Explore South Park in Downtown Los Angeles

Main image for article titled Explore South Park in Downtown Los Angeles
Veranda at Hotel Figueroa

As the epicenter of modern high-rise condominium and apartment homes and luxury hotels, South Park is a vibrant hot spot where sports, entertainment, and dining spectacularly intersect.

Here you’ll find the Los Angeles Convention Center and STAPLES Center (a multi-use arena that is the home of the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, and Sparks, as well as boxing events and superstar concerts). Adjacent is L.A. LIVE, an entertainment and dining complex centered by the open-air, brightly lit Microsoft Square, and surrounded by the Microsoft Theater, Grammy Museum, and Lucky Strike Bowling Alley. Also on the property are two dozen bars and restaurants, including Shaquille O’ Neal’s new  Shaquille’s, specializing in Southern fare and cocktails for lunch, dinner, and late-night hours.

Within a walkable half-mile, there is a diverse selection of food, drink, and game-changing craft beer options. Also, along the route, find the highly regarded Faith & Flower and Broken Spanish. And if you’re looking for a dog park or an "escape room," you’ll find those too. Check out the list below for places you may not have thought to venture.

Hotel Figueroa Bar

Hotel Figueroa

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Hotel Figueroa - Casey Lane

Go back nearly a century and visit Hotel Figueroa (939 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles 90015), the DTLA icon that sits adjacent to L.A. LIVE. It was first regaled as a haven for women, particularly actresses, when it was first built. Over the years it fell on hard times. After a $60-million expansive renovation, it has been restored to its original Spanish colonial splendor, complete with three cocktail bars overseen by famed cocktailer Dushan Zaric - the two-story Rick’s; Bar Alta, the 26-seat bartender’s table; and lobby lounge Bar Figueroa. James Beard award nominee Casey Lane helms the culinary side at the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant Breva, as well as the all-day Veranda.

STAPLES Center Night

STAPLES Center

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

STAPLES Center

Since opening with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in October 1999, more than 50 million people have come to STAPLES Center (1111 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles 90015) to attend superstar concerts, sporting events, award shows, and iconic events, including the 2000 Democratic National Convention and Michael Jackson’s Memorial Service in 2009. With a capacity of 18,000 to 20,000 depending on the event, STAPLES Center is the home arena of four professional sports franchises—the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. It’s hosted the Grammy Awards since 2000, with the exception of 2003 and 2018 when the ceremony took place at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. An eclectic choice of food and drinks can be found on every floor of the multi-level venue.

Don’t miss wandering around the entrance at Star Plaza to check out statues of Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky, Oscar De La Hoya, Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Luc Robitaille, Shaquille O’Neal, Kings announcer Bob Miller, and Elgin Baylor.

L.A. LIVE at night

L.A. LIVE at night

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

L.A. LIVE

Across the street from STAPLES is L.A. LIVE— an entertainment and dining complex centered by the neon-lit, open-air Microsoft Square, that includes the Grammy Museum, Conga Room, The Novo by Microsoft, the Microsoft Theater, and Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge, as well as a range of dining choices that include local, regional, and national restaurants for any palate and budget. The Microsoft Theater (formerly Nokia Live) is home to award shows including the American Music Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, ESPY Awards, and BET Awards. The development also includes the JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, the 14-screen Regal Premiere Cinema, and ESPN’s West Coast broadcast headquarters.

Grammy Museum Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton | Photo: Grammy Museum

Grammy Museum

Located on the outer edge of L.A. LIVE, the Grammy Museum (800 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles 90015) is dedicated to the American music industry and Grammy winners past and present. Start out on the fourth floor at the History of American Music and Songwriters Hall where you’ll find a touchscreen exhibit exploring over 160 genres of music. Also of interest, videos and exhibits that examine pivotal moments in musical history. The third floor explores the history of the Grammy Awards through loads of iconic memorabilia. Channel your inner musician with the fun “hands-on studios” that take you through the process of making music—from sound engineering to singing.  The second floor is home to the 200-seat Clive Davis Theater where special live events are held, including interviews with music legends. Stroll through music history outside the museum along the “Grammy Walk of Fame,” embedded with bronze disks honoring Grammy Award winners.

barcito empanada

Empanada at Barcito

Barcito

Barcito (403 W 12th St, Los Angeles 90015) is an all-day Argentinian-inspired restaurant located only a couple blocks from L.A. LIVE - it's the perfect place for a casual light bite, cocktails, or a full meal. The day menu of sandwiches and select breakfast items goes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Come for happy hour all day on Mondays; from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.  Empanadas are a specialty, as is ceviche and the fried chicken sliders. For dessert, don’t miss the churros. Note: It’s gratuity-free, so the price on the menu is what you pay.

Birdies Maple Bacon Donut Fried Chicken Secret Menu

Maple Bacon Donut Fried Chicken from the Secret Menu at Birdie's | Photo: Birdie's, Facebook

Birdie's

Birdie’s (314 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles 90015) is a stylish fast-casual order-at-the-counter spot that has your back 24/7 on Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. weekdays, and until 8 p.m. Sundays. The menu screams simple modern comfort in the form of freshly-made whimsical, outrageous donuts (choose yeast or cake) and free range chicken prepared in a variety of ways (including a breakfast sandwich or a spicy variety oozing with cheese). Top it off with Intelligentsia coffee. And don’t forget to ask about the “secret menu.”

This is the perfect group activity, but it's not for the timid. Horror Escapes LA (1041 S Olive St, Los Angeles 90015) offers a different experience than most others. Choose from one of three rooms and prepare for a fully immersive experience brought together with live actors. No drinking is permitted, nor will anyone who appears to have had one too many, so leave the bar hopping until later.

L.A. LIVE Dog Park

L.A. LIVE Dog Park | Photo: Lex E, Yelp

L.A. LIVE Dog Park

If you have little or big Fido in tow, it’s convenient to know about a dog park, especially in Downtown LA. Hidden in the back of L.A. LIVE, the L.A. LIVE Dog Park (LA Live Way, Los Angeles 90015) is split into two areas - one each for big and small dogs. The ground is covered with wood chips instead of dirt or grass, so your furry friend will stay as clean as possible. There is also a water fountain made for dogs.

The Stallion at Mega Bodega

The Stallion at Mega Bodega | Photo: Mega Bodega, Facebook

Mega Bodega

With food and drink offerings more complex and alluring than your average bodega bar, the “mega” teaser for Mega Bodega (1001 S Broadway, Los Angeles 90015) is suitably fitting yet straight shooting, since the menu is tagged “coffee, beer, food, community.” This all-day eatery has a minimalist style with a row of counter stool seats, a wall of tables, and a small sidewalk “box” seating. However, the menu is anything but minimalist with enormous sandwiches and salads with whimsical names like the OG Turkey Avo, Fromage A Trois, and The “CAPEESH?!” Fun drinks include coffee and beer concoctions. As they like to say, “come early, stay late.”

Mikkeller DTLA Burger Beer

Photo: Mikkeller DTLA, Facebook

Mikkeller DTLA

From its beginnings in Copenhagen over a decade ago, Mikkeller has become known as one of the most innovative breweries in the world with locations in Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Korea and Thailand. The 7,600 square-foot Mikkeller DTLA (330 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles 90015) has 62 beers on tap plus guest beers. The European-inspired menu includes charcuterie and cheese, smoked sausages, and global entrees. Filled with long wooden tables, the gigantic space is perfect for large parties. Come for events every night of the week, including Trivia Tuesdays, Burger and Beer, Bingo Thursdays, Open Mic, and Smokin' Sundays for BBQ. Happy Hour is Monday to Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sitting adjacent is Kaffebaren serving coffee, beer, sandwiches, Danish pastries, and more during daytime hours.

Modern Times The Dankness Dojo

Photo: Modern Times DTLA, Facebook

Modern Times Beer: The Dankness Dojo

This San Diego transplant opened The Dankness Dojo (832 S. Olive Street, Los Angeles 90014), a pilot brewery in DTLA, along with a restaurant and café serving an intriguing plant-based menu with so many flavorful components that meat won’t be missed. The brick-walled space is a must-see with wall-to-wall eclectic art installations and neon, along with a blend of steel, marble, and wood seating. The R&D brewery includes over 30 taps, experimental brews and one-off batches, guest beers, monthly releases, beer-to-go, and wine. Also offered are 64-oz. growler fills. For non-imbibers there is a coffee bar with the Modern Times signature beans.

Pancakes, bacon & eggs at The Original Pantry

Pancakes, bacon & eggs at The Original Pantry

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

The Original Pantry Cafe

This is the greasy spoon that’s a legacy step above the rest. A 24/7 fixture since opening its doors in 1924, The Original Pantry Cafe (877 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles 90017) moved to its current location in 1950 without missing a beat. It’s the place you go first thing in the morning, or after everywhere else is closed. The menu is old school American comfort food where pancakes, eggs, and bacon can be ordered all day long. Inevitably there’s a line - even at 3 a.m. - but that is part of the experience, as is the diner coffee. Trivia: It’s owned by former LA Mayor Richard Riordan. The Hollywood legacy includes being the location in Knocked Up where Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) tells his father (Harold Ramis) that he got a girl pregnant.

Prank Bar

Prank Bar

This indoor-outdoor two-story restaurant/lounge is home to LA’s first walk-up bar, complete with a floor-to-ceiling retractable glass wall and a dog-friendly patio. Happy hour at Prank Bar (1100 S Hope St, Los Angeles 90015) runs twice daily at with times that align with the prankster theme: 2:40 p.m.to 7:02 p.m. and 9:42 p.m. to 10:47 p.m. The menus feature non-GMO, organic, and locally-sourced ingredients with choices for every palate, including vegans, gluten-free, as well as the most hardcore carnivore. Sip “Whitty Classics” such as the Inigo Montoya with Espolon Blanco and fresh lemon; or Haiku with Death’s Door Gin, mint, cucumber, and flower water.

Preux & Proper Fried Catfish

Fried Mississippi catfish | Photo: Preux & Proper

Preux & Proper

Find that Big Easy feeling at Preux & Proper (840 S. Spring St, Los Angeles 90014), the New Orleans-inspired two-story restaurant with a patio on the edge of South Park. The Southern-style menu is courtesy of executive chef Samuel Monsour, whose menu includes Dungeness crab hush puppies, fried chicken, Po’ Boy, fried Mississippi catfish, hand-made charcuterie, seafood gumbo, pork neck gravy poutine, and a 36-hour prime boneless beef rib. Quench your thirst with thematically paired cocktails with names like the rum-based Voodoo Queen, Treasure Island (served in a pineapple), and the Green Gullah with St. George gin, green chartreuse, ginger beer, and chipotle. Open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Happy hour runs daily. Sweets are purely Southern—beignets, seasonal cobbler, and a secret recipe key lime pie.


Words by