L.A.’s Chinese American community dates to the 1850s, but it wasn’t until 1938 that the neighborhood that once held Little Italy officially became known as Chinatown. Now, eight decades later, Chinatown is enjoying unprecedented growth. Classic spots like Eastside Market Italian Deli, Nick’s Café, Phoenix Inn, and Sam Woo are still going strong, and a new crop is providing diversity and depth. Start with these five dishes.
The Downtown L.A. dining scene has never been more vital, with dozens of great restaurants now dotting sub-neighborhoods like the Arts District, Bunker Hill, Fashion District, Old Bank District, and South Park. Discover my favorite dishes from five of Downtown’s best chefs in L.A.’s city center. Consider these plates gateways to great meals, since they’re on menus at consistently high-quality restaurants. Fan across DTLA for your next steps.
One of the joys of eating in Boyle Heights is that you'll find a good amount of restaurants that are embedded in the neighborhood's history. Spots like El Tepeyac, Al & Bea's and Otomisan have passed the half-century mark and, when you walk into them, you can feel the past and the present intermingle. Yet, Boyle Heights is also home to younger restaurants, like Guisados and Un Solo Sol, who are carving out their own niches in the neighborhood.
Dining in the Arts District isn't quite like any other neighborhood in Los Angeles. There isn't much in the way of fast food here. Instead, it's a hub for gastropubs and small chains with hip takes on classic grub. If you're up for trying something unusual - rattlesnake and rabbit sausage or avocado and strawberry sherbet - this is the place to go. Vegetarians and vegans will be delighted to find that there are multiple meal options here too.
Built in 1976, the Far East Plaza food mall in Chinatown has become iconic for its mix of old school and new, creating a buzz among L.A.’s foodie crowd since local chef Roy Choi relocated his first brick-and-mortar there in 2013.
Since then, this unassuming two-story space has become a top L.A. culinary destination. Visitors come for authentic regional Asian bites, restaurant-hop for a taste of everything, or hunker down in line with coffee and ice cream, waiting for service at a trendy pop-up. Communal tables arranged between stands selling knick-knacks serve the many fast-casual options along the corridor. Positioned in the heart of Chinatown, the plaza is worth checking out whether you’re a fan of traditional Asian street food or seeking out the next big food thing. And for pro and amateur chefs alike, Now Serving is a hybrid cookbook store and pop-up space that opened in January 2017.
Parking is easily found at surrounding paid lots; street parking is also available, but hard to come by with busy weekend crowds.
The eclectic Atwater Village dining scene offers a wide range of flavors and price points. Head down to Los Feliz and Glendale Boulevards for the most options, ranging from budget-friendly snacks to more upscale, sit-down dinners. You'll find international favorites - Indian curries, Salvadoran pupusas, Armenian chicken - as well American classics in the restaurants that line Atwater Village streets. There are a lot of new, hip flavors to try too, like the out-of-the-ordinary ice cream selection at Wanderlust or the Mediterranean/Middle Eastern fusion dishes at Momed and Dune. Be forewarned: It's hard to eat just one meal in Atwater Village.
Within three square miles, the streets of Koreatown comprise a most eclectic urban landscape where neon signs in Korean mix with various types of architecture providing clues to a multi-faceted history—from art deco to Spanish and Renaissance revival to Moorish and modern. Multi-level shopping malls are markers in between small shops and restaurants, and not everything is as it seems. Among it all are fascinating gems—some truly hidden and others that contain intrigue and wonder.
Coffee houses and dessert are synonymous in Koreatown as an any-time-of-day kind of thing—whether for a snack, after dinner, a night of karaoke, or while studying. Many are Wi-Fi connected haunts and can be found on virtually every corner serving specialty cakes, patbingsoo (shaved ice), ice cream, and other sweet confections. Here are twelve spots to check out.