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Downtown restaurants

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?

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  1. What part of downtown? Will you have a car? Will you be on public transportation? What kind of food, price range, etc.?

    Sorry... it's a pretty wide question :)

    3 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      Staying at the Biltmore. We will not have a car. Thought we would rely on cabs. Any type of food. Looking for a fine dining experience but not over the top expensive. Thanks.

      1. re: sugarrkettle

        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).

        1. re: sugarrkettle

          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.)

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. Perhaps Water Grill if you like seafood, its next door to the Biltmore and one of the better seafood restaurants in the city.

            2 Replies
            1. re: HastaLaPasta

              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.

              1. re: jesstifer

                I would certainly not call Water Grill "over the top expensive." It is in line if even a little less than most restaurants of it's caliber. A $150+ tasting menu I would consider expensive (i.e. Providence for $160,) a $95 tasting menu nowadays is pretty reasonable.

            2. 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
              (213) 405-1434
              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.

              Drago Centro
              525 S Flower St
              Los Angeles, CA 90071-2200
              (213) 228-8998
              Haven’t been yet but heard great things about it from reliable sources. Solid Italian-inspired cuisine.

              Langer’s Deli
              704 S Alvarado St
              Los Angeles, CA 90057
              (213) 483-8050
              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
              (213) 483-6000
              (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.

              Park’s BBQ
              955 S Vermont Ave.
              Los Angeles, CA 90005
              (213) 380-1717
              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
              (213) 972-3331
              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
              (213) 749-1460
              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
              (213) 891-0900
              $95 Chef’s Tasting Menu. Arguably LA’s finest seafood restaurant (right behind Providence).

              Wood Spoon
              107 W 9th St
              Los Angeles, CA 90015
              (213) 629-1765
              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!

              2 Replies
              1. re: degustateur

                N.B.: while Langer's is probably the world's best pastrami, it is not fine dining, nor is it open for dinner.

                1. re: degustateur

                  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.

                2. Ciudad, 445 South Figueroa Street, is good. Avoid the theater/concert rush and it can be quite good. Cafe Pinot, 700 West Fifth St., is pretty good, too. I like sitting out back under the shadow of downtown's beautiful art deco library. The city's lights make this a special meal after dusk. Neither restaurant will break the bank.

                  1. Wow- thanks for all the suggestions. I will check these out.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: sugarrkettle

                      One more. Colori Kitchen for very good and reasonable Italian food.

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

                      1. re: sugarrkettle

                        Don't forget Bottega Louie!!!

                        And I second Rivera and Church and State. I love Colori Kitchen, but they're best for take out - I don't like that room.

                        1. re: yogachik

                          i would respectfully disagree with the recommendation of bottega louie.


                          1. re: westsidegal

                            It's not exactly user friendly. Unless you like lots of noise.

                      2. I would splurge at Water Grill.

                        Other good options within a couple of blocks:
                        Cafe Pinot
                        Nick & Stefs
                        Drago Centro

                        1. At this point I don't believe we know where you are coming from. Are we to assume Alabama or Texas? Inland or on the water? Do you want a place where all the men wear jackets or not? Do you want wine or cocktails or both? In a broad general sense probably the most obvious fine dining downtown is at Water Grill (seafood) or Patina (a little of everything) in the Disney Concert Hall. But as you may be coming to see, there are so many more options.

                          1. If the thought of high quality Mexican food is of interest, then Rivera is the choice, period!
                            Others have posted about this place on this thread, but the food is sensational, the ambiance terrific, the portions small allowing for multiple tastes, and the wine/beer selection superb. Right across from Staples Center/LA Live area on South Flower, maybe 5 blocks from the Biltmore Sit at the counter where the chefs are preparing the food - a visual delight, and the food is even better.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: carter

                              We are coming from Alabama (Birmingham) Right now my group is leaning towards Cicada and water Grille. I liked Church and State but as is the norm with a group it did not appeal to everyone. Don't really want mexican. I also like Patina. Jackets is fine for the men. We are mostly a wine drinking crowd.

                              1. re: sugarrkettle

                                I'm truly sorry for what you will have to endure at the Rose Bowl next week, but, you know, life is a learning experience. As a feeling and thinking person and part-time faculty member at UT, I'll make the following bargain: If you bring along a nice package of Bob Sykes BBQ, I'll supply all the paper crying towels you and your party will need!

                                Just kidding, folks -- I couldn't resist the opportunity. I read somewhere that the best team will win. ;-)

                                While you're out here, you won't go wrong with the Water Grill. Little-known secret: they have great fish, of course, but also great beef. Earlier this year I had an outstanding juicy steak (and exceptional desserts) at the end of their tasting menu.

                                Water Grill
                                544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                1. re: Harry Nile

                                  As soon as I wrote where my allegiance was, I should have known I would get some good UT ribbing. I am hoping for a good game. Two great teams- all the makings for true championship game and a great time in LA/Pasadena. Thanks for also recommending Water Grill. I am waiting for my group's voting to come in. I am the planner in the grooup but need for a majority to agree. Roll Tide.

                                  1. re: Harry Nile

                                    my office had our holiday luncheon at the Water Grill (12/18) and the only beef on the menu was in a salad...

                                    1. re: yinyangdi

                                      Filet Mignon is on the current dinner menu

                                  2. re: sugarrkettle

                                    Cicada is a beautiful place. If you go, be sure to walk around and look at all the old shirt drawers (it used to be a men's clothing shop years ago) and the Lalique glass. But the food (and wine) is not up to the level of Water Grill or Patina.

                                    1. re: mc michael

                                      As a follow-up to my Cicada recommendation, agreed that there is finer food to be had at Water Grill or (arguably) Patina. I'd add Roy's. But I'm a big fan of dining as sensory experience, and all that marble and Lalique glass at Cicada makes you feel like you've been somewhere besides just a restaurant.

                                      1. re: jesstifer

                                        True. And sometimes there will be a combo playing with or without a crooner.

                                        1. re: jesstifer

                                          However, the Water Grill has some pretty nice architectural features too.

                                  3. How about steak?

                                    Try La Bistecca (inside the Biltmore Hotel where you are staying)

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      how is la bistecca? what is the price range?

                                        1. re: rickym13

                                          The steaks were fine -- cooked as requested (medium rare) -- and the sides, while a tad skimpy and on the expensive side, were more than passable. I would avoid the sauces that they offer because the caponata that accompanies the beef is a really nice addition to the steaks. Bread was another highlight of the meal.

                                          Prices are on par with Nick & Stef's.

                                          Setting is also very nice (reminiscent of Cicada in a way) , although a bit odd to be dining in what used to be part of the hotel lobby.

                                      1. For a great LA experience, go for drinks at the roof top at The Standard at sunset - wonderful views of the city. Takami/Elevate Lounge has wonderful sushi, great bar and super views. I agree with all of the other recommendations on restaurants - enjoy!

                                        1. If you're gonna do italian definitely drago centro over cicada. I haven't had better pasta anywhere. They have a nice wine selection and really great somm there too. I would probably rather go to Rivera though, especially if you want to experience something new and delicious. It's not really "mexican" (whatever that means to you). Latin flavors with french technique. Cocktails there are awesome. I would also do either patina or water grill.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: peppermonkey

                                            Big + on Drago, it's as good as it gets for LA Italian.
                                            Bit - on Elevate / Takami, very mediocre, although a nice room and location

                                          2. Regarding Downtown, good suggestions. Other recommendations here..

                                            After Alabama wins, I would suggest heading over to Seven Grand for a whiskey or a glass of vino. Breakfast is great at Bottega Louie or I love the pancakes at the Standard Hotel. For dessert, I would head over to Urth Cafe (quick cab ride) and have either the incredible pumpkin pie or coconut/custard pie. If you are looking for the most beautiful patio downtown...go to Cafe Pinot. A glass of wine at Cafe Pinot always tastes better because of the location. I hear great things about Drago Centro and I love the food and atmosphere of Church and State.

                                            Oh, and I love having a drink at the bar at Biltmore...just a beautiful building.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: RobertC

                                              Thanks so much. Love the idea for drinks expecially after the win.

                                            2. Congratulations on the championship, Sugar! Hope you enjoyed the town and our recommendations.