Los Angeles is perhaps best known for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, but the city’s thriving downtown district is currently undergoing a major revival. Here’s a look at some of DTLA’s best bars, restaurants and other hot spots.
THE HOUSE OF MACHINES
Motorcycles, music and barrel-aged craft cocktails are what you’ll find at this high-octane watering hole with a rebellious attitude. Sip a caffeinated take on a Negroni infused with Evil Twin Campari, Dolin Rouge vermouth and lemon oils as you peruse a collection of badass custom BMW bikes like a gold-accented RnineT and a murdered-out 1000 RR, along with multiple Fender guitars. At night, a modest stage in the back of The House of Machines provides a space for intimate concerts that have recently hosted Eagles of Death Metal and Slipknot’s Jay Weinberg.
The Wolves, located in DTLA’s historic Alexandria Building, switches things up by making all of its cocktail ingredients and mixers in-house using seasonal products with the goal of moving mixology down a new path. This progressive approach yields adventurous cocktails like the sweet, hot and acidic “Spicy Pineapple,” as well as inventive takes on classics like the Old-Fashioned, all of which are enjoyed in a vaudevillian setting with authentic period-correct decor.
The Hotel Figueroa’s 28-seat, reservations-only Bar Alta provides patrons with 700 square-feet of Art Deco-style space that goes far above and beyond what one typically expects from a hotel bar. It’s considered one of the best “hidden” bars in the DTLA area thanks to a “Casbah” private room— accessible via a sliding wooden bookcase off the Casablanca suit—and a vast selection of custom cocktails that rivals any drink menu in the city.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a hotspot with better views of the Los Angeles cityscape than the Intercontinental’s rooftop pool bar. Perched 16 stories up, the bustling Broken Shaker, which also has locations in Miami and New York, offers nightclub vibes and inventive libations like the “Carrot Colada,” Chex-Mix infused “Rye & Shine,” and a mezcal Old Fashioned.
Craving a totally legit tiki cocktail experience? Pacific Seas fits the bill to an almost excessive degree. You’ll walk through four or five other bars to find this tropical getaway on the fourth floor of the Clifton’s Republic, where you’ll find a live DJ spinning tunes behind the shell of a motorboat and plenty of tasty tiki creations.
POPPY + ROSE
If nothing else, a 30-person waiting line that stretches down the street demonstrates why comfort food connoisseurs need to carve out time for a trip to Poppy +Rose, nestled amid DTLA’s SoCal Flower market. The homey spot serves up classic diner fare like buttermilk-soaked fried chicken and waffles and pulled pork hash with eggs and creme fraiche. Don’t sleep on the Bloody Mary—also served with a sizable piece of chicken—or the freshly-muddled blackberry limeade.
Lasa was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as having perfectly “captured the spirit of modern [Filipino] cooking]” and made the newspaper’s list of the city’s 101 best restaurants. Standouts include the Bistec burger, which features a beef patty marinated in soy sauce and topped with onions stewed in calamansi juice, and the twice-cooked crispy chicken with gingery brown rice porridge.
Guerilla Tacos is the first brick-and-mortar location by renowned chef and food trucker Wes Avila. The eatery’s streetwise attitude is evident in the graffiti-inspired decor, and customers can see their order being made thanks to an open kitchen. The fried pork terrine taco with chicken liver mousse, Fresno and serrano chiles, mint and cilantro is a must-try, as are the butterscotch donuts.
This middle eastern restaurant located in the city’s Arts District offers a mix of Israeli, Moroccan, Turkish and Egyptian cuisine and a party-hearty atmosphere. Start with Bavel’s fried bread and baba ganoush, then get a glass or two of fine red wine to accompany a seriously decadent lamb neck schwarma served with tahini and pickled vegetables. Round out the meal with a palate-cleansing coconut tapioca treated with passion fruit, basil syrup and lime zest.
THE LOBBY AT THE NOMAD HOTEL
Plush parlor furniture, wild decor by a local taxidermist, and a wide-open interior that once served as that of the former Bank of Italy building all make the NoMad Lobby restaurant a true dining destination. A frequently changing, two-course menu highlights fresh ingredients sourced from local farmer’s markets.
LEVEL FURNISHED LIVING
Level Furnished Living is home to DTLA’s largest and most luxurious penthouse, a sprawling 18,000-square-foot space that’s available to rent for $75,000 a month. But the property also offers much more affordable one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that are fully furnished with clean modern decor, as well as unbeatable amenities you won’t find at any hotel, including a rooftop pool and basketball court, BBQ area, and a stacked fitness center.
As the tallest open-air observation deck in the entire state of California, the US Bank Tower’s OUE Skyspace is essentially LA’s equivalent of New York City’s Empire State Building. Staggering 360-degree views of the entire metro and beyond are made even more enjoyable with a newly opened full-service bar and a plethora of uncrowded patio space. If you want to release your inner kid, take a ride on 45-foot long glass “Skyslide” that connects the 69th and 70th floors.
The honeycomb-like exterior shell of the Broad is just as uniquely recognizable as the interior’s vast 2,000-piece collection of iconic modern art. Guests are immediately greeted by 20th- and 21st- century pieces upon exiting the main escalator on their way to viewing work by contemporary legends like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jeff Koons.
Fashionistas would do well to stop by Commonwealth. Though originally a Virginia Beach establishment, this West Coast location serves as the men’s boutique’s current flagship, with stylish options that include everything from collaborative Adidas sneakers offered exclusively through consortium accounts to underground labels you won’t find anywhere else in California.
TWO BIT CIRCUS
Billed as the “world’s first micro-amusement park,” Two Bit Circus is really a modern-day arcade on steroids. There are the expected classic games Street Fighter, Pac Man, and air hockey, but the virtual reality arena’s high-tech titles take game immersion to another level allowing patrons to lay down prone and digitally fly over dinosaurs, shoot up robots and zombies, or blow up tanks from the future. Meanwhile, six different “Story Rooms” designed for groups of friends offer equally captivating experiences, including an escape from a werewolf-infested village and a wild journey on a Star Trek-style spaceship.