After a splashy 2012 opening, this Arts District restaurant quickly ascended to the top of the city’s best restaurant lists—including ours—thanks to husband-and-wife pair Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis’s innovative Italian dishes and desserts. Over a decade in, many of its signature items are now icons of the city’s dining scene, including the must-order spaghetti rustichella—a small pyramid of noodles hidden under Dungeness crab, Calabrian chili, Thai basil and onion seed. While getting a normal hour reservation at Bestia is still difficult, the late-night tables are worth it—and so is stopping by after 9pm for a possible seat at the bar. Even if you’re unsuccessful, you’re still within walking distance of several other great eateries open fairly late, including Damian, Kodo and Yangban Society (all of which are on this list.)
What was once an industrial zone and low-cost haven for practicing artists is now L.A.’s Arts District—a trendy, burgeoning urban hub for creative professionals, professional creatives and everyone else in between.
These days, the neighborhood has become one of the most exciting places to dine, and it’s long been a great place to hang out on the weekends with numerous galleries, breweries and cocktail bars, plus a handful of daytime attractions. (Under cover of night, it’s also home to many parties within the city’s underground music scene.)
The 2019 arrival of the exclusive members-only Soho House outpost—a.k.a. Soho Warehouse—cemented what Arts District regulars already new: the neighborhood had completed its full-tilt transformation into a cool (read: expensive) place to live.
Where exactly is the Arts District?
The formal borders of the Arts District run from the L.A. River to Alameda Street (with a western carve out for neighboring Little Tokyo), and from the 101 freeway down to 7th Street—though there a few spots south of there that we’d still embrace as being part of the neighborhood. You’ll find most of the activity in the center of that area, with a particularly dense cluster of spots around Traction Avenue and 3rd Street.
Public transit in the area is limited (there’s a Metro stop toward the northeast edge, near Little Tokyo) and parking can be a pain (toward the southern end, the At Mateo garage is one of the few sizable public parking lots). A series of bridges over the river connect the Arts District with destinations to the east, including the much-talked-about Sixth Street Viaduct to Boyle Heights.
What will you find in the Arts District?
The somewhat walkable neighborhood features plenty of coffee shops, designer and local boutiques and what’s likely the highest density of the city’s best restaurants. These rich cultural pockets lie amidst a stretch of early-20th-century warehouses—many former factories—that have since converted into swanky lofts and creative spaces, so read on for the best places to eat, drink (both coffee and booze), play and shop.
RECOMMENDED: See more in our guide to Downtown Los Angeles