Suddenly downtown L.A.’s 9th St. has emerged as the city’s hottest restaurant row. Within the past month a slew of spots have either debuted or announced their imminent arrival either directly on or just off the avenue. The sleek trattoria Soleto arrived first on the west end, soon followed by New American dining hall Towne a napkin’s toss away. A few blocks farther east, where the Financial District high-rises give way to the scruffier Historic Core, the bare-bones Alma -- which features a fixed, highly experimental, multi-course menu each night -- resides in a narrow stall between a marijuana dispensary and a taxi-dancing club.
This Friday will see the dual openings of both nouveau-gastropub The Parish (just a bit farther east than Alma, in the Fashion District), from chef Casey Lane of Venice’s The Tasting Kitchen, as well as Staples Center-adjacent FigOly, where former Top Chef contestant Alex Reznik will be behind the stove.
“We’re well situated,” says Towne’s owner, Armen Shirvanian. “On 9th you’re at the middle of the entertainment, business and residential districts.” Adds Lee Maen of Soleto: “We’d been looking at downtown for a long time but didn’t think it was ready. Now it is, especially here.”
The emerging corridor serves as a rival to the established 7th St. restaurant row two blocks north, which is anchored by the constantly packed Bottega Louie -- high ceilings, picture windows, wood-fired oven -- and has been joined of late by the likes of upmarket Mexican joint Mas Malo and the Peruvian canteen Mo-Chica (from buzzed-about Picca chef Ricardo Zarate), which hung its own shingle at the end of May.
Not that the downtown dining district is in any danger of overload. “There’s still such an unmet need down here,” says Bruce Horwitz, the co-owner of The Parish, approvingly noting the recent news that stylish Beverly Blvd. pizzeria Terroni has just announced its plan to expand into an address a block north on Spring St. “I can tell: The neighborhood really wants even more of it.”