We will be in town for the National Championship game next week. We are staying downtown and would like to have a nice meal in the downtown area. What do you suggest?
Yikes. I bow to others' experience, then. Don't have the money for fancy food, so my fancy explorations downtown have been limited to treated meals at Rivera (very good), Ciudad (quite good) and Yxta (not very upscale but great al pastor in a sit-down environment with excellent drinks).
This is just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. If a friend told me that they were coming to LA looking for a "fine dining experience", I would tell them that they are missing the point. LA has an absolutely fantastic assortment of hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants, run by recent immigrants, which serve food that you can rarely find outside its native country. Unless you live way out in the boonies, there are probably fine-dining restaurants near where you live; but can you get world-class southern Thai or Korean food at home?
But if fine dining is what you want, I don't want to dissuade you. (But I don't really know where to send you, either.)
What kind of food? Bistro, Italian, American, Mexican, Latin, Steak, Seafood, Japanese, Chinese, Continental? The finer the experience (if by"fine" you include service, ambience, appointments, etc.), generally the higher the tariff.
Drago Centro (Italian) and Chaya Downtown (Cal-Asian, for want of a better description) are both fine restaurants, walking distance from your hotel (both restaurants are in the same building practically across the street from the Biltmore). Roy's Hawaiian is also walking distance. Depending on what kind of food interests you, I think you'd be quite pleased at any of the three.
If you like French bistro food, Church & State is an excellent choice, if you can get in. You'd definitely need to take a cab, but it's probably not more than a 10-minute ride.
Water Grill is what I consider over-the-top expensive. I've always had good luck sending out of towners to Cicada. Absolutely gorgeous, uniquely downtown-LA Art Deco interior, excellent service, seven out of ten star food at reasonable prices. An eclectic menu that has something for everyone. Their mushroom risotto, rack of lamb esp. good.
You’re in PHAT City! The Water Grill is literally right downstairs. Some of my preferred haunts, listed below, are all nearby.
Church & State
1850 Industrial St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Undoubtedly, my current favorite LA restaurant for either lunch or dinner. Located in the former loading dock of the old Nabisco Biscuit Co. Owner Yassmin Sarmadi has entrusted none other than Walter Manske at the helm, along with Walter’s wife as pastry chef, to assure consummate culinary excellence. Virtually everything on the menu is phenomenal. I’m particularly fond of the fresh Kumamoto oysters, the roasted bone marrow, the Santa Barbara prawns, the crispy pig ear and the bouillabaisse. Their puffed pastry-topped escargots are among the best ever! ‘Nuff said.
525 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90071-2200
Haven’t been yet but heard great things about it from reliable sources. Solid Italian-inspired cuisine.
704 S Alvarado St
Los Angeles, CA 90057
A bone fide LA institution since 1947. One visit and you’ll understand why. THE best pastrami ever. Katz’s in NY is a close second. Everyone raves about and suggests the #19 sandwich. I prefer to go with the special platter of soft, tender, hand-sliced pastrami; comes with chopped chicken liver, rye bread and all the trimmings to make your own. I tend to wolf down most of the meat and make smaller sandwiches with the rest to go. Speaking of going …
Pacific Dining Car
1310 W 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(BLD 24/7). Exceptional Breakfasts. Truffle Eggs, Banana Pecan Pancakes. Old school dinner spot. Same location, style and service for 90 years. Steaks and dinners can be hit or miss. Stick with breakfast, any time of day or night and satisfaction is assured.
955 S Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Hole-in-the-Wall Korean BBQ. Superior quality meats and service. The staff don’t want you to ruin the meet so the virtually cut up and cook everything for you at your table. They let you do it yourself, albeit reluctantly, if you insist.
141 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
Joachim Splichal’s flagship. And it shows. What more can be said? Excellent, reliable, expensive. Never been disappointed in many years of patronage.
1050 S Flower St, #102
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Serious, traditional, alta cucina Mexican at its finest). The vibe, the drinks and the food are all spot on. Genuine Jamon Iberico de Bellota Pata Negra, all that its cracked up to be. Handmade tortillas with embedded dried flower are served with a delicious guacamole, aptly referred to as “Indian butter”. The Duck Enfrijolada, Kurubota Pork Chop and Sautéed Cod are all to die for. IMHO … Better than Babita!
The Water Grill
544 S Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
$95 Chef’s Tasting Menu. Arguably LA’s finest seafood restaurant (right behind Providence).
107 W 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Outstandingly charming downtown Brazilian café. Savory pork sandwich. The chicken pot pie is well-worth my 30 mile drive. A pitcher of the killer sangria is a must have. Superb, friendly service.
Enjoy your stay and Bon Appetit!
Good list. I might make some changes or deletions, but this covers a lot.
Add, Toshi Sushi, The Must Wine Bar, The Palm, possibly some places in LA Live.
FWIW, my favorites from the list would be Church and State, Drago Centro, and Water Grill. It's possible to eat at the bar for any of these three, split entrees, and have a very reasonable tab with enough food.