DOWNTOWN: Financial District

It used to be that many visitors came to LA without ever stepping foot downtown — a neighborhood of law firms and alleyway businesses by day, and a ghost-town of warehouses and empty offices come 5 o’clock. But no more. There was a big kerfuffle when GQ named Los Angeles “America’s Next Great City” and then many others proclaimed LA the hottest new place for foodies. Angelenos worried all the press would curb the coolness of this newly-revitalized neighborhood, or worse yet, bring more visitors and create even MORE traffic.

But there’s a feeling that we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of possibilities in DTLA — the bars, the cafes, the restaurants and museums. And with the new Expo Line and various other forms of public transportation, downtown LA is one of the few neighborhoods that is easily accessible from a multitude of places. So sure, there may be WAY more tourists snapping photos in Grand Central Market on a Saturday morning, but there’s still a sense of discovery in the new places popping up each month.

Stop 1: Chicas Tacos

One of our favorite road-trips of all time was a 5-hour trek in a white mini-van down to Valle de Guadalupe, where we drank wine and ate nothing but tacos. So it makes sense that Chicas Tacos has stolen a place in our heart (and bellies!) — this brightly colored taqueria is owned by brothers Jon and Chris, and inspired by their time in Valle de Guadalupe. They met a sweet woman named Carmela who made the most delicious food, and years later have named their small restaurant after her. The design details of the taco shop are just adorable (Chris has a background in marketing, so everything from the hanging Edison bulbs to the bright blue tiles is perfection).

We ordered every taco on the menu, and were surprised that the veggie was the biggest hit. The homemade guacamole and thick corn tortilla chips were amazing, and we couldn’t get enough of Mama’s Quesadilla with steak. Sure, $4.50 is more than you would usually pay for a taco, but these guys are loaded with organic and locally-sourced ingredients and they’re just delicious.

Insider’s Tip: 10% off with check-in on Yelp, and try their secret menu.

(728 S Olive Street, Los Angeles)

Stop 2: Spring for Coffee

Some of the best espresso pulls in all of Los Angeles. Their coffee beans and milk products are of the highest quality, and the baristas know their stuff. We ordered a latte, and the guy behind the counter suggested mixing cinnamon into the espresso shot — WOWZERS. The perfect warm holiday drink without all the wacky sugary extras!

(548 S Spring Street, Los Angeles)

Stop 3: The Bradbury Building

This highly recognizable architectural landmark is the oldest commercial building remaining in downtown LA. It opened in 1893 and was commissioned by real estate millionaire Lewis Bradbury — in more modern times, it has appeared in movies, TV shows and music videos (most notable in our memory is Blade Runner and 500 Days of Summer, but there are many, many more).

(304 S Broadway, Los Angeles)

Stop 4: Birdie's Fried Chicken & Doughnuts

Chicken AND donuts?! We’ve died and gone to heaven (really, it’s possible. This meal is sure to clog our arteries but hey! IT’S THE HOLIDAYS).

This place is sweet gluttony and decadence, but so worth it. The chicken sandwiches is a must-order, but the donuts really steal the show. We ordered the peanut butter and jelly Christmas donut and the lemon thyme pistachio donut, and then a grand debate about which was best ensued. No clear outcome, but that’s a problem we’re a-okay having.

(314 W Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 5: The Library Store

Just in time for our last-minute, crazed holiday shopping — The Library Store appears. And we don’t want to be hyperbolic, but this place puts adorable and special on a whole new level…from the Sriracha sippy cup to the LA-inspired artwork, we wish we could have cleared our bank accounts buying everything in the place. We left with some darling cards and a couple of creative stocking stuffers, and a deep sense of whatever-the-opposite-of-buyer’s-remorse is.

(630 W 5th Street, Los Angeles)

Stop 6: The Stocking Frame

Some of the Best LA Days end with a night cap. Since it’s the holidays and it was actually getting chilly (go figure, LA!), we were in the mood for a cozy, fireside craft cocktail and The Stocking Frame was happy to oblige.  With its exposed brick, wood-burning fireplace, record player tunes, and blankets available for cuddling up, this spot takes you right out of the city and into a cabin in the woods.

We ordered a glass of sparkling rose and a “Denim Vest” (their house version of an old fashioned) and both were on point. While we didn’t order any food, the menu looked pretty amazing too – we’ll be back, Stocking Frame. We’ll be back.

*Insiders Tip: check out the shuffle board table in the back room! But note, they are closed between Christmas Eve and January 2nd.

(911 South Hill Street)

The Details:

Downtown is very walkable – especially the Financial District. We took the Expo Line from Culver City to the end at 7th & Metro and walked everywhere from there.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Michelle Green

    Always a fun time! One of my favorite Best LA Days 😀

  • Brittany G.

    Love Spring for Coffee! Can’t wait to try some of the other recommendations!