Downtown Specialty

Establishment neighborhood
Hipcooks East Los Angeles
642 Moulton Ave E21, Los Angeles, CA 90031
Monika Reti, owner and founder of Hipcooks, has a gift for bringing people together. Her classes–some taught by her, others by her brilliant culinary staff–are equal parts art lesson, community gathering, and culinary experience (one goop staffer describes it as the best dinner party–only better). “When you cook for someone, it’s an artistic expression,” Reit says. “It’s a feast for all the senses.” At every session, guests take part in the entire process of the meal, from the prep, to the cooking, to the gathering at the table to dine (with wine, of course). The all-inclusive experience was Reit’s vision when she founded Hipcooks back in 2004 after leaving her job as an economist. Fast forward more than a decade, and there are seven Hipcooks outposts, including three in the LA area (the DTLA location is the original location), all of which offer a range of globally inspired cooking lessons, from Thai, to Argentinian, to Persian, that ultimately support the idea that there’s an inner chef in all of us.
Lazy Brewing Company (Closed)
116 E. 5th St., Downtown
Maybe it's the low-key vibe or the edgy street on which it's located, but there's something truly authentic about this café that makes it stand out from the sea of hip, perfectly-groomed coffee shops throughout the city. The staff plays an eclectic playlist, including throwbacks from The Stooges and The Kinks, and makes a fantastic almond milk latte. This has become a recent favorite DTLA destination to read the paper on a lazy Sunday. They also serve an excellent, albeit limited, menu of fresh bagel sandwiches.
Little Damage
700 S. Spring St., Downtown
The soft serve at this tiny shop is made daily in small batches, using local ingredients from organic dairy farmers. But Little Damage is really in a league of its own when it comes to of-the-moment flavors, like their signature almond-charcoal flavored swirl served in hand-rolled black cones—colored with, you guessed it, activated charcoal—and their decidedly much more colorful, cotton-candy-blue "Unicorn Tears". Bonus: it’s just two blocks from the tacos at Guisados.
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.
Belcampo Meat Co.
317 S. Broadway, Downtown
Anya Fernald is a bit of a badass: Not only is she the co-founder and CEO of Belcampo Meat Co., which has quickly become the go-to purveyor of humanely-raised, sustainable meats, and poultry in California, she’s also a mom, cookbook author, and a master of open flame grilling. Go to her shops for whole-animal butchering (and the interesting, rare cuts of meat associated with it), seriously good hamburgers, and the best bone broth. There are also locations in Santa Monica and West Hollywood.
Juice Served Here (Closed)
833 S. Spring St., Downtown
In addition to being incredibly convenient for satiating juice cravings (there are locations sprouting up all over the city) this the perfect juice gateway drug for cleanse newbies: Beyond their most popular drink, Green Milk, which is like having dessert for dinner, the Charcoal Lemonade is delicious, despite the suspiciousness of drinking montmorillonite clay and activated charcoal (in contrast, the jalapeño-laced beet juice is tough to swallow). You can also add in extras to ease the process: We opted for the raw soup (a carrot-based gazpacho) and the coconut superfood bar (nice when you miss the sensation of chewing). Bonus points for the DO ME (FIRST, 02, 03, 04, 05, LAST) directions on the caps and the recent addition of lifestyle-y giftables at most outposts. There are additional locations in Studio City, Pasadena, Venice, Silver Lake, Hollywood, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood.
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.
The Oyster Gourmet
317 S. Broadway, Downtown
French-born chef Christophe Happillon has become known as L.A.'s oyster sommelier through his oyster pop-ups at high-end restaurants and hotels. In 2014, he brought The Oyster Gourmet to Grand Central Market in the form of a tiny stall with wood-canvas wings that open and close not entirely unlike...yes, an oyster. Like the space, the menu is small but satisfying—oysters, of course, and also a selection of clams, shrimp, and some raw fish, along with wine and beer. In addition to his space at Grand Central Market, Happillon still does seafood catering, and brings oyster pop up bars to events and parties in Los Angeles.
541 S. Spring St. #101, Downtown
There's no short supply of Mexican food in LA, so when we say that Guisado's has some of the best, it's a hefty stamp of approval. Guisado is the Spanish word for stew—the kind of slow-braised, spiced meats that taste just as good with a side of rice and beans as they do starring in a taco—and that's exactly where this spot excels. Slow roasted pork with pickled red onions is the fan favorite, but they also do excellent fish, steak, and chicken. The original is in Boyle Heights, with additional locations in Echo Park and West Hollywood.
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