Page 1

YOUR ESSENTIAL DINING REFERENCE

2 0 1 1

1264 W. First Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90026 • 213.481.1448

1264 W. First Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90026 • 213.481.1448

1264 W. 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90026, • 213.481.1448 P U B L I C A T I O N S


The most entertaining place on the planet. StapleS Center Nokia theatre l.a. lIVe the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, los angeles JW Marriott los angeles at l.a. lIVe

lalive.com

Boca eSpN Zone the Farm of Beverly Hills Fleming’s prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar glance Wine Bar ION Rooftop pool Bar Katsuya la Market by Kerry Simon the Mixing Room

lawry’s Carvery New Zealand Natural Ice Cream Rock’n Fish Rosa Mexicano Starbucks trader Vic’s Wolfgang puck Bar & Grill Wp24 by Wolfgang puck Yard House

GRaMMY Museum® Club Nokia the Conga Room lucky Strike lanes & lounge Regal Cinemas l.a. lIVe Stadium 14


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

Pushing the Culinary Boundaries Downtown Dining Feeds the Central City’s Revitalization

D

owntown Los Angeles has become the city’s culinary hotspot. It’s the place to go for the most cutting-edge restaurant concepts, with big name chefs pushing the boundaries in exciting ways. The explosion of new eateries has generated a firestorm of interest in Downtown dining, drawing foodies and funseekers from across L.A. More than a dozen restaurants have opened in the last year, adding to the momentum underway across Downtown’s three square miles. The menu of choices is vast, offering something for every taste. Care to sample dozens of wines by the glass? The quirky new Arts District wine bar Swill Automatic uses an enomatic machine — you can use a pre-paid card to pay by the ounce and sample as many varieties as you like. Perhaps you’d like a slice of gourmet, New York-style pizza from Toddy G’s made with fresh ricotta and shaved truffles in the middle of a warehouse district. In Downtown, the possibilities are not only limitless, but exciting and unexpected. Even traditional eating concepts are being turned on their ear. Take, for example, Izakaya Fu-Ga, which takes the Japanese small plates concept to the next level with a fusion spin and a chic lounge vibe

4 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

complete with DJs. Yojié Japanese Fondue & Sake Bar in South Park gives shabu shabu dining a modern spin with a sleek design, hip sake cocktails and green tea fondue. Noted chef and restaurateur Michael Cardenas has joined the fray yet again with his second venture, an edgy Japanese spot called Toranoko. Located next to his much lauded Lazy Ox Canteen, this new endeavor focuses on sushi and izakaya small plates created by chef Hisaharu Kawabe of Nobu. Likewise, the founder of Silverlake’s popular Malo have opened a second outpost called Mas Malo on the burgeoning restaurant row along Seventh Street. This hip and cheeky Mexican eatery packs ’em in for tequila-fueled libations, Coca Colamarinated carnitas and a stunning three-level space. From Vietnamese-Thai to New American to gourmet Mexican, pushing the culinary boundaries never tasted so good. The guide includes a key at the end of each listing that features all the crucial information diners need at a glance. Breakfast , lunch , dinner , weekends , happy hour , entertainment , delivery , catering , reservations , free Wi-Fi , cash only .


CHEF JOACHIM SPLICHAL WELCOMES YOU TO HIS DOWNTOWN RESTAURANTS! 101 Fr

ay CAFÉ PINOT Voted Best Outdoor Dining Downtown eew

Music Center

Kendall’s Brasserie & Bar

eew ay

Walt Disney Concert Hall

2nd

St.

Omni Hotel

St. The Standard Hotel

7th

Biltmore Hotel

6th

St.

St.

St.

ay

e Oliv

Café Pinot

5th

St. adw

nd Gra

Los Angeles Central Library

4th

KENDALL’S BRASSERIE Fresh seafood and French fare

NICK & STEF’S STEAKHOUSE Signature steaks dry-aged on site

Wells Fargo Center

Bro

ope S. H

Westin Bonaventure Hotel

St.

135 N. Grand Ave. | 213 972 7322

Market Café Atrium Café

Hill

3rd

Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse

Wilshire Grand Hotel

ZUCCA RISTORANTE Sophisticated Italian fare

St.

801 S. Figueroa St. | 213 614 7800

Marriott Hotel

110 Fr

1st

700 W. Fifth St. | 213 239 6500

330 S. Hope St. | 213 680 0330

PINOT GRILL Pre-theater dining al fresco 135 N. Grand Ave. | 213 972 3190

MARKET CAFÉ Gourmet marketplace 400 S. Hope St. | 213 680 7387 1150 S. Olive St. | 213 536 4090

8th

Sheraton Hotel

St.

LA Live & Nokia

St.

e St

St.

Hill

9th

Oliv

Gra

Marriott & Ritz Carlton

.

nd A ve.

Hop

er Flow

Figu ero

a

e St

.

Zucca Ristorante

Oly

mpi

c Blv

d.

Staples Center

11th 12th

St.Market Café

St.

www.patinagroup.com

Chef Joachim Splichal’s Patina Restaurant Group


R ESTAU R ANTS A L PHA B ETI C A L LY Arashi Sushi................................................................................................................. 33 Bäco Mercat................................................................................................................ 47 Bar & Kitchen.............................................................................................................. 34 Barragan’s Mexican Restaurant........................................................................ 16 Big Man Bakes........................................................................................................... 47 Blimpie........................................................................................................................... 34 Blossom Restaurant................................................................................................ 47 Border Grill Downtown LA.................................................................................. 28 Café De Camacho.................................................................................................... 40 Café Pinot........................................................................................................................5 California Pizza Kitchen......................................................................................... 12 CASA............................................................................................................................... 23 CBS Seafood............................................................................................................... 20 Checkers Downtown............................................................................................. 15 CheckersDowntown Bar...................................................................................... 15 Colori Kitchen............................................................................................................. 32 Daily Grill....................................................................................................................... 10 D-town Burger Bar.................................................................................................. 10 Eastside Market Italian Deli................................................................................. 14 El Paseo Inn Restaurant........................................................................................ 38 Esaan - A Taste of Thai............................................................................................ 35 Farmer Boys................................................................................................................ 13 First & Hope Downtown Supper Club.......................................................... 18 French Garden........................................................................................................... 40 Frying Fish.................................................................................................................... 22 Fugetsu-Do................................................................................................................. 45 Gallery Bar.................................................................................................................... 21 Grand Café................................................................................................................... 16 Grand Central Market............................................................................................ 28 Green Hut Cafe.......................................................................................................... 24 Gus's Drive-In............................................................................................................. 38 Harlem Place Cafe.................................................................................................... 47 Honda Ya Little Tokyo............................................................................................ 34 Hop Woo BBQ Seafood Restaurant................................................................ 20 Il Capriccio on Vermont........................................................................................ 43 Izakaya Fu-ga.............................................................................................................. 39 J Restaurant & Lounge.......................................................................................... 37 Kendall’s Brasserie.......................................................................................................5 LA Café....................................................................................................................22, 48 L.A. Live.............................................................................................................................3 L’Angolo Cafe............................................................................................................. 41 La Parilla........................................................................................................................ 32 L.A. Prime...................................................................................................................... 25 Lazy Ox Canteen...................................................................................................... 45 Los Angeles Center Studios................................................................................ 12 Market Café....................................................................................................................5 Mas Malo...................................................................................................................... 45 Mendocino Farms................................................................................................... 23 Mexican Village......................................................................................................... 14 Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse.........................................................................................5 Noé Restaurant and Bar....................................................................................... 16 OBD Market & Deli.................................................................................................. 47 Ocho Mexican Grill..............................................................................................2, 30 Oiwake........................................................................................................................... 41 Old Bank District....................................................................................................... 47 Oomasa......................................................................................................................... 44 The Park Restaurant................................................................................................ 40 Pete’s Cafe & Bar.................................................................................................11, 47 Philippe, The Original............................................................................................. 30 Plum Tree...................................................................................................................... 36 Pinot Grill.........................................................................................................................5 Pitfire Pizza................................................................................................................... 33 Portofino Cucina Italiana..................................................................................... 19 Prime Grind Coffee.................................................................................................. 38 Rendezvous Court ................................................................................................. 21 Reservoir....................................................................................................................... 26 Rocket Pizza Lounge..........................................................................................9, 47 Rock’N Fish.................................................................................................................. 29 Sai Sai.............................................................................................................................. 21 San Antonio Winery & Maddalena Restaurant........................................ 44 Smeraldi’s..................................................................................................................... 21 South Park.................................................................................................................... 31 Spring Street Smokehouse................................................................................. 35 Starry Kitchen............................................................................................................. 42 Sultan Chicken.......................................................................................................... 42 Swill Automatic......................................................................................................... 42 Taix Restaurant.......................................................................................................... 26 Takami Sushi & Robata Restaurant/Elevate Lounge................................7 Toddy G’s...................................................................................................................... 36 Toranoko....................................................................................................................... 43 Two Bits Market........................................................................................................ 39 Uncle John’s Cafe..................................................................................................... 37 Urban Noodle........................................................................................................9, 47 Wokcano....................................................................................................................... 17 Wurstküche Restaurant........................................................................................ 30 Yojié Japanese Fondue & Sake Bar................................................................. 27 Yorkshire Grill............................................................................................................. 18 Yxta Cocina Mexicana........................................................................................... 24 Zucca Ristorante..........................................................................................................5

6 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

Restaurant Rating Key

$ Inexpensive, $10 & Under $$ Moderate, $11 to $20 $$$ Expensive, $20+

LEGEND

CONTENTS Breakfast Lunch Dinner Weekends

Happy Hour Entertainment Delivery

Catering Reservations Cash Only

Free Wi-Fi

D owntown M a p.......................................................................................... 8 A merican

California Pizza Kitchen......................................................................................12 Daily Grill....................................................................................................................10 D-town Burger Bar................................................................................................10 Farmer Boys..............................................................................................................13 First & Hope Downtown Supper Club.......................................................18 Gallery Bar.................................................................................................................21 Gus's Drive-In...........................................................................................................38 LA Café.................................................................................................................22, 48 Lazy Ox Canteen....................................................................................................45 Noé Restaurant and Bar.....................................................................................16 The Park Restaurant.............................................................................................40 Pete’s Cafe & Bar..............................................................................................11, 47 Philippe, The Original..........................................................................................30 Rendezvous Court . .............................................................................................21 Reservoir....................................................................................................................26 Rock’N Fish...............................................................................................................29 Spring Street Smokehouse..............................................................................35 Swill Automatic......................................................................................................42 Uncle John’s Cafe...................................................................................................37 Yorkshire Grill...........................................................................................................18

Chinese

A sian

CBS Seafood.............................................................................................................20 Hop Woo BBQ Seafood Restaurant.............................................................20 Plum Tree...................................................................................................................36 Uncle John’s Cafe...................................................................................................37

Japanese

Arashi Sushi..............................................................................................................33 Frying Fish.................................................................................................................22 Honda Ya Little Tokyo......................................................................................... 34 Izakaya Fu-ga...........................................................................................................39 Oomasa......................................................................................................................44 Oiwake........................................................................................................................41 Takami Sushi & Robata Restaurant/Elevate Lounge..............................7 Toranoko....................................................................................................................43 Yojié Japanese Fondue & Sake Bar...............................................................27

thai

Esaan - A Taste of Thai.........................................................................................35

vietnamese

Blossom Restaurant.............................................................................................47

asian fusion

Sai Sai...........................................................................................................................21 Starry Kitchen..........................................................................................................42 Urban Noodle.....................................................................................................9, 47 Wokcano....................................................................................................................17

C ali f ornia

Bäco Mercat.............................................................................................................47 Bar & Kitchen...........................................................................................................34 Café Pinot.....................................................................................................................5 California Pizza Kitchen......................................................................................12 Checkers Downtown..........................................................................................15 CheckersDowntown Bar...................................................................................15 L’Angolo Cafe..........................................................................................................41 Los Angeles Center Studios.............................................................................12 Noé Restaurant and Bar.....................................................................................16 Reservoir....................................................................................................................26

E uro p ean

Checkers Downtown..........................................................................................15 French Garden........................................................................................................40 J Restaurant & Lounge.......................................................................................37 Kendall’s Brasserie....................................................................................................5 Taix Restaurant.......................................................................................................26 Wurstküche Restaurant.....................................................................................30

german

Wurstküche Restaurant.....................................................................................30

I nternational

Bäco Mercat.............................................................................................................47 Grand Café................................................................................................................16 Grand Central Market.........................................................................................28 Lazy Ox Canteen....................................................................................................45 Los Angeles Center Studios.............................................................................12

I talian

Colori Kitchen..........................................................................................................32 Eastside Market Italian Deli..............................................................................14 Il Capriccio on Vermont......................................................................................43 J Restaurant & Lounge........................................................................................37 L’Angolo Cafe..........................................................................................................41 Pitfire Pizza................................................................................................................33 Portofino Cucina Italiana...................................................................................19 San Antonio Winery & Maddalena Restaurant......................................44 Smeraldi’s..................................................................................................................21 Zucca Ristorante.......................................................................................................5

L atin/M e x ican

Barragan’s Mexican Restaurant......................................................................16 Border Grill Downtown LA...............................................................................28 CASA............................................................................................................................23 El Paseo Inn Restaurant......................................................................................38 La Parilla.....................................................................................................................32 Mas Malo...................................................................................................................45 Mexican Village......................................................................................................14 Ocho Mexican Grill...........................................................................................2, 30 Sultan Chicken........................................................................................................42 Yxta Cocina Mexicana.........................................................................................24

mediterranean

Bar & Kitchen...........................................................................................................34 Checkers Downtown..........................................................................................15 Sultan Chicken........................................................................................................42

pizza

California Pizza Kitchen......................................................................................12 Pitfire Pizza................................................................................................................33 Rocket Pizza Lounge.......................................................................................9, 47 Toddy G’s....................................................................................................................36

S alads, S andwic h es & M ore

Big Man Bakes.........................................................................................................47 Blimpie........................................................................................................................34 Café De Camacho.................................................................................................40 Eastside Market Italian Deli..............................................................................14 Fugetsu-Do...............................................................................................................45 Grand Central Market.........................................................................................28 Harlem Place Cafe.................................................................................................47 Market Café.................................................................................................................5 Mendocino Farms.................................................................................................23 OBD Market & Deli................................................................................................47 Pinot Grill......................................................................................................................5 Prime Grind Coffee...............................................................................................38 Rendezvous Court . .............................................................................................21 Two Bits Market......................................................................................................39 Yorkshire Grill...........................................................................................................18

S ea f ood

Rock’N Fish...............................................................................................................29 CBS Seafood.............................................................................................................20 Hop Woo BBQ Seafood Restaurant.............................................................20

S tea k h ouse

L.A. Prime...................................................................................................................25 Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse......................................................................................5 Rock’N Fish...............................................................................................................29

1264 W. First St., Los Angeles, CA 90026 Website: LADowntownNews.com Phone: 213-481-1448 Fax: 213-250-4617 Email: realpeople@downtownnews.com

The 2011 Los Angeles Downtown News Restaurant Guide is partially written by Kathryn Maese and Kristin Friedrich. Production and design by Yumi Kanegawa. The 2011 Los Angeles Downtown News Restaurant Guide is published annually by Los Angeles Downtown News. The newspaper is distributed every Monday throughout the streets, offices and residences of Downtown Los Angeles. ©Los Angeles Downtown News 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, except brief extracts for the purpose of review or promotion, without the written permission of the publisher and copyright owner.


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photos courtesy of Takami Sushi & Robata Restaurant/Elevate Lounge

Takami Sushi & Robata Restaurant/Elevate Lounge

F

amed for breathtaking high-rise city views enjoyed from every table and vantage point, Takami soars 21 stories above Downtown L.A. The restaurant offers awardwinning selections of hand-crafted sushi and robata, as well as one of L.A.’s most comprehensive offerings of sake, wines boutique and cult, and a contemporary and inspired menu of cocktails and bar bites. Each year Takami enjoys among the highest of Zagat’s local and national ratings for unparalleled views and ambiance, as well as unrivaled lunch and dinner menu execution. Executive Chef Stan Ota employs the freshest seafood, ingredients and contemporary techniques to please the restaurant’s discriminating diners. With menus designed for easy sharing, Takami features a new “Build Your Own Bento Lunch,” a widely popular, quick and modestly priced menu of soups, salads, sushi rolls and entrees designed for the convenience of Downtown’s business community. In addition, unique robata creations are served alongside an extensive list of sashimi, sushi rolls and house specialties. Chef Ota has also crafted a

lounge menu of smaller tastes to drink by, encouraging a festive lounge atmosphere of after-work happy hour regulars, with locals and tourists alike soaking up the unparalleled vistas at every turn. Weekday happy hour arrives daily from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and weekends from 5-6:30 p.m., with all lounge menu items offered at half price, alongside a rotating offering of drink and wine specials. Adjacent to Takami, Elevate Lounge is a full-service, late-night bar

and dance club offering an exquisite indoor/outdoor space where the dinner hours magically melt into the late night. Offering Downtown’s only open-air nightlife space, replete with the latest in music and lighting technologies, guests indulge in cocktails, astonishing city views and cult disc jockeys. Event planners and location scouts are drawn to Elevate’s customizable space, which features more than 6,000 square feet of space with state-of-the-art audio/visual capabilities, moveable modern furniture, and

the unique ability to adapt the room size to any number of guests or filming requirements. Takami and Elevate Lounge are located on the 21st floor penthouse at 811 Wilshire Blvd., (213) 236-9600 or takamisushi.com or OpenTable.com. Open weekdays for lunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner Monday-Thursday 5-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5-midnight, and Sunday 5-10 p.m. Cuisine: Japanese $$$

$$$

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 7


N SOTO

5 Radio Hill Gardens

L.A.

Dodger Stadium

NR

D

S

SIO

E

Pacific Alliance Medical Center

PASA

5

ST

AS

Mariachi Plaza

MTA

T

T

DWA

AVE Z A V E

White Memorial Medical Center

NE

MED

BROA

ANGELINO HEIGHTS

VIG

ALA

CHINATOWN

S

VICTOR HEIGHTS

EL PUEBLO CE N

Cathedral of our Lady

TER

OA

SCI-Arc

LAPD Caltrans HQ HQ

AS

T

101

i ne

LO

S A

5 N

G

AF

EL

ES RI

VE

VE

EA

LA

OLIVE ST

Staples Center

LVD

HS

T

7T

HS

T

10 V

60

ER

T

M

P YM

9TH ST

OLYMP

California Hospital Medical Center

16TH ST

ED

VENICE BLVD

AS

Y S A N T A M O N I C A FW

OR ORRID VARD C

WASH

T

VD

E N BOUL INGTO

Toberman Playground

Map © copyright 2011 by

RS T

URE FURNIT TIVE RA & DECO TRICT IS ARTS D

NORTH UNIVERSITY PARK

VD

WAREHOUSE DISTRICT

FASHION DISTRICT

WA

FIGUEROA CORRIDOR

BL

11TH ST

SOUTH PARK

LV

IC

CENTRAL INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT

10

AM

Convention Center South Hall

HS

AL

VENICE B

kL

8T

ROADWAY

E

DISTRICT

PICO UNION

an

7TH S

California Market Center

LYM PIC BLVD

Convention Center West Hall

k

tB

FINANCIAL CORE JEWELRY DISTRICT

110

tra

as

RA

E BLVD

Am

kE

ALISO PICO

NT

NT

WILSHIR

6T

CENTRAL CITY EAST

H ST

lin

SA

CE

CITY WEST

TOY DISTRICT

t ro

k&

ED

HISTORIC CORE

lin

ARTS DISTRICT

LITTLE TOKYO

D ST

BUNKER HILL

LAUSD

t ro

AM

3RD ST

Me

VE

110

T

LAPD Parker Center

EA

FI GUER

D

2ND S

CIVIC CENTER

AF

Edward Royball Learning Center

LV

Me

T

NT

EB

SA

AL

TEMPLE BEAUDRY

ST

101

ND

Prospect

MIS

Y Y

DE N

DIUM WA

A FW

AV

RK

BOYLE HEIGHTS M O TT S T

PA

CHAVEZ RAVINE

Los Angeles Transportation Center

ST

Barlow Respiratory Hospital

NORTH INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT

4TH

Elysian Park

RN

LINCOLN HEIGHTS

LA County-USC Medical Center

110

BE

ST

Hazard Park

Elysian Park

N SA

E4

1ST

ST

SH

IN

O GT

NB

LV

D

A


118 W. 4th Street Los Angeles, CA 90013 213-626-0662 urbannoodlela.com

Lunch

Happy Hour

Singapore Rice Noodles

Dinner

Spicy Cucumber

M-W 11am-10pm Th 11am-1am Fri 11am-1am Sat 6pm-1am Sun 12pm-10pm

Delivery

Catering

Streamed Pork Dumplings


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

Daily Grill

D-town Burger Bar

E

nvision yourself stepping back into the 1950s. The jukebox plays familiar vintage tunes, the restaurant draws you in with its black and white tile floors, and the long white countertop invites you to pull up a stool. D-town Burger Bar, Downtown’s favorite homegrown burger chain, is a blast from the past with a modern twist. The restaurant’s design sets the stage for a retro dining experience. From the old-fashioned Coca Cola signs to the colorful neon lights and friendly staff, the ambience is always lively and fun. All the action takes place behind the counter, where everything is made fresh to order right before your eyes. At D-town Burger Bar, the concept is simple: a straightforward menu, quality ingredients and taste galore. If you’re not in the mood for a beef patty, the menu offers turkey, chicken or veggie options. The smell of juicy burgers sizzling on the grill tantalizes the taste buds. There are a handful of combos featuring a 100% Angus beef burger with the fixings, a mess of hot fries and an icy cold drink. When your food arrives, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the colorful addition of sweet potato fries mixed in with the russets. And if you’re craving something sweet, order one of the delicious shakes or malts, made with real ice cream. D-town Burger Bar can satisfy just about every customer, especially the budget-minded. Try the $2 happy hour menu, where favorite items such as shakes, chili-cheese fries and onion

10 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

rings are just $2 every day from 4-7 p.m. Craving some eggs at 2 a.m.? Breakfast is served all day, every day. D-town Burger Bar is open until 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. As one of the first new restaurants in the Historic Downtown area, with a second new location at Eighth and Olive streets, D-town brings new life to areas that have been long vacant. Since its first location opened on Sixth and Spring streets, a multitude of businesses have cropped up and a vibrant new neighborhood has emerged. D-town Burger Bar is one of the pioneering businesses helping to launch a renaissance in the area. At 216 W. Sixth St., (213) 228-0022 and 421 W. Eighth St., (213) 228-1200. Open SundayWednesday 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m.-3 a.m. Visit facebook.com/dtownburgerbar or twitter.com/dtownburgerbar. Cuisine: American $

$

$

$$

$$$ photo courtesy of Daily Grill

photos courtesy of D-town Burger Bar

T

hinking of great American food? Think Daily. Modeled after the great big city American grills, Daily Grill features Certified Angus steaks and chops, fresh seafood, classic Cobb and Caesar salads, pasta and home-style signature favorites. An extensive wines-by-the-glass list and full bar is available. Located on the southeast corner of Sixth and Flower streets, Daily Grill is on the ground floor of the historic Pegasus Building and across the street from the Standard Hotel. The restaurant is the perfect location for dinner before attending a local Downtown performance or event. Complimentary shuttle service is provided to and from events at the Music Center, the Walt Disney Concert Hall and select Staples Center functions. Valet service is offered 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (4-11 p.m. on weekends), or at least until show’s end, midnight at the latest. Two adjoining private dining rooms are available for late afternoon and evening events for up to 80 guests. In spring 2011, Daily Grill’s bar will be transformed into Public School 612 after 4 p.m. daily, a gastropub featuring 20 craft beers on tap, an additional 12 in bottles and cans, and a chef-driven, eclectic menu of “small plates.” Classic spirits, wine and nostalgic cocktails will also be offered. At 612 S. Flower St., (213) 622-4500 or dailygrill.com. Open for lunch Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m., dinner daily 5 p.m.-close. Public School 612, call (213) 623-1172. Open at 4 p.m. daily. Cuisine: American


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

A

party or meal at Los Angeles Center Studios combines all the glamour and glitz of Hollywood, but in Downtown’s backyard. The magnificent Tower Building completed in 1958 features classic elements of vintage Modernism such as black terrazzo floors, glass and aluminum walls. The architectural gem has been restored to its original state. All the executive amenities of the time went into this powerhouse; the sleek executive conference room upstairs has been featured in numerous films and TV shows. The low-slung, modern commissary is fit for any studio mogul. Remarkable daytime views of the lush outdoor garden and city skyline across the way are relaxing by day and stunning by night. Custom design elements and lighting futuristically transform the cafe and intimate patios into elegant areas for pre-screening cocktail parties and sit-down dinners. The cafe menu features full breakfast and lunch with daily specials. Freshly prepared grilled and deli sandwiches, a build-your-own salad bar, panini and pizza, homemade soup and guest sushi chefs make for a delightful dining experience. The skillful staff handles every catering need with aplomb, including cast and crews and special events. “Flix at Six” packages include a private reception and entertainment for 175 to 400 guests. A two-hour reception with tempting theme menus and a full open bar in Flix Cafe can be followed by entertainment of your choice in a 400-seat theater. A reception with imported and domestic cheese served with assorted crackers also features seasonal fresh and dried fruits, fresh and grilled vegetable crudités served with herb dip, grilled pita chips and smoked chipotle hummus, and chicken quesadillas with salsa and sour cream. The Italian antipasto display includes a quality Italian meat and cheese selection, grilled vegetables, olives, pepperoncini, marinated mushrooms and artichoke hearts. It is served with focaccia, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh ground pepper, along with petite turkey garden veggie wraps and

12 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

petite beef kebobs with dipping sauce. A dessert of seasonal fresh fruit, sponge cake and chocolate fondue rounds out the menu. The Pacific Rim-themed evening menu is centered on a sushi buffet of California rolls, spicy ahi tuna rolls and vegetarian rolls. In addition there is a tantalizing selection of pan-fried pork potstickers with ginger dipping sauce, vegetable eggrolls with sweet and sour and hot mustard sauce, chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce, and hoisin beef skewers. The Beaudry Building offers a variety of special event areas in addition to Flix Cafe. This site includes two intimate patios with unobstructed skyline views, a 400-seat theater and a private dining area. L.A. Center Studios stateof-the-art sound stages were recently home to the film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the hit TV shows “Mad Men,” “Law and Order Los Angeles” and “Southland.” The six, 18,000-square-foot sound stages have silent air conditioning and high-tech amenities. Sound stages can be reserved for large events and

short-term projects. The 20-acre campus also offers a wide variety of enclosed city streets. The past party list reads like a who’s who of the business and entertainment world: Sony PlayStation, Maxim, AOL/Time Warner, Warner Music Group, NBA All-Star Party, Activision, Electronic Arts, HBO and KPMG. Events have ranged from dinners for 100 guests to extravaganzas for 7,000 at this unique facility, where the gorgeous, 16-foot rotating door to the cafe alone is worth the visit. Guests are sure to remember their experience at Los Angeles Center Studios, whether it takes place on a sound stage or on the dramatic outdoor decks. Flix Cafe is at Los Angeles Center Studios, 1201 W. Fifth St., (213) 534-3000 or lacenterstudios. com. Open weekdays for breakfast 8:30-11 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Cuisine: California/World Cuisine $

$

$

California Pizza Kitchen

T

his fast casual eatery has become a Downtown favorite over the years with its innovative menu that includes a variety of hearth-baked pizzas. Most people recognize the California Pizza Kitchen (or CPK) by its trademark yellow, black and white colors. The two local spots feature airy interiors with warm wood, comfortable booths and fast, friendly service. The imaginative pizzas are a veritable institution, particularly the Original BBQ Chicken Pizza introduced in the company’s first Beverly Hills restaurant in 1985. Topped with tangy barbecue sauce, smoked gouda, mozzarella and slices of red onion, it’s the most popular on the menu. Other pizzas include the Jamaican jerk chicken, carne asada, Thai chicken, pear and gorgonzola, and the vegetarian with Japanese eggplant. The menu also includes a broad selection of made-to-order pastas, creative salads, soups, sandwiches and delicious desserts. Among the highlights are the grilled vegetable salad, the Waldorf chicken salad and the original BBQ chicken chopped salad. Specialties stand out with chicken piccata, pan-sauteed salmon, Baja fish tacos and wild caught mahi mahi. The after-work office crowd and local residents enjoy the full bar with wine and beer, lovely patio seating and convenient validated parking at both Downtown locations. Takeout and catering are also a big part of CPK, with exciting menus for corporate lunches, family functions and unexpected dinner guests. Open Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. At 735 S. Figueroa St. (7+Fig shopping mall), (213) 228-8500. Open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.9:30 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and weekends 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. At 330 S. Hope (Wells Fargo Center), (213) 626-2616. Online takeout ordering at cpk.com. Cuisine: California/Pizza $

$ photo courtesy of California Pizza Kitchen

photos courtesy of Los Angeles Center Studios

Los Angeles Center Studios


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photos courtesy of Farmer Boys Restaurant

Farmer Boys

W

hen you need a good burger fix, there’s no shortage of fast food places competing for your dollars. But standing out from the pack is Farmer Boys Restaurant, which prides itself on the fact that nothing on the menu is warmed over, pre-made or frozen (except for the real ice cream milkshakes, of course) — despite being open 24 hours. The menu has a little bit of everything, from breakfast to dinner. Still, the restaurant’s trademark is its mouthwatering Signature Farmer’s Burger, which attracts everyone from police to fire personnel to those in

double chiliburger with Farmer Boys’ homemade chili poured over freshly cooked patties. You can add fresh avocado to any burger or sandwich for an additional charge. Farmer Boys Restaurant is not just about the burgers. Start your

bacon, ham, sausage or chili meat. Farmer Boys makes a pint-sized Kid’s Breakfast as well. It wouldn’t be fast food without a generous helping of tasty sides. French fries are popular but Farmer Boys’ other two signature items are

Farmer Boys offers several salad options. The Farmer’s chopped Cobb salad and the chicken BBQ Ranch salad are two of the most popular, as well as the classic chicken salad, chef’s salad and tuna salad. Diners can call ahead to place

the garment and produce industries. Voted best burger by My Fox LA Hot List, Channel 2 News and KFRG Radio, the Farmer’s Burger is huge, satisfying and always made to order. The Farmer Boys burger line offers nearly a dozen choices so diners can get theirs prepared exactly to taste. Even vegetarians can order a tasty garden burger. Try the standard burger or go wild with a double bacon burger or double cheeseburger. Chili lovers will love the

day with one of the signature breakfasts (you can order breakfast anytime). Order a stack of hotcakes, French toast, omelets or the three eggs plate. All omelets or three egg plates are served with hash browns, toast and jelly. If you like your eggs between bread, go for the egg sandwich and add bacon, sausage or ham. Farmer Boys Restaurant also has its own version of the popular breakfast burrito, a secret recipe that allows you to choose from

the colossal onion rings and zucchini spears, which are both hand cut and breaded daily. Besides favorites such as the fish and tuna sandwich, the restaurant also has a new line of chicken sandwiches that come on a honey oat wheat bun. The chicken club, chicken BBQ Ranch and the improved chicken sandwich are some of the new items added to the menu. Either of these sandwiches makes a great meal with a salad on the side. For those who are health conscious,

phone orders for faster service, or use the convenient drive thru. For those who need to get work done, there is free Wi-Fi (except Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.) as well as plenty of free parking — a rarity Downtown. The restaurant also has a frequent diner program allowing customers to earn a point for every dollar spent (100 points adds up to $5). As an added bonus, you can sign up for email coupons and discounts. Farmer Boys Restaurant is also open late, which is perfect for those times when you need a quick, fresh and delicious burger fix. • Free Wi-Fi • Free parking • Frequent diner program • Email coupons and discounts • Open 24 hours Farmer Boys is at 726 S. Alameda St. (1.5 miles south of Union Station), (213) 228-8999 or farmerboysla. com. Open 24 hours. Drive thru or dine in. Cuisine: American $

$

$

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 13


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

Mexican Village

Eastside Market Italian Deli

14 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

photo by Gary Leonard

L

ooking for one of L.A.’s best sandwiches? Look no further than Eastside Market Italian Deli. Located just north of Downtown’s city center, the Eastside Market Deli has been family owned and operated for more than 35 years, first opening its doors to the community in 1929. Once upon a time Eastside was one of many Italian markets in the community, but today stands as one of the last remaining true Italian delis in town. With a steady stream of local police, fire, DWP, City Council and other devotees, lines are rarely short but always move fast. Remaining true to its Old World roots, patrons can peruse the deli counters’ freshest cuts of meat, cheeses and produce alongside the olive oil, pasta and huge barrels of wine. The simple menu gets right to the point: it boasts a classic assortment of award-winning, traditional sandwiches (hot or cold) and pasta dishes. Choose from specials like the Italian sausage with cooked peppers and cheese (the Number One, served hot), the eggplant Parmigiana and cheese (the Number Four, also served hot), or go for the Number Seven — the hot roast beef, pastrami and cheese combo is an all-time favorite and best seller at the eatery (the deli cooks more than 700 pounds of roast beef a week). Cold sandwiches come with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and mustard, and customers choose from a variety of fresh toppings ranging from mortadella (a cold cut of finely hashed or ground pork sausage and flavored with spices) to capicollo (a type of fine salami) and cheese, to roast

beef with turkey and cheese all in one. More than generous pricing and portions are standard at Eastside, but even so specials are offered on Tuesday and Thursday and feature lasagna or pasta with sausage and meatballs for just $8.60. The D.A. Special, for example, is comprised of sausage, meatballs, roast beef and pastrami with a side of humor for only $9.40. If that’s not enough heartiness for you, Eastside also offers a soup of the day, potato and macaroni salads, and a fruit bowl. In addition to the dine-in or takeout options, Eastside’s full catering service will accommodate sit-down or buffet-style events, with a minimum of 10 people. Whether you are eating, ordering or just browsing the fresh fare Eastside has to offer, you can’t help but be swept up in the experience of this landmark delicatessen. At 1013 Alpine St., (213) 250-2464 or esmdeli.com. Open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-2 p.m., closed Sundays. Cuisine: Italian Deli $

$

$$

$$ photo courtesy of Mexican Village

photo courtesy of Eastside Market Italian Deli

I

n an era when good service has all but disappeared from restaurants, the Mexican Village has built its reputation on providing customers with the best dining experience possible. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the cuisine at this longtime eatery is top-notch and they serve up some of the best margaritas around. Since 1965, Abel Olivares Sr. and his family have been pioneers in Latino cuisine, building a dining, entertainment and cultural destination over the decades. Olivares worked in some of the finest restaurants in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, and became the first Mexican chef of international cuisine at the Windsor West, Perinos and Dales Secret Harbor. Today, the Mexican Village serves all the Mexican classics diners crave. There are hefty burritos stuffed with carne asada and machaca, enchiladas with green chile, mole or shrimp, fajitas, tostadas and even vegetarian dishes. The combination plates are generous enough for two people, with selections such as tamales, crispy tacos and chile rellenos. House specialties include standouts such as the camarones al mojo de ajo, shrimp sauteed in garlic. And if you like your food spicy, just ask. The cozy hacienda-style interior features highbeamed ceilings, comfortable booths, arched windows and a popular tequila bar with more than three dozen varieties. The martinis, margaritas and mojitos are excellent too, and happy hour patrons flock here to enjoy the daily food and drink specials. The patio also draws diners all year long, as does the regular slate of lively music and late-night happy hour Tuesday through Thursday 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. At 3668 W. Beverly Blvd., (213) 385-0479 or themexicanvillage.com. Open Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-2 a.m. and Saturday 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Cuisine: Mexican


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photos courtesy of Checkers Downtown

photo courtesy of Checkers Downtown

Checkers Downtown

Checkers Downtown Bar

H

otel bars don’t usually evoke a sense of cool. But surprising new things are shaking at the Checkers Hotel bar and lounge. Located just off of the lobby, this chic, modern space has gone old-school in the best sense possible. The CheckersDowntown Bar channels a bit of 1940s and ’50s glamour and style, with clubby wood walls, sleek leather bar stools, and appropriately sultry lighting. The expert mixologists have also whipped up a drink menu with many of the classic, handmade libations of a bygone era, as well as a few modern creations using the best seasonal ingredients and liquor available. There’s the Aviation (1916) with Hendrick’s gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette and freshly squeezed lemon juice, the Prohibition (1930) with Martin Miller’s gin, Lillet Blanc, apricot brandy and fresh orange juice, or the expertly made Manhattan with Rittenhouse Rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters. Food plays a key role in the bar menu as well. Patrons can order from the hotel’s excellent Cal-French inspired cuisine, or try several selected pairings. Executive Chef David Baker has designed a small plates menu for the bar — items include seared fois gras on a peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich or the flavor-packed Colorado meatballs with rigatoni. If it’s a mellow glass of wine you seek, there’s also an extensive list from which to choose. Sports fans and news junkies can also get their fix via several 50-inch televisions throughout the lounge. Whatever your pleasure, CheckersDowntown Bar is a destination unto itself. At 535 S. Grand Ave., (213) 624-0000 or checkersdowntown.com. Open daily 4-11 p.m. Cuisine: California/French

T

his historic hotel on Grand Avenue is known for its elegance and charm. And after a recent renovation from top to bottom, its restaurant, Checkers Downtown, has gained equal acclaim for its top-notch dining experience. The interior features a contemporary palette of soft white, taupe and dark wood accents with a touch of vintage style — black and white photos of Los Angeles throughout the decades adorn the walls. The restaurant recruited talented Executive Chef David Baker to create a menu based on California cuisine with a touch of French influence. The kitchen uses the best seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, and each dish is a culinary adventure from start to finish. Lunch brings a number of elegant yet filling salads, such as the grilled flatiron steak with caramelized shallots and gremolata atop a bed of baby greens. There are several gourmet baked flatbreads too, including the margherita, the artichoke and ricotta, and the chorizo and olive. Of course, every good restaurant worth its salt offers a signature burger, and this one is an exceptional version with wild arugula, cave-aged cheddar and bacon aioli. Checkers’ interpretation of fish and chips is sinfully delicious, with Guinness beer-battered halibut and garlic parmesan French fries. Don’t miss the prix-fixe menu for $25, which comes with three filling courses.

A dinnertime standout is the harissa-rubbed Alaskan halibut with braised cipollini onions, fennel, smoked tomato and delicate saffron broth. Likewise, the pan-roasted Sonoma duck breast is expertly prepared with flavorful chanterelle mushrooms, spinach and Mission figs in port wine. Meat eaters will love the tender braised short rib “pot pie” layered with wild mushrooms, celery root puree and baby root vegetables. For those who want to grab a bite after work, be sure to check out the restaurant’s weekday Rush Hour menu served from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Avoid the traffic while you dine on four elegant courses for $44. Three full-glass wine pairings are available at either $28 for Premium or $35 for Sommelier’s selection. If you want to make your dining experience extra special, try the chef’s tasting menu, a seasonally changing five-course meal for $70 per person. Checkers also offers all the classic and gourmet breakfast options you could ask for, as well as memorable weekend brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For a pre- or post-dinner cocktail, visit the CheckersDowntown Bar, where expert mixologists whip up old-school classic cocktails with flair. At 535 S. Grand Ave., (213) 624-0000 or checkersdowntown.com. Open weekdays 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m., weekends 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Cuisine: California/French $$

$$

$$$

$$$

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 15


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photo courtesy of Omni Los Angeles Hotel

$$$

T Grand Café

T

he Omni Los Angeles Hotel, situated on historic Bunker Hill, is the anchor of bustling California Plaza. Amongst the lush landscaping, stunning sculptures and dazzling water features of this sprawling property, visitors will find Grand Café, a perfect blend of visual and culinary arts. The cafe’s serene decor of wood, stone and glass is accented by the abundance of greenery and striking modern art. Expansive windows cast natural sunlight throughout this airy restaurant featuring views of the Museum of Contemporary Art and majestic fountains. Grand Café also includes an intimate patio overlooking magnolia trees and one of the many reflection pools found on California Plaza. Guests are able to bask in the California rays while dining alfresco in this popular section. With the atmosphere raising the bar for hotel dining, Grand Café’s mouth-watering cuisine heightens the dining experience even further. The eclectic menu reflects Los Angeles’ diversity, and features a la carte dining influenced by Europeantrained Executive Chef Peter Dean. Additionally, Grand Café’s popular buffet rotates daily offering themed menus such as Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Caribbean and Southern. Diners jump at the opportunity to experience the restaurant’s tantalizing cuisine time and time again. The bright and airy Grand Café is a home away from home for the inhabitants of neighboring high rises, county administrative offices, courthouses, and Music Center and MOCA visitors. At the Omni Los Angeles Hotel, 251 S. Olive St., (213) 356-4155. Open Monday-Friday 6:30 a.m.3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Cuisine: International $$

16 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

$$

his old-school Mexican eatery has been an L.A. staple since 1961, thanks to founder Ramon Barragan, who started the labor of love with just 25 seats and a loan against his home. Some 50 years later, the Downtown community continues to flock to the original Echo Park location for hearty breakfasts, business lunches and nightly entertainment — thanks to its three bars and tasty margaritas. The family-owned business still serves a menu of traditional Mexican favorites for lunch and dinner including tacos, burritos, sopes and enchiladas, all with sides of freshly cooked beans and Spanish rice. They also offer plenty of house specialties that keep hungry customers coming back for more. There’s the succulent chile rellenos oozing with cheese and draped with red sauce, tender pork ribs in chipotle salsa, and fragrant pork simmered in green chile. Weekend breakfast turns up some tasty options, including menudo, chorizo and eggs, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros and cactus and eggs. There’s also a selection of American favorites like hotcakes, hash browns, ham and eggs, and omelets. Add a strong cup of coffee or a Bloody Mary, and you’ve got a great start to the weekend. Happy hour is a special occasion, and Downtowners and locals know Barragan’s has it covered with a lovely patio, energetic music, and specials like $2.49 margarita night on Wednesdays. At 1538 Sunset Blvd., (213) 250-4256 or barragansrestaurants.com. Open weekdays 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 7 a.m.9:30 p.m. Cuisine: Mexican $

$$

$$ photo courtesy of Barragan’s Mexican Restaurant

A

s one of Downtown Los Angeles’ few worldclass hotel restaurants, Noé Restaurant and Bar continues to offer a sophisticated but relaxed dining experience. New this year to Noé’s upscale offerings is a selection of approachable small plates and shareables from Executive Chef Glen Ishii: chicken katsu sliders with poached quail eggs, crisp calamari with yuzu crème fraiche and popcorn chicken with mustard-sesame dressing. Dinner features an elegant array of seasonal and market-driven dishes. Start with the artichoke salad with silky burrata or seared goat cheese with roasted garlic dressing — and for the main course, perhaps a seafood entree by way of a Dover sole “katsu” with watercress jalapeno lime sauce or seared scallops with pear ratatouille. Heartier options include the maple leaf duck breast and seared foie gras chestnut puree and roasted pear, or roasted leg of lamb with potato and horseradish puree and cranberry-mint chutney. Savvy diners have long flocked to this Downtown gem, both for an after-work cocktail or elegant dinner. Whether seated at the spectacular outdoor patio flanked by Downtown’s sleek high rises, or inside the warm and tranquil dining room, Noé Restaurant and Bar provides the perfect backdrop for a memorable meal. At the Omni Los Angeles Hotel, 251 S. Olive St., (213) 356-4100. Open Sunday-Thursday 5-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5-11 p.m. Bar open daily 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Cuisine: Neo Bistro

Barragan’s Mexican Restaurant

photo courtesy of Omni Los Angeles Hotel

Noé Restaurant and Bar


WOKCANO ASIAN RESTAURANT & BAR

www.wokcanorestaurant.com Open Daily till 2:00am Delivery till 2:00am Daily Happy Hour 3:00pm - 7:00pm & 10:00pm - 2:00am M-F Full Bar - Sushi Bar - Chinese Private Rooms Available 800 W. 7th Street (corner of 7th and Flower streets) | 213.623.2288


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

Y

ou know you’re somewhere special when everything on the menu is made entirely from scratch. It speaks volumes about the thoughtfulness and quality put into the cuisine. But at First & Hope, that’s not the only thing that stands out. This sultry supper club channels the best of the 1940s and early ’50s, including the inventive American comfort food menu, handcrafted cocktails and vintage entertainment. Located atop Bunker Hill in the heart of Downtown’s cultural corridor, First & Hope is a classy joint with a cheeky twist — waitress outfits are a cross between cigarette girls and flight attendants (conceived by a “Mad Men” costume designer). Glamorous chandeliers hang from a curved ceiling, illuminating white tablecloths, sexy banquets and a luminescent wall reminiscent of flapper fringe. This elegant Deco backdrop sets the stage as you sample retro cocktails expertly mixed by some of Downtown’s best barmen — they’re always coming up with new creations based on seasonal ingredients. Executive Chef Yugi Iwasa devised a menu that elevates even the simplest courses like macaroni and cheese (made with artisan cheeses) or even mashed potatoes (the addition of duck fat takes these spuds to the next level). Every Thursday and Friday, Downtown workers from nearby offices flock to First & Hope for lunch favorites like the bourbon barbecue chicken version on a brioche bun with smoky mozzarella and cilantro mayo. Dinner brings even more delectable options, starting with appetizers like the chargrilled octopus mixed with sweet potato, chili and key lime, or the Dungeness crab cake with blood orange and fennel. Entrees are equally satisfying, with perfectly seared scallops atop a bed of mushroom ragout drizzled with truffle vinaigrette. The hearty Berkshire pork chop with apple sauce or the fried “Chicken Little” with biscuits and gravy is comfort at its best. Vegetarians will adore the market vegetable pot pie with fresh winter truffle. Dessert is no afterthought here. The meyer lemon panna cotta with blueberry

18 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

conserve is refreshing and light, while the chocolate bread pudding with caramel and bourbon sauce offers a decadent counterpoint. The heirloom apple crisp and red velvet cake with white chocolate frosting are equally addicting. Don’t miss Sunday brunch starting April 10 with a roster of live music and a modern American menu of brunch favorites. After dinner, the supper club takes on a sultry edge, as the bar pumps out a steady stream of champagne, bourbon and brandy to the smoky sounds of a cabaret singer or jazz band in the rear Fedora lounge. This becomes the heart of First & Hope with live Jazz, Blues, Latin and World music Thursday through Sunday. Fedora is one of the few places in L.A. where diners can enjoy a white tablecloth supper and entertainment a la The Cotton Club or Chicago. First & Hope offers the perfect pre- or posttheater dining for patrons of the Music Center or Disney Hall, as well as locals looking for a lively nightlife scene. Come for the food, stay for the ambience and entertainment. At 710 W. First St., (213) 617-8555 or firstandhope.com. Open lunch Thursday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner Sunday-Thursday 5-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; brunch Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Valet parking available. Cuisine: Modern American Comfort Food $$

$$$

Yorkshire Grill

N

ew Yorkers longing for a taste of home will find it at the Yorkshire Grill, a classic deli that specializes in East Coast fare served with a friendly West Coast attitude. Some 50 seats surround the horseshoe counter for those on the go, and more than a dozen booths allow for a casual business lunch or a break from shopping. Step through the glass doors off bustling Sixth Street and get a taste of vintage Los Angeles. It is a busy place at lunch so get there early or take advantage of delivery to your home or office. There are dozens of sandwich options, but the No. 3, also known as the New York Special, is the most popular. Hot and lean pastrami on rye is piled high and topped with Swiss cheese, coleslaw and dressing. The Brooklyn Special, another favorite, is loaded with smoked salmon, Swiss cheese and tomato. As a nod to Downtown, there’s the Pershing Square Special — peanut butter, crisp bacon and lettuce on toast. Breakfast is serious business as well, and on Saturdays it’s served all day — the delicious biscuits and gravy is a weekend special. Weekly breakfast favorites include the Redline, with a choice of meat, two eggs any style, and pancakes or French toast. A new favorite is the huevos con chorizo, with eggs scrambled with chorizo, peppers, avocado and cilantro. Yorkshire Grill is at 610 W. Sixth St., (213) 6293020 or yorkshiregrillla.com. Open weekdays 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Cuisine: Jewish Deli $ $$ (Sat. Only) photo courtesy of Yorkshire Grill

photos courtesy of First & Hope Downtown Supper Club

First & Hope Downtown Supper Club


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

B

y all accounts, Main Street is bustling. There are galleries and dive bars, pedestrians and dog walkers, Art Walk traffic and plenty of talk. But step inside the recently opened Portofino Cucina Italiana, and all of that action and noise vanishes. This cozy little restaurant is spotless and well-appointed, with pale yellow walls, dark wood and wrought iron fixtures. By day, a bit of sun streams in from the windows and there’s free Wi-Fi if you’re inclined to do a little work. At night, there’s flickering candles and soft light — not a bad date vibe, it turns out. While there’s no liquor license (it’s coming soon), there’s also no corkage fee, and customers are encouraged to bring their own bottles. Forgot to bring one? Just call the Old Bank District Market down the street and proprietor Ray will arrange a free wine or beer delivery right to your table. The price points are a huge draw: the excellent pastas hover around $10, with chicken, seafood and beef entrees around $12 (the grilled filet mignon and the popular ciopinni with scallops, crab, mussels, lobster, squid, and sea bass are the only exceptions, at $18). But it’s the way owner Diego Ortoli and his staff make diners feel comfortable that keeps them coming back. Ortoli was born in Naples, and it shows not only in the reasonable prices, but in a menu rich with traditional Italian cuisine. It’s not fusion, it’s not re-invented or re-imagined — he prides himself on food that you would find in Italy. The house salad is simply mesclun greens with roasted tomatoes

and black olives. Rounding that out are other basics: a caprese with mozzarella; a petite spinach salad with pesto and parmesan; and a red and yellow roasted beet plate tossed with vinaigrette over toasted crostini. Appetizers include bruschetta, thinly-sliced carpaccio, and the very good homemade Angus meatballs that make up the polpette al sugo, with melted mozzarella and served on Tuscan garlic bread. The hearty entrees include panini, pastas, risottos and proteins. Ortoli’s kitchen turns out very good gnocchi (there are two varieties: one served with a trio of Bolognese, pesto and four-cheese sauces; the other with broccoli, roasted garlic, Romano cheese and jalapenos). Long flat fettuccines can be topped with the restaurant’s standout Alfredo sauce and thick flakes of parmesan; a cozze e capesante sauce with black mussels, bay scallops, garlic and peppers and tomato sauce; or a creamy concoction of truffle oil, wine and herbs. There’s a lasagna made in-house with Angus ground beef, and there are four regular risottos on the menu. The latter include a frutti di mare risotto with seafood; a wild mushroom, parmesan, thyme and parsley finished with white truffle oil; a light cream and parmesan sauce served with fresh tomato alla checca (tomatoes chopped fresh and ripe); and a butter and soffritto (seasonings and finely chopped vegetables) finished with saffron wine sauce. None of these are over $13, which makes for a real value. The entree selections are diverse: Two sauteed chicken breasts, one savory with garlic, artichoke hearts

photos courtesy of STK Photo LA

Portofino Cucina Italiana

and lemon white wine sauce, and the other served with a Marsala wine sauce, rosemary roasted potatoes and vegetables. There’s a pounded sirloin, as well as a thinly-sliced sirloin sauteed with garlic, parsley, roasted bell peppers and basil. The popular Chilean sea bass is tender and broiled with a creamy veloute sauce, served with spinach and finished with a red wine reduction. Lunch is available until 5 p.m. and there’s often a special

on offer, such as your choice of panini or pasta along with a soup or salad. There’s usually a delicious homemade tiramisu in the house, and a range of serious lattes and espressos to finish your meal with — just like they do in Italy. At 464 S. Main St., (213) 2399019 or portofinocucinaitaliana. com. Open daily 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Cuisine: Italian $

$$

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 19


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photos courtesy of Hop Woo BBQ Seafood Restaurant

CBS Seafood

I

T

here are dozens of restaurants throughout Chinatown, each specializing in their own regional cuisine, each with their own loyal following. Since 1993, Hop Woo has carved its own distinctive niche in the district with authentic Hong Kongstyle barbecue, the freshest seafood and super affordable lunch specials. Located in the center of Chinatown, this no-frills eatery may not boast the flashy décor of some of the larger Chinese restaurants in the area, but instead it focuses on exceling at one thing — good food. Hop Woo’s signature barbecue dishes are prepared fresh daily, notably the delicious char siu pork, roasted pig and crispy duck that can be seen hanging in a case. The latter is reason enough to make a trip here — the skin is perfectly crackly and the meat is falloff-the-bone delicious, especially when paired with fresh steamed bao buns and hoisin dipping sauce. If you want a sampling of the restaurant’s barbecue delights, order the house special platter. But Hop Woo doesn’t stop there. Seafood is also a specialty, and diners can pluck their meal of choice fresh from the restaurant’s show tanks. The house special lobster combo for $9.99 dine in, or $15.99 to go, is not only an exceptional value, but one of the tastiest things on the menu (the steamed crustacean is cracked open and tossed with scallions and

20 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

ginger). Other options include the decadent walnut shrimp, seafood fried rice and whole rock cod with lemon and sesame sauce. Lunch specials here start at $4.95 and each generous plate comes with rice and soup. There’s also a hot food bar if you want a quick lunch to go, with fast food items priced at $1.25 each or $2.25 for combos. Other menu favorites include items like spicy eggplant, sweet and sour soup, and the downright addicting chicken wings with spicy salt. And don’t forget to ask about the restaurant’s daily variety of specialty foods, which aren’t on the menu. The talented chef likes to experiment with new recipes and exotic ingredients — he won the 2010 National Night Out Iron Chef competition, after all. As a way to say thank you to customers, diners can download a birthday coupon (hopwoo.com) redeemable for an order of lobster or any item under $10. At 845 N. Broadway, (213) 617-3038 or hopwoo.com. Open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.1 a.m., Friday 11 a.m.-3 a.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-3 a.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Free one-hour validation in parking lot. Cuisine: Authentic Chinese $

$

$$

$$

$$ photo courtesy of CBS Seafood

Hop Woo BBQ Seafood Restaurant

f the exotic culinary art of dim sum is one of your passions, or just something you’ve been curious about, CBS Seafood Restaurant, a Hong Kong-style seafood house, belongs on your “A” list. Select from rolling carts packed with steamed or baked buns filled with chicken or barbecued pork, har gow (translucent shrimp-filled dumplings), jing joon (sticky rice and meat steamed in lotus leaves), deep-fried taro turnovers and more than 50 other varieties of traditional Chinese small plates. For the finale, wait for a cart of creamy egg tarts, coconut balls or mango pudding to arrive at your table. Seating 180, this lively Chinatown establishment is decorated with polished granite, blonde wood with turquoise accents, gleaming brass columns and crystal chandeliers. One room, ideal for banquets, offers a stage behind a brilliant red curtain embroidered with a golden dragon. While dim sum at CBS can be ordered all day, dinner also brings Cantonese delicacies such as shark fin soup, scallops in black bean and chili sauce, Peking duck with crispy, lacquered skin, and lobster or king crab from the restaurant’s show tanks. Dining banquet-style is the best way to explore CBS’s vast menu of more than 250 tempting items. This restaurant offers one of those remarkable cultural feasts for which L.A. is so famous. At 700 N. Spring St., (213) 617-2323. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cuisine: Chinese


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

W

hile the landmark Millennium Biltmore Hotel has become an L.A. icon thanks to its 90-year history, stunning architecture and roster of notable guests, it has also earned acclaim for its culinary contributions and nightlife scene. The hotel is home to distinctive bars and restaurants that have garnered a loyal following from visitors and locals alike. For more information visit www.thebiltmore.com.

Sai Sai

T

he spacious, ultra-modern, split-level interior features blonde wood, an elegant 10-seat sushi bar and dramatic lighting. Simple and sleek in every detail, Sai Sai boasts exquisite table settings and the most efficient, polite staff you will ever encounter. But the innovative food is the star here, with a sophisticated global menu offering delicious pan-Asian cuisine, sushi, sashimi and house-made desserts. Among the standouts are Sai Sai’s famous series of bento boxes — beautifully arranged and featuring creative, healthful entrees, soup, salad and rice. Donburi, noodle dishes, seafood and tapas-size tasting plates round out the many menu highlights, along with a full selection of vibrant and ultra-fresh sushi and sashimi choices. Sai Sai also offers an extensive list of wines, sake and signature infused shochu cocktails, made seasonally in-house. A prix-fixe menu is available for patrons on their way to an evening event at nearby venues such as the Music Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall or MOCA. The restaurant can also arrange complimentary transportation in the hotel’s luxurious towncar (based on availability). Open for lunch and dinner Monday-Friday and for dinner only on Saturday, (213) 624-1100 or saisairestaurant.com. Cuisine: Pan Asian/Sushi Bar $$

$$

Smeraldi’s

I

nside a bright, split-level dining room with carved ceilings, wood-paneled walls and sleek tiled floors, guests will find a distinctly California ambiance coupled with the delicious flavors of Italian and Continental cuisine. Named in honor of Giovanni Smeraldi, the artist who hand-painted the Biltmore’s elaborate ceil-

ing murals, the restaurant was once home to the hotel’s classic soda fountain, sweet shop and stylish Men’s Lounge. Today, the space offers guests and Downtown diners a broad selection of breakfast, lunch and dinner options, including popular weekday buffets featuring seafood, antipasto and pasta. Breakfast brings everything from brioche French toast with pure maple syrup to three kinds of sweet and savory specialty crepes and even a full breakfast buffet with fresh fruit, pastries, yogurt and chef-attended omelet station. Perfect for a business lunch, the midday menu features weekly buffets, plus items such as salads, sandwiches, build-yourown burgers, seafood and pasta. A casual-elegant dinner menu highlights specialties from Chef Franco De Dominicis’ native southern Italy, fusing the vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean with home-cooked sauces, pastas, seafood and more. Open daily 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m., (213) 624-1562 or thebiltmore.com. Cuisine: Italian, Continental $$

$$

$$$

Rendezvous Court

T

he Rendezvous Court — the original 1923 lobby of the historic hotel — is widely considered to serve the best afternoon tea in Los Angeles. Visitors can also enjoy light meals, coffee and cocktails amid the grand setting of “Downtown’s living room.” With honey-colored Italian travertine stone walls, a hand painted wood-beam ceiling, crystal chandeliers, flowing rose marble fountain and graceful Spanish-Baroque bronze staircase, the Rendezvous Court offers a distinctly elegant, European atmosphere where diners can enjoy a relaxing afternoon or evening with friends or colleagues. Afternoon tea is served Wednesday through Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. and includes traditional miniature sandwiches, freshly-baked scones with Devonshire cream and jam, exquisite pastries and desserts, and an assortment of finely-blended hot and iced teas. A light afternoon menu served Wednesday-Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. features salads, sandwiches, snacks and dessert. Coffee and cocktails are available daily. Call (213) 624-1101 or thebiltmore.com. Cuisine: American, Afternoon Tea, Cocktails, Coffee Bar $$ (suggested for tea)

Gallery Bar photos courtesy of Millennium Biltmore Hotel

Millennium Biltmore Hotel

J

ust upstairs from the Rendezvous Court is one of Downtown’s hottest nightspots, the Gallery Bar. Famous for the live jazz on weekends that draws a crowd from all over Los Angeles, this sultry, vintage space is also known for the fantastic classic cocktails it serves up. Signature drinks include the renowned Black Dahlia martini and the Manhattan menu, a series of modern takes on the standard bourbon cocktail that honors the hotel’s long history with whiskey blends — the Biltmore bottled its own in the 1940s. Sleek leather banquettes, the comfortable adjacent Cognac Lounge and a delicious food menu make the Gallery Bar a must-see place for an evening Downtown. Open 4 p.m.-2 a.m. daily. Food served until 11 p.m. weekdays and 1 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Cuisine: Bar, American $$

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 21


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

LA Café

Frying Fish

A

W

photos courtesy of LA Café

22 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

and more laptops, the salads and entree sandwiches appear. Both hot and cold, these can come on the many bread or wrap choices above, and are served with homemade, thick and salty Buzz Chips. There are pesto or chipotle grilled chicken panini options, both of which are popular, and two veggie options in the form of a soft avocado brie, and a caprese (buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil pesto spread). The cafe’s hot creations include a lobster and brie grilled cheese on white country bread. The unexpected carne asada comes via a wrap or taco with marinated steak, salsa fresca and lime. There are lots of salads too: the Shanghai with grilled chicken and crisp wontons; the grilled salmon with avocado and fresh garlic-herb croutons; and the cheeseburger Caesar, chilled romaine topped with diced veggies, two mini cheeseburgers, and crispy onion rings. The burgers, including the “Big” cheeseburger — which lives up to its name — are served on brioche buns with seasoned fries. Even though LA Café is open for delivery 24 hours a day, it’s most fun to spend a little while underneath the cafe’s bright yellow awnings — it’s literally a front row seat for Spring Street’s revival. At 639 S. Spring St., (213) 612-3000 or thelacafe.com. Open 24 hours. Cuisine: American $

$

$

hile there are numerous sushi joints in Little Tokyo, Frying Fish has carved out a niche. The dining experience here is literally a moveable feast for the senses, as a rotating conveyor belt speeds inventive rolls, fresh cuts of sashimi, seaweed salads and other delectable goodies before your eyes. This unique restaurant features a 29-seat counter, where you can pick and choose menu items from the comfort of your stool. In the center of the activity, master sushi chefs slice, dice and wrap colorful creations as they joke with customers and keep the experience lively. Among the favorites are the Palm Springs roll, an oversized combination of scallop, eel and vegetables, and the tempura hand roll, a delicious surprise that marries hot, crisp shrimp or salmon tempura with avocado, green onion and rice. Frying Fish has several cooked fish delicacies, such as green mussels baked with Japanese mayonnaise and topped with minced chives; broiled neck of yellowtail or salmon, both incredibly tender and moist; and the Dynamite — a broiled mixture of diced scallop, mushroom, shrimp, smelt egg and mayonnaise. Nothing lasts very long, so your best bet is to be adventurous and grab whatever catches your eye. At the end of the meal, a waitress will calculate the bill by counting the number and color of serving dishes you’ve piled up. Validated parking is available at Japanese Village Plaza mall, accessible off Central Avenue (a block west of Alameda), or ride the “A” DASH bus to Central Avenue. At 120 Japanese Village Plaza, (213) 680-0567. Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Cuisine: Japanese $$

$$ photo by Gary Leonard

couple of years ago, the vibe on Spring Street was very different, and if anyone was banking on a single street’s renaissance, the smart money would have been on Main. But here we are, in the throes of a Spring Street revival that harkens back to the thoroughfare’s early days, when it bustled with bankers and lawyers. Today, thankfully, it’s much livelier with new bars, mom and pop shops sprouting up, and a couple of great eateries. LA Café is one of the cornerstones of the revival, opening a few years ago and gaining a steady and devout following as the menu got bigger, the operating hours expanded, and the patio became the inadvertent community meeting place that it is today. Atop the patio’s Astroturf you’ll find residents, artists, local entrepreneurs, and the old timers that can tell you stories about how just seven or eight years ago, Spring Street wasn’t such a nice place after the sun went down. Walk inside, and the options flood your senses. There are specials on the chalkboard, breakfast sandwiches and plates, panini and hot sandwiches, salads, tacos, and even a handful of burgers. There are baked goods such as muffins, cookies and desserts, and shelves of icy soft drinks, bottled lemonade and sparkling water. And the cafe hasn’t lost sight of what it became known for in the early days — strong, delicious coffee. The tiny kitchen churns out everything from the baked goods to entrees from scratch, which accounts for the constant hum of activity. The local eggs they make in the morning appear in fried and cheesy scrambled varieties, and can come on sliced country white bread, whole grain, a tortilla wrap, croissant or bagel. Many a hangover is cured with just one of these creations and a strong coffee. Later in the day, as there are fewer sunglasses


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photos courtesy of CASA

photo courtesy of Mendocino Farms

CASA

J

Mendocino Farms

I

t was a risk seven years ago to open a sandwich shop with high-quality ingredients featuring local farming Downtown, but the bet paid off. Mendocino Farms is one of the most popular lunch spots Downtown. For serious sandwich connoisseurs, the avant garde Mendocino menu reads like a good novel. There’s no boring roast beef here, no bland tuna salad. Everyday standards include the carved steak with applewood bacon and the prosciutto with roasted chicken and honey roasted almonds. There are also rotating seasonal selections ranging from the slow braised lamb with Drake Farms goat cheese to duck confit with a balsamic roasted fig chutney to a vegan shawarma with lentil bean puree and cucumber tzatziki. There’s even a modern take on the traditional Vietnamese bahn mi sandwich that’s made with either pork belly or carved steak. During lunch, Mendocino customers line up and place their order with a roving employee who makes sandwich creation easy, then hands the order off to the chefs behind the counter. This is a sight to see: Assembly lines aren’t known for their grace and sense of fun, but this one is like a ballet as Chef Judy Han orchestrates a team of bandana-clad masters. Even at high noon, no matter how long the line looks, it moves fast, and after one taste of your sandwich, you’ll see what the praise is all about. Open weekdays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The Original at 300 S. Grand Ave., (213) 620-1114 or mendocinofarms.com. Open weekdays 11 a.m.7:15 p.m. at 444 Flower St., (213) 627-3262. Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m. at 4724 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey. (310) 822-2300. For catering inquiries, email catering@MendocinoFarms.com. Cuisine: Gourmet Sandwiches $

ust a few steps away from the Museum of Contemporary Art and the world-famous Walt Disney Concert Hall, you’ll find CASA. Designed by Frank Gehry protégé (Disney Hall) Ana Henton, the restaurant transports diners away from the hard lines and concrete of Downtown to a sleek hacienda. Inspired by modern Spanish architecture, the aesthetic is all about curves. Inside, there are smooth adobe walls and low-flung ceilings, contemporary iron sculpture juxtaposed with a few choice antiques, and chocolate brown leather banquettes. Outside, amid night air and glowing heat lamps, are semi-circular booths nicknamed “casitas” that overlook both the restaurant’s expansive patio and the kinetic California Plaza fountain beyond. The arrival of CASA is just what Cal Plaza needed. There are plenty of fast casual dining options, but there was no place to take in the night and the looming high-rises until this spectacular patio came along. The menu mimics the restaurant’s design in that it pays homage to Mexico’s history and tradition while transcending all the old clichés. The owners will tell you that the recipes were inspired by vintage Mexican cookbooks and visits to their Mexican friends’ grandmothers, where eating is a communal experience full of small plates, experimentation and the mingling of flavors. At lunch, CASA's modern Mexican taqueria menu is fast casual, set-up like a high-end Chipotle, for the corporate lunch rush. Walk down the kitchen line, assemble your choice of burrito, taco, bowl or salad, pay at the register and sit where you like. The lunch menu has the same high quality ingredients and freshly made tortillas that you find at dinner, but focuses on quick service and affordable pricing. As the sun begins to set, CASA evolves into a luxurious destination for cutting-edge modern Mexican cuisine and cocktails. Half the menu is

dedicated to antojitos (little tastes) designed for sharing, while the remainder offers innovative entrees for a more traditional dining experience. The Sharing Menu includes taqueria classics like tacos al pastor with a tomatillo-avocado sauce on house-made tortillas, braised beef short rib tlayudas (a sort of tostada) with chile arbolinfused black bean puree, and Nacho’s Madre Nachos — a modern interpretation of traditional nachos cut tableside. The entrees at CASA have many playful spins on the typical Mexican fare, like the sophisticated presentation of fajitas de carne asada made with prime Black Angus skirt steak cooked medium rare and fanned over caramelized onions and peppers, served with chimichurri crema. There are also enchiladas stuffed with Pacific lobster and shrimp, finished with a butternut squash-chile crema and citrus-marinated carnitas accompanied by an applewood bacon-al pastor hash. For dessert, try the olla de chocolate (chocolate pot) or the arroz con leche (rice pudding). CASA has one of the best patios in the city with an indoor/outdoor bar and funky seating that make it one of the hottest happy hour spots in Downtown. The unique architecture creates an array of environments to accommodate large groups that want to hang out, celebrate or host a business mixer. CASA has become one of the most popular places for the “after work” crowd to decompress, and boasts some of the best priced food and one of the best margaritas in the city. The Pina Fuego, made from pureed jalapenos and pineapple juice, is a must-try. Those looking for inventive Mexican cuisine, one of the coolest neighborhood patios in Downtown and a happening happy hour should make CASA their home away from home. At 350 S. Grand Ave., Two California Plaza, (213) 621-2249 or CASAdowntown.com. Open weekdays 11 a.m.-10 p.m. for lunch and 4:30-10 p.m. for dinner, and Saturday 5-10 p.m. Weekday happy hour is 4:30-6:30 p.m. Cuisine: Mexican $

$$

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 23


AP

0 L2 I R

photo courtesy of Yxta Cocina Mexicana

OP EN IN G

2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

11

Gree Hut Cafe Healthy - Nutritional Salads, Sandwiches & Coffee Dine In - Take Out - Delivery 10am - 10pm Daily

Fresh

Choice

808 W 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017 213.627.8166 www.greenhutcafe.com

Yxta Cocina mexicana

A

s unlikely a destination as this Central Avenue strip mall appears, walk inside Yxta and immediately, there’s a sense that everybody’s in on the same secret. The décor is simple and hip: high ceilings, airy filament chandeliers, and a seating arrangement that feels both spacious and warm. There are people sipping margaritas at the bar, diners delving into meals at the long tables, and lots of action in the busy open kitchen. The bartenders shake several kinds of margaritas, none drowned out by generic, sugary mixes. They are nicely calibrated for the slight savory of the chips and selection of fresh salsas. Yxta is probably best known for the tacos al pastor, a staple at its stellar happy hour and during regular dining hours too. It’s an incredibly tender take on pork, chile sauce, a little grilled pineapple and onion, cradled inside of a homemade tortilla. The pork is also a standout in the carnitas estilo Michoacán, slow cooked and as tender as carnitas come. For free-range chicken, fish and veggie fans, there are Mexico City-style plates that play with all kinds of surprises — a great molé sauce, fresh guacamole, sweet shrimp, and all kinds of color from zucchinis, chipotle mash, and nopalitos (cactus). For the purists who crave traditional fare, there’s a section of Mexican classics — rellenos, and enchiladas stuffed with pulled chicken or spiced shredded beef. Whatever part of the menu you tackle, you’ll leave this restaurant knowing the L.A. food adage is right: The most unexpected gems really are found in strip malls. At 601 S. Central Ave., (213) 596-5579 or yxta.net. Open Monday-Wednesday 11:30 a.m.9 p.m., Thursday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 5-10 p.m. Valet parking for $1 during lunch. Free lot parking after 2 p.m. Cuisine: Mexican $$

24 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

$$


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photos courtesy of L.A. Prime

L.A. Prime

W

hen you strip down a dish to its most basic components, the ingredients must be of the best quality. At L.A. Prime, Executive Chef Andreas Nieto highlights the best of the best, from market fresh produce and seasonal delights to top-notch cuts of wet- and dryaged meats from the noted Chicago Stockyards. This longtime steakhouse on the 35th floor of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel has been drawing diners to its elegant dining room overlooking one of the most romantic vistas in the city. Whether you sit at the lovely bar or one of the cozy booths, the panoramic views of the twinkling city lights provide the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable dinner. But make no mistake: L.A. Prime’s menu is a star in its own right. The dining experience starts with the elegant, clubby décor, tables rimming the floor-to-ceiling windows and curtained booths for a more intimate setting. As the sun goes down, candlelight casts a warm glow over the linen covered tables and glimmering glassware. A basket of assorted bread and fresh olive tapenade is presented at each table. Standout starters include the restaurant’s signature seafood platter, an impressive assemblage that includes half a Maine lobster, Pacific prawns, King crab leg, lump crab meat and a daily oyster selection. The daily seafood bisque is legendary, packed with flavor and elegantly prepared. A nod to the chef’s creativity, the stunning halibut cheek is served with live sea urchin broth in the shell — it is rich, divinely creamy and tastes of the sea. A seemingly simple dish, such as the restaurant’s version of the Caprese, is elevated with exquisite ingredients like juicy heirloom tomatoes, hand-pulled burrata cheese, micro sprouts, fresh basil and 50-year balsamic. The classic Caesar salad for two is an interactive experience, prepared tableside in the traditional way by an expert server. The “just entrees” section features beefy cuts of meat, chops and lobster. The steakhouse offers a selection

of prime cuts of beef, like the succulent 22-ounce bone-in Delmonico ribeye, the 14-ounce primal cut New York strip, 24-ounce porterhouse or the 10-ounce center cut filet mignon. There’s also a 12- or 14-ounce house smoked sea salt crusted prime rib served with a pillowy gorgonzola Yorkshire pudding. If pure, unadulterated seafood is what you crave, try the poached three-pound Maine lobster in drawn or lemon butter, or opt for thermidor style. You can also sample the delicate 10-ounce, baked Australian lobster tail served with clarified butter and lemon. Composed entrees highlight the best ingredients available. There are double thick Neiman Ranch pork chops with creamy polenta, roasted

Fuji apples and a drizzle of cider reduction. The cedar plank wild red salmon is a special treat, with tomato fennel compote, roasted cippolini onions, fennel salad and a citrus emulsion for a bright note. The perfectly seared Mano de Leon jumbo scallop comes with the tasty addition of smoked pork belly, English peas, potato emulsion and micro asparagus. Pasta lovers will adore the hand-cut fettuccini flavored with earthy shiitake and oyster mushrooms, ovendried tomatoes and garlic butter, or the expertly prepared risotto (market mushrooms or classic white). Dessert changes depending on the season, but you’ll often find decadent favorites like panna cotta, chocolate mousse, six-layer cake, cheesecake, banana cream pie brûlée, chocolate

soufflé and apple crisp. The wine selection is exceptional at L.A. Prime. The restaurant received the 2010 Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence. The bar turns out some excellent classic cocktails as well, including an array of signature martinis. Or, you can head downstairs to the famed, rotating Bona Vista Lounge. Whether you come for a special occasion, romantic date or business dinner, L.A. Prime offers fine dining at its best — in true L.A. style. At 404 S. Figueroa St., (213) 6241000 or thebonaventure.com. Open Sunday-Thursday 5-10:30 p.m., and Friday-Saturday 5-11 p.m. Validated parking. Cuisine: Steakhouse $$$

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 25


photo courtesy of Taix Restaurant

2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

seasonal rustic

photo by Gary Leonard

taix Restaurant

T

his bastion of French country cuisine is a Los Angeles original. Celebrating its 84th year in business, the restaurant’s affordable prices, extensive wine cellar, and rich history have attracted a loyal following, not only from diners but from its staff — many have served at Taix for more than three generations. They’re consistently kind and careful, and known to give impromptu tours of the walls’ memorabilia. The Taix family’s roots go back to the HautesAlpes in southern France, where they were third and fourth generation sheepherders and bakers. In the late 1800s, they opened a hotel in the French Quarter of Downtown Los Angeles. In 1927, a restaurant debuted on the bottom floor of the hotel, and 35 years later that restaurant moved to its current location — a chalet-like icon that attracts city politicos, businessmen, couples looking for a little romance, late-night hipsters and Francophiles who can’t get enough of the region’s cuisine. It’s just five minutes from the heart of Downtown in Echo Park, with inexpensive valet parking for meals, and a Dodger Stadium-adjacent location that makes it a popular meeting place before and after games. Today, the Taix family has stayed true to the tradition of affordable elegance and hearty French country cuisine. Chef Dominique Theval serves all the classics, from garlicky escargot to thick daily quiches to French onion soup to the two different versions of a salade Niçoise. Diners are known to flock to Taix just for the soup, served tableside from a silver tureen, in a bow to Old World dining. They’re all made a day in advance using aromatic vegetarian stock — except for Friday’s famed clam chowder — and the servers will keep refilling until you surrender (and you should, there’s more to come). In terms of proteins, Taix is known for tender cuts, generous portions, and rich sauces that still find a way not to overshadow the star of the plate.

26 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

The lamb chops and pot roast are pure comfort, served with a soup or wedge salad. The osso bucco is mouthwatering, served with creamy polenta. The rich skirt steak is just as tender and accompanied by crispy, rosemary-tinged pommes frites. Diners are drawn to $9.95 lunch specials and the very reasonable daily specials — among these, the coq au vin and the braised short ribs are spectacular. Wine lovers will be hard-pressed to pick just one glass from the vast, award-winning wine list — the large cellar offers the most affordable selections in L.A. It was named “L.A.’s best kept wine secret” by the Los Angeles Times. Whether dining or enjoying a cocktail, the dimly lit and booth-heavy 321 Lounge has become a popular gathering place for trendy locals — open until the wee hours. There is live music Wednesday to Saturday after 10:30 p.m.; an underground stand-up comedy night Sundays at 8:30 p.m.; and things are always lively around game time, baseball or basketball (the Times also declared Taix the “one of the five best places to watch the Lakers game”). Despite the famed wine cellar, it’s not all red and white inside this Sunset Boulevard chalet: the 321 bartenders know their stuff — and can shake a mean martini. Taix also houses six banquet rooms for breakfast meetings, luncheons and dinners that can accommodate up to 200 guests. Professional, fullservice offsite catering is also offered. At 1911 Sunset Blvd., (213) 484-1265 or taixfrench.com. Open weekdays 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday noon11 p.m., and Sunday noon-9 p.m. Late night menu Wednesday-Saturday until 1 a.m. Cuisine: Country French $$

$$

1700 Silver Lake Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

323-662-8655 info@silverlakereservoir.com

silverlakereservoir.com


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

Yojié Japanese Fondue & Sake Bar photos courtesy of Yojié Japanese Fondue & Sake Bar

M

ost shabu shabu spots evoke images of crowded counters with steaming pots of water, rustic décor and no frills service. It’s the kind of hectic place you go for a quick bite without the ambience. Though Downtown has its share of these Japanese eateries, the newest addition to the local scene is turning the idea of traditional shabu shabu on its head. Yojié Japanese Fondue & Sake Bar, which opened just three blocks from L.A. Live and Staples Center, is certainly one of the most unique shabu shabu and sukiyaki restaurants in L.A. A soft purple glow from the street lures unsuspecting diners into a sleek space, which melds a modern Japanese aesthetic with a sexy lounge vibe. Monthly art shows display well known and local aspiring artists throughout the stunning space, which also features dark wood booths, horsetail bamboo and onyx tables. Polished stainless steel hoods hang over each table like a designer chandelier, setting the stage for the interactive dining experience to come. Shabu shabu dining ignites just about every sense, and the meal itself becomes a culinary adventure. Plunging tender pieces of meat into steel pots of boiling liquid allows each guest to customize his or her meal — some like it rare, others like it well done. Conversation becomes lively, laughter abounds, tablemates are tempted to try new dishes and food is shared. It’s communal dining at its best. And for the uninitiated, there’s no intimidation factor. Servers are friendly and patient, and explain every step in detail. The concept of shabu shabu and sukiyaki is simple — in this Japanese version of “hot pot,” diners get to be the chef as they cook vegetables and paper-thin cuts of meat in steaming broth or water. With shabu shabu, which translates to “swish swish,” meat is briefly swished back and forth in a pot of hot water before it is dipped into a sauce and consumed. The sweeter sukiyaki broth mixes soy sauce, sugar and mirin. Chef Yojie Leelin (Le Cordon Bleu

and Sushi Chef Institute of L.A.) oversees the tasty menu. Diners will discover a simple selection of quality meat and ingredients, with addicting house-made ponzu and goma dipping sauces. There is beautifully marbled, certified Angus beef, free range chicken and sashimi grade salmon, and each order comes with a feast of assorted vegetables, shirataki, udon and harusami noodles, tofu, Japanese mushrooms, seaweed and rice. The sukiyaki also comes with the warishita sweet broth and a fresh egg for dipping. For lunch, there’s an assortment of popular lunch specials that come in four sizes — the kodomo, geisha, samurai and sumo — which range in price from $11 for three ounces of beef to $17 for 12 ounces. It’s one of the best deals Downtown, and the experience can be as short or as long as your lunch hour allows. Though you may be full from the bounty of meat and vegetables, be sure to save room for dessert. At Yojié, dessert is a serious pursuit, with four decadent chocolate fondue flavors to sample — milk, dark, red velvet and the signature green tea. A molten pot of fondue is brought to your table along with

dippers of your choice: strawberries, bananas, rice crispy treats, pound cake and marshmallows. If that weren’t enough, you can also get Japanese floats, mochi, Yojié fudge sundaes and bananas foster. For Downtowners looking for a place to lounge after work, Yojié’s happy hour is a steal. From 5:30-7:30 p.m. daily you’ll find $1 Japanese beer on tap and $1 hot sake. The bar offers a diverse selection of sake cocktails as well, and an extensive sake menu chosen by sake connoisseur Chris Elliot. If you’re unsure

about which sake to order, try the sake flight for $13.50. The chic restaurant, which was ranked in OpenTable Diner’s Choice: Most Romantic, also hosts private parties and events. So get swishing. At 501 W. Olympic Blvd., (213) 988-8808 or yojie.com. Open Sunday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.-midnight. Happy hour 5:307:30 p.m. Free parking in the lot across the street with validation. Cuisine: Japanese $$

$$$

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 27


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photos courtesy of Grand Central Market

Border Grill Downtown LA

E

I

nside the stately Homer Laughlin Building at the corner of Third Street and Broadway, the historic Grand Central Market has enchanted locals and tourists for more than 90 years. This buzzing marketplace of fresh produce, international food vendors and exotic spices continues to capture the imagination of everyone who visits. Since 1917, the colorful open-air market has offered Angelenos a place to shop for fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish at great prices. In its early days, well-to-do residents from the Victorian mansions above would ride the Angels Flight railway down the hill to shop at the bustling marketplace. For just 25 cents, visitors can still ride the tiny funicular located across from Grand Central on Hill Street. In the 1990s, the market underwent a major renovation to bring back its historic character and design, removing decades of grime and restoring the original signs and murals. Grand Central is truly a feast for the senses, from the sawdust on the floor to the vintage neon signs to the delicious smells of international cuisine. You can stop into La Adelita to pick up a bag of still warm Mexican sweet bread, buy a fresh fish taco from Lupita’s Seafood, or grab a coveted stool and a steaming bowl of wonton soup at the longtime China Cafe. For some of the tastiest tacos, regulars flock to Tacos Tumbras A Tomas, a lively counter selling all manner of tasty pork and beef stuffed into a tortilla or piled on a tostada. Don’t pass up Roast to Go, which has served up hefty tacos and Mexican favorites since 1952 — they’ve got a seriously loyal following. If it’s pupusas you’re craving, Sarita’s is the real deal, topped with pickled cabbage and spicy 28 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

red salsa. Anna Maria’s dishes out a delicious array of Mexican dishes as well, including tortas, sopes, gorditas and chile rellenos. The market’s international offerings extend well beyond Mexico to include Teriyaki King, Kabab and More, Broadway Express, Bento Ya Japanese and Hawaiian Barbecue, to name a few. You can also satisfy your sweet tooth at Frozen Yogurt, Casa de Dulce, Josie’s Ice Cream Shop, and Tropical Zone Ice Cream & Juice Bar. Over the years Grand Central has also become a popular place to gather with family and friends or grab a quick bite to eat for lunch — everyone from residents and jurists to civic and corporate workers make the rounds here. The market boasts nearly 40 tenants, making it the perfect one-stop shopping spot. Some vendors sell dried goods such as beans, rice and chilies, while others offer convenient options such as check cashing, Chinese massage and photography. A visit to Grand Central Market offers a unique taste of L.A. culture and history. Whether you browse the aisles, sample the food or shop for delicious fruit and produce, this Downtown landmark will continue to serve as a community treasure for generations to come. At 317 S. Broadway, (213) 624-2378 or grandcentralsquare.com. Open daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Parking in the attached garage is validated with purchase of $10. Cuisine: World $

$

$$

$$ photo courtesy of Border Grill Downtown LA

Grand Central Market

njoy upscale, modern Mexican food in a vibrant setting at Border Grill Downtown LA, the hip, urban cantina from celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, known at the “Too Hot Tamales.” This eatery has set the standard for gourmet Mexican fare in Los Angeles with a menu of complex, authentic dishes based on the home cooking of Oaxaca, the Yucatan and beyond. At lunch, diners will find a wide variety of tacos, quesadillas, salads, sandwiches and ceviches, as well as entrees. Signature dishes include carne asada tacos, citrus chicken quesadillas, Peruvian ceviche, Mexican chopped salad with grilled turkey, chorizo-crusted ono, and Yucatan pork. Begin dinner with satisfying appetizers such as green corn tamales, plantain empanadas or roasted lamb tacos. For entrees, try chicken poblano enchiladas with grilled corn, wild mushrooms and roasted poblanos, or sauteed shrimp with ancho chile, garlic and lime. Tantalizing desserts include Barcelona chocolate cake, torta de tres leches, and souffléed key lime cheesecake. Happy hour brings $3 tacos and $3 ceviche tostaditas, as well as $4.50 house margaritas, mojitos and sangria in a lively atmosphere. The perfect pre-theater dining location, Border Grill Downtown LA offers a theater prix-fixe menu and a free shuttle running Tuesday through Saturday evenings. Private party spaces and full-service catering are also available. At 445 S. Figueroa St. (corner of Fifth Street), (213) 486-5171 or bordergrill.com. Follow on Facebook or Twitter @BorderGrill. Open for lunch Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner Sunday, Monday and Tuesday 5-9 p.m., WednesdayThursday 5-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5-11 p.m. Happy hour in the bar is 4-7 p.m. weekdays, Friday and Saturday (drinks only) after 9 p.m. and Sunday (drinks only) 4-9 p.m. Validated parking in the Union Bank garage. Cuisine: Mexican


• OAK-GRILLED STEAKS & SEAFOOD • LOCATED IN L.A. LIVE ACROSS FROM STAPLES CENTER • PREMIUM SPIRITS ~ ARTISAN DRAUGHT BEERS ~ CALIFORNIA WINES • BANQUET FACILITIES ~ HEATED PATIO • AMERICAN REGIONAL CUISINE • ROCK’N HOURS MON - FRI 3PM-6PM & LATE NIGHT MON - THURS • OPEN DAILY MON - FRI 11:30AM & SAT - SUN AT NOON

800 W OLYMPIC BLVD, SUITE A-160 • LOS ANGELES, CA 90015 • (213) 748-4023 • ROCKNFISHLALIVE.COM COMPLIMENTARY 2 HOUR PARKING WITH VALIDATION


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

$$

photo courtesy of Ocho Mexican Grill

$$

W Wurstküche Restaurant

H

ead to Third and Traction, look for the brick façade with red striped doors and you’ve found Wurstküche, the Arts District’s favorite purveyor of exotic grilled sausage sandwiches. If the steady lines, packed communal tables and bier-quaffing customers are any indication, this is the place go for good sausages and drink. Follow your nose to the counter where you order from the four basic food groups — beer, sausage, fries and dipping sauce. Pull up a bench at one of the long tables covered in butcher paper and sip from one of 35-plus varieties of beer (German, Belgian, American) or gourmet sodas. Meanwhile, check out the minimalist beauty of the industrial space — wood, concrete, brick and an austere display case of raw sausage links. If you’re smart, you’ll order a larger cone of the double-dipped Belgian fries with two homemade dipping sauces, among them the chipotle aioli, curry ketchup, Thai peanut, sundried tomato, and blue cheese walnut and bacon. They pair beautifully with beer, and of course, are a noble side for the main attraction. There are 10 gourmet sausages (Filipino, sundried tomato, mango jalapeno), five exotics (rattlesnake, rabbit, alligator), three classics (bratwurst, bockwurst, hot Italian) and three vegetarian. Each are served on a freshly baked roll with a choice of toppings — caramelized onions, sauerkraut, sweet peppers and spicy peppers. Smear on one of the excellent mustards, and you’ve reached sausage nirvana. At 800 E. Third St., (213) 687-4444 or wurstkucherestaurant.com. Open daily 11 a.m.midnight. Cuisine: German/Belgian/Gastropub $

30 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

$

ant a taste of L.A. history? How about a ninecent cup of coffee? Incredibly, you can find them both at the same place, a block away from Union Station, at Philippe, The Original. In 1908, Philippe Mathieu opened what would become one of the city’s oldest restaurants, and was credited with creating the first French dipped sandwich a decade later. Like many great discoveries, this one was an accident, as Mathieu inadvertently dropped a sliced French roll into a roasting pan filled with cooking juices. A goodnatured customer, an LAPD officer, agreed to take the sandwich anyway, soggy roll and all. He loved it so much that he returned the next day with friends, asking for the same thing. The rest is culinary history. Today, six people involved with Philippe’s are descendants of the family that bought the restaurant to the area in 1927. Freeway construction forced it to move from Aliso Street to its current location in 1951, where it has welcomed diners with its signature sawdust-covered floor and long communal tables for more than 50 years. Hearty breakfasts are served daily until 10:30 a.m. Philippe’s offers several delicious versions of the French Dip, including roasted pork, leg of lamb, turkey, ham and roast beef. They’re all served on freshly baked crusty French rolls, which can be single-dipped or double-dipped. Add one of the tasty side dishes, such as tangy coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad or the signature eggs pickled in beet juice, and you’ve got a classic L.A. meal. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At 1001 N. Alameda St., (213) 628-3781 or philippes.com. Free parking. Beer and wine served. Cuisine: American $

$

$ photo by Gary Leonard

N

estled amid the hustle and bustle of Downtown’s Financial District, visitors, locals and professionals clamor for a taste of this restaurant’s gourmet Mexican cuisine. Described as culinary couture set in a fresh-Mex mode, Ocho Mexican Grill dishes out a healthy take on classic Mexican cuisine. If it’s in season, you’ll find it in their kitchen. What separates this food concept from the rest of the pack is Ocho’s commitment to using only the freshest all-natural ingredients, sourced from local farms. Between “The Ocho” signature proteins and the savory medley of handmade toppings, sauces and salsas, meal combinations are endless. Affording customers a wealth of healthy food options, Ocho provides all the amenities of a fine-dining establishment without the hefty price tag. Although lunchtime tends to draw a large crowd, the assembly line moves swiftly thanks largely to the friendly and accommodating staff. While you wait, keep an eye out for samples of Ocho’s seasonal appetizers, ranging from gourmet hors d’oeuvres to delicious soups. Whether you choose to dine-in or take-out, everything is made fresh to order. In keeping with its commitment to the environment, the fully compostable containers and potato starch utensils are all bio-degradable. Determined to raise the bar for what gourmet Fresh Mex should be, Ocho also delivers its brand of healthy, fresh-fare Mexican food to the office or doorstep, banquet style. At 630 W. Sixth St. (Sixth and Hope streets), (888) 988-OCHO or eatOcho.com. Catering Concierge (888) 988-6246, ext. 3. Open MondayThursday 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. and Friday 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Cuisine: Mexican

Philippe, The Original

photo courtesy of Wurstküche Restaurant

Ocho Mexican Grill


Discover South Park... where over 30 restaurants, night club and entertainment locations are within a 10 minute walk in Downtown Los Angeles.

Where Food & Entertainment

BECOME ONE

PASADENA HOLLYWOOD POMONA

10 101 110

N

Downtown Los Angeles

5 10

SOUTH PARK

SANTA MONICA

★

SAN PEDRO / LONG BEACH

10

5

ANAHEIM

Visit us online for a complete guide to everything South Park has to offer!


photo courtesy of Arashi Sushi

2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

Serving the Finest Authentic Mexican Cuisine 3 locations

Downtown

Full Bar • Patio Dining

1300 Wilshire Blvd.,LA 213-353-4930

arashi sushi

special

Party & Buffet

T

Facility

Happy Hroi, 5upr m-8pm

Mon-F

Silverlake

3129 Sunset Blvd. 323-661-8055

Covina

Full Bar Friday Live Entertainment Sat-Sun Champagne Buffet Brunch 960 N. Citrus St. 626-332-3442

Handmade Tortillas • Catering Available Open 7 Days a Week • Breakfast Lunch Dinner & Takeout

www.laparrillarestaurants.coM

his new sushi restaurant has taken the South Park neighborhood by storm, which is fitting since Arashi means “storm” in Japanese. Located just a few blocks from Staples Center, this 50-seat eatery is the perfect option for local loft residents, office workers and pre- and post-game diners looking for a unique sushi experience. Arashi is warm and casual with a modern Asian aesthetic; dark wood tables and chairs with pops of yellow create a lively atmosphere. Chef Ken Park has honed his sushi skills over a 20-year career, and his philosophy is simple: Every dish must be beautiful and taste delicious. Each plate is artfully presented — some items are stacked on polished stones while others are garnished with flakes of real gold, lush leaves or a stunning flower. The menu runs the gamut from sushi and robata skewers to composed entrees and lunch specials. The popular Dynamite appetizer features baked scallops and mushrooms on colorful scallop shells, while the marinated and broiled black cod is bathed in a tempting yuzu soy glaze. There are nine specialty rolls, including the tasty Downtown version with tuna, salmon, albacore, white fish, crab and avocado wrapped in cucumber. Be sure to stop in weekdays from 5-8 p.m. for the exceptional happy hour specials, which bring $1 robata-yaki and a selection of half-priced sushi and hot sake. At 1111 S. Hope St., #100, (213) 749-1900 or arashisushi.com. Open weekdays for lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday noon-3 p.m., and dinner daily 5-11 p.m. Happy hour 5-8 p.m. Cuisine: Sushi $$

32 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

$$


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

Colori Kitchen

C

hef Luigi Barducci Contessi came to the east side of town from Ca’Brea, a stalwart MidCity food destination. But at Colori, Contessi has something intimate, something that stands alone. He’s not the only big-name chef in the area — there has been a steady migration of them in the last few years — but he’s the only one who has pulled off a homey neighborhood restaurant that has become a beloved staple among lunchtime workers, residents and foodies who come to Eighth Street from all over the city. The cozy, trattoria-style vibe inside can only come when an eatery is run by a family of passionate food lovers. The knowledgeable servers know not only the ingredients but the history and Contessi’s spin on things — because they’ve eaten all of it. The appetizers are simple, from bruschetta to a delicious, no-frills antipasto plate to the beloved melanzane parmigiana — thinly sliced eggplant, tomato sauce and mozzarella (if you watch the regulars, this is the dish they often open with). There are a couple of ways to take the evening after that. Pay attention to specials — if the burrata (billowy white cheese atop tomatoes) or cioppini (a deep bowl of seafood stew) make the board, order them. And it’s a sure thing to stick to the traditional Italian dishes: the homemade tagliatelle pasta with meat Bolognese sauce; the ravioli filled with pumpkin in cream walnut sauce; and for serious meat lovers, the spaghetti carbonara, with creamy sauce and smoky bacon. At 429 W. Eighth St., (213) 622-5950 or colorikitchen.com. Open weekdays for lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., dinner Tuesday-Thursday 6-9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 6-10 p.m. Cuisine: Italian

photo courtesy of Colori Kitchen

$

$$

SLOW FOOD FAST 108 WEST 2ND STREET DOWNTOWN L.A. CORNER OF 2ND & MAIN PITFIREPIZZA.COM

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 33


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

Bar & Kitchen

photo courtesy of Blimpie

F

W

hile there may be a handful of izakayas in Little Tokyo serving up the tasty Japanese pub snacks known as yakitori, Honda Ya has carved out a devoted niche of followers who hail this cozy version as the best in town. One bite of the bacon-wrapped asparagus, delectable miso black cod or charcoal grilled pork belly and you’ll quickly taste why. The philosophy behind an izakaya is simple: tasty, affordable and abundant small plates that are meant to be enjoyed with several friends and, well, several pints. Whether you opt for one of the chilled mugs of beer or a bottle of sake, Honda Ya is the perfect place to enjoy lunch, dinner or even a late-night snack (they’re open until 1 a.m.). You’ll spot this eatery on the upper floor of a shopping mall, a unique location that hasn’t deterred the crowds that seem to gather just about every day of the week. Diners can sit on the floor at one of the low tables in the tatami room, pull up a seat at the entertaining communal table or grab a booth along the wall. In addition to the skewered delights, Honda Ya offers all manner of culinary temptations ranging from flavorful ramen to skillfully prepared sushi rolls to decadent crab and cheese croquettes. Service is always friendly, prices are reasonable, and the food is some of the best you’ll find in Little Tokyo. Honda Ya has recently opened a new location in the City of Industry at 17200 Railroad St., (626) 964-6777. At 333 S. Alameda St. #314, (213) 625-1184 or izakayahondaya.com. Open daily 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Validated lot parking. Cuisine: Japanese

photo by Gary Leonard

$$

Blimpie

S

ince 1965, this popular chain has been making fresh, satisfying sandwiches packed with quality ingredients — the way you’d make them at home. The Downtown L.A. Blimpie outpost can be found on Fifth Street, making it a convenient stop for busy workers in the business district. This sub shop takes its craft seriously, which makes sense since it got its start in one of the great sandwich making meccas in the country — Hoboken, New Jersey. Toppings are fresh, portions are filling and service is always fast and friendly. The Blimpie Best is one of the shop’s most popular sandwiches, stuffed to the brim with slow-cured ham, salami, cappacola, prosciuttini, provolone, tomato, lettuce, onion, vinegar, oil and oregano. Other classics include the buffalo chicken, club, roast beef and cheese, ham and Swiss, turkey and provolone, and the B.L.T. If you’re in the mood for something toasty, sample from hot classics such as the zesty meatball with melted provolone or the Philly cheese steak with peppercorn sauce. For a more gourmet bent, try the grilled panini subs on ciabatta bread — the Sicilian, the Mediterranean or the Tuscan all feature top-notch ingredients and big flavors. For a complete meal, add one of Blimpie’s tasty pastas or salads, or a cup of the daily soup. Blimpie also offers exceptional catering service at affordable prices. Have a tray of their famous deli subs delivered for your next meeting, party or family function and watch them disappear. At 444 S. Flower St., (213) 622-9227 or blimpieontherun.com. Open weekdays 9 a.m.3:30 p.m. Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean, Sandwiches $

34 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

ormerly the O Bar, this South Park bar and restaurant has revamped its menu to focus on American cuisine with market fresh flavors. The bar, too, has been made over with a selection of specialty drinks, small production wines by the glass, craft beers and classic cocktails. Bar & Kitchen is tucked away in the lobby of the O Hotel, a sleek and modern space that doesn’t sacrifice comfort for style. There’s a cozy vibe here thanks to the warmly lit bar, brick walls, dark wood and lounging couches in front of a fireplace. A projector even shows classic movies on the wall. But it’s the approachable, gourmet menu that keeps diners coming back for more. The midday meal brings a few shared plates like pickled seasonal vegetables, bacon wrapped dates with goat cheese, and stuffed piquillo peppers. A trio of flatbreads highlights fresh ingredients like mushrooms, artichokes and eggplant, while hearty sandwiches and wraps fill up the lunch crowd. The signature Kitchen Burger made with white cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, red onion, house pickles and spicy mustard is a favorite. At dinner, the menu features main courses like the creamy shrimp and grits with Spanish chorizo, the half-roasted chicken with truffle gravy, and the braised short ribs with roasted veggies. Don’t overlook the sides — the parmesan truffle tater tots and the mac and cheese are some of the best items here. Dessert hits a sweet note with banana bread pudding, warm apple crumble and chocolate pot de crème. At 819 S. Flower St., (213) 623-9904 or ohotelgroup.com. Open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Saturday 5 p.m.-12 a.m., closed Sunday. Cuisine: American Market Fresh Cuisine $

$$ photo courtesy of Bar & Kitchen

Honda Ya Little Tokyo


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photo by Gary Leonard

photo courtesy of Spring Street Smokehouse

Esaan - A Taste of Thai

F

or the last several years, this unlikely barbecue joint on the edge of Chinatown has captured the appetites and hearts of many a Downtowner. Cops, city workers, tourists and locals flock to Spring Street Smokehouse for some of the best ’cue in town. The interior has a simple, downhome charm with butcher paper and rolls of paper towels on each table, old license plates on the wall, aluminum siding behind the bar and a chalkboard touting the tempting array of craft beers. But it’s the food that’s the real star here, namely the copious amounts of succulent meat smoked onsite with hickory wood from four to 18 hours. Add the restaurant’s signature barbecue sauce with a spicyvinegar kick and you’ve got a killer meal. The menu offers all the classics — beef and pork ribs, Texas hot links, brisket — along with the delicious requisite sides like hush puppies, collard greens, mac and cheese, baked beans and even sweet potato fries. Among some of the specialties are the burnt ends, the addicting trimmings from the brisket that are slathered in sauce; the beef sandwich topped with creamy gorgonzola sauce; and the Cajun stuffed chicken with sliced jalapenos, onions and Jack cheese wrapped in bacon and pit-smoked. Don’t forget the decadent bourbon bread pudding and peach cobbler. You can wash it all down with fresh limeade and sweet tea, or if you’re so inclined, sample from the diverse selection of craft beer on tap or wines by the glass. During the weekday happy hour from 3-6 p.m. you can pull up a seat at the bar for the $5 sandwiches and $1 off drafts. At 640 N. Spring St., (213) 626-0535 or sssmokehouse.com. Open Monday-Thursday 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday noon-10 p.m., and Sunday noon-9 p.m. Cuisine: American Barbecue $

$

Q

uick lunch options around the Central Business District can sometimes become a little routine. So when you crave more than the usual sandwiches, salads and burgers, there’s Essan - A Taste of Thai. Conveniently located at the corner of Fifth Street and Grand Avenue (across from the Central Library) this newcomer has already generated lots of buzz among foodies and lunchgoers for its fresh, healthy fusion cuisine. Owner Nattha Quan, who as a child grew up in the Thai countryside, created a simple menu based on the flavors of home — including a taste of Vietnamese cuisine. The lovely restaurateur takes her inspiration from the food vendors who set up at the local street markets in her community, and her goal is to bring that authentic taste of Thai cooking to the Downtown populace — a perfect blend of spice, tang and sweetness. Quan also uses minimal oil, grass-fed beef, and offers healthy alternatives such as brown rice and tofu. Customers can dine in or take out at this petite space, which features a small counter and a few tables inside and on the sidewalk patio. The aroma of savory curries and Thai soups draws hungry passersby from the street to investigate. There are four menu categories from which to choose: chilled, hot, sandwiches and snacks. Among the chilled options are the colorful vermicelli salad with steak or chicken, and the refreshing pad Thai pasta salad — a sort of deconstructed version of the classic noodle dish with spaghetti noodles. If you crave something warm, try the tender lemongrass steak or chicken with garlic rice, a hearty lunchtime choice without the guilt. The heady yellow curry served with a crisp baguette or rice, or the spicy tom yum soup with shrimp or chicken is com-

fort food at its very best. Customers clamor for the Thai-inspired bahn mi sandwich stuffed with pickled veggies and grilled meat on a crusty roll, as well as the popular satay sandwich with a choice of steak or chicken. Lighter snacks feature fresh spring rolls and even seasonal items like mango sticky rice. In keeping with the restaurant’s healthy bent, diners can substitute meat for tofu. Wash it all down with one of the restaurant’s thirst-quenching lemongrass lemonades, Thai iced coffees or teas, made fresh daily. Don’t forget to check in regularly for the restaurant’s changing menu of specials featuring seasonal ingredients. If you want a taste of Esaan Thai at your next party or office event, Quan caters food for the immediate area. This unique eatery definitely spices up the midday dining scene in the Central Business District — and the best part is that it’s healthy. At 601 W. Fifth St., (213) 488-9995 or esaanthai.com. Open weekdays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Cuisine: Thai Fusion $ photo courtesy of Esaan - A Taste of Thai

Spring Street Smokehouse

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 35


toddy G’s

O

n a seemingly desolate, industrial strip of Seventh Street in the Arts District, the smell of freshly baked pizza wafts through the air. It’s an unexpected but welcome surprise coming from the warmly lit eatery known as Toddy G’s. Owned by entrepreneur Todd Giordanella and former pro skateboarder Salman Agah, this newcomer serves up authentic New York-style pies made with fresh produce and small batch ingredients. Toddy G’s sits next door to the remade hipster bar Tony’s Cocktails, and patrons eagerly pull up a stool at the window counter or pop into a booth for a slice of the hand-stretched creations. The menu board is straightforward- there is a handful of family-style salads such as the classic Caprese and spicy chopped, and about a dozen signature 18-inch pizzas. Among the favorites are the carbonara with eggs, parmesan, bacon, caramelized onions, edamame and black pepper, the white version with mozzarella, grana padano, olive oil and oregano, and the Meat Jesus with tomato sauce, mozzarella, grana padano, pepperoni, sausage and bacon. The pizzeria also has a rotating lineup of guest chefs who create gourmet pies like the ricotta and mushroom with shaved truffles or the pulled pork, pickled onion and cilantro. Wash it all down with a gourmet soda or latte. Toddy G’s also serves a daily selection of pizzas by the slice, so you can swing by for lunch, dinner or after hours with friends. Downtown has its share of pizzerias, but this Arts District eatery is already becoming a handsdown favorite. At 2019 E. Seventh St., (213) 627-1430 or toddygs.com. Open Tuesday-Sunday 12 p.m.midnight. Cuisine: Pizza photo courtesy of Toddy G’s

$

photo by Gary Leonard

2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

BOOK YOUR EVENT AT THE CENTER AT CATHEDRAL PLAZA

plum tree

A

ngelenos looking for an authentic taste of Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine head to Plum Tree Inn. For decades, this favorite Chinatown The Center at Cathedral Plaza is a eatery has become a mainstay for everyone from full service event site and conference center. City Hall workers to residents to tourists. Located on a bustling stretch of Broadway, Plum Tree is centrally located and even boasts its own convenient parking lot. The attractive, contemporary space features an inviting dining room with airy artwork on the walls and a stunning BOOK YOUR HOLIDAY PARTY AT THE dragon sculpture hanging from the ceiling. The CENTER AT CATHEDRAL PLAZA AND restaurant also offers a cozy bar for a pre-dinner glass of wine or a cocktail. THE HORS D’OEUVRES ARE ON US! The food, of course, is the main attraction. The vast menu features all the classics like pan-fried Size Event From 10-900 noodles and fried rice to orange chicken andRestaurants is Any Levy offering a complimentary hors sweet and sour pork. But there’s also a selection Fully Audio/Visual d’oeuvre station when youIntegrated book your next event!* of house specialties that are not to be missed. Onis aSite Parking Among the favorites are the rich and The creamy Center at Cathedral Plaza full-service event shrimp with honey walnuts, the crispy tangerine site located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. beef, the tender scallops in lemon sauce and the Maria Lopez • 213.680.5271 Kung Pao Three Delicacies with shrimp, fish filet mlopez@levyrestaurants.com and scallops sauteed with the restaurant’s famous Maria Lopez • 213.680.5271 Szechuan sauce. For a special treat (order ahead), mlopez@levyrestaurants.com www.cathedralcatering.com try the Beijing duck, a true showstopper with www.cathedralcatering.com lacquered skin, Chinese pancakes, spring onions and hoisin dipping sauce. The lunch specials are a steal at Plum Tree, with dozens of delectable chicken, beef, seafood and vegetable dishes from which to sample. At 913 N. Broadway, (213) 613-1819 or *Offer valid for future events booked by October 30, 2009, does not plumtreeinn.com. Open Monday-Thursday include previously booked events. Offer not valid for Saturday evenings. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. and Sunday LR_Holiday_DTN.indd 1 9/9/09 11:21:33 AM 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. 555 West Temple Street Cuisine: Asian/Mandarin Los Angeles $

36 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

$$


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photos by Lon Wahlberg

Uncle John’s Cafe

F

1119 s. olive street los angeles, ca 90015

reservations: 213.746.7746 www.jloungela.com

ounded in 1975 as Uncle John’s Ham ‘N’ Eggs, this Downtown diner has become a veritable institution over the decades, drawing cops, early birds and suits to its old-school counter for hearty Chinese-American favorites. Originally located at the corner of Eighth and Olive streets, Uncle John’s Cafe now serves up its famous ham and eggs and spicy pork chops in a new South Park location. The Ng family still offers customers the same great menu (and a few new options too) but with a little more elbow room to eat. Loyal fans and newcomers alike are flocking to the upgraded locale. The new eatery unfolds in a lofty space on the ground floor of the Stillwell Hotel, with modern decor and dark wood tables. Though you can’t see the cooks behind the counter, diners enjoy a much more leisurely pace — there are even televisions for watching the news or sports. You can get a cup of coffee, read the paper and chow down on a breakfast that’ll keep you going for the better part of the day. Everything on the affordable menu is priced at around $8 and servings are more than generous. Most of the classics remain. For breakfast there are tasty omelets, hotcakes and French toast with

sausage and bacon, or the corned beef hash, steak, teriyaki chicken and barbecue pork, all served with eggs and a choice of fried rice or home fries. The aforementioned spicy pork with eggs is still a hands-down favorite, with big chunks of crispy pork tossed with green onion and sliced serrano peppers — and when the egg yolks break open over the fried rice, it’s heaven on a plate. Lunch brings the requisite hamburgers, patty melts on rye and BLTs, as well as Chinese dishes like fried rice, chow mein, chop suey and noodle soups. Customers can even request items that aren’t on the menu — like the delicious chow fun — and the kitchen usually accommodates. Uncle John’s is one of those rare Downtown treasures that offers lots of nostalgia, plenty of good eats and friendly service. To serve the local business and residential community later in the day, Uncle John’s has added dinner service. At 834 S. Grand Ave., (213) 623-3555 or ujcafe.com. Open for breakfast and lunch weekdays 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m., and Saturday 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Open for dinner Wednesday-Saturday 5-10 p.m. Cuisine: Chinese/American $

$

$

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 37


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photo courtesy of Prime Grind Coffee

el paseo inn Restaurant

T

T

We do catering

Breakfast lunch dinner sit doWn, take out, drive thru, phone orders

213-483-8885 1657 W. 3rd St. (Corner of 3rd & Union) Los Angeles, CA 90017

open daily 7am-10pm

free parking

38 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

his local cafe is a labor of love for Downtown residents Jeremy Ingram and Parker Martin. Located across from the Music Center and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Prime Grind is passionate about coffee — and it shows. The warm, casual décor and friendly service makes this cafe a home away from home, a place where you can linger on the patio or surf the Internet. Prime Grind specializes in local roasters, with a selection of organic and free trade beans. Their single brew system uses LaMill and Supreme Bean and includes the french press and pour over method, ensuring the best and freshest cup of java. There’s also a tempting array of blended frappes, smoothies and granitas with farm pressed juices. The sandwich board features several gourmet options. The popular tuna salad comes with cranberries, cherries, apples, and walnuts on your choice of wheat, sourdough, pumpernickel or rye bread. Vegetarians love the Prime Grind Veggie Panini, with sauted mushrooms and spinach along with fresh seasonal vegetables.. There’s an assortment of fresh seasonal salads and soups as well, such as the sundried apricot salad with gala apples, blue cheese, curried almonds and champagne vinaigrette, or the sweet corn and jicama slaw. And what goes better with a cup of coffee than one of the cafe’s freshly baked sweet treats. Choose from decadent carrot cake, red velvet cake, chocolate croissants, cookies and muffins. At 714 W. First St., (213) 229-0030 or primegrind.com. Open weekdays 7 a.m.-9 p.m., weekends 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Visit our new location at 5223 Wilshire Blvd. Cuisine: Cafe $

$

$$

$$

$$ photo courtesy of El Paseo Inn Restaurant

prime Grind Coffee

here is history in every corner of this Olvera Street restaurant — from its old days as a winery (well, a soda pop factory during Prohibition), to the years when an enormous dance floor on the premises was filled with folklorico dancers and a full Latin orchestra. Today, El Paseo is one of the area’s most popular restaurants, boasting a sheltered patio with a view of the street’s shops, the live mariachi street performers, and one of Los Angeles’ oldest bars — so old it’s actually designated a historical landmark. El Paseo is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an expansive menu of traditional Mexican favorites. There are combinations and solo plates filled with chile rellenos; chicken and enchiladas in the restaurant’s molé sauce; sizzling fajitas; and the best-selling chile verde, succulent roast pork simmered in green chile sauce. But these hearty dishes are just the start. There’s a huge T.J. Caesar salad, which tips its hat to the famed salad created by Caesar Cardini in Tijuana, Mexico, and tostadas filled with beef or chicken. There are also a handful of soups, which many local Mexican restaurants offer only on the weekends, including a filling meatball; a tortilla soup (the recipe was given to the restaurant by the chief of the Gucci Indians, according to lore); and a spicy caldo de camarón, with prawns cooked in guajillo broth. Accompanying everything are handmade tortillas, and if you dare, a 48-ounce Camacho margarita, named for the restaurant family that owns this and several other popular Mexican eateries. At 11 E. Olvera St., (213) 626-1361 or elpaseoinn.com. Become a fan on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Open Monday-Thursday 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Weekday happy hour 3:30-5:30 p.m. Mariachi shows Friday 5-7:30 p.m. and Sunday 2-5 p.m. Cuisine: Mexican


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photos courtesy of Izakaya Fu-ga

izakaya fu-ga

D

escend a near-hidden staircase on San Pedro Street and you’ll discover one of Little Tokyo’s most unique restaurants. Leave tradition at the door, and journey down the rabbit hole that is Izakaya Fu-ga. This modern version of a Japanese small plates eatery offers plenty of surprises at every turn. To start, the décor is contemporary and sleek, with dark tables, high-backed booths, curtained dining alcoves and a dramatic uplit bar. It’s the type of place you want to dine and lounge with a date or group of friends — and sip sake late into the night. The cuisine marries all the best things about an izakaya with a fusion twist. While the traditional take is to offer grilled skewers and tapas style plates paired with copious amounts of beer and sake, Izakaya Fu-ga takes the concept a step further with favorites like sushi rolls, pork rib tacos and even French fries tossed with seaweed flakes and garlic butter. Dining here offers the best of both worlds. Lunch starts off the day with several specials, notably the ribeye steak aged for 21 days (under $10), the charbroiled chicken and salmon, and the chef’s special sushi combo that comes with miso soup, an entree and sushi roll. There’s also an assortment of sandwiches and salads. The kitchen kicks into full gear come dinner, with a menu full of baked and grilled items, fried treats, stir-fried dishes, udon noodles, steak and more than a dozen specialty sushi rolls. In true izakaya style, everything pairs perfectly with a beer or cocktail. The Edamame is perfect for sharing with the whole table, along with an order of the lacy tempura beer battered onion rings, or the crispy rice topped with spicy tuna. Be sure to order the flavorful pork belly wrapped asparagus, the crab, shrimp and scallop dynamite with mushrooms and vegetables and the assorted sausage plate with black pork sausage, linguisa and bratwurst with a side of grainy mustard. The Manila clams sauteed with sake butter

sauce are quick to disappear, as are the irresistible sauteed wild mushrooms in cream sauce that come with slices of crusty baguette. Turn up the heat with the lightly fried shrimp tossed in spicy chili mayo. Don’t miss the delicate baked scallops with mushrooms and miso paste. For the after-work crowd, Izakaya Fu-ga hosts a happening happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. daily. There are plenty of delicious bar snacks on hand like the aforementioned pork rib tacos, as well as green mussel dynamite, beef kushiyaki and crispy calamari. The bar also offers half off draft beer and $2 off all others drinks. On Thursday nights, the space turns into a lounge complete with DJ and plenty of after-hours fun thanks to a long list of specialty martinis and cocktails. This Downtown newcomer has helped bring the izakaya into the modern day with its chic design, affordable prices, lounge vibe and friendly service. At 111 S. San Pedro St., (213) 625-1722 or izakayafu-ga.com. Open for lunch Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., open for dinner Sunday 5-11 p.m., Monday-Thursday 5 p.m.-12 a.m., FridaySaturday 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Happy hour 5-7 p.m. daily. Cuisine: Japanese $$

$$$

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 39


photo by Gary Leonard

photo courtesy of The Park Restaurant

2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

the park Restaurant

T

his American Bistro in Echo Park has become a neighborhood institution. The Park uses seasonal and often organic ingredients to create incredibly affordable and addicting fare for both vegetarians and omnivores — all without an ounce of pretension. The simple vintage décor adds casual warmth to this petite space, along with black-and-white tile floors and a lovely hideaway patio with mosaic tables. The menu, which changes seasonally, features an array of comfort classics with a gourmet or international spin. Vegetarian options are so appealing that even carnivores won’t miss the meat. For lunch, the avocado and gruyere sandwich with olive relish or the flavor-packed homemade veggie burger are standouts. For dinner, the grilled polenta topped with a creamy gorgonzola sauce and crispy onions is exceptional. Among the restaurant’s favorites is the signature sirloin burger, a meaty triumph with delectable add-ons like caramelized onion and gruyere cheese. There’s also the roasted Jidori half chicken served with a mound of fries and an arugula salad, or the succulent ribeye with cassoulet beans. Brunch is also a tasty affair at The Park, with selections such as aromatic French press coffee, brioche French toast, wild mushroom frittata and a Monte Cristo sandwich. Not to be missed are the weekly specials, such as Tuesday’s three-course dinner for $15 (there is a different menu each week), or the Sunday night fish and chips featuring beer-battered rock cod and hand-cut fries with dill tartar sauce. Plus, diners can enjoy half-priced bottles of wine every Thursday night. At 1400 W. Sunset Blvd., (213) 482-9209 or thepark1400sunset.com. Open Lunch/Brunch Tuesday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., SaturdaySunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Dinner Tuesday-Friday 6-10 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 5:30-10 p.m. Cuisine: American Bistro $ (Weekends only) $ $$

40 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

french Garden Located on oLvera Street

p

Espresso Iced & Blended Drinks Coffee & Tea Smoothies Beer & Wine Tacos Tortas Paninis Specialty Soups & Salads Assorted Pastries

p

artwork For SaLe Provided by Self Help Graphics

Follow us on:

open daiLy Steps away from Union Station, Federal Court House, and City Hall!

oFFering Free wi-Fi. 103 Paseo De La Plaza, Olvera Street Los Angeles, CA 90012

213.626.6300 www.cafedecamacho.com

W

ho would have guessed that there was a little bit of Paris just off an alley on Seventh Street? Surrounded by factories and produce warehouses, the French Garden is a bougainvillea-covered oasis amid the hustle and bustle of the city. This super casual eatery is popular with the business crowd and politicos, so you’ll see plenty of Jaguars and Mercedes parked in the lot (there’s complimentary valet, by the way). But local loft dwellers and artists have also adopted it, and can be spotted on the charming patio lingering over a frothy café au lait or glass of Chardonnay. There aren’t many chef-restaurateurs who greet their customers personally, recommend what to eat for lunch and chat amiably with them as they leave. But Benoit Lesure has built a loyal following by doing just that — it also helps that the food here is delicious and comes without the attitude you might expect at pricier French restaurants. The gooey brie and grilled eggplant sandwich on toasty French bread is a crowd favorite, as is the pressed chicken sandwich with sun-dried tomatoes and creamy avocado. The tender hearts of palm salad is a must. More substantial entrees include a lovely selection of seafood, such as the sauteed halibut in a lemony-caper sauce or the insanely big bowl of shrimp linguini. Though it’s not open for dinner, the locals have made the French Garden a popular happy hour destination, with beer and wine offered at the bar along with lots of free appetizers. The restaurant was also featured by KCET host Huell Howser as one of Downtown’s hidden gems. At 1936 E. Seventh St., (213) 623-4028. Open weekdays for lunch only 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Cuisine: European Fusion $$


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

S RESTAURANT

Traditional

Japanese C u i s i n e

ince opening in January 2007, L’Angolo has become a favorite stop for Downtown residents and local workers from the nearby Fashion District and Historic Core. Chef Julio Perdomo serves up traditional Italian cuisine with fresh local ingredients and a bit of California flair in this casual elegant eatery. Located on the corner of Spring and Ninth streets, L’Angolo lures diners into the lovely space set with white tablecloths, sparkling glass and dark wood accents. A cozy, relaxing atmosphere makes for a nice place to linger over a glass of wine and conversation. Salads are a lunchtime favorite, with options such as the Caprese with fresh mozzarella, the grilled salmon with balsamic and the ahi tuna Niçoise. The gourmet burgers are a particular draw, and it’s easy to see why. Diners can’t get enough of the sevenounce Kobe on a brioche bun (the restaurant’s most popular item), the gorgonzola version with caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms or the house made salmon or turkey burger. For lighter fare, there are a host of delicious panini and wraps — you can even order them for takeout if you’ve got to get back to the office in a hurry. The hand-rolled pastas are delightful, and the menu has plenty of options. From the fluffy potato gnocchi and comforting spaghetti Bolognese to the freshly made lasagna and creamy penne alla vodka, there’s something for everyone. Seafood dishes feature fresh fish like the grilled salmon with a lemon caper sauce or the red snapper with white wine and pesto. The succulent fish tacos, a nod to L.A. culture, are a great lunchtime choice — they’re packed with flavorful pico de gallo, sour cream, cheese and cabbage. For hearty appetites, the entree specials include the excellent eggplant parmigiana and the pork tenderloin with brown mushroom

sauce. Likewise, you can order your chicken in just about any style, including piccata, marsala, parmigiana, fried or the regulars’ favorite — with house-made artichoke sauce. Dinner brings a tempting array of antipasti, from delicate calamari to crab croquette and grilled octopus. Salads take a more elegant spin, with the popular burratta and the goat cheese with pine nuts. Likewise, simple ravioli is elevated with ingredients like lobster, pumpkin, shaved truffle or pear and gorgonzola. Don’t miss the heavenly wild mushroom risotto or the flame-grilled New York strip with peppercorn sauce. For a sweet finish, be sure to order an espresso and one of the restaurant’s daily, amazing house-made dessert specials — like the vanilla panna cotta. For those looking for an after-work happy hour haunt, L’Angolo is a casual yet elegant option to meet up with co-workers or friends for a glass of wine or beer and some excellent appetizers. L’Angolo also offers catering for groups of 10 to 100. From office events to at-home gatherings, they can provide hors d’oeuvres or entree dishes with panache. At 101 W. Ninth St., (213) 622-2262 or langolo-cafe.com. Open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday 12-11 p.m., closed Sunday. Happy hour 3-6 p.m. Lunch delivery. Cuisine: Cal-Italian $$

$$ photos courtesy of L’Angolo Cafe

L’angolo Cafe

Full Bar

Happy Hour: Tues.–Sat. 5pm to 8pm

All You Can Eat Buffet

Featuring crispy tempura, fresh sushi, chicken teriyaki and much more. Lunch: 11am - 3pm : $8.50 Dinner: 5pm - 9pm: $10

Downtowns Best Karaoke Starts Every Night from 5pm 122 Japanese Village Plaza

Easy-In, Easy-Out, Validated Parking 213.628.2678 | www.OIWAKE.com

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 41


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

A

t this casual cool Arts District destination, it’s all about good wine, excellent food, mellow music and lively conversation. Swill Automatic is the kind of neighborhood bottega that Downtown has been waiting for. They put a slightly differently twist on the usual wine bar concept with a unique serving system that allows customers to sample from dozens of vinos by the glass. Wine bottles are hooked up to an enomatic machine, you pop in a prepaid card, pay by the ounce and drink away. It’s all about being adventurous, without any of the stress or snobbish judgment you sometimes encounter at other wine spots. Swill stocks 70-plus wines from all over the world, all of which are eminently affordable and quaffable. The beauty of this place is that you can come as you are — meaning no dress code or bouncers. The setup encourages easy conversation at communal tables, or outside on the cozy patio. The food, too, is meant to be a shared experience. There’s artisanal cheese and cured meat plates, herby olives and roasted peppers, garlic hummus and crusty bruschetta. You can find sandwiches and panini, as well as some tasty salad options. Larger plates feature the mind-blowing Dirty Mussels with bacon and gorgonzola in a white wine sauce, the braised beef shanks with mashed potatoes or the vegan quinoa risotto. There’s a wine for every dish — and every person. At 1820 Industrial St., (213) 239-9088 or swillautomatic.com. Open MondayWednesday 3-11:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday 3 p.m.-1:30 a.m., Saturday 10-1:30 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Cuisine: Wine Bar/Classic American $$

$$$

photo by Gary Leonard

$$

starry Kitchen

Sultan T Chicken R e s ta u R a n t

Mediterranean & Mexican Cuisine We Cater! We offer a wide variety of delicious cuisines for any occasion.

Delivery Pickup Catering With

Chef alex 213-236-0604

311 W. 6th Street

Mon-Sat 8:30 am-5:30 pm

sultanchicken.com 42 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

he humble beginnings of Starry Kitchen are steeped in lore. In 2009, married couple Nguyen and Thi Tran (executive chef, aka The Kitchen Ninja) started an “underground” supper club in their apartment that became wildly popular. In less than six months, the duo graduated to a legitimate restaurant on Bunker Hill in 2010. After a year of operation and much acclaim, the restaurant continues to serve its Pan-Asian (Malaysian, Vietnamese, Korean, among others) cuisine to the masses. Ordering is simple: choose a protein (meat/vegetarian); choose your “vessel” as a wrap, Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, lunch/ rice plate, chopped or Cobb salad; and finally, select a tasty side. Starry Kitchen is an adventure in culinary exploration, to say the least. The eccentric eatery rotates the menu every week. Proteins and side dishes stay for three weeks, and then become elusive for at least three months (but they promise that items do come back). The great part is the chance to try different flavors from different regions, including some original dishes mixed in for good measure. Menu offerings include everything from spicy “crack” krab cakes filled with jalapenos and cilantro topped with wasabi mayo, to five-spice marinated Taiwanese fried pork chop served with flash-fried basil, to dinner-only appetizers like double-fried sweet ginger glazed chicken wings. And on rare days, diners might find owner Nguyen Tran dressed in one of his many (infamous) costumes — providing a bit of unexpected entertainment. At 350 S. Grand Ave., (213) 617-3474 or starrykitchen.com. Validated parking. Open weekdays for lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and dinner (only two days) Thursday-Friday 6-9:30 p.m. Cuisine: Asian Fusion $ $ (Thurs. & Fri. only) photo courtesy of Starry Kitchen

swill automatic


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photo courtesy of Il Capriccio on Vermont

photo courtesy of Toranoko

Il Capriccio on Vermont

Toranoko

N

ext door to Michael Cardenas’ wildly popular Lazy Ox Canteen, Downtowners can now experience the restaurateur’s newest hit — a sushi and izakaya cocktail bar dubbed Toranoko. The design and vibe channels New York City and Tokyo, with a colorful Murakami-inspired graffiti mural painted on one brick wall and a sexy uplit glass bar on the other. Down the center of the space is a long communal table and black chandeliers casting a warm glow over the room. At the far end of the restaurant, in dramatic fashion, sits the elegantly austere sushi bar, a painting of a pouncing tiger just behind the chef’s head (the restaurant’s name means “Baby Tiger”). Toranoko is a stunning space, both stylish and welcoming. But equally as impressive is the menu. Chef Hisaharu Kawabe and his crew hail from Nobu, and they’ve brought with them all the panache and skill associated with that pedigree. Izakaya dining typically focuses on small plates and grilled skewers, ideally paired with copious libations. Toranoko doesn’t disappoint with its eclectic list of sake, beer, wine and unique specialty cocktails (some feature bacon and jalapenos). A sampling of popular menu items includes the creamy uni goma tofu topped with sea urchin, tender Jidori fried chicken, succulent lamb chops with sugar snap peas, and braised Kurobuta pork belly. There are unexpected treats like the Japanese mountain yam fries with plum aioli or even the exquisite green tea pudding topped with berries. The sushi rivals many of the best counters in Little Tokyo. This sleek Japanese gastropub is shaking up the local dining scene, and it promises to be quite the year for the tiger. At 243 S. San Pedro St., (213) 621-9500 or toranokola.com. Open for lunch daily from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., dinner Sunday-Thursday 5-11 p.m., and Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.-midnight. Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi Bar $$$

$$$

L

ocated just east of Downtown Los Angeles in Los Feliz, this cozy neighborhood trattoria takes diners on a culinary trip to Southern Italy. With its intimate seating, glowing candlelight and quaint sidewalk patio, Il Capriccio sets the tone for an authentic dining experience. Visitors instantly feel at home here, which makes perfect sense since the Neiviller family has a long and storied history in the restaurant business — father Antonio got his start at L.A.'s famed Sarno's Bakery and later opened Rosso e Nero on Melrose. To this day, Mamma Flora still greets customers with hugs and kisses. From the energetic open kitchen, diners can watch as classic Italian dishes are expertly prepared. To whet your appetite, a basket of freshly baked ciabatta bread and olive tapenade is brought to every table. Order a glass or bottle of vino from the thoughtful wine menu, which features an eclectic selection of reds, whites and sparkling options. Lunch brings a large menu of elegant entree salads tossed with the house balsamic dressing. There’s a lovely sauteed shrimp salad mounded in a sweet, halved papaya, the roasted beet and goat cheese with baby greens, and the colorful Capriccio with grilled eggplant, goat cheese, tomato, kalamata olives and walnuts over mixed greens. Add tender grilled shrimp or chicken to any salad. Sandwich lovers will appreciate the flavorful panini, with your choice of bread, cheese and spreads. From the grilled eggplant to the Caprese to the Portobello, there’s a sandwich combination for just about everyone. Pastas feature hearty

photo by Brian Allison

penne, rigatoni and fettuccini, while main entrees include favorites like the grilled salmon, chicken picatta, New York steak and grilled chicken breast. Dinner transforms the menu with a selection of delectable antipasti, including crispy calamari, prosciutto and melon drizzled with olive oil, or the grilled portobello filled with creamy goat cheese and gorgonzola. The pasta course brings spicy penne with garlic and olives, beautiful squid ink ravioli with lobster, fresh spinach pasta with mushrooms and pink sauce, and classic lasagna with Bolognese sauce and ricotta. Main courses feature all the best Italian favorites. There’s the decadent chicken breast served in a creamy gorgonzola Alfredo sauce with sundried tomatoes, and the shrimp scampi tossed in a spicy garlic and olive oil sauce. The buttery, doubleboned roast pork chop is stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto and smothered in the restaurant’s special brown sauce. All entrees are served with a choice of two sides. Il Capriccio makes all its desserts in house, creating the perfect finish to your meal. Among the standouts are the strawberry ricotta cheesecake, creamy panna cotta, cannoli and rum bubba. Add a rich cup of espresso or a latte. The restaurant is also known for its excellent catering kitchen, and clients return again and again for the authentic cuisine and impeccable service. Don’t forget the takeout menu for those times you want to take your meal back to the office or enjoy it at home. For corporate or personal gifts, Il Capriccio offers a selection of gourmet gift baskets and Italian products including wine, cheese, chocolate, coffee, beer and more. On the last Tuesday of the month, the eatery hosts Tombola Night, where you can pick a number for a chance to get your dinner tab on the house. At 1757 N. Vermont Ave., (323) 662-5900 or ilcapriccioonvermont.com. Open SundayThursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Cuisine: Italian $

$$

DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 43


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

photos by Brian Allison

Oomasa

T

he antithesis of many of the city’s noisy, crowded Japanese establishments, this unpretentious eatery in Little Tokyo serves up some of the best and most affordable sushi in town. Oomasa opened in 1972 before the sushi craze of the 1980s, and has developed a loyal following of locals, as well as fans that drive in. At the age of 21, founder Masaharu Motoyama emigrated from Hokkaido in Northern Japan, bringing with him the artful skill of sushi making. His search for the American dream landed him in Little Tokyo, where he built the largest sushi bar in Southern California with 40 seats. He trained his sushi chefs the traditional Japanese way, making vegetable floral art pieces while interacting with the curious sushi bar customers. The inventive Motoyama also lays claim to the invention of the California Roll, and his experienced, skilled chefs continue his tradition of classic preparation and commitment to the highest quality of fish that sets this family-owned restaurant apart. Behind the impressive sushi bar, chefs create a tempting selection of sushi, sashimi and rolls. Its approach is elegant: While most sushi bars have incorporated fusion cuisine and wildly inventive specialty rolls, Oomasa has perfected the Japanese culinary art of beautifully cut and presented fish — gorgeous pieces of deep red tuna, fresh sea urchin,

44 DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM

seared albacore, spicy tuna and scallop rolls, and marbled salmon lure connoisseurs to the counter. For lunch, try the numbered specials — compartmentalized trays with fish, tempura, meat and salads. It’s an enormous amount of food for around $10. If you crave sushi, the rainbow-colored chirashi special includes 10 slices of fresh seafood stacked atop seasoned rice. But the menu doesn’t stop at sushi. There are wheat udon noodles with a poached egg dropped in a giant bowl, or favorites like the golden and tender pork cutlet, flavorful chicken or beef teriyaki, and crispy tempura combination plate. A thickcut of beef teriyaki, a large filet of broiled salmon or the classic chicken teriyaki are all delivered daily and served along with traditional ingredients. In the evening, there’s delectable broiled salmon, una-ju (eel over rice) and colorful sashimi plates. All specials come with a bowl of miso soup, steamed rice, Japanese pickles and a serving of delicious green tea ice cream. Oomasa has earned a reputation for quality ingredients and top-notch service. It’s a tasty tradition that diners can’t seem to get enough of. At 100 Japanese Village Plaza, (213) 623-9048. Open Monday and Wednesday-Saturday 11:3012:30 a.m.; and Sunday 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Cuisine: Sushi $$

$$


2011 RESTAURANT GUIDE

mas malo

photo courtesy of Mas Malo

$$

$$

$$

Fugetsu-Do T Sw eet

Sh op

Mochi Bits

F

ugetsu-do is the finest Japanese mochi artisan in Los Angeles. You can check

us out on Yelp or Google us to see countless positive reviews of our products. We

thank anyone who has enjoyed our mochi over the many years. Over 100 positive reviews and the 100 years of being in

his neighborhood canteen has set the dining scene abuzz since before it opened two years ago on the edge of Little Tokyo. The shared vision of restaurateur Michael Cardenas and Executive Chef Josef Centeno, Lazy Ox raises the bar for small plates eateries across the city. The vibe is casual and warm, with hanging filament light bulbs, wood walls, cozy bar and semi-open kitchen where the staff whips up a mind-boggling array of tasty tapas-style dishes. Ingredients are seasonal, most are sourced from local farms and producers. Whatever looks good that day shows up on the rotating blackboard specials. In the best tradition of culinary capitals around the world, Centeno utilizes all parts of the animal — heart, pig ear, lamb neck and the like — with mouth-watering results. In addition to the regular menu, watch for daily specials with creative items like lengua with picked green tomatoes, duck confit, or fried anchovies with honey water. Diners can’t get enough of the seven-ounce Ox burger with cantal cheese and green peppercorn mustard. Other favorites include the whole roasted branzino with yuzu and cilantro, crispy surf clams with capers and pickle aioli, poblano soup with crispy pork belly, and Bellweather Farms ricotta fritters. One of Centeno’s signature dishes is the baco, a sort of flatbread topped with pork belly, braised beef and greens, among other things. For dessert, the chilled rice pudding with caramel sauce is reason enough to come back. For larger appetites, there are family specials for two. Reservations are a good idea later in the evening, as the restaurant fills up quickly. At 241 S. San Pedro St., (213) 626-5299 or lazyoxcanteen.com. Open daily for lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and dinner Sunday-Thursday 511 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.-midnight. Cuisine: New American/Gastropub $$

$$$

business can’t be wrong!

photo by Gary Leonard

L

ocated next to Downtown’s favorite whisky bar Seven Grand, Mas Malo unfolds in the cavernous 1920’s space formerly occupied by a jewelry store. This new outpost expands on the original Silverlake eatery, with a larger menu and a stunning, three-level interior that boasts soaring ceilings, original wood paneling, arched alcoves and murals. Spicy pops of red enliven the space. The menu offers plenty of Mexican classics, some reinterpreted with a modern spin. Chips are fried to order (you can even get them chewy) and served with fresh salsa — there are half a dozen including burnt habanero, serrano, chile negro and tomatillo. The hard and soft tacos are a revelation, cranked up with ingredients like eggplant and potato, ground beef and pickle (the chef’s favorite), shrimp and bacon, and lobster. Lunch specials feature tasty goat barbacoa, hefty plates of enchiladas and carne asada, red snapper in garlic and habanero sauce, and the house special torta ahogada with Coca Cola marinated carnitas drowned in arbol chile — the perfect hangover remedy. There are cheeky dishes too, like the Boyle Heights Picnic, a half chicken simmered in mole poblano with a side of Mexican potato salad. The Big Night is a worthy splurge with a cast-iron fried T-bone steak and lobster tail Diablo (garlic, red chili and lime). The two bars, cantina and tasting vault feature more than 300 tequilas and 20 mescals. Don’t miss the specialty cocktails like the house margarita with fresh sour mix, the spicy cucumber margarita with Tapatio, or the Pinata Smash with serrano chile, cilantro and pineapple. At 515 W. Seventh St., (213) 985-4332 or masmalorestaurant.com. Open Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m-12 a.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Cantina open nightly until 2 a.m. Cuisine: Mexican

Lazy ox Canteen

We invite you to come by the store or to order our mochi and have it delivered fresh to your doorstep!

Since 1903 315 East First St. | 213-625-8595 www.fugetsu-do.com DOWNTOWNLADINING.COM 45


HUNGRY FOR KNOWLEDGE ABOUT DOWNTOWN L.A.? ORAT ET TO EXPL YOUR TICK

ION

tS: S & Hangou Hot Spot wn

e Downto The Ultimat tlife Guide Nigh

Discover where the locals love to shop

ow Getting to kn

16

Downtown’s ods Neighborho

l Make the Cultura Connection With a Calendar for All Seasons

Hip Bars & Hangouts Architecture From A-Z • Dining Guide Cultural Favorites • Sleeping in Style Shopping Like a Pro • Memorable Daytrips

THE MAP OF

DOWNTOWN

448 90026 • I213.481.1 O N Angeles, CA, Street, Los I C A T L 1264 W. First B

P

U

1264 W. First

Angeles, Street, Los

• 213.481.1 CA, 90026

448

448 ph. 213.481.1 CA, 90026,

VISIT LOSANGELESDOWNTOWN.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION AND YOUR FREE COPY CALL 213-481-1448 1264 W. 1st

Angeles, Street, Los


Dine Out in the OBD 1

The Old Bank District has award-winning restaurants in historic turn-of-the-century buildings. Located in Downtown Los Angeles in converted residential lofts between 4th & 5th Streets and Spring & Main Streets, Old Bank District restaurants fit every taste and budget. Dine with us and experience old LA, and Hollywood’s favorite film location, at its best!

Winner: Downtown’s Project of the Decade Award 2

3

Pete’s Cafe & Bar

Urban noodle

rocket Pizza Lounge

400 S Main St, 213.617.1000 petescafe.com

118 W 4th St St, 213.626.0662 urbannoodlela.com

122 W 4th St, 213.687.4992 rocketpizzalounge.com

4

5

6

Big Man Bakes

Harlem Place Cafe

Baco Mercat

413 S Main St, 213.500.4351 bigmanbakes.com

124 W 4th St, Harlem Place Alley 213.617.7006, harlemplacecafe.com

400 S Main St Opening Spring 2011

7

8

3 2 4TH STREET

426 S Main St, 213.623.1973 blossomrestaurant.com

409 S Main St, 213.680.9000

obdLA.com

gilmoredev.com

Downtown Art Walk is the second Thursday of every month. For map of participating galleries:

downtownartwalk.com

1 6

PUBLIC PARKING

WINS TON ST

7 MAIN STREET

OBD Market & Deli

8 4

SPRING STREET

Blossom restaurant

HARLEM PLACE

5

5TH STREET


Los Angeles Restaurant Guide 2011  

The Restaurant Guide is published annually by the Los Angeles Downtown News. An essential dining reference including detailed restaurant pro...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you