Favorite Spots for Downtown Dining
Water Grill sports a fresh new look after a massive renovation.
Once a culinary wasteland, Downtown is now LA's most exciting mealtime destination.
You can't be all things to all people, but this new bar/deli/market/restaurant at the historic Pacific Electric Building certainly comes close. Executive chef Jason Ryczek, formerly of Boa, serves an ever-changing farmers' market-heavy menu accompanied by molecular- mixology cocktails, but Downtowners on the run can pick up a sandwich or local foodstuffs at the Dean & Deluca-ish deli counter and market. 600 S. Main St., LA, 213-622-6333
Though chef/owner Josef Centeno serves his signature mix of world cuisine—Szechuan chicken ribs and chile relleno with pork and ricotta both appear on the brief menu—at his new casual-dining restaurant in the historic Old Bank District, the real draw is his selection of signature flatbread sandwiches (bäco). The Original—pork belly, beef carnitas, and salbitxada sauce—is a creation the chef used to make just for friends but now prepares for his legions of loyal followers who have already turned Bäco Mercat into a Downtown fixture. 408 S. Main St., LA, 213-687-8808
If you already like the innovative sandwiches at Mendocino Farms, you'll love the owners' new sandwich laboratory, Blue Cow, in the former home of Casa. The Burger, created by collaborating chef Jason Travi (a patty of prime house-blend ground beef topped with butter lettuce, tomato, and spicy remoulade), is a can't-miss. Wash it down with an Old Fashioned on Tap cocktail, made with pecan-infused Woodford Reserve whiskey with vanilla-bean simple syrup, whiskey-barrel bitters, lemon, and orange peel. 350 S. Grand Ave., LA, 213-621-2249
The restaurant that sparked the all-in-one trend Downtown—with a full-service restaurant, confectioner's dream of a bakery, and gourmet market—quickly became a fixture on the area's dining scene. That's partly due to its setting in the Beaux Arts-style Brockman Building and also to a menu of classic Italian dishes and a decadent brunch spread that draws folks from far and wide to indulge. 700 S. Grand Ave., LA, 213-802-1470
When chef Celestino Drago closed his eponymous Santa Monica restaurant in January, it sent shock waves through LA's foodie community—and sent them running Downtown to his Drago Centro, where the menu is a modern take on classic cuisines of the Italian peninsula. Ask the sommelier to select a vintage from the soaring glass wine cellar to accompany handmade pastas such as the spaghetti casarecce with duck ragout and ricotta salata. 525 S. Flower St., LA, 213-228-8998
Who knew a restaurant named after a Glasgow neighborhood that serves an offbeat menu mixing soul food with Jewish and Scottish influences could work so well? Top Chef winner Ilan Hall, that's who. Once you taste some of his specialties, like bánh mì poutine and the bacon-wrapped matzoh balls that put this tiny gem in the creepy-chic Alexandria hotel on the map, you'll realize there was never any doubt. 501 S. Spring St., LA, 213-488-3408
Towne Los Angeles
The latest project from the Mi Piace restaurateurs, this upscale Mediterranean bistro anchors the ground floor of the new residential WaterMarke Tower near L.A. Live. The menu features classic dishes from Greece, France, and even North Africa, with a focus on everyone's favorite, Italy. There's also a bakery-café area for desserts and takeout—perfect for locals. 705 W. 9th St., LA, 213-623-2366
After a $1.5 million renovation, this old-school seafood restaurant is looking more gorgeous than ever with oversize horseshoe-style booths and a beautiful marble-slab raw bar serving the fresh, raw bounty of the sea (including Naked Cowboy oysters). Don't worry, you can still get your favorite crab cakes and charcoal-grilled filet mignon with watercress salad. 544 S. Grand Ave., LA, 213-891-0900
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.