Forget about Venice Beach, Hollywood, or Playa del Rey. Right now, Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) is the place to be.
Cutting-edge museums and art galleries, buzzy restaurants, and concept retail shops have transformed what was once one of L.A.'s most avoided districts into what is now among the most exciting neighborhoods in the country. Hop a cheap Alaska flight and follow our guide to a stylish few days in DTLA.
Museums and Shopping in Downtown L.A.
Peruse The Foundation of the Museum: MOCA's Collection at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, highlighting selected works collected over the museum's 40 year history.
(The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA)
La La Land has always been known as the master of the silver screen. But these days, it's an array of art forms that's making Los Angeles a destination for culture vultures.
There is perhaps nothing more emblematic of Downtown L.A.'s artful renaissance than The Broad (221 S. Grand Ave.), which opened its futuristic doors—designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with San Francisco–based Gensler—on Grand Avenue in 2015. The walls are hung and the galleries adorned with more than 2,000 rotating paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations by the most famous artists in the modern world: You'll recognize pieces by Andy Warhol, Ellswoth Kelly, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons; not to mention a remarkable 129 pieces by Cindy Sherman and L.A.'s only in-depth Jean-Michel Basquiat gallery. This fall, pay a visit to special exhibition, Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again, to see 230 photographs and eight videos taken by the artist during her 30 year career, plus the global debut of her newest work, Land of Dreams. // In downtown's Little Tokyo, a former police car warehouse is home to the The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (152 N. Central Ave.), redesigned by Frank Gehry to highlight experimental exhibitions. To celebrate 40 years since MOCA's 1979 founding, check out The Foundation of the Museum: MOCA's Collection, an exhibition featuring a diverse selection of works collected by the museum over the years. // Founded in 1984 as the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the rebranded Institute of Contemporary Art (1771 E. 7th St.) opened its downtown doors in 2017. The 7,500 square-foot space typically hosts two concurrent exhibitions of international artists. Stop by ICA LA beginning on September 29 to check out No Wrong Holes: Thirty Years of Nayland Blake, featuring multidisciplinary works addressing topics including racial and gender representation, queer liberation, and power by visual and performance artist Nayland Blake, and Sadie Barnette: The New Eagle Creek Saloon, a reimagined version of the first black-owned gay bar in San Francisco, opened by Black Panther Party member—and the Barnette's father—Rodney Barnette.
Row DTLA (777 S. Alameda St.) is the hottest (and largest) new development around, weaving together retail, restaurants, creative office spaces and events. Style world tenants rubbing elbows at Row include the East Bay's own Erica Tanov (#120); A+R (#100), a 6,800 square-foot modern furnishings store and events space with a library, kitchen and patio; Scent Bar (#150), specializing in niche perfumes from around the world; Poketo Project Space (#174), a concept space featuring aesthetically pleasing home goods and rotating pop-ups; and Galerie.LA (#192), a curated shop stocking equally stylish and sustainable brands. Plus, check out San Francsco's own Tartine Manufactory (#160) for freshly baked bread—and the famous morning buns of course—and Dandelion Chocolate (#120) to taste some two-ingredient gourmet chocolate bars. // Stop by designer Sean Knibb and wife Stella Shirinda's nearby downtown outpost of Flowerboy Project (416 W. 8th St.), the hybrid flower shop and retail space that blossomed in Venice. Order a custom floral arrangement while browsing jewelry, design objects and candles named after L.A. districts. // Venture over to Alchemy Works (826 E. 3rd St.), a stylish event space meets retail shop stocking clothing brands including Freda Salvador, Apiece Apart, Mikoh, and Clare V., plus vintage home goods and decor from brands including Vitruvi and Rrres. In addition to housing rotating, decked-out shop cars—think green 1991Nissan Figaro—the shop also boasts a mini Warby Parker shop and an Apolis pop-up shop while the brand's nearby retail space (806 E. 3rd St.) undergoes renovations.
Eat + Drink in DTLA
Delve into a heaping plate of pasta at Rossoblu.
Courtesy of @rossoblula
DTLA's Italian food game is strong. But beware: So are its drinks.
Fuel your shopping and museum spree with endless eats at DTLA's hip eateries.
Inside the Ace Hotel, from the chefs behind Il Pesce Cucina at Eataly L.A., you'll find Best Girl (927 S. Broadway), dressed in Art Deco-style trappings and wall murals. Seafood-based dishes and pasta are on order: Go for the yellowtail tartare, bucatini with clams, or Portuguese fishermans stew—or make a Sunday evening reservation this September for a three course family style supper for $35 a person. // Rossoblu (1124 San Julian St.) is an homage to chef Steve Samson's family heritage in Bolognese cooking. Each recipe here is a journey through the culinary traditions of the Emilia Romagna region. Start with the Swiss chard erbazzone tartlet before moving on to a pasta, including a maltagliati with seasonal mushrooms and sage or the orecchiette with lamb ragu, pea tendrils, and pecorino. The venue is also an art lover's go-to with a mural wall by the two-man artist collective Cyrcle. // / Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis's popular spot, Bestia (2121 7th Place), serves multi-regional Italian dishes made from local and organic ingredients. Enjoy fresh pastas, thin crust pizzas, meat-centric entrees, and more inside the industrial chic setting. // Make a reservation at the husband-and-wife team's second restaurant, Bavel (500 Mateo St.), opened in April 2018, for similar hip vibes minus the pasta and pizza. Go with a group and share endless Mediterranean plates—plus plenty of pita—including hummus, roasted cauliflower, lamb flatbread, and braised wagyu beef cheek tagine. // For upscale Mexican eats in a trendy space—think roasted chicken with mole verde, lamb neck tamales, and barbacoa with chipotle and bacon—bustling Broken Spanish (1050 S. Flower St.) is a must. // Newly opened Tacos 1986 (609 S. Spring St.) will cure all your late night and on the go taco, guac, and quesadilla cravings. This small, no frills spot is the first brick and mortar location of the widely acclaimed taco stand of the same name that first took LA by storm last November.
BARS + LOUNGES
Get your Google map ready: DTLA's hottest spots for drinks are practically hidden.
Perennial favorite The Edison (108 W. 2nd St.) is still worth a visit. Housed in an old power plant in a sort-of-remote alley, the cool subterranean nightclub has an industrial-chic vibe and serves artisanal drinks. Tip your bartender for a Splendor in the Glass (mezcal, lemongrass, lime, jalapeno and ginger) or a Dead Man's Hand (High West double rye, George Dickel whiskey, vanilla, coffee bitters, orange zest and burn orange Scotch). Don't miss the burlesque show on Thursdays. // Sip craft cocktails—and munch on elevated bar bites—from Here & Now's (300 S. Santa Fe Ave.) stately brown leather booths. Opened last fall and situated inside a stunning vintage train station inspired setting, Here & Now is the product of a collab between former occupant Westwood's owner, Sarah Meade, and Va'La Hospitality. // The big tree growing up through the center of the main room defines The Pacific Seas at Clifton's (648 S. Broadway), where the stage is set for concerts and dance performances. Art Deco and South Pacific vibes (there's a secret tiki bar!) work together for a vintage-style lounge that's a landmark for the neighborhood. // SF's beloved Mikkeller (330 W. Olympic Blvd.) has been serving international craft beers to Angelenos since January last year. Go get a taste of home (or pretty much anyplace else) with a mighty list of brews ranging from crisp to spicy to funky to dark. // Opened in early 2017 in a basement of an old building on Broadway, Birds and Bees (207 S. Broadway) has made a name for itself among interior design lovers looking toast in style. The rather large venue has 120 seats: Pull up a stool at the bar or sink into an armchair in the lounge.
Best Hotels in Downtown L.A.
(Courtesy of @acedtla)
Style mavens, look no further than these three favorites when you need a place to crash.
Located in the Gothic-style edifice formerly home to United Artists, the Ace Hotel (929 S. Broadway) has the artsy atmosphere and hipster attitude we've come to expect from this edgy hotel brand. Opened in January 2014 after a complete renovation of the building, the Ace's rooms lure traveling design aficionados for themed decor and the rooftop pool and lounge, not to mention live acts in the magnificent 1920s theater. // The Standard, inside the 1950s Standard Oil building (550 S. Flower St.), is well-loved for its minimalist design. Pay it another visit to see the recently christened 40-foot mural by local artist Caris Reid. // Think of Los Angeles Athletic Club (431 W. 7th St.) as DTLA's Battery—a chic private club, but with a sporty twist. Wingback chairs, Persian rugs and brass chandeliers set an Old Hollywood tone, while the athletic facilities promise another kind of tone—the physical kind that results from regular games of racquetball and squash. The hotel is also known for its Invention Bar, which specializes in pre-Prohibition cocktail recipes.