L.A. Live restaurants and bars
So you want to be a baller, huh? Floor seats to a Lakers game is one way to do it, but to accompany your night spent courtside, you may want to splurge on a thick cut of steak from Fleming's Prime Steakhouse. There's plenty of meaty options to choose from here—ribeye, New York strip, filet mignon—along with truffle lobster, lump crabmeat and a prime rib dinner. The steakhouse also operates as a wine bar, so you can end the night with a glass (or bottle—we're not judging) from one of Prime's 100+ available wines.
Located on the lobby of the JW Mariott at L.A. Live, Ford's Filling Station showcases simple American cuisine with a California flair. Chef Ben Ford (yes, he's the son of Harrison) pays attention to organic, sustainable ingredients, offering dishes like pan seared sea bass and polenta cake. Fresh, seasonal cocktails and a built-in cruvinet offering 32 wines by the glass round out Ford's beverage options.
Amidst L.A. Live's gastropubs and coffee chains is Katsuya, a sushi powerhouse that delivers fresh and original rolls alongside stellar cocktails. For lunch, there are traditional bento boxes filled with miso cod and shrimp tempura, plates of yellowtail sashimi topped with jalapeño, and their signature Katsuya roll. Heading here for dinner? You can pick and choose from their extensive dinner menu, but splurging on omakase—the tasting menu—is a worthwhile pick.
WP24 (see below) recently reinvented its adjacent bar area to create NEST. Here, hotel guests and visitors can stop by for both food and drinks, snacks or a full meal from chef John Lechleidner. Pork belly "Bao Buns" are sweet and pillowy with a honey-garlic glaze, perfect for snacking on with a beer while watching a basketball or hockey game on one of NEST's stragetically placed flat screens. For something lighter, the Szechuan cucumbers are fantastic and provide the necessary crunch factor, while the Chinese pork crackling is a softer (yet still indulgent) version of the traditional snack.
For a taste of Wolfgang Puck's modern Chinese, head to the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Downtown. With spectacular views of the city, the main dining room offers an expansive menu in a more formal setting, while Nest at WP24 offers an abbreviated menu of plates to share (sushi rolls, dumplings) and Asian-inspired cocktails. Stop by pre- or post- event at the nearby Staples Center or for Sunday dim sum dinner.
When you want to be close to the action but not quite in it, Yard House is your go-to gastropub for watching the game. The L.A. Live eatery has enough TVs scattered around the space to get a good view from any seat while you nosh on buffalo wings, nachos, poke or garlic noodles. If the thought of chicken wings makes you squirm, there's a full vegetarian section on the menu. Oh, and the most important part: Yard House boasts a massive list of beer. Get there during happy hour (Mon-Fri 3-6pm) for discounted drinks and bites.
Restaurants and bars close to L.A. Live
It can be intimidating moving into a space with history, but step into Broken Spanish—chef Ray Garcia's restaurant which occupies the much-revered, now shuttered Rivera—and any sentiment you may have attached to the old space will soon fade. Broken Spanish is bright and colorful with tables boasting hand-woven doilies and Mexican pottery, while the food is decidedly down to earth. Garcia may be cooking things like lamb neck and oxtail, but they are wrapped in tamales and quesadillas, hearty and elevated at the same time. A fiery shrimp dish with cascabel chili, pequin peppers and pineapple may leave your mouth tingling for a good five minutes, and a cellophane-shrouded rabbit stew emits the most incredible smell when unwrapped. Finish with a chile mango panna cotta, which balances sweet and spicy with passion fruit curd and habanero caramel, diced mangos and cayenne meringue.
Downtown nightlife entrpreneur Cedd Moses' experiment wth a private bar charing $2,200 in annual dues didn't exactly come at the right time, and so the precious cocktail museum that was the Doheny soon morphed into something more Latin and vibrant. Caña Rum Bar features 140 gourmet rums for cocktails that include mojitos, Tiki drinks and margaritas. The sense of exclusivity isn't gone, but the $2,200 membership is. It's now only $20.
The original El Cholo opened 1923, and as Los Angeles' oldest continuously operated Mexican restaurant, it probably hasn't been at the cutting edge of cuisine for something like 80 years. Still, the Mexican comfort food is fantastic and the atmosphere is historic in a way very few other LA eateries can manage. El Cholo Downtown opened in 2010, and people coming and going from L.A. Live and the Staples Center are continuously lured in with the eatery's must-have guacamole (made tableside), green corn tamales and the famous margaritas, by which all others are judged.
At Faith & Flower, a contemporary restaurant Downtown that focuses on California cuisine, the aim is to merge 1920s and modern day aesthetic. Executive chef Michael Hung, who previously helmed Michelin-starred La Folie in San Francisco, evokes the grandeur of the '20s with today's trend of elevated casual fare: deviled jidori eggs with kimchi, new potato salad, steak tartare—you get the idea. There is homemade cavatelli and dungeness crab risotto, and oysters if you're stopping by for a happy hour snack. Speaking of happy hour: Don't forget to order the Milk Punch, which has been featured in multiple "best cocktail" lists across the country.
Cedd Moses is also behind this Downtown haunt, a perfect mix of upscale cocktailery and comfortable dive, where you can come for a quick PBR or stay with a fancy, well-made cocktail. Prices are reasonable, the jukebox is stocked with oldies-meets-Coachella, and an old school arcade (think Pac-Man) allows for friendly drinking games. Do note, however, that dress code is enforced. A dive with a dress code—how very LA.
Who says you can't break out your dance moves and enjoy a craft drink at the same time? The 3,000-square-foot basement of the O Hotel downtown is split between a cozy pool hall boasting what has to be the most epic drink menu (50 beverages, to be exact) and a very Saturday Night Fever "disco" room, complete with an analog LED dance floor. For a night you may not remember, try Honeycut's complex (and might we add boozy) take on an Old Fashioned—the Dumb Luck, made with Old Grand Dad 114 bourbon, orange-flavored Bigallet China-China Amer, sherry, and a whole lot of celery-coconut bitters, all stirred up and served in a Nick and Nora glass.
A pizzeria open until 3am? Our drunken prayers have been answered. Pellicola Pizzeria lies a quick stumble away from multiple Downtown bars, meaning that when the lights come on at closing hour, this is where you head to cap off the night. Whether you nosh on a slice of Nonna Maria, Vegetariana or Tricolore, you'll be happy to wake up the next morning tasting leftover pizza and not vodka cranberry.