Los Angeles 2013 AAG Restaurant Guide
By: Dydia DeLyser, Michael Kohout, Laura Pulido, Steven Graves, Paul Greenstein, Glen Creason, Ricki Kline, and Rashida Purifoy.
Bäco Mercat $-$$
408 South Main
Iconic among newer restaurants; on what used to be skid row, now with valet parking. Signature flatbread sandwiches and upscale “liquor program.”
Bar Amá $-$$
408 South Main
Excellent upscaled, gentrified Tex Mex for the modern, free-range generation.
Bar and Kitchen $$
819 South Flower
Seasonal American food with a twist: tater tots with truffle oil; crafty full bar.
426 S. Main St., (213) 623-1973
Excellent Vietnamese lunch and dinner
Blue Cow Kitchen and Bar $-$$
350 South Grand
American food; good cocktails, sandwiches and burgers, vegie options
Border Grill $$
445 S. Figueroa, across from the Bonaventure
Happy hour bargains and nouvelle American Mexican
Bottega Louie $$$
700 S. Grand Ave., (213) 802-1470
Booming (both popular and loud), fine Italian food
Cabbage Patch $-$$
520 W. Sixth St., (213) 489-4489
Salad-and-sandwich-oriented lunch and dinner.
Café Pinot $$$
700 W. Fifth St., (213) 239-6500
Elegant lunch and dinner on the grounds of the beautiful Central Library
Los Angeles Central Library Café $
Flower at 5th street inside the library on the first floor
A cafeteria with chain places, but the public library, built in the 1920s and restored in the 1990s after two arson fires, is just so great that its worth going. Ask for directions to the old California Collection room with the murals. Check out the old catalog cards that line the elevator shafts.
525 S. Flower St., (213) 236-9577
Pan-Pacific, seafood-oriented. Ambience and good lunch and dinner
Olive at 6th Street
In the truly magnificent art deco Oviatt building, nice to look at even if you can’t afford to eat there. Fine Italian food.
Cielito Lindo $
23 Olvera Street, on the corner
Famous taquitos with a thin guacamole sauce. Satisfying.
Cole’s Pacific Electric Buffet $$-$$$
118 East Sixth Street
In business at this location since 1903, but with new upscale owners and menu. Famous French-dip sandwiches, now also with lamb.
Colori Kitchen $-$$
429 W. Eighth St., (213) 622-5950
Classic Italian, and affordable prices
The Counter $-$$
725 W. Seventh St., (213) 228-7800
Great burgers and outstanding side dishes
Daily Grill $$
612 S. Flower St., (213) 622-4500
American and quick
Drago Centro $$$
525 S. Flower St., (213) 228-8998
Swanky and ambience-rich fine Italian
El Cholo $$
1037 South Flower
Old style Tex-Mex and margaritas
El Parian Restaurant $
1528 West Pico Blvd.
Ahh, great burritos, but not for the meat-averse.
Engine Co. No. 28 $$
644 S. Figueroa St., (213) 624-6996
American comfort lunch and dinner at less comfortable prices. In an old fire house. Mom’s meatloaf might be better, but she probably doesn’t serve it with single malt.
Family Pastry $
715 North Spring, Chinatown
Funky little Dim Sum place with a counter. Bigger portions, better food and cheaper prices than Ocean Sea Food, offset by reluctantly spoken English and bright flourescent lighting; no roving carts.
Gill’s Indian Restaurant $$
838 South Grand
Good Indian food with an unusual name; in the Hotel Stillwell.
Grand Central Market $
317 S. Broadway, (213) 624-2378
Lots of stalls serving fresh meats, produce, juices and food of many persuasions. Old-time vegetarian, new-line Latin, and middle-period Chinese. If it isn’t here, go to an auto-parts store because you can’t eat it.
Homegirl Café $$
130 West Bruno Street, near Chinatown Metro Station
Innovative Mexican food in a café that supports Homeboy Industries, a Catholic effort to support previously gang-involved, formerly incarcerated youth.
Hop Li Seafood Restaurant $$
526 Alpine Street
Reasonably priced Chinese seafood in old Chinatown
609 S. Grand
“Urban farm cuisine”—with a name like Industriel, at least it’s not inorganic. Los Angeles hipster-inspired Provencal French food, locally sourced, of course.
418 East Second Street, in Honda Plaza
Best shabu-shabu in Los Angeles, long lines but worth the wait; pay high prices to cook your own dinner—and love it.
La Luz Del Día $
At the center of the Plaza on Olvera Street
The place to eat real Mexican food in downtown. Menu is limited (with a few vegetarian options)—you’ll find no margaritas or fajitas here. Fridays (only) the best chiles rellenos in the known universe. Every day their salty carnitas; thick, made-to-order soft corn tortillas; and savory refried beans are pure perfection.
505 South Flower (National Plaza Building); 250 South Grand (at the MOCA entrance)
Fast, healthy salads and sandwiches; seasonal ingredients, self-consciously inventive twists.
Los Angeles Police Academy Restaurant $
Academy Drive (off of Stadium Way) on the east side of Elysian Park, inside the Police Academy
Great setting: old buildings, sylvan atmosphere, good food, volleys of gunfire. Gift shop.
Maccheroni Republic $$
332 South Broadway
Ten kinds of home-made pasta can’t be wrong. BYOB makes it cheaper.
Mexicali Taco $
702 North Figueroa
Cheap, good Mex
Mendocino Farms $$
300 S. Grand Ave., (213) 620-1114
High-end “wine-country-inspired” “eco-artisan” sandwiches and soups; but it is fast.
514 W. 7th
Peruvian and good
Morton’s the Steakhouse $$$
735 S. Figueroa
Big steaks, big prices
New York Pizza $
518 W. 6th
Some say it’s the best pizza in downtown
Nick and Stef’s $$
330 S. Hope
Good steaks and happy hour; full bar
Nickel Diner $$
524 S. Main St., (213) 623-8301
Food Network darling for breakfast, lunch and diner. Famous for bacon donuts. Avoid the home fries.
Ocean Seafood $$
750 N. Hill St., (213) 687-3088
Huge restaurant in Chinatown with aquarium fish and carts full of dim sum
Original Pantry $$
877 South Figueroa
A classic of heavy comfort food. Since 1924; in its current location since 1952; always open, they don’t have a key. Famous for steak-and-eggs breakfast.
Pacific Dining Car $$$
1310 West Sixth Street
The world’s toniest railroad diner. Top-notch steak-and-potato dinners, nice atmosphere. They never close.
The Parish $$
840 South Spring Street
English-style pricey gastro pub; burgers are more affordable (is that English?)
Pete’s Café & Bar $$
400 S. Main St., (213) 617-1000
Good solid comfort food
Philippe The Original $
1001 N. Alameda St., (213) 628-3781
In business since the 1906 and in this location since the 1950s; originators of the French Dip Sandwish, a downtown institution.
Plum Tree Inn $$
913 N. Broadway, (213) 613-1819
Solid Chinese food in old Chinatown
Red Hill $$
1325 Echo Park Ave.
Named for Echo Park’s reputation as a communist enclave. Mediterranean and American food by a creative vegetarian chef. Vegan options.
1050 South Flower #102
Modern Latin cuisine drawn from three continents; yes, that means fancy.
Saffron Indian Cuisine $
505 S. Flower St., (213) 488-9754
Just lunch Indian.
Sam Woo BBQ $
727 North Broadway
Good Chinese place; live seafood. Better than its looks declare. Higher prices and a San Francisco location would guarantee everlasting fame.
Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen $
132 South Central
Some say it’s the best ramen in Little Tokyo.
Spring St. Smoke House $$
456 S. Spring
Real barbecue with all the fixin’s in Chinatown. Good draught beer selection.
Standard Coffee Shop $$
550 S. Flower
Trendy spot but food is pretty good
Starry Kitchen $$
127 East Ninth Street
Former underground restaurant open for dinner only, Pan-Asian experimental, in Tiara Café.
337 East First Street
Japanese family restaurant: home cooking, friendly service, bright lighting, open really late.
Sushi Gen $$$
422 E. Second St., (213) 617-0552
Big-rep sushi, hard to get in sometimes
Tigeorge’s Haitian Chicken $
307 Glendale Blvd.
Great Hatian chicken and seafood in a hole-in-the-wall store front on a peculiarly unattractive stretch of road. Where price and décor go hand in hand but food is fine.
In Union Station, 800 North Alameda
Eat in the great hall of Union Station, the last major building built in mission revival style (1939). Try to guess which movies you remember the place from (hint: everything). Nouvelle California cuisine
852 S. Broadway, (213) 413-8626
Great burgers and sides
Water Grill $$$
544 South Grand
Excellent seafood. Recently remodeled to accommodate downtown’s moneyed younger set. Some say it’s the best raw bar in town.
800 W. Seventh St., (213) 623-2288
Wood Spoon $$-$$$
107 W. Ninth St.
Brazilian food with award-winning hamburgers; beloved chicken pot pies; coconut water. All in one place.
800 E. Third St., (213) 687-4444
Beautiful sausages and terrific craft beer selection
Yang Chow $$
819 North Broadway
Old-Style Chinatown Chinese with Hollywood 8x10s on the wall and lines of non-Chinese
Yorkshire Grill $-$$
5th and Hope
Business person’s affordable lunch.
601 South Central
Upscale Mexican with vegetarian options in a slumming-it location. Good happy hour.
Bar and Kitchen
819 S Flower
Excellent cocktail program. Really, a cocktail program. It’s that kind of place. Bar is better than kitchen.
107 4th Street
Biltmore Hotel’s Gallery Bar and Cognac Room
5th and Grand
1920s elegance, utterly undiminished by time or the clientele (we know you’re not a silent-movie star).
Bona Vista Lounge
34th floor of Bonaventure Hotel
Bonaventure Beer Garden
404 S Figueroa
Nice patio and large space
830 South Broadway
714 West Olympic
Rum bar with a “carefully curated” selection of other spirits. Membership $20. Cigars.
613 South Grand Ave.
Irish pub in the basement of a modern office building.
403 West 12th Street
70 wines by the glass; all from California. With helpful servers as guides. Plus beer and cheese.
Down and Out
501 South Spring Street
Self-consciously divey bar trying so hard to be divey that they don’t have air conditioning
2nd and Main
Basement of the Higgins Building—the 1910s-era socialist headquarters. The Cavern Club West, accent on cavern. But don’t worry, it’s still upscale.
417 W. 8th Street
Less pretentious than most of the upscaled former dive bars downtown; still maintains its package store in front. A golden gopher at every table.
Ham and Kegs
Beer bar, in a place that is so hip it still says Ham and Eggs on the front.
Classic 1960s bar, in Hotel Stillwell
1960s bar not yet spoiled in a much older hotel building. Still funky.
Good bar food plus the drinks
100 W. 9th Street
Flatiron building with patio upstairs; expensive cocktails in nice setting; tapas and paninis
On 7th at Grand
Hunting-themed bar with good cocktail list.
626B South Spring Street
Loads of beers on tap; snacks too. Happy hour until 8 pm!
In Union Station, 800 North Alameda
Nice bar that looks like it’s been there forever (but it hasn’t: before cell phones it was the pay-phone room).
In the back room at Cole’s, 118 East 6th Street
“Classic craft cocktails”—some say they’re the city’s best—priced accordingly.