The Downtown Los Angeles Guide
Bordered by Chinatown on one side and the Arts District on the other, what used to be a mostly industrial—and somewhat sketchy—expanse just a few years ago has blossomed into an exceedingly cool and covetable destination for some of the most inventive food in the city, under-the-radar shopping, and general good times.
Libros Schmibros103 N. Boyle Ave., Boyle Heights | 323.604.9991
This lending library lets readers borrow or buy books in a very relaxed way, as the staff here seems to care more about getting people to read the books than buy them, and lending times, unlike a typical library, vary according to the length and difficulty of the novel. It's a little out of the way, but worth the trip if you're looking to do some serious reading.
Ooga Booga943 N. Broadway, #203, Chinatown | 213.617.1105
This deeply under-the-radar shop, located on the second floor of a Chinatown office building, is more like a gallery than a boutique. You'll find an Opening Ceremony blouse, hung next to a vintage poster, a one-off book, and a Mended Veil necklace. They opened a second location downtown, known as Ooga Booga 2 or Ooga Twooga.
The Original Los Angeles Flower Market754 Wall St., Downtown | 213.627.3696
Downtown's wholesale flower market (it takes up close to two city blocks) is a DIY goldmine. Yes, there are fresh flowers and succulents—both locally and globally grown—literally as far as the eye can see. But you can also come here to snag supplies like vases, gardening tools, and ribbon for a song. Pros get first dibs daily; during designated times, the general public can pay a $1 admission fee during the week; $2 on Saturdays.
The Velvet Garden Flowers622 S. Anderson St., Downtown | 323.852.1766
Kimm Birkicht is a beloved LA-based floral designer with deep industry roots, which translates to an innate understanding that every arrangement—whether it's for a wedding, family gathering, or work event—needs to speak to the client's individual aesthetic.
Kinokuniya Downtown123 Astronaut E. S. Onizuka St., Downtown | 213.687.4480
Straddling downtown and Little Tokyo, the Japanese-based Kinokuniya offers great notebooks, stationery, pens, and gifts. Kids, in particular, go nuts here. There's also a location in Culver City.
The Last Bookstore453 S. Spring St., Downtown | 213.488.0599
A hugely successful used books and record shop may seem like an anachronism but this shop keeps expanding. Partnering with local institutions like CalArts and Crossroads Cultural Center, there’s a comprehensive schedule of open mic nights, readings, and talks.
Hennessey + Ingalls300 S. Santa Fe Ave., Downtown | 213.437.2130
As the West Coast's largest art and architecture-centric bookstore, this is the sort of place where you can easily rack up excess baggage charges with beautiful coffee table books.
Poketo374 E. 2nd St., Little Tokyo | 213.537.0751
A testament to owners (and real-life couple) Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung’s creativity and taste, this color-happy shop in Little Tokyo somehow manages to look entirely different from visit to visit. While the core categories—home décor, stationery, accessories, and kids—stay the same, the assortment is constantly updated to keep up with the latest and greatest in design and still meet Poketo’s playful aesthetic. Expect to find Japanese stationery, tabletop pieces from Danish firm HAY, beautiful art books, and so much more. There's also a sister location in Culver City and in The Line Hotel.
East/West Vintage727 N. Broadway, Ste. 115, Chinatown | 213.761.5393
Conveniently set up inside the same Chinatown strip mall as Roy Choi’s Chego, this teeny but beautifully curated vintage store is arguably one of the best in L.A. It’s also the place you want to be when hunting down the perfect pair of vintage Levi’s—the selection here isn’t necessarily vast, but each piece is lovingly chosen, washed, and repaired by the owners themselves to look its best. There are also band t-shirts, army jackets, and a few racks of dresses—all in excellent shape. If pins and patches are your thing, the semi-annual pin-and-patch parties are a totally gold mine.
Alchemy Works826 E. 3rd St., Arts District | 323.487.1497
Set up in the center of the most walkable stretch of the Arts District, Alchemy Works is the brainchild of Lindsay and Raan Parton (their former Apolis store is now a pop-up within Alchemy) and aims to bring a bit of the coastal lifestyle to downtown. The industrial-style shop doubles as an events space, so there’s lots of room to roam around and admire the hand-picked apothecary pieces, letterpress prints, indy-designer accessories, and more. Also sharing the space is a Warby Parker shop-in-shop and a Blacktop coffee counter. It's Newport Beach location is equally stunning.
COS313 W. 8th St., Downtown | 213.271.2716
Known for its minimal aesthetic and accessible price point, COS is a destination for streamlined urban pieces for men and women. Its new DTLA location showcases the brand's best, arranging its latest styles according to color, punctuating the racks with its neutral grey and tan pieces. With locations throughout LA and the US, this space is one of our favorites because it’s housed in the historic Olympic Building, an LA landmark built in 1927. COS kept the integrity of the space in tact while it restored it to new levels. The result is an open, airy, light-filled setting that makes it easy to kill an entire afternoon shopping–before heading to nearby Little Sister for a late lunch.
These Days118 Winston St., 2nd FL., Downtown
Located on an unassuming street, this gallery-boutique hybrid is one of the most delightfully unexpected finds in LA. Owners Jodi and Stephen Zeigler had their first exhibit in 2014 and have since been featuring some of the most compelling works on display in the city. Hosted in a stellar light-filled room, the art covers a wide range, from nostalgic punk rock memorabilia to experimental photography ane mixed media pieces. (Their most recent exhibit featured a stunning collection of rare posters produced by British band The Smiths.) On the other side of the space is the boutique, where the duo offer a well curated mix of wares, from indigo-dyed fabrics to Le Feu de L'eau candles to out-of-print photography books and zines, all of which make ideal gifts.
Theory845 South Broadway, Downtown | 213.270.0034
With Francesco Fucci (formerly of The Row) at the helm, things are about to get a lot more exciting over at Theory, which is quietly shedding any vestiges of its wear-to-work basics past. This new 1,600-square-foot space in DTLA is meant to support the brands fresh new point of view—it will play host to collaborations, new product innovations, and a rotating roster of events. No doubt urban storefront with its the concrete walls, steel columns, and big windows will serve as the ideal backdrop for the luxurious wide-leg pants, car coats, and midi-dresses that Fucci dreamt up for spring 2019.