Travel

Arts District

Establishment neighborhood
Nighshade
923 E 3rd St., Arts District
Like many of LA’s most hard-won reservations, Nightshade is sequestered down a quiet, need-to-know-it-to-find-it Arts District alley. Chef Mei Lin’s firstborn restaurant combines punchy Chinese flavors with Cali comfort food—beautifully prepared, bursting-with-freshness vegetables—and the results had us booking our next meal before the first was over. Lin’s staple dish is a snug layering of egg noodles, pork ragù, and silky tofu cream. If you crave heat, order the Szechuan hot quail served over a thick piece of Japanese milk bread—it tastes like the best chicken sandwich of your life but better.
Officine Brera
1331 E. 6th St., Arts District
The word on Officine Brera hasn’t quite gotten out yet. Maybe it’s the location, almost hidden in a warehouse building in an industrial pocket of the Arts District—you need to know it’s there to find it. Angelo Auriana and Matteo Ferdinando, who run this place, grew up in Italy’s Po Valley and, fittingly, serve no-nonsense, traditional Northern Italian trattoria food. In short: Officine Brera is the real deal. A simple, unfussy interior and sensational food. Come hungry and order the beef carpaccio, drizzled in a grassy, green olive oil to start. The stinchetto—a big hunk of falling-off-the-bone pork shank on a bed of polenta—is ideal for three people to pull apart. Then the dumpling dishes: The capunsei are made with ricotta, the pisarelli with bread, and the gnocchi with potato. Oenophiles will appreciate the breadth of the wine list, full of the heavy-hitting Barolo and Amarone bottles alongside more unusual, small-production labels.
Van Leeuwen
300 S. Santa Fe Ave., Arts District
Whether you’ve had Van Leeuwen on the streets of Brooklyn or parked up on Abbot Kinney, it’s instantly recognizable by its sunny yellow truck. They’re particularly famous for their vegan ice cream, a combination of cashew milk, coconut milk, cocoa butter, and carob beans that’s incredibly creamy and indulgent (and a major victory for the dairy-sensitive). They’ve got a few locations now: Greenpoint, Boerum Hill, and Williamsburg in Brooklyn; the East and West Villages in Manhattan; and the Arts District and Culver City in LA. You can always track their many food trucks on their website.
Silver Lake Wine Downtown
1948 E. 7th St., Arts District
Inarguably the best wine shop on the East side, Silver Lake Wine is quickly becoming an institution. The no-frills shop brings all of the benefits of an upscale wine shop (read: a world-class buy) with none of the fuss as you'll find the staff to be knowledgeable, but friendly and down-to-earth. It's also an important community asset—the original location on Glendale hosts wine tastings all week long, meaning that the community of East-side oenophiles is growing quickly.
Poketo
374 E. 2nd St., Arts District
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.
Urban Radish
661 Imperial St., Arts District
The Arts District is experiencing a major resurgence right now, and the Urban Radish, by far the best place in the area to pick up groceries, was one of the linchpins that made it possible. From the hydroponic herbs out front to the street art decorating the walls outside, it's the kind of place that feels very of the neighborhood. The family-owned spot stocks its shelves with gorgeous, locally sourced produce, and there's a sizeable butcher and cheese shop in the back, behind rows of pantry staples. The adorable eatery offers three hyper-fresh meals per day, which can also be ordered for takeout or delivery for a night in or office lunch. Plus, don't leave without cruising through the well-curated wine shop in the corner.
Apolis
826 E. 3rd St., Arts District
Apolis is the brainchild of brothers Raan and Shea Parton, who started the social enterprise (they've officially been a B Corporation for years) back in 2004. Their mantra is "advocacy through industry," a guideline that drives their manufacturing both in the Los Angeles garment district and at factories overseas, where they employ artisans at fair wages regardless of their location. While it's undeniably fun to shop their website (you can see where each product was manufactured, alongside info about the people who made it), their flagship store in the Arts District is by far the best place to get a sense for the brand. Inside the gorgeously appointed shop, you'll find tailored men's basics and luxurious accessories like leather luggage and their famous burlap farmers market bags, which have achieved a cult-like following in LA. Check their calendar to attend one of their community events, where they bring entrepreneurs, artists, and other tastemakers to their space for talks and performances.
Wurstküche Arts District
800 E. 3rd St., Arts District
Though the menu is extensive, the offerings leans heavily on bratwurst—more specifically, bratwurst made using only the finest meats, with veggie-friendly and exotic options thrown in for good measure (pheasant with herbs de Provence, for example). Fittingly, everything comes tricked out with your choice of gourmet toppings—sweet peppers, sauerkraut, and fancy mustard for days—plus, the option to tack on a side of truffle fries. The communal tables are set up beer garden-style and outfitted with paper tablecloths and crayons for the littles, though it gets more and more jovial (i.e. boozy and loud) the later it gets so consider planning a lunch if eating with the whole brood in tow. The sprawling space is really great for large groups—each person orders at the walk-up counter so everyone ends up paying for themselves, and the draft and bottled beer assortment is one of the best in the city. The original is in Venice.
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