I have to admit, in my many visits to Los Angeles over the years, I consciously avoided the downtown area. I was too busy with beaches and Beverly Hills to detour into unknown territories. What a mistake! I’ve been missing out on all the deliciousness – in food, architecture, and overall vibe – that DTLA has to offer.
Here are 5 things to check out the next time you’re in LA – and don’t skip downtown like I did!
1. Eat (lunch and) dessert at Bottega Louie
Bottega Louie has possibly best macaroons this side of the Atlantic. Laduree still has my heart, but I know I am easily swayed by the packaging, and macaroons just taste better in Paris, don’t they? If you aren’t a macaroon fan, not to worry – there are about 50 other masterfully crafted desserts for you to indulge in. Ask someone working there for their recommendation because apparently, they’ve been lucky enough to try them all. Best job ever?
Try to forget the macaroons for a second and let me describe to you The Scene that is Bottega Louie – it buzzes from every inch of its whitewashed interior. I enjoyed the fashion show of hip-ly dressed girls over my delicious salad with fresh fava beans and summer peas. The beautiful food and people deserve every one of the 10,500 photos it inspired people to post on its yelp page. It is noisy, though. With no attempt to reduce sound with materials or architecture, you get this din of voices and forks on plates. Shouting over it is tiring, so might as well just eat and absorb the scene.
2. Admire Art Deco buildings
Thanks to a financial and building boom in Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s, the era of Art Deco style, the downtown area has some stunning examples of Art Deco architecture. You can take a guided walking tour with the LA Conservancy or just explore on your own on 5th and 6th between South Flower and South Broadway.
3. Wander down St. Vincent’s Court
This odd little alley in the middle of the Jewelry District has a long, confusing history you can try to make sense of somewhere else, but today you can at least appreciate its kitchy Euro-mishmash of cafes and restaurants. If it feels a bit like a studio back lot, that’s because the city decided its charming tables spilling out over the alley were illegal which put an end to outdoor dining. It seems like it’s missing something, but the food looked good, and I couldn’t help but snap a bunch of pictures to try to capture its strange allure.
4. Spend some money at one of a kind boutiques
Los Angeles knows how to make you want to spend your money, even when you aren’t trying to. A couple stores worth checking out:
angelo:HOME has vintage and vintage-inspired home goods, furniture and gifts, as well as pieces from local designers. It’s one of those stores that makes you want to buy everything in it. One look at their Instagram feed an you’ll know what I mean.
I was drawn into KuKuly because of its packed-from-floor-to-ceiling colorful, South American fabrics. I couldn’t leave without a few bracelets and a pair of shorts made of fabric from Peru, designed and sewn in LA. Some of the items sell at high end LA boutiques like Planet Blue for much, much higher prices.
5. Happy Hour at The Perch
Seemingly named for the way it perches above all of downtown LA for the best views, especially at sunset when the buildings glow with California sun, Perch is where all the cool kids hang out. The downstairs restaurant/patio serves lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, and happy hour, or you can take the stairs up to the rooftop bar. The decor is like your dignified but quirky Parisian grandmere’s living room.
After you admire the scenery and have some fancy drinks, can someone explain to me how having to take 2 elevators to get to the top makes you feel all special, instead of annoyed you had to take 2 elevators?