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Best lunch spots near Los Angeles Convention Center

Hi Hounds,
I must not be searching correctly, but I can't seem to find much on great lunch spots within walking distance of the Convention Center (and Staples Center). Heading down for a 4 day event and would rather die than eat the pre-made salads and wraps available at the convention. Would love to try some hole-in-the-wall places nearby with any types of food but the more homemade tasting the better. Love love love homemade soups and sandwiches, ANY and ALL ethnic foods, but not much of a fan of Panda Express or other chain restaurants. Any price category and any cleanliness category (dives not a problem!) is fine. Also, any breakfast recs on the walk from Pershing Square area to the Convention Center? As another bonus, any suggestions on where to take a client out for dinner would be great, too. We could cab it if best recommendations are a distance away. Since there will be 5 of us, we'll have different tastes so maybe a place that's nice with a variety of good dishes would be great.

Thanks in advance!

Staples Center
1111 S Figueroa St Ste 3100, Los Angeles, CA 90015

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  1. My favorite made to order, usually healthy sandwiches along with some good salads is at Mendocino Farms which is easier to find if you look for the Omni Hotel cause Mendocino Farms is underneath it.

    Mendocino Farms
    300 S Grand Ave Ste Lp40, Los Angeles, CA 90071

    1. Walking your options are somewhat limited. The best bets are probably Arnie Morton's (great burger), the Farm of Beverly Hills (American at L.A. Live), Magnolia (American), the Palm (steaks and chops), Rivera (Latin/New Mexican), Roy's (Hawaiian) and Zucca (Italian). The Pantry (and its overpriced sibling, Riordan's Tavern) is close by and is an institution but I am not a fan of the food. A short cab ride opens up more options, including the wonders of Chichen Itza (Yucatan Mexican) and Mo-Chica (Peruvian) to the South or, to the West, the various pleasures of Koreatown (including, in addition to the obvious Korean choices, excellent Oaxacan at Guelaguetza and good Greek at Papa Cristos) and to the East a great array of Japanese places in Little Tokyo or, further East, Boyle Heights (for more Mexican including the myriad moles of Moles La Tia and the seafood delights of La Serenata de Garibaldi).

      Papa Cristos
      2771 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

      3014 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

      Arnie Morton's the Steakhouse
      735 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017

      La Serenata De Garibaldi
      1842 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033

      3337 1/2 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

      Zucca Ristorante [CLOSED]
      801 South Figueroa, Los Angeles, CA 90017

      Roy's Restaurant
      800 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90017

      6266 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

      Palm Restaurant
      1100 South Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015

      Rivera Restaurant
      1050 S. Flower Street, #102, Los Angeles, CA 90015

      Magnolia Restaurant
      825 W. 9th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015

      The Farm of Beverly Hills at LA Live
      800 W. Olympic Bl., Los Angeles, CA 90015

      1. Hmm. The tricky thing about the Convention Center is that there's really NOTHING that's an easy walk. The LA-LIVE mall has some dining options, if you don't mind hanging out in a concrete bunker liberally adorned with garish, flashing advertisements. The Pantry Cafe is walking distance. The real question is how much time you'll have; if you have enough, then you can easily use public transportation (DASH) or a healthy walk to open up additional options.

        As for a client dinner, there are lots of choices. Roy's Hawaiian (8th & Figueroa), Chaya Downtown and Drago Centro (both @ 5th & Flower) all fit the bill. There are a couple of steakhouses (The Palm, Arnie Morton's) which lend themselves to client dinners. If seafood is your thing, there's the Water Grill. All of these probably require a cab; they're walkable from the convention center, depending on how much walking you want to do. Only Roy's can be reached in under 20 minutes, I suspect.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jack Flash

          I spent a week in March at Staples/Convention Center, and we actually found the Farm and the Lawry's Carvery to be the best bets in LA Live. (I believe there is now a Wolfgang Puck casual restaurant that would be good for salads.)

          We also did a walk to El Parian on Pico, which is a hole-in-the-wall known for its great asada and birria tacos. It actually is only about five blocks from the Pico/Cherry (the southwest corner of the Convention Center), but it is a very run-down set of blocks and I would only walk that stretch in a group.

          On client dinners, Roy's, Arnie Morton's, The Palm, and Rivera are all within easy walking distance, though it will be dark early and you should only walk in a group. We walked to Roy's (which is only a half-block closer than Arnie Morton's) in about 10 minutes. The Palm and Rivera are south of Olympic and one block east of Staples Center, off Chick Hearn/11th St.. You should be able to walk there in about 5 minutes.

          Edited: With the exception of El Parian, none of the links are correct.

          El Parian
          1528 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015

          Lawry's Carvery
          10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067

          The Farm of Beverly Hills at LA Live
          800 W. Olympic Bl., Los Angeles, CA 90015

          Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill - LA Live
          800 West Olympic Blvd A180, Los Angeles, CA 90015

        2. All within reasonable walking distance of the Convention Center:

          Mai Super Taco
          633 S Spring St
          Good carnitas and quesadillas

          La Torta Loca
          855 Santee St.
          Tortas and grilled burritos are highlights

          El Cihualteco Taqueria
          7313 S Broadway
          Get the lengua burritos and wash it down with the horchata

          El Cihualteco
          2325 1/2 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90011

          La Tortas
          32999 Yucaipa Blvd, Yucaipa, CA 92399

          La Torta Loca
          855 Santee St Ste A, Los Angeles, CA 90014

          1. I see a lot of conventioneers eating breakfast at The Original Pantry, good hearty American style breakfast, get the grilled sour dough toast. Kind of American diner cuisine, that homemade taste you're looking for. About a three block walk from the convention center. Open 24/7


            Original Pantry Cafe
            877 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90017

            1. Hi again LA Hounders,
              Thanks so much to all for the wonderful suggestions! Don't know where the time goes at these conventions, but I did manage to make it to some of these great places. Needed to rent a car for a day trip to visit with a client, so was able to make it to Chichen Itza - mmmMMmmm that's my kind of place! Had Sopa de Lima which was great, although could have used more lime (and in fact we asked for and added more lime juice), a panucho (I could have eaten a bazillion of those!) and Poc Chuc and my colleague had pollo asado. The flavors were wonderful and the price was great! Then today at lunch I ran over to The Farm in LA Live for an Ahi tare tare tower and roasted beet salad - also very good. I didn't manage to make it out without a brownie and a couple of mini-farmeos. This evening we took a client to the Water Grill, and although very expensive and small portions, our meals were tasty and the client had a great time - which is the point, right? I had the salad with pumpkin and for the main course I ordered the monkfish, and the blueberry marscapone cake for dessert. All yummy! Breakfast was included in our hotel stay, so turned out (fortunately or unfortunately) I didn't get a chance to try the Pantry. Hoping to try a lengua burrito for lunch today and then we're heading home. I'll definitely need to leave time on the next trip for Mendocino Farms and Koreatown and Little Tokyo and and and... Thanks again for all the tips!

              Water Grill
              544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

              Chichen Itza
              3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

              Little Tokyo Restaurant
              150 E Bonita Ave, San Dimas, CA 91773

              Mendocino Farms
              300 S Grand Ave Ste Lp40, Los Angeles, CA 90071

              10 Replies
              1. re: bluemtn43

                Glad to hear that your trip was a success at least from a culinary standpoint; I hope it was a similar story business-wise.

                1. re: bluemtn43

                  Just remember that Mendocino Farms is only open for lunch.

                  Mendocino Farms
                  300 S Grand Ave Ste Lp40, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                  1. re: bluemtn43

                    Trust me, you're not missing anything if you don't make it to the Pantry. Not that good.

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      Perhaps I'm in the minority (although I know I have fellow Pantry advocates) but if you choose wisely (read "simply") a Pantry breakfast can be rewarding. Well done sourdough toast, well done potatoes, eggs (no omlettes, they tend to be over cooked), and if you must have a meat, bacon well done. The ham steak looks and smells great but promises much more than it can deliver - it is, to my taste, flabby and has no real ham taste.

                      1. re: TomSwift

                        But there are DOZENS of places that can do simple breakfast foods WELL, and the Pantry ain't one of them. And it's another one of those places that feels like it's just NEVER been cleaned, ya know? I'd rather save my $ and go to a hole in the wall that CAN cook something decent. Heck, I'd go to IHOP, anyday over the Pantry.

                        1. re: Phurstluv

                          While I agree there's a certain nostalgia people have about the Pantry that leads to a bit of overstatement about the restaurant's qualities, I do have a soft spot for the Pantry's "hamburger steak" -- it's the closest thing I've found to my childhood grade school cafeteria salisbury steak.

                          As to IHOP, I think the Pantry is definitely greasier than IHOP and if I want a greasy breakfast -- which is why one really goes to a greasy spoon -- then it's the Pantry all the way! :-)

                          1. re: Phurstluv

                            I certainly don't want to start a flame war, but I've not found any place that can do well done sourdough toast on the grill, and well done potatoes, as well as The Pantry. Agreed, the rest of their breakfast foods can be beaten elsewhere. And I sort of like the "never been cleaned" atmosphere, although they get an "A" rating.

                            1. re: TomSwift

                              re: A rating - Nice to be connected!! Although I heard that they were closed once for a violation, only time they've ever locked their doors. But nice to know they can do your favorite food best. And there are certainly lots of places with that grimy feel to them, I just prefer not to waste my dollars in most of them, unless they have something OUTSTANDING to make it worthwhile. Toast wouldn't qualify for me.

                              And I know what you mean re: the certain nostalgia, ipse, but again, lots of hole in the wall places have that for those who have grown up here: Apple Pan, Phillippe's, Cole's, etc. Anyway, it's all good if it brings back happy memories.

                              Apple Pan
                              10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                It does bring back very fond memories, which may be the real reason I drive from west SFV to downtown for the toast. Yeah, the Mayor did get busted a few years ago and shut down for a day, I think it was, but, as you say, it's nice to have connections.

                      2. re: bluemtn43

                        Also don't forget:

                        Colori Kitchen on 8th between Olive and Hill (Italian)
                        Wood Spoon on 9th (Brazilian)
                        New Moon on 9th (Chinese)
                        Tiara Cafe on 9th (American)
                        Panini Cafe on 9th across from Ralph's. Excellent Chicken Kabobs.
                        The Persian restaurant on Hill South of 9th for lunch...excellent
                        Gill's in the Hotel Stillwell (Indian)

                        Colori Kitchen
                        429 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

                        Wood Spoon
                        107 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                        New Moon
                        112 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015