400 S Main St., Downtown
Chef Josef Centeno scored hits with his DTLA restaurants Bäco Mercat and Bar Amá, and he’s done it again with his latest venture, P.Y.T. It sits next door to those two and across the street from another Centeno restaurant, Orsa & Winston, but here, vegetables are the stars of the menu. Ingredients are sourced mostly from an urban farm in nearby Montecito Heights, and used in dishes like charred cauliflower with lemon and walnuts, cold smoked baby carrots, and a perfectly-roasted sweet potato with nori butter and apples. Still, the place isn’t entirely meat-free. If your fellow diners are craving some protein, there’s the grilled kanpachi with seasonal greens, citrus and fried lentils, and a pork collar steak with French potatoes. We also love the space—with its soaring ceilings, huge windows that let in plenty of sunlight, and big, potted ficus trees, it almost feels like you’re eating outside.
1124 San Julian St., Downtown
LA has no shortage of incredible Italian restaurants—Mozza, Bestia, Officine Brera to name a few—but Rossoblu has a very distinct specialty: Bolognese-style food. You won’t find a long list of pizzas on the menu; the focus is on Bologna’s culinary claim to fame, which is handmade pasta—and lots of it. Chef Steve Samson’s tortellini in brodo—a mix of ground pork, chicken, mortadella, prosciutto, and a little umami-rich Parmesan to bind—are salty and satisfying. The pappardelle is swirled into a rich sausage ragu and peppered with shreds of broccoli. For secondi (come hungry and order a proper four courses), the milk-braised pork and cabbage so caramelized, it’s almost sweet. The cavernous, warehouse-like space is totally at home downtown, with a full patio out front for long summer nights.
500 Mateo St., Downtown
Chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis (both of Bestia fame, still, after all these years, a hard table to land) have opened Bavel. The duo’s roots span Israel, Morocco, Turkey, and Egypt, so the menu has a strong Middle Eastern bent. There’s the expected hummus, baba ghanoush, and assorted flatbreads, in addition to a Wagyu beef tagine and grilled lamb, finished in Menashe’s signature flavor-happy style—all meant to be shared. And because interiors can be just as much of a draw as the food, particularly downtown, where raw and industrial spaces prevail, Gergis tapped Studio UNLTD to collaborate on the light and bright décor (skylights, hanging planters, whitewashed brick walls, brass fixtures, and Moroccan tiles). Food photos: Nicole Franzen. Interior photos: DYLAN + JENI.
225 S. Garey St., Downtown
A decade ago, the heading to Garey Street–a warehouse-packed, somewhat desolate stretch in DTLA–for dinner wouldn’t have even been an option. Now it's a go-to, thanks, in part, to nearby Hauser & Wirth gallery, Wurstküche, and most recently this chic robatayaki restaurant. The space is modern through and through, with custom oak furniture complemented by handmade glazed tiles and tons of greenery. The layout is anchored by a huge central grill, which also has some of the best seats in house (you can watch the chefs flame-grill your prawns). With your drink order taken care of by a can’t-go-wrong list of Japanese beers and sake, you can turn all your focus to the food menu. Anything you order will be great, but don’t miss the salmon fillet with grapefruit and romaine with spicy cashew miso. This is a good option for celebrating with a large group.
108 W. 2nd St., Downtown
After founding Los Angeles restaurants Odys & Penelope and Sycamore Kitchen—two goop staff favorites—wife and husband chef duo Karen and Quinn Hatfield have brought their talent to downtown, satisfying much anticipation. The stellar fare is just as strong: great pasta (the Candele, a chicken Bolognese with squash, cannot be missed), excellent sides, and (for the meat-eaters among us) seriously killer meatballs. There's also an impressive mix of desserts worth saving room for.
927 S. Broadway, Downtown
Leave it to the Michael Cimarusti (he's the brilliant chef behind LA mainstays Connie and Ted's and Providence) to pull a culinary magic trick: Cimarusti unveiled his new restaurant, Best Girl, after secretly working with DTLA's Ace Hotel to reimagine its now-former restaurant, L.A. Chapter (the change was unveiled to the public literally overnight, as hotel guests learned of the news via a note slipped under their doors). A good dose of nostalgia and history come with the new concept, from the name (Best Girl nods to the building's history, the former home of United Artists, the studio co-founded by actress Mary Pickford whose film My Best Girl premiered at United Artists Theatre, now the Theatre at Ace Hotel), to Cimarusti's return to the downtown culinary scene more than a decade after he was head chef at the Water Grill. The interiors are stylish and moody—and the menu is refreshingly unique, albeit heavy on the meat (there are a few veg-centric items, including a stuffed pachieri), with a solid desert game thanks to chef Crisi Echiverri.
907 E 3rd St., Downtown
Located in the Hauser and Wirth gallery complex in DTLA’s Arts District, at Manuela, chef Wes Whitsell nostalgically cooks the food he ate growing up in Texas, injected with modern flavor and technique. The restaurant is very much farm-to-table, the garden eggs really do come from the garden (they have their own chicken house, home to twelve rare-breed birds). All the smoking, fermenting, preserving, and pickling are done in-house. The sides really stand out, featuring vegetables commonly eaten in the South but rarely seen on LA menus like okra, scarlet runner and dragon beans.
Blue Cow Kitchen
350 S. Grand Ave., Downtown
Given its owners Ellen Chen and Mario Del Pero are the force behind the ever-popular (and expanding) Mendocino Farms, it's no surprise Blue Cow delivers.
633 W. 5th St., Downtown
This new destination dining spot on the 71st floor of the US Bank building downtown is, unsurprisingly, best known for its breathtaking 365-degree views of the city. Dinner is a three-course pre-fixe menu for $70 but, if you’re in the market for drinks and snacks, the lounge offers excellent cocktails and small à la carte menu. This place is busy, so be sure to make a reservation in advance and consider paying the extra fee for a window seat.
222 S. Hope St., Downtown
Fittingly situated behind the Broad contemporary art museum, Otium’s box-like, wood, steel, and glass building can easily be mistaken for a large-scale art installation. Inside, the large light-filled dining room and communal table area revolve around a sprawling open kitchen and are meant to accommodate the museum crowds without making anyone feel, well, overcrowded. Chef Timothy Hollingsworth, formerly of The French Laundry, developed a menu that’s at times experimental but always approachable and delicious, think: artichoke and burrata, bacon tart, and falafel.
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