LAReview

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

Level 8 image
7.0

Level 8

South American

Downtown LA

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsDrinking Good Cocktails
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Level 8, as a concept, is unhinged. This nightlife megaworld at the Moxy DTLA comes from the people behind aggressively-themed bars like La Descarga, Harvard & Stone, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. To get in, you're escorted down a hallway of pulsing psychedelic lights and ride a mirrored elevator up to the eighth floor. That’s where you’ll find a twisting path leading to glittery rooftop bars, speakeasy-esque restaurants, and stage performances that are mostly camp and occasional very cool. But if you're in the mood to get weird with your friends, Level 8 is custom-built for a big night out unlike anything else downtown. 

Much like Costco or a Walmart Supercenter, Level 8 is a one-stop shop that’s spectacular in scale and somewhat stressful to navigate. This chaotic compound houses five restaurants, two cocktail bars, and a nightclub, which means having a tight game plan is wise. First, do a quick bar crawl and catch a surprise performance before dinner. Depending on the night you might see a twirling trapeze artist suspended in midair, a charming magician doing sleight-of-hand tricks, a famous harpist strumming the world’s longest stringed instrument, or dapper jazz band performing on a rotating bookcase.

Level 8 image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Level 8 image

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

Level 8 image

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

Level 8 image

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

Level 8 image

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

Level 8 image
Level 8 image
Level 8 image
Level 8 image
Level 8 image

Despite the Vegas-esque setting, Level 8’s restaurants are surprisingly mild-mannered. Some of them sit half-empty most of the time, some of them serve forgettable food to middle-aged men in suits while basting trance music, but there are two in particular that’d we prioritize for a fun and satisfying meal: the jungle-themed South American steakhouse Qué Bárbaro and the shiny shabu shabu palace Lucky Mizu. Both feel like tethers to Hollywood restaurants—like Ka’teen and Grandmaster Recorders—only smaller with tighter menus. 

As for the bars, you’ll want to take in the sunset views at Golden Hour before a late-night magic show at Mr. Wanderlust. There’s usually a few big groups celebrating birthdays inside of both, so expect crowds to get a little rowdy after 9pm.

Food Rundown

Level 8 image

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

Que Barbaro

This South American steakhouse is usually packed, and for good reason: It's a dark, sexy dinner spot serving the best food at Level 8. Expect a small jungle hanging from the ceiling, an open grill shooting embers into the air, and a lot of meat on every table. Order some mint mojitos and platters of pollo a la brasa, prime beef tenderloin, and bone-in short rib. When dinner winds down, head outside to Golden Hour.
Level 8 image

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

Golden Hour

If you only visit one bar, it should be for a drink at this poolside terrace. Sure, it’ll cost you $20 for a gin & tonic, but that’s the price you pay for the built-in-flair. There’s a glowing centerpiece in the shape of a carousel, rows of shaded cabanas with city views, and a DJ booth hidden in the corner. It’s stunning during the day, and somehow remains relaxed even after the sun goes down and the Louboutin-wearing crowd shows up.
Level 8 image

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

Mr. Wanderlust

We’ve had inconsistent experiences at this piano bar and jazz lounge hidden behind a revolving bookcase, but if you want to catch Level 8 at its most surprising (and chaotic), you’ll want to check it out. At random moments throughout the night, a crew of burlesque dancers might take center stage, a man could croon on a spinning piano, and a magician might approach your table. The whole thing is fun in a disorienting way.
Level 8 image

photo credit: Andrea D'Agosto

Lucky Mizu

If you’re planning a date night at Level 8, consider this shabu shabu speakeasy where you can stir thinly-sliced wagyu ribeye into a bubbling pot on your table and then dip it in ponzu. You'll enter Lucky Mizu through a hidden door in Mr. Wanderlust that feels pointless. But once you're inside things get a bit more fun. There's a ten-foot wall full of maneki-neko cats, a custom-made harpsichord that spans from wall to wall, and spacious booth tables surrounding a stunning bar. So yes, Lucky Mizu might be a rather absurd production, but it's also fun and the hot pot is good.
Level 8 image

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

Sinners y Santos

This cathedral-inspired nightclub feels like a Catholic school prom gone haywire. We’re not exactly sure why there are dancing bottle girls, wrestling matches, and DJ sets all happening in one room. But the result is surprisingly boring. Skip it, unless you just want to pretend like you’re living your best life for that ex who still watches your stories.
Level 8 image

photo credit: Andrea D'Agosto

Mother Of Pearl

At the comparatively understated Mother Of Pearl, you can throw back a dozen oysters between sips of champagne. This is one concept we've yet to visit, but you can expect a short menu of seafood pastas, ceviches, and shellfish towers at this rooftop raw bar. The entrance is right in front of Sinners y Santos, but be aware that Mother Of Pearl's hours are more limited: Thursday-Saturday, 6-9pm.
Level 8 image

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

The Brown Sheep

This late-night food truck is the only one in the city with a million-dollar perch overlooking the Crypto Arena. But unfortunately, the steak tacos, jerk quesadillas, and mushroom cheesesteaks here are pretty much an afterthought. But if you end up going to Sinners y Santos, The Brown Sheep is right next door and works for a quick bite and some fresh air at 1am.
Level 8 image

photo credit: Michael Kleinberg

Maison Kasai

A Benihana dupe with even less flavor, this teppanyaki spot is disappointing overall. Yes, the chef’s performance at your communal table will involve all the classic spatula-flipping tricks and mini infernos. But the pricey steaks will come out underseasoned along with a few tiny sides that taste like salty afterthoughts. Don’t waste $100+ per person on dinner here.

Included In

FOOD RUNDOWN

Suggested Reading

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Qué Bárbaro is a South American steakhouse at the Level 8 development in DTLA and a great spot for an over-the-top group dinner.

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