24 New Ideas for What to Do in Downtown L.A.: A 24-Hour Staycation Itinerary
THR's itinerary showcases new restaurants, a wine bar/wellness concept, salons, outdoor food market, gallery complex and mixology and cultural events.
BREAKFAST + SHOPPING Brooklyn’s beloved outdoor food market Smorgasburg has landed in commercial district ROW DTLA showcasing more than 100 food, design, craft and vintage vendors from both coasts every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., including L.A. favorite Guerilla Tacos and Gjusta alum Nicole Rucker’s Rucker Pies. Fans of the weekly event include celebrity stylist Benjamin Mohapi, whose new downtown salon is Benjamin Arts District (Courteney Cox and St. Vincent are patrons of his West Hollywood outpost); he comes for Elvio’s Chimichurri. Producer Phil Rosenthal told co-curator Zach Brooks that the weekly event is “the happiest place on Earth.” Rose Apodaca, co-founder of design resource A+R, who is opening a 7,000-square-foot flagship nearby, is partial to “the rolls made from lobster flown in from Maine weekly at Red Hook Lobster Pound.” Alameda and Bay Street
JUICE Take a cue from the likes of downtown denizen Emily Ratajkowski, who refuels with organic, cold-pressed juices from The Springs, also home to a newly revamped plant-based restaurant, wine bar, yoga studio, wellness center (with detoxifying treatments ranging from nutritional consultations to infrared sauna) and workshops including a soundbath experience on July 30. 608 Mateo St.; (213) 223-6226
COFFEE Or boost with a cup of joe instead. When it comes to coffee, It’s a tie between the Historic Core's il Caffe (855 S. Broadway) and Verve Coffee Roasters (833 S. Spring St.), according to director Jordan Rubin. "Michael Backlinder, the Swedish owner of il Caffe, is the nicest guy, and his coffee and sandwiches are great. Verve also has good coffee, and it’s a great spot to get work done, they have plenty of power outlets for your laptop, and they are dog friendly to boot.” Grace Hwang, founder of creative management agency Raudeville (whose clients include Kardashian glam team Monica Rose and Joyce Bonelli), is a regular at Daily Dose Cafe, if only for the iced almond-milk lattes.1820 Industrial St.; (844) 932-4593.
ADVENTURE Overlooking L.A. from the 69th and 70th floors of U.S. Bank Tower, OUE Skyspace Los Angeles beckons with two 360-degree observation decks. At 45-feet long, the glass-encased SkySlide attached to the building’s exterior connects the two floors with an adrenaline-inducing chute, suspended nearly 1,000 feet above ground (tickets start at $25).633 W 5th St.; (213) 894-9000
LUNCH Take the viewing experience one step further and make your way one floor above Skyspace to the 71st floor’s aptly named 71Above, a glittering new foodie destination with vistas spanning Hollywood to Santa Monica and beyond. Equally impressive is the menu from chef Vartan Abgaryan (formerly of Silver Lake staple Cliff’s Edge, where Thom Yorke, Christina Hendricks and Nas dine), with highlights from the two-course prix fixe lunch menu including strawberry gazpacho with black pepper crouton and pork belly with green chickpeas (from $35; (213) 712-2683).
Or do like Troy Craig Poon, president of Justin Lin's Perfect Storm Entertainment, who says that no trip downtown is complete without a stop at Philippe’s The Original for the signature French dip sandwich. “It’s one of the few places still left in L.A. that has history. Also, it's nice to be amid a true cross section [of people] of L.A. — which is such a rarity in this town,” he says. 1001 N. Alameda St.; (213) 628-3781
ART A hotly anticipated addition to DTLA’s cultural offerings, gallery Hauser Wirth & Schimmel (901 E 3rd St.; (213) 943-1620) bowed in a former flour mill in the Arts District this spring. In addition to a steady stream of exhibitions (the inaugural "Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947 – 2016” is on display through Sept. 4), the seven-building arts center includes an ARTBOOK bookstore and public garden. The sixth location of Hauser & Wirth worldwide, it's under the direction of partner and former MOCA chief curator Paul Schimmel. Orange Is the New Black star Laura Prepon was spotted at the gallery complex on opening day in support of her pal, chef Wes Whitsell, whose restaurant, Manuela, will debut at the venue this fall. And check out The Broad’s Summer Happenings (broad.org/programs), featuring late-night music, performance and art at various locations on July 30 (with Richard Hell and Sky Ferreira dj’ing) and Aug. 20.
DRINKS Make the night last longer at Otium, where “the bartenders can make virgin drinks with exciting culinary flavorings that match the creativity of the drinks they already have on their menu,” says wardrobe stylist turned crystal healer Azalea Lee, whose Place8 Healing sanctuary is within walking distance of the Broad Museum-adjacent eatery. Otium is also running a Bar Collective series, which features themed events with guest bartenders. Upcoming: Havana Nights Party with Karen Grill on Aug. 9 and Under the Sea Party with Yael Vengroff on Aug. 23, featuring Poolside as a guest DJ ($20).
Also for drinks, former Management 360 manager Alex Hertzberg, president of Hertzbergmedia, suggests The Stocking Frame, located inside a former garment factory. “Great environment and they spin vinyl,” says Hertzberg, who also notes that, "drinks reflect wild yet balanced.” Order the Denim Vest, the bar’s take on an Old Fashioned. 911 S Hill St.; (213) 488-0373
DINNER Particularly during the summer, the Texan-style brisket and pulled pork at Horse Thief BBQ (324 S Hill St.; (213) 625-0341) at the edge of Grand Central Market is a popular choice, with the likes of Jenji Kohan waiting in line. It’s counter service, but seats at the long picnic tables in its bistro light-strewn patio boast a view of Angel’s Flight railway across Hill Street. The offerings at the Ace Hotel’s L.A. Chapter also induce raves, from designer Gregory Parkinson among others: “All of the menu is great. The grilled cheese is perfect to share for three.”
STAY Hotel guests at the members-only Los Angeles Athletic Club can experience the property’s 88,000 square-foot fitness facility (pool, basketball court), which is on the tail end of a multimillion dollar renovation. Upgrades to the men’s locker room include a craft cocktail cart that does the rounds through the lockers and a plush lounge that boasts saunas, steam rooms and televisions streaming sports. Graffiti artist Retna, whose signature script can be spotted in the alley, is a newly minted member. Ask for the Social Suite ($549), where member Charlie Chaplin spent extended periods of time (431 W. 7th St.; (213) 625-2211). For a more accessible stay, try “the Ace Hotel, the tipping point for downtown,” says Parkinson of the property’s debut in 2014. The hotel (rooms from $199), which has attracted everyone from Matt Damon to Fred Armisen, also hosts the 1,600-seat Theatre At Ace Hotel, where the likes of Chris Martin and Patti Smith have performed. "I see a lot of shows at the Ace. Generally speaking, their cultural programming has been a welcome addition to the DTLA arts scene,” says Filip Jan Rymsza, producer for Royal Road Entertainment. 933 S. Broadway