A Hyper Local Eating, Drinking, and Shopping Guide to Downtown LA
Even if you're ready to brave the traffic, the endless list of things to do in Los Angeles can be intimidating. Ellen Bennett, founder and creative director of apron company , makes it easier to navigate with a list of her favorite places to eat, shop, and stroll in and around her headquarters on the border of Downtown LA.
LOS ANGELES – I'm one of the rare people who's actually an Angeleno. I moved for a few years to Mexico City (I'm half Mexican), then came back, which gave me an even deeper appreciation for the city. Over time — especially the past few years — I've witnessed the evolution of Los Angeles. The town, not traditionally know for its food scene, has become one of the most exciting and vibrant culinary cities in the US.
The pocket where I spend the most time is the cross-section of Downtown LA and the Arts District. Like much of the city, DTLA has been experiencing a renaissance recently, at exactly the same time that I was building my culinary company. My first little office was practically where is now. As our company expanded, so did our neighborhood. I watched it change, and not only did it give me an appreciation for the little spots that never left, but also for the new business owners who came in and made it even more special.
This is my collection of gems, old and new, in one of my favorite cities in the world.
WHERE TO EAT
3040 E. Olympic Blvd.; +1-323-528-6701
A tiny little food truck that anyone who's not in the know would pass right by. I ate here for the first time a few months ago and have returned some 50 times since. (No exaggeration.) The seafood is fresh and so delicious; theirs is the best fried shrimp taco. It's a true diamond in the rough.
222 S. Hope St.; +1-213-935-8500
You can have a night of amazing art and food at chef Timothy Hollingsworth's restaurant, which is connected to museum. Hollingsworth, formerly of The French Laundry, runs a beautiful kitchen that has quickly become a hit restaurant in DTLA.
2019 E. 7th St.; +1-213-627-1430
Hands down, my favorite white pizza in LA. You can often find me here for $2 Tuesdays. You'll also find everyone from architects to famous painters: A good slice brings everyone together.
1936 E. 7th St.; +1-213-335-6166
An amazing spot on the edge of DTLA and Vernon that feels like it's been there forever. Locals — in suits and streetwear — mix on the giant patio. The cocktail list is killer: My poison is the prickly pear margarita. ERB also has, in my opinion, the best burger in Los Angeles: a perfectly seasoned patty with thick pickles on a squishy bun. It's glorious.
347 E. 2nd St.; +1-213-680-3454
An amazing little Japanese spot where, even on a Monday night, you have to wait for a seat at the sushi bar.
327 E. 1st St. +1-213-626-1680
My favorite cash-only noodle joint. The broth is super thick, rich, and delicious. The wait can be over two hours, but it's worth it.
421 S. Main St.; +1-213-493-6956
The shop, under the same umbrella as Sugarfish, only sells hand rolls. You can run in and spend $20 in 20 minutes. It's almost like getting a sandwich — but sushi! The fish is always cold, the rice is warm, and the seaweed paper is crispy. It all comes together flawlessly, so when you take a bite, it's an umami explosion.
WHAT TO DO
900 Exposition Blvd.; +1-213-763-3466
An adult museum with a child's perspective, which I completely relate to. Filled with dinosaurs (a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton) and impeccably designed, with beautiful gardens inside and out.
630 W. 5th St.; +1-213-228-7000
A majestic, cathedral-like public place filled with books upon books. It's epic, gigantic, and literally filled with stories. The place to go when you need inspiration.
WHERE TO SHOP
2901 Saco St., Vernon; +1-323-826-1611
Where the original fiberglass chairs are made. As a fellow manufacturer, I really appreciate the craftsmanship poured into these chairs, not to mention their longevity and timelessness. Go for a tour of the the factory, located just around the corner from our Hedley & Bennett headquarters in Vernon.
1917-1921 E. 7th St.; +1-213-955-9055
Where LA artists go for supplies. It is packed to the brim with everything you could possibly need for any craft, from screenprinting supplies to paper, pens, and paints.
754 Wall St.; +1-213-627-3696
The whole city buys flowers here, choosing from rows and rows of peonies, roses, gerberas, and every other blosom imaginable, just waiting to be made into beautiful arrangements.