lunch option if you’re in the neighborhood.
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photo credit: Andrea D'Agosto
LA Cha Cha Chá
This Mexican rooftop bar does something Under The Silver Lake could never do—makes Los Angeles look and feel like a million bucks. Maybe it’s the altitude, or perhaps it’s the red pepper mezcal negroni we insist on always having in our hands, but Cha Cha Cha is the kind of place that reminds you why you still live in this city. Swing by with a few friends for some mezcal cocktails and tuna tostadas, hit a romantic date night out of the park, or convince an out-of-town friend to move to LA.
De La Nonna
The pizzas at De La Nonna are so good, it feels scientific. Half-focaccia, half-Italian pie, the crust is light, airy, and sprinkled in flaky sea salt. Toppings are never overdone, like with the white pie, a fantastic blend of roasted fennel, mozzarella, and dabs of pesto. Their market pie is quite good too, which comes with a super-herbaceous cream sauce and crispy parmesan. Grab a few slices, split a bottle of wine, and snap a few pictures in their funky, maximalist dining room. Maybe you’ll lie down on their red checkered floor and have a picnic. Who knows?
Seeing art can be intimidating. You’re typically “welcomed” by a stone-faced gallerist wearing octagonal glasses or college students who will describe a painting with words you have never heard of before. The good news is, if you’re at Hauser & Wirth, you’re 100 feet away from Manuela—a restaurant that, despite being inside an art gallery, isn’t intimidating or stuffy. It’s just a cool place to hang out, whether art is part of your agenda or not. Most dishes are Southern and involve lots of vegetables. We like to stick with small plates, like sweet Kusshi oysters, trout tartare, and fluffy cream biscuits served with a small mountain of aged country ham that’ll make you consider selling your car to open a farm.
photo credit: Afuri Ramen
If you’re someone who, in this day and age, still loves a hot bowl of ramen (for the record, we do too), head to Afuri. The specialty at this Tokyo-based chain is their yuzu shio broth—a light, acidic variety that’s unlike anything else in the city. It’s made from a combination of chicken, seafood, vegetables, and seaweed, which provides a bright umami flavor that hits the spot no matter what temperature it is outside. Plus, with a full beer and cocktail menu, Afuri is a great casual group option, especially before a night out.
It’s no secret that most of the good restaurants in the Arts District are upscale destination spots that require long-standing reservations and heavy wallets to get in the door. Everson Royce Bar stands in direct contrast and that’s exactly what makes it so special. The casual bar/restaurant is a true neighborhood place with one of our favorite big group patios in LA, excellent cocktails, a never-ending wine list, and bar food that you drive across the city for. Order the burger and the biscuits.
If you don’t live near the Arts District, Bavel is a good reason for you to come—if you book a reservation in advance. Ever since this massive, vine-covered Mediterranean restaurant opened in 2018, it’s been nearly impossible to get in the door. Once you try the food, you’ll understand. Between the duck ’nduja hummus, oyster mushroom kebabs, and lamb neck shawarma, Bavel’s menu is filled with delicious food that’s comforting yet unlike anything else you’ll find in other restaurants in town.
Bestia opened in 2012 and has been a supreme being of Los Angeles ever since. This Italian spot was one of the first sceney destinations to move into the Arts District, and now it has established itself as the seminal restaurant of the last decade. They serve fantastic pizza, perfectly-made pasta, and gigantic plates of charcuterie in a massive industrial warehouse that feels just as exciting as it did a decade ago.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
If you’re anything like us, you spent many years tracking the Guerrilla Taco truck location and deciding whether or not you have enough time to make it there on your lunch break. Those days are over now that they’ve landed in a permanent brick and mortar in the AD. There are some familiar characters on the menu (sweet potato tacos, excellent seafood tostadas), but plenty of new options too (quesadillas, even more taco options, booze). It’s a quick and casual, order-at-the-counter operation, and they won’t mind if you hang out for a while until you feel ready to order a second round.
photo credit: Philip Guerette
Located on the south end of the neighborhood, this late-night spot (open until midnight on the weekends) is cranking out big, by-the-slice pizza that always hits the spot after a long night of drinking. The margherita, soppressata, and mushroom are phenomenal, but the white pizza is always our first choice here. Looking to start your week off right? They do a mac & cheese pizza (on Sundays only).
The second location of Culver City’s great taco spot Loqui is a lot like the original: You order at the counter, there’s a nice little patio, and they’ve got utterly fantastic flour tortillas, made in-house. They’re soft and frisbee-like, the ideal vehicle for scooping up mounds of rice, guacamole, pinto beans, and chicken. When you’re in the Arts District and want something affordable—but also want to sit down and maybe have a beer while you eat—Loqui is a great option. Just make sure to get a pack of tortillas to go.
Flying Embers Social Club and Brewery
While there are beers at this Arts District taproom, Flying Embers specializes in a different type of brew. Hard kombuchas, elderflower seltzers, white wine spritzers, and keto-friendly teas made with an apoptogenic root blend—you’ll find it all at the Ojai brewery’s Arts District taproom, along with plant-based snacks and bánh mì sandwiches packed with brisket that’s been smoked for 18 hours. There’s a huge, barn-like drinking space that looks ripped from your most charming countryside daydream, with soaring wooden beams, lots of room to sit, and cucumber juniper kombucha on tap.
It’s time to add Boomtown to your rotation. Located on the northern edge of the Arts District, this rustic taproom and brewery has a massive space filled with high-tops, brown leather couches, billiards, shuffleboard, a great patio, and a private event space. There are trivia nights on Tuesdays, live comedy on Mondays, and every two months, they work with a different artist to design their Hazy IPA can label. If you couldn’t get into Bestia, or just visited Stiizy’s Downtown LA storefront and are in desperate need of a pilsner and a burger, head to Boomtown.
Angel City Brewery
Angel City Brewery isn’t brewing the best beer in the neighborhood, but it definitely has the best space. Its massive taproom and attached brewery in the heart of the Arts District is spectacular, with tons of communal tables, plenty of cornhole, and a front patio where you’ll always find a delicious food truck. Their hours go late into the night, but Angel City will always be one of our favorite day drinking spots in town. Just get there early, weekend lines here are no joke.
Mumford Brewing is permanently closed
The Arts District has more craft breweries than any other neighborhood in the city. The only problem is that most are terrible—except Mumford. If you’re ideal Saturday means drinking excellent craft beer in a calm, casual setting where no one’s wearing stilettos or screaming about how the music “needs to be more fun!”, this tiny brewery is your spot. They have plenty of board games to occupy your time as you make your way through their daily beer menu. If you get hungry, you can order in anything you want from the outer world.
Local dives aren’t exactly falling from the sky in this neighborhood, except for Tony’s. The hole-in-the-wall spot is housed in an old roadside saloon on the south end of the neighborhood and has great cocktails, a laidback crowd, and a spacious back patio filled with darts and a ping pong table. When you get hungry, just hop next door for a slice at Pizzanista.