Downtown To-Do

Suggested sights, activities and eateries for visitors to downtown Los Angeles

By: By Deanna Ting

Downtown Los Angeles Financial District // (c) Alossix 2009

 Downtown Los Angeles Financial District
// (c) Alossix 2009

As downtown Los Angeles continues its revitalization, it’s become even harder to keep up with the latest bars, clubs, restaurants and shops in the area — even for local Angelinos. To help your clients navigate the neighborhood, we compiled a comprehensive list of some of the best establishments, both new and old, to visit in downtown.

To Eat

Bottega Louie
A massive and palatial Italian restaurant, gourmet market and patisserie, all in one, that is located at the ground floor of the historic Brockman Building.

Chaya Downtown
The newest outpost of this upscale Los Angeles restaurant brand offers innovative Japanese-meets-French cuisine.

There’s almost always a wait outside this Little Tokyo staple, known for its ramen, made with a rich kotteri broth.

Drago Centro
One of the city’s most lauded Italian restaurants, located across the street from the Central Library.

Grand Central Market
Los Angeles’ oldest market is a veritable smorgasbord of culinary delights, from tacos to pupusas, a specialty of El Salvador.

LA Prime
This steakhouse, located on the 35th floor of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites, serves up sizzling steaks and amazing views.

Mama’s Hot Tamales Cafe
Located slightly outside downtown in the MacArthur Park neighborhood, this place is well worth a try for its amazing variety of tamales.

The Original Pantry
A greasy spoon favorite since 1924, now owned by former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, it serves up breakfast classics 24/7 and is walking distance from the Staples Center and L.A. Live.

Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse
Los Angeles’ omnipresent Patina Group is such for a reason — this steakhouse wows crowds with its steaks and happy hour offerings.

Philippe the Original
The self-proclaimed birthplace of the French dip sandwich, it’s considered an L.A. landmark to many Angelinos.

Rivera Restaurant
Modern and sophisticated Latin American cuisine is the star at this new eatery, also within walking distance of L.A. Live.

San Antonio Winery
If your clients don’t have the time to drive up to Santa Barbara, they should sample some of the wines offered at this Los Angeles Cultural Monument, established in 1917; it also happens to be the last winery in Los Angeles itself. The winery has a restaurant and is available for event space, too.

Takami Sushi & Robata Restaurant and Elevate Lounge
While SoCal boasts some of the best sushi and sashimi on this side of the Pacific, few can boast a view like this combined restaurant and lounge, perched atop the 21st floor.

The Water Grill
One of Los Angeles’ best seafood restaurants, it received one Michelin star in 2008.

To See

California African American Museum
A “Harlem of the West” exhibit is on display through Feb. 28. 2010.

California Science Center
The West Coast’s largest hands-on science center offers something for everyone.

The best place outside of the San Gabriel Valley for Chinese dim sum, baked goods and tchotchkes.

Dodger Stadium
They may not have made it to this year’s World Series, but the Dodgers are still a hometown favorite.

Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk
Held every second Thursday of the month, this free event explores the Gallery Row neighborhood of downtown.

Grammy Museum
A must-see for any music fan, this highly interactive museum on the L.A. Live campus also hosts intimate musical performances by some of today’s best artists.

Little Tokyo
The Southland’s historic heart of Japanese American history and culture, it offers plenty of delectable dining options, as well as the Japanese American National Museum.

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
The home of the University of Southern California Trojans, this stadium was built in 1921 and has hosted two Olympics — the 1932 and 1984 games.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
The Grand Avenue branch reopens on Nov. 15 with “MOCA’s First Thirty Years,” a retrospective of works from 1940-1980, showing through May 3, 2010.

Music Center, Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County
This 11-acre music campus includes the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
This museum exhibits more than 35 million specimens, some dating back 4.5 million years.

Olvera Street at Historic El Pueblo
Where Los Angeles got its start, Olvera Street offers an authentic experience of the city’s Mexican culture.

Staples Center
Home of the Lakers, Kings and Clippers, as well as countless concerts and events.

Walt Disney Concert Hall
Home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, whose new music director, Gustavo Dudamel, is garnering rave reviews.

To Be Seen

Come for happy hour and stay for dinner at this lively Latin American eatery, which also offers complimentary shuttle service to and from the Staples Center and Nokia L.A. Live Theatre, as well as the Music Center.

Conga Room
Veritable star power (owners include Jimmy Smits and Jennifer Lopez) and live entertainment, from salsa to R&B, make this a popular post-Staples Center spot at L.A. Live.

The Edison
Los Angeles’ first private power plant is now a lounge that oozes Roaring Twenties decadence.

Library Bar
Crammed bookshelves give this library-adjacent bar the look and feel of an old-school club but with a classic rock playlist.

Rooftop Bar at the Standard Downtown
Clients can schmooze with A-listers with one of the best views of the city.

Seven Grand Whiskey Bar
Whiskey lovers have found a new watering hole in downtown, with more than 100 varieties of whiskey from which to choose.

To Shop

Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM)
The West Coast home of Project Runway and stomping grounds of The Hills’ Lauren Conrad also boasts a museum and galleries for die-hard fashionistas. Shoppers will adore the FIDM Scholarship Store which offers this season’s best styles at rock-bottom prices — all profits go straight to the FIDM Scholarship Fund.

Flower District
Blooms of all hues and varieties can be purchased here for wholesale rates.

Jewelry District
All that glitters and sparkles, from discount diamonds to gold, can be found here on Hill Street, between 6th and 7th streets.

Santee Alley
This stretch of Los Angeles’ expansive fashion district sells almost any merchandise imaginable but buyer beware — some of them might be knock-offs. The alley is located between Olympic Boulevard and 12th Street, Santee Street and Maple Avenue.

To Get Around

DASH Downtown
Short for Downtown Area Short Hop, this bus transports visitors throughout downtown for just 25 cents a fare.