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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman Bento at Hayato

The best restaurants in Downtown Los Angeles

Whatever you’re looking for—steak, sushi, modern Indian—these restaurants in Downtown Los Angeles will hit the spot

By Erin Kuschner and Stephanie Breijo

Downtown dining shows no signs of slowing down, and that’s the way we like it. The neighborhood’s restaurant and bar scene began snowballing over the last few years, growing in size and diversity as its new-restaurant roll started from one end of DTLA and eventually made its way to the Arts District—now home to some of the best restaurants in the entire city. Walkability in Downtown proper makes it easy to hop from some of L.A.’s best tacos to sushi to a steakhouse that just begs you to make it rain. Whether you’re ballin’ in Bunker Hill—or ballin’ on a budget in Grand Central Market—here’s where you should be eating the next time you head Downtown.

RECOMMENDED: See more in our guide to Downtown Los Angeles

Before you dig in, a brief note: A few of our DTLA favorites—such as Nightshade and Otium—are temporarily closed, so we’ve temporarily removed them from this guide (don’t worry, it’s just for the time being). All spots listed here are currently open in some form, though these days are strange days for restaurants and some might only be offering takeout service or limited menus. Call or look online to check menus and availability before stopping by.

Here are the best restaurants in Downtown L.A. open right now

Agnolotii at Bestia
Photograph: Becky Reams

1. Bestia

Restaurants Italian Downtown Arts District

Nearly a decade after opening and Bestia continues to turn tables—and require weeks-out reservations. It shouldn’t be surprising, given chef-owner Ori Menashe’s penchant for nailing straightforward but innovative Italian food, which arrives hot from that centerpiece of a wood-burning oven. Some of Bestia’s menu highlights have become modern icons of L.A.’s dining scene: the Spaghetti Rustichella—a small pyramid of noodles under dungeness crab, citrus, Calabrian chili, Thai basil and onion seed—is synonymous with this hard-to-land reservation, as is the currant-and-pistachio–laden dish of Agnolotti alla Vaccinara, filled with rich braised oxtail. The desserts by pastry chef and co-owner Genevieve Gergis are equally iconic, and god help anyone who tries to get in between us and a forkful of chocolate budino tart. The eclectic and oft-rotated wine list is Italian-inspired but interntionally and broadly sourced, providing new and surprising twists to your meal with every visit—though the food menu may (blessedly) remain the same.

2. Orsa & Winston

Restaurants Contemporary Asian Downtown Historic Core

Chef Josef Centeno’s built quite the DTLA restaurant empire, strategically planting restaurants near in location but not in theme. There’s sandwich shop Bäco Mercat and Tex-Mex haven Bar Amá, but the shining gem is his Italian-meets-Japanese den, Orsa & Winston. At first, the cozy restaurant began as a tasting-menu concept—since then, it’s evolved to include à la carte weekday katsu sandos and grain bowls at lunch, and on weekends, one of the city’s most innovative brunches. Where else can you find house-smoked fish plates, masterful matcha and yuzu croissants, donabe pots brimming with nuanced soups, and Centeno’s hyper-creative, genre-bending tasting menu?

Photograph: Courtesy Carolina Korman/Shibumi

3. Shibumi

Restaurants Japanese Downtown

Open for pickup and delivery only.

Many of chef David Schlosser’s dishes require the kind of time, care, delicacy and extreme effort that define kappo cuisine, which is why we’re convinced that the chef must’ve lost his mind to open a kappo-style restaurant—but we all benefit from it. This style of Japanese tasting menu or omakase fine-dining might serve bites of prawn ripened and fermented—for months—in their own juices, or slow-smoked salmon that cooks over cherry bark. In an almost hidden dining room in DTLA, Schlosser grinds nubs of fresh wasabi, and steams pork jowl with California-grown rice in a heavy iron pot, and experiments and waits, patiently, to create some of the most intricate flavors that can take weeks to develop. Order à la carte, or, more recommended, go for the omakase, which starts at $75 per guest—you’ll be in excellent hands. Be sure to sit at the bar to see the master at work.

Photograph: Jesse Hsu

4. Bavel

Restaurants Israeli Downtown Arts District

Remember when we told you that the husband-and-wife team of Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis redefined modern-Italian food with Bestia? Well they’re doing it all over again with Bavel, and this time, it’s personal. They’re drawing on their familial and cultural heritage, as well as their modern-kitchen savvy, to bring us some of the best hummus and pita in the city, not to mention a fantastic large-format lamb neck shawarma, spiced Persian ice cream and must-order harissa prawns. There’s a comfort in the cuisine at Bavel, which winds its way through Israel, Egypt, Morocco and Turkey. The space livens up the already exciting menu: You can sit on the patio, but inside, near the open kitchen and under the waterfall of hanging vines, is where the action always is.

Brandon Go of Hayato in ROW DTLA
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

5. Hayato

Restaurants Japanese Downtown Arts District

Open for pickup only.

Tucked behind traditional noren that hang over the door, chef-owner Brandon Go artfully tweezers boutique bento boxes by day, and a multicourse, traditional kaiseki dinner by night. The space is intimate, the ceramics are handcrafted and imported from Japan, and Go’s precision and technique come by way of training under Michelin-starred Japanese chefs. There is something almost criminally understated here; Hayato’s delicate flavors and Go’s humble nature could lead Angelenos to overlook some of the most beautiful cooking happening in the city. We hope they don’t. They’d be missing out on phenomenal dishes such as steamed abalone with an unctuous liver sauce; an owan course of delicate crab meatball soup; and fresh fruit coated in a salted sake jelly. Orders for bento require at least 24 hours’ notice, awhile the stunningly artful kaiseki dinners often fill up a month in advance. Plan ahead.

Photograph: Courtesy RossoBlu

6. Rossoblu

Restaurants Italian Downtown Fashion District

Chef Steve Samson scores big with this stunning ode to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. At his Fashion District destination, the former Sotto chef turns his gaze not toward pizza (you can find that around the corner at his walk-up window, Superfine). Here, he’s all about flame-licked steaks, braised pork shoulders and rustic, comforting bowls of handmade pasta cloaked in slow-simmered sauces. Clever cocktails celebrate Italian spirits, while the wine list features excellent sparkling options. When the weather permits we love the patio, but our favorite seat in the house will always be right at the kitchen counter, watching the action.

The Poseidon at Mariscos Jalisco
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

7. Mariscos Jalisco

Restaurants Trucks Boyle Heights

One of L.A.’s most old-school players is known for its deep-fried shrimp tacos—“TACOS DE CAMARON” is painted on the Downtown-adjacent truck in giant letters, for good reason—but Mariscos Jalisco also serves fresh-to-death ceviches, toastadas and oysters on the half shell. Their signature tacos dorado de camaron live up to the hype, with flavorful and fresh shrimp folded into a corn tortilla that is then fried to a golden brown and topped with thick slices of avocado and a vibrant and complex salsa roja. You’ll also want to save room for their legendary tostadas such as the Poseidon, which comes topped with shrimp ceviche, octopus and a fiery red aguachile of shrimp.

Grand Central Market
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

8. Grand Central Market

Restaurants Downtown Historic Core

At the heart of Downtown L.A. is Grand Central Market, in location and history and culinary heritage. The European-style food hall’s been a neighborhood fixture since 1917, and today serves as a glimpse into the city’s past, and an incubator for some of L.A.’s contemporary best chefs. Some of Downtown’s most unique places to dine are at GCM: Wexler’s Deli, serving phenomenal pastrami sandwiches and smoked fish; Sari Sari Store, bringing us vibrant Filipino rice bowls from the team behind République; Horse Thief BBQ, where you’ll smell the brisket from a block away (and think about it all afternoon); and China Cafe, a GCM stalwart of 60 years. Make sure to stop by McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams for a sweet treat, Golden Road for a beer, and G&B Coffee for some cold brew.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jennifer S.

9. Sonoratown

Restaurants Mexican Downtown Fashion District

Open for pickup or delivery only.

How do we love Sonoratown? Let us count the ways. This humble taqueria has become so much of a welcoming cornerstone of our dining scene that it feels like home the second you walk through the door. Well that, or a party. The staff are lively, open and fun-loving, and their mood is infectious. Patrons from all walks smile, laugh and even dance, all to the scent of chargrilled meats that get slid into handmade, award-winning flour tortillas. Dishes get brightened by cabbage and a rainbow of house salsas, and topped by entire strands of grilled green onions. Sonoratown specializes in—you guessed it—Sonoran-style fare, which means tacos, quesadillas and chivis (think: soft chimichangas oozing cheese) all packed with fresh and straightforward ingredients that will have you planning a Northern Mexico vacation with every bite.

Bar Ama queso
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

10. Bar Amá

Restaurants Mexican Downtown Historic Core

When it comes to puffy tacos so crunchy and queso so silky you crave it for weeks on end, it can only mean one thing: You need a Bar Amá fix, STAT. Josef Centeno’s casual Tex-Mex ode is a declaration and celebration of the chef’s roots, and it’s a casual, comfy dive into the most satisfying of guacamoles and deeply flavorful salsas. It’s impossible to go wrong with just about anything here (even the vegan queso, truly, give it a shot), and we’ve yet to have a bad meal at Downtown’s little slice of Texas.

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