When people think of Downtown Los Angeles, they think of a bustling business center by day and empty hub by night. It’s a common misconception. Downtown is quickly becoming a cultural, social and entertainment hot spot.

We’ve uncovered some of the top places to go when you have some time to kill or want to keep yourself busy for a day. You can go the shopping route, the partying route or my personal favorite, the eating route.


These places are old. They look old. They smell old. But the food is oh-so-good.

Take a trip down memory lane and check out these legendary food joints. If you want a good ol’ fashion “Food Network recommend” type of restaurant, these are the places.

Philippe the Original Restaurant

1001 N. Alameda St.

(213) 628-3781;


For nearly a century, this landmark eatery has been serving up an original French dip sandwich. It has sawdust on the floor and long tables for communal dining. There’s standard deli fare – soups, sandwiches, salads, plus a slew of pies.

The signature sandwich is a masterpiece. Meat (beef, pork, lamb, ham or turkey) is dunked in au jus and layered in a perfect French roll – soft inside, with a light, crispy crust. Yumm!

The Original Pantry Café

877 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles

(213( 972-9279);


The Pantry is another 24-hour joint that opened in 1924. Supposedly, the place has never ever closed.

Something about the pancakes here is special. Maybe it’s the syrup.

But you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The portions are huge, and the food is pretty greasy, but what do you expect? It’s “comfort” food. Unless you eat too much ... then it starts to feel a little uncomfortable.


Looking for a great place to eat that’s not your regular Applebee’s or Chili’s? Check out some of these great restaurants that will introduce you to cuisine from around the world. Embrace Los Angeles’ diverse culture and broaden your horizons.

Gill’s Cuisine of India

838 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles

(213) 623-1050

Where can you get an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet lunch you ask? Well, Gill’s Cuisine of India should do the trick. The décor is neat: light pink booths, tablecloths and carpet are accentuated with Indian artifacts that suspend above the tables.

It’s located in the back of the seedy Stillwell Hotel, but don’t let that stop you from tasting the finest Indian food around. They are one of the only Indian restaurants that deliver.

Izakaya Haru Ulala

368 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles

(213) 620-0977;


Located in Little Tokyo, there’s a fun restaurant spot called Haru Ulala. It’s a sort of hang out spot, a place you might head to after work for a small bite to eat and a drink to unwind from the day.

What’s ideal about Haru Ulala is that there’s something on their menu for just about anyone. They have a large selection of excellent sushi and sushi-related dishes, but also a number of tasty small-portioned Japanese specialties.


Finding a cool bar to have a drink in the City of Angels can be a surprisingly challenging experience. But I’ve discovered a bar with “coolness” cred to ease your bar hopping experience.


901 E. First St., Los Angeles

(213) 687-3766;


This very cool bar is nestled in the Artist District of Downtown. It was originally a brothel and still has a Moulin Rouge feel to it.

The lady bartenders are dressed in black corsets, fish net stockings and short shorts. The whole place is covered in black lace curtains, crushed red velvet, red lacquered walls and dim red lighting. The scene is interesting, to say the least, full of artsy fartsy people with tattoos.

HMS Bounty

3357 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

(213) 385-7275

This is your classic 1930s bar. It's not trendy, not hp and definitely not in-style. That's what is so good about it.

HMS Bounty is a cool, dewy place with dark red booths, strong drinks and, yes, a jukebox! It's a comfy atmosphere to just hang out and meet people.

Sit at the bar and you're bound to meet an old-timer that will be happy to tell yo all his war stories. Needless to say, this place is pretty old school, but fun for a change of pace.


The benefit of the late night diner: late night studying? Can’t get to bed? Your friends are zombies? Drunk? Nothing’s better than cheese fries at 4 a.m. Indulge. All the bars close at 2 a.m. anyways.

Standard Downtown

550 S. Flower St., Los Angeles

(213) 892-8080;


The Restaurant at the Standard is a California brasserie that serves classic American cuisine 24/7. They have everything from salads and sandwiches to steak and eggs.

The outrageously bright interior features yellow booths and a diner-style counter. But ask to be seated on the outdoor patio so you can schmooze alongside a flaming water fountain. It’s cool, I promise.


400 S. Main St., Los Angeles

(213) 617-1000;


This funky little restaurant nestled into the corner of 4th Street and Main is truly an enigma in the Downtown dining scene. There are only three things that you need to know about Pete’s food.

First and foremost, Pete’s blue cheese fries are the landmark of the establishment. The perfect shoestring French fries, covered in crumbled and melting blue cheese, are downright inspiring.

If that doesn’t satisfy your late night munchies, try the grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s a sure winner.


Sick of doing the same old thing every night? Step out of the box a little bit and have a great time at this L.A. hotspot. This places is new, exciting and perfect for your next birthday celebration or group get-together.

Caffe Brass Monkey

3440 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

(213) 381-7047;


Now here's a fun little hole in the wall! Brass Monkey feels like a little cave, which is a perfect setting to sing your little drunken heart out.

That's right, it's good ole' karaoke in Koreatown. It's obviously full of regulars, but you're more than welcome to sit back and join the crowd! It's a lot of fun, but let's try to keep it classy.

Shatto 39 Lanes

3255 W. 4th St., Los Angeles

(213) 385-9475;


There are no flashing lights, glow-in-the-dark balls or karaoke machines at this massive 39-lane treasure. However, there is plenty of beer, balls, pins and fun.

Don’t be intimidated by the intense old-timers in the fancy league uniforms. They don’t judge! But if you start to feel self-conscious in those goofy bowling shoes, there’s a cozy cocktail lounge to retreat to and play a few rounds of pool.


No problem! Los Angeles is the cultural capital for music, film, theater, dance and visual art. There’s the Fashion District, Toy District, Jewelry District, Historic Theatre District, You-Name-It District. Just walk down the streets and find what tickles your fancy!

Los Angeles Flower District

766 Wall St., Los Angeles


It’s like spring all-year-round in the Flower District. For a small $2 fee, you can check out the largest selection of floral supplies on the West Coast.

Not to mention you can sift through hundreds of beautiful arrangements in the air conditioned facility (so L.A.). The Flower District also has a complete design school and French bakery, pastry and café, oh my!

Downtown Art Walk

Gallery Row on Spring St., Los Angeles


The Downtown Art Walk showcases the many art exhibition venues in Downtown Los Angeles – commercial art galleries, museums and non-profit arts venues. It’s absolutely free and, best of all, self-guided so you only have to see what you’re interested in.

Everyone knows about the fancy art museums around town, but this experience is much more casual and personal. The art walk is held the second Thursday of every month (the next one is June 12) from noon-9 p.m.