Travel

Arts District

Establishment neighborhood
Firehouse Hotel
710 S Santa Fe Ave., Arts District
It’s as improbable as it is genius: Take an Arts District firehouse that was built in 1927 and served for half a century as a firehouse and transform it into a hipster paradise. That’s the general story behind the Firehouse Hotel. From the outside, it’s still a 1927 firehouse, but inside, it’s everything but. Rooms are unique and lofty and named for colors. The Black Room is especially intriguing. The restaurant plays all the greatest hits (classic burger and fries, whole branzino, etc.), and every detail—from the firepit to the bistro lights to the industrial bar—is a study in design as atmosphere.
Nightshade
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.
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