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The Varnish

EatLA-1480

WHY The closest L.A. has to a speakeasy, with a discreetly marked door at the back of Cole’s and exquisitely crafted cocktails. WHAT 1920s-style barmen, a jazz soundtrack and fresh fruit juices make the Varnish old-school—yet it’s up to date on the latest in mixology. WHO The Downtown bar-crawling crowd is youngish, but high-end cocktails [...]

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Yxta Cocina Mexicana

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WHY For 40 years, Jesse Gomez’s family has been turning out ‘careful-the-plate-is-hot’ Mexican food at El Arco Iris, an old-school hub of Highland Park life. Now Gomez has created a new-school, loft-like place serving regional Mexican dishes, as well as twenty-some tequilas and what may well be the best margarita Downtown. WHAT This is not [...]

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Cole’s

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WHY Classic cocktails and sandwiches in an old-timey setting in the heart of Downtown. And the speakeasy-like Varnish Bar in the back is one of the coolest watering holes in L.A. WHAT Vintage L.A. meets the modern cocktail culture at this renovated landmark. It’s appropriate that for a tavern that claims to be the city’s [...]

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Café Pinot

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WHY Sitting under the olive trees in front of the L.A. Central Library, sipping a Viognier and eating the famed mustard-crusted rotisserie chicken with fries, is one of Downtown’s greatest pleasures. WHAT When the weather’s good, book a table on the terrace at this chic bistro owned by celebrity chef Joachim Splichal. If the weather’s [...]

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Bottega Louie

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WHY Crisp, puffy-edged pizzas, delicious salads and seemingly hundreds of fun small plates. WHAT In a vast, open space with white marble floors, white walls and a white ceiling way up high, an army of well-trained staff serve solidly satisfying trattoria fare to a constant crowd. At this writing this is one of Downtown’s hottest [...]

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The Gorbals

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WHY An eccentric Jewish-Scottish hipster spot that’s surprisingly affordable given the celebrity status of the chef—the most expensive dish is $15. WHAT Helmed by Top Chef winner Ilan Hall, the Gorbals is anything but flashy—an almost-barren candlelit room tucked into the aging Alexandria Hotel, now used for affordable housing. The small menu draws inspiration from [...]

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Golden State of Cocktails – Pub Crawls & A Happy Hour

The inaugural Golden State of Cocktails,   a libation convention founded by West Coast industry professionals and cocktail enthusiasts  Skyler Reeves, Director of Operations at 213 Nightlife, and Allison Levine of Please the Palate, launches next week with two pub crawls and a special Happy Hour for the consumer. The Golden State of Cocktails Happy Hour kicks off the convention [...]

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The Edison

EatLA-1389

WHY To take a glamorous step back in time—and for the double-take you’ll experience the first time you spot the Absinthe Fairy. WHAT This nostalgic cocktail bar reignites 1920s elegance and romance in an unbelievable multi-level space that was L.A.’s first private power plant. Each night brings new revelries, from live music to burlesque, but [...]

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Nickel Diner

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WHY Bacon maple doughnuts. WHAT This retro diner at Main and 5th (5th being called ‘the Nickel’ by the tougher locals in this hardscrabble neighborhood) has won local fame for bringing L.A. the bacon doughnut. But that’s not the only thing worth eating here. Come for any of the very good breakfast dishes, like the [...]

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Starry Kitchen

EatLA-1652

WHY Starry Kitchen spices up the Downtown lunch scene with a modern, irreverent approach to Vietnamese-influenced cooking. WHAT California Plaza is a little less corporate with the success of freewheeling Starry Kitchen, which started as an underground restaurant in the owner’s apartment. You pick a protein (free-range lemongrass chicken, the famed crispy tofu balls, spicy [...]

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