BELONGING

Local Guide to Downtown Los Angeles

By

Lexie Koss

– VOL. 12

Trendy and historic Downtown Los Angeles combines a variety of communities—including Chinatown, Little Tokyo, and the Arts District—into one vibrant neighborhood. Looking for the best of local food, business, and culture? DTLA has a little bit of everything. Spend some time getting to know this walkable neighborhood in the middle of the city.

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Don’t miss the carne asada taco at Sonoratown on East 8th Street.

Where to Eat

Sonoratown | 208 East 8th St.

This neighborhood hot spot started out as a low-key taco counter in 2016 and has grown into a massively popular Fashion District favorite. Teodoro Diaz-Rodriguez, Jr. and Jennifer Feltham opened their restaurant as a tribute to the small northern Mexican town where Teo grew up—and to help revitalize their beloved Downtown Los Angeles community. Serving delicious grilled meats in handmade flour tortillas, Sonoratown draws crowds from all over LA but keeps its community focus with affordable prices and extended hours that keep the neighborhood fed. Tip: Try the carne asada. It’s famous for a reason.

Grand Central Market | 317 S. Broadway

This historic food hall first opened in 1917 and remains the go-to spot for those times you don’t know what you want to eat. Its 40 stalls represent the best of the Downtown Los Angeles food scene, including neighborhood institutions like China Cafe and experimental rising-stars like Shiku. Pop over to Sticky Rice for some of the best Thai food in Los Angeles or visit Fat & Flour for a piece of pie that might actually be a slice of heaven. No matter what you pick, you’ll definitely leave satisfied—and full.

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Serving up signature drinks in super cute style, Ghost No Bears on East 8th Street is the kind of coffee shop every neighborhood needs.

Where to Sip

Ghost No Bears | 316 E. 8th St.

No Ghost Bears is an independent coffee shop and community hub nestled in the heart of the Fashion District. The shop, started by husband and wife duo Will and Natashia Miyazaki, serves local small-batch coffee from its own Japanese-style coffee roaster, Suits & Knives, paying tribute to Will’s roots. With bubblegum pink walls covered in cartoons, the cafe’s aesthetic walks the line between cute and edgy, melding the artsiness of the surrounding community with the homey feel you expect from a neighborhood coffee shop. Try the Bruce Lee latte, a mix of espresso and condensed milk, for a sweet start to the day.

Arts District Brewing | 828 Traction Ave.

The rapidly growing Arts District is home to some of the city’s best craft breweries, including popular local gathering spot Arts District Brewing. With plenty of indoor space and an expansive patio, this brewery is ideal for large groups of friends and neighbors. It has a long list of local brews, plus a delicious selection of bar bites. Feeling active? You can play skee ball, cornhole, ping pong, darts, foosball, or try your hand at ax throwing.

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The curated collection of gifts is spot on at Flower District Gift Shop.

 

Where to Shop 

Flower District Gift Shop | 767 Santee St.

Run by artisanal eyewear brand AKILA, Flower District Gift Shop is an independent boutique that sells unique home goods, gifts, and accessories from local brands and artists. They also host family-friendly events for the surrounding community. (Did someone say International Hot Sauce Day Block Party?) Stop by for some locally crafted shades from AKILA and connection.

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One Golden Thread is not just a boutique but also under-the-radar music venue.

One Golden Thread Atelier | 305 S. Hewitt St. 

If you’re looking for a ridiculously soft t-shirt that also makes the world a better place, this eco-friendly Arts District boutique has you covered. Designer and entrepreneur Jeff Scult started his fashion line with the goal of giving back to the planet and community. In addition to planting a tree for every item sold, One Golden Thread makes its entire line of luxurious basics in Los Angeles from ethically sourced fabrics. Occupying a building that was once home to the iconic punk venue Al’s Bar, the atelier pays tribute to its location’s musical roots with open mic nights and other community events.

Where to Explore

Japanese American National Museum | 100 N. Central Ave.

Located in Little Tokyo, this museum tells the story of the Japanese American experience through engaging historical and art exhibits. Often included on lists of LA’s best museums, JANM’s permanent permanent collection includes the can’t-miss exhibit, “Common Ground,” which explores Japanese American history, from immigration to the World War II concentration camps to the redress movement of the 1980s.

Los Angeles Central Library | 630 W. 5th St.

The central branch of the Los Angeles Public Library is more than a place to borrow books—though it has about 10 million of them. This historic institution, completed in 1926, is also part museum and part event space, hosting regular performances and lectures for the community. You can also take language classes, get tech support, or find someone to help with your taxes. Be sure to spend some time exploring the decorated ceilings and murals of the rotunda, painted by Dean Cornwell nearly 100 years ago.