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.
514 W. 7th St., Downtown
The bright and fun B.S. Taqueria is run by Chef Ray Garcia, who previously spent six years manning Fig in Santa Monica. The menu isn't extensive but it's smartly curated, with plenty of taco options and lots of veggie-friendly variations. The margaritas are notably good, as are the happy hour prices.
408 S. Main St., Downtown
From the people who brought you Bar Ama comes this Mediterranean-inspired restaurant where the signature bäco is made into tasty sandwiches. While they're known for meat, we particularly love their myriad veggie small plates (from crispy fava beans to pickled eggplant salads), and the fresh and unique seafood dishes. They also have a great drink list with small batch spirits and unique global wines and beers. It gets crowded so be sure to reserve before you go. Photo: Dylan + Jeni
108 W. 2nd St., Downtown
No one’s ever really attempted to make Indian food cool until brothers Nakul and Arjun Mahendro enlisted the help of their classically trained chef dad Pawan Mahendro to open their Indian gastropub, Badmaash. The menu here is devoted to both traditional and reimagined Indian dishes: chili-cheese naan, Punjabi fish-fry, chicken tikka poutine—an homage to the Mahendro’s Canadian roots—and our personal favorite, butter chicken. While the majority of the tiny two-story space is kept starkly industrial, there are several focal points throughout, like a brightly striped wall and a mural of a sunglasses-clad Ganghi.
118 W. 4th St., Downtown
Puffy tacos, frito pie, queso, and other evolved Tex-Mex dishes are mainstays at chef Josef Centeno’s latest operation. Do not miss the perfectly caramelized sweet potatoes, the fried Brussels sprouts, and the guacomole, which just might be the best in the city. The ’50s hall-like space also offers its fair share of tequila and mescal drinks, along with homemade fruit mashes and Bäco-Pops.
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.
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.
2121 E. 7th Pl., Downtown
In an industrial-inflected, warehouse-like space in L.A.'s Arts District, you'll find Bestia, helmed by husband-and-wife duo, Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis. While the scope of the menu is ambitious (and innovative, as Ori hates to waste meat, meaning you'll find the occasional beef and lamb heart or chicken gizzard dotting the offerings), you should really go for the pizza: Ori gives his dough a good 24-hours to rise and fall before it heads into the wood-burning oven, and you can tell. A trip here requires Uber, as this place draws huge crowds—the bar is a fun place to wait, and the cocktails are delicious.
426 S. Main St., Downtown
Owner Duc Pham, who was born in Vietnam but raised in Anaheim, obsesses over the quality of every detail in his restaurants, from the Scandinavian-inspired furniture to wine list to the bread on his banh mi, which is baked fresh daily. While the classic dishes are excellent at all three locations—anything on the menu with pork belly is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser—we love the Silver Lake location, which has a secret wine bar downstairs. They also have an outpost in Chinatown.
451 Gin Ling Way, Chinatown
Owner Duc Pham, who was born in Vietnam but raised in Anaheim, obsesses over the quality of every detail in his restaurants, from the Scandinavian-inspired furniture to wine list to the bread on his banh mi, which is baked fresh daily. While the classic dishes are excellent at all three locations—anything on the menu with pork belly is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser—we love the Silver Lake location, which has a secret wine bar downstairs. There's also a location Downtown.
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