The Guide to Koreatown in Los Angeles


Located west of Downtown LA and south of Hollywood, Koreatown is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Encompassing roughly 3 square miles, the area was once the epicenter of Golden Age Hollywood, home to the Ambassador Hotel, the Cocoanut Grove and the Brown Derby. Today, Korean and Latino populations contribute to Koreatown’s rich cultural diversity. K-town is also known for having one of the largest concentration of nightclubs and 24-hour businesses and restaurants in the country. Even frequent visitors have only scratched the surface of this vibrant district. Discover things to do in Koreatown with our guides to one of LA’s most exciting neighborhoods.

Chosun Galbee in Koreatown
Chosun Galbee | Photo: @chosungalbee, Instagram

Dining

The sizzle and smoke of the tabletop Korean barbecue is one of the definitive features of the LA dining scene. The availability of premium ingredients and a rabid following of diners has created a critical mass of restaurants specializing in grilled meats, nearly overshadowing the love of barbecue in the motherland itself.

Over the years, KBBQ restaurants have segmented into various categories – premium, all-you-can-eat, mid-range a la carte - with each place trumpeting a particular specialty or stand-out side dish. Some emphasize their grilling devices and methods - stalwarts like Soot Bull Jeep still employ charcoal for a smoky char, while others rely on special grates for more direct heat. Wherever you go, KBBQ is even better with a pitcher of ice-cold Hite, or a chilled bottle of soju, Korea's national spirit.

From casual AYCE spots to Michelin-level culinary experiences, gather your friends and family and explore LA's world-class Korean BBQ scene with our guide.

MaDang the Courtyard | Photo by Karen Young
MaDang the Courtyard | Photo by Karen Young

Shopping

Koreatown has more large malls than any similar sized area in America with an emphasis on markets, skin care, home goods and the best k-pop stores in LA. Peppered among the shops, whether in a mall or side street, are entertainment venues, trendy dessert shops, coffeehouses, and restaurants. Read on for the best shopping destinations in Koreatown.

Alchemist Coffee Project | Instagram by @mymirrorspeaks
Alchemist Coffee Project | Instagram by @mymirrorspeaks

Coffee & Dessert

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 12 spots to check out.

Break Room 86 at LINE LA in Koreatown
Break Room 86 | Photo: Houston Hospitality

Hidden Gems

The streets of Koreatown comprise an eclectic urban landscape where Korean neon signs mix with various architectural styles, providing clues to a multi-faceted history. Multi-level shopping malls are markers in between small shops and restaurants, and not everything is as it seems. There are so many unique things to do in Koreatown, like experiencing a k-pop restaurant among other fascinating gems—some truly hidden and others that contain intrigue and wonder.