The Arts District lies on the eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles, a long-time industrial neighborhood of empty streets, big warehouses, and graffiti galore. But the last few years have seen a resurgence of DTLA, and with it, the Arts District. Whereas the coffeeshops and up-and-coming restaurants moved in right as the recession hit, the last few years have seen an even trendier-turn: the money has arrived, and now it’s all loft-spaces, art galleries, and restaurants where bartenders are referred to as mixologists. It may no longer be home to hungry artists and the same kind of creative scene, but it IS a neighborhood re-imagining the way downtown spaces exist – especially in a city like Los Angeles, where a central downtown has never been the urban focal point.

Like so many neighborhoods, there’s much we didn’t have room for in the Arts District — keep exploring! (and don’t miss Bloom Square).

Stop 1: Urban Radish

This upscale grocery store has been around about 3 years, the first of its kind in the neighborhood. For many in the Arts District, grabbing a carton of milk or a loaf of bread meant a long car ride up until recently and Urban Radish was a welcome addition to the area. They have everything (and more!) you’d expect at such a place: craft beers, quinoa cookies, and a plethora of probiotic drinks. They also offer a deli with delicious pre-made goods, and a lot of items (like beans from the Joshua Tree Coffee Company!) that are hard to find anywhere else.

(661 Imperial Street, Los Angeles)

Stop 2: The Springs

The Springs calls itself an “Urban Oasis” and you can definitely see why. This vegan restaurant, juice bar and healing center (complete with infrared saunas, yoga and jade-stone therapy) is an impressively beautiful (and big!) place. The people here are also beautiful (and wouldn’t you be if you were eating vegan food and practicing yoga?) and the meals are really delicious. We ordered the Forbidden Fried Rice (with black rice and house-made kimchi, scallions and kale) and the Moon Berry Oats Breakfast Bowl (with goji, mulberries and almond milk). The whole place is SO LA, but in the best way possible – we are a city that takes our health and wellness seriously, but you’re surely not going to find some tasteless quinoa and a few veggies around this joint.

(608 Mateo Street, Los Angeles)

Stop 3: Poketo

Poketo is a special hybrid: part art store, part retail store, and all parts interesting (and diverse!) items. The store collaborates with local artists, is well-known for their amazing wallets, and recently opened a branch inside the Line Hotel in Koreatown. The children’s toys and greeting cards were real winners for us.

(820 E 3rd Street, Los Angeles)

Stop 4: Blacktop Coffee

This tiny coffeeshop is really more a sidewalk cafe, built with the intention of people spilling out onto the street. One of the guys behind well-known Handsome Roasters started Blacktop a few years ago, looking for a way to bring community back into coffee-making (Handsome sold to Blue Bottle Coffee in 2014). The menu is simple: Whites (espresso drinks with milk), Blacks (straight-up espresso) and Chocolates (mochas). The coffee is good, and sipping outside on a wooden crate is quite perfect on those days under 90 degrees.

(826 3rd Street, Los Angeles)

Stop 5: Apolis

Apolis has been in the neighborhood for almost a decade, and is another community-minded business that has embraced the growth in the Arts District. It is a men’s clothing store, gallery, and event space all rolled into one. Apolis, which means “global citizen,” believes strongly in social good through business — they partner with designers and manufacturers all over the world, from Uganda to Bangladesh. Plus, those city tote bags are just so flipping cool.

(806 E 3rd Street, Los Angeles)

Stop 6: Pie Hole

In just under five years, Pie Hole has become a beloved dessert shop in Los Angeles, a city that’s always had a soft spot for pies.

Now, we grew up on the more traditional apple or rhubarb pie, but this place has a wonderful mix of both sweet and savory: the maple custard is legendary, but there’s also Mexican chocolate, shepherd’s pie and Mac N Cheese. We ordered the strawberry cream pie and the blubarb (blueberry and rhubarb — a summer special!) and then threw in a salted chocolate chip cookie. All pies are baked from scratch daily, so it really is like going home and having a slice of your mama’s pie…and it doesn’t even have to be Thanksgiving!

714 Traction Ave, Los Angeles

Stop 7: Arts District Brewing

Arts District Brewing has only been around since the end of 2015, but it’s already making a name for itself in the neighborhood: mostly as the best place to go for an afternoon of PURE FUN. They have a wide selection of draft beers (32 to be exact), a full liquor menu (hallelujah!), and a variety of bar food like a bacon-beef burger, a hot dog with smashed tater tots, chicken wings — and a kale salad, if you’re trying to balance out your intake of booze. The space is also huge, with games galore — darts, ping-pong, and best of all, vintage skeeball machines!

(828 Traction Ave, Los Angeles)

The Details:

There are a multitude of public transportation options in the Arts District. From the Westside, you can take the newly-opened Expo Line all the way from Santa Monica to downtown and then walk or bike to the Arts District. From places like Pasadena or Boyle Heights, the Gold Line connects to the Little Tokyo/Arts District station. More options here.

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