Downtown Los Angeles, a once-deserted city center, has come to life again — after years of neglect — as a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood full of new arts, entertainment and food venues. Locals and tourists are flocking to the City of Angels center to enjoy Lakers games, concerts, plays, museums, bars and restaurants.
Here are some places to check out on your next visit downtown:
Ritz Carlton, 900 West Olympic Boulevard
Rising above the modern L.A. Live complex is the gleaming Ritz Carlton. Rooms are housed on four floors of the 54-story glass tower and provide an oasis of calm amidst the hustle and bustle below. Guestrooms and suites house views of downtown and beyond, as well as rain showers, huge bathtubs, work alcoves and a high-tech television built into the bathroom mirror. Guests can also enjoy the beautiful rooftop pool, large gym and spa.
WP24, 900 West Olympic Boulevard
The Ritz is also home to Wolfgang Puck’s latest L.A. venture, WP24. Located on the 24th floor, the huge lounge and adjacent restaurant features high-end Asian cuisine. The lounge is perfect for enjoying small plates and drinks before or after a Lakers game or concert, while the formal dining room also offers vast panoramic views and Asian fusion dishes, including Peking duck, angry main lobster and their famous marjolasian dessert.
Yxta, 601 South Central Avenue
Located in a strip mall in the industrial arts district of downtown is Yxta Cocina Mexicana, serving up traditional Mexican cuisine. The brick-walled, high-ceiling, sleek restaurant is full of dark wood, leather chairs, Latin-inspired artwork and a large communal table overlooking the mosaic-tiled bar. Menu highlights include fried squash blossoms, enchiladas de mole, and a large variety of tacos. The bar offers a wide selection of tequila, margaritas and agua frescas.
Drago Centro, 525 South Flower Street
The vaulted ceilings and large panoramic windows of Drago showcase views of the financial district of downtown. This Italian spot of sophistication from renowned chef Celestino Drago offers traditional Italian cuisine and an impressive list of offerings from the central 15-foot glass wine tower. Favorites include I garganelli, homemade pasta with pork sausage, parmesan and fennel in a red wine reduction, the risotto al funghi with wild mushrooms and truffle butter, and the delicious bomboloni donuts.
Church and State, 1850 Industrial Street
Brasserie Church and State serves up French bistro fare in the heart of downtown’s Art District. Large Warhol-esque paintings, brick floors and strings of lights surround diners as they choose from entrees including a house-made charcuterie, bouillabaisse, steak frittes and a variety of cassoulets. The small but lively bar offers an extensive wine list with two dozen pours by the glass.
L.A. Live, 800 West Olympic Boulevard
Whether you’re catching a Lakers, Kings or Clippers game, touring the Grammy Museum, or attending a concert at the Nokia Theater, there’s always something to do at the 27-acre sports and entertainment L.A. Live venue. It’s also a great after-work date spot with lots of fun options including bowling at Lucky Strike, a movie at the Stadium 14 Regal Theater complex or dinner at The Conga Room’s Boca, Fleming’s Steak House or Rosa Mexicano.
Angel’s Flight and Angels Knoll Park, Hill Street
Take a ride on original restored orange and black 1901 Angel’s Flight cars on the world’s shortest railway 298 feet to the top of Bunker Hill. Stop by the adjacent Angels Knoll Park to catch your breath and take in phenomenal views on the famous bench showcased in the film (500) Days of Summer.
Downtown Art Walk, Chung King Road
On the second Thursday of every month, downtown is home to its own artwalk. Galleries stay open late allowing Angelinos to get a glimpse at new and emerging artists and their work. Explore the streets, storefronts and theaters of downtown’s Gallery Rowe neighborhood and get a glimpse of L.A.’s robust art scene.
Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 South Grand Avenue
Designed by world-class architect Frank Gehry, the big, curvy and shiny Walt Disney Concert Hall deserves a visit even if you don’t have a ticket to the Philharmonic. Bring a picnic and head to the outer staircase to the rooftop garden oasis with its stunning fountain and views of the city. Afterwards, take a free docent-led or self-guided tour.
Fashion District, 9th and Los Angeles streets
The 100-block Fashion District seamlessly mixes high- and low-end clothing. Shopaholics will delight in the variety of deeply discounted designer threads, fabrics and accessories. Start at the warehouses at 9th and Los Angeles streets and shop your way to the open Santee Alley for knock-off designer handbags, old Levi’s, $5 T-shirts, toys, luggage and other assorted items.