Mendocino Farms

BEST Sandwich/Wrap, Best Lunch, BEST Tate at Figat7th Eatery: Mendocino Farms


Over three weeks in spring, Los Angeles Downtown News held an online readers' poll for the 30th annual Best of Downtown issue. More than 8,000 people cast ballots (not everyone voted in every category). Here are the results.


Redbird; At 114 E. Second St. or

Chef Neal Fraser’s eatery in a repurposed cathedral rectory has a retractable roof and an adventurous yet pleasing menu with options ranging from Grilled Lamb Belly to Barbecued Smoked Duck to a $132 porterhouse for two. The wine list is deep and desserts include a brownie with marshmallow ice cream.

Reader Recommended

Farmer Boys, 726 S. Alameda St. or

Nickel Diner, 524 S. Main St. or

Maccheroni Republic

BEST Italian Food: Maccheroni Republic



Little Sister; At 523 W. Seventh St. or

A bit of advice: Everyone at the table order something, and then share. This goes for the Balinese Fried Meatballs, the rice paper options, the Shaky Shaky Beef, the Pan-Fried e-fu noodle dish, the Grilled Baby Octopus and more. Keep sampling and you’ll depart happy and full. 

Reader Recommended

Wokcano, 800 W. Seventh St. or

Chaya Downtown, 525 S. Flower St. or


Gelateria Uli; At 541 S. Spring St. or

With its streaks of chocolate amid creamy vanilla gelato, Uli Nasibova’s Stracciatella looks like a Jackson Pollock painting and tastes like… heaven. You’d swear the berry in her sorbets was plucked from the vine six minutes ago. And just wait till you try the California Pistachio.

Reader Recommended

Pazzo Gelato, 735 S. Figueroa St. or

Ugo Café, 502 W. Sixth St. or

Little Sister

BEST Asian Fusion: Little Sister



Salt & Straw; At 829 E. Third St. or

The Portland artisanal chain’s Downtown outpost is airy and inviting, with inventive options ranging from the Freckled Woodblock Chocolate to Honey Lavender to James Coffee & Bourbon. Keep an eye open for the changing guest flavors: Tokyo PB&J, anyone? Grab a cone and then wander.

Reader Recommended

Yogurtland, 130 S. Central Ave. or

McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream, 317 S. Broadway or


The Pie Hole; At 714 Traction Ave. or

The Arts District staple offers slices or whole pies in delightful flavors: Go classic with the Strawberry Rhubarb and Mom’s Apple Crumble, or try the Black Sesame Panna Cotta. There’s a roster of coffee drinks, and they’ll also cater your party.

Reader Recommended

Big Man Bakes, 413 S. Main St. or

Sprinkles, 735 S. Figueroa St. or


Little Easy; At 216 W. Fifth St. or

Whoda thunk you’d find a taste of New Orleans in the Alexandria Hotel? The unexpected option delivers Red Beans and Rice, Po Boys, Jambalaya and more, and you can close out a meal with a beignet. Enjoy the working fountain and the porch swing.

Reader Recommended

Little Jewel of New Orleans, 207 Ord St. or

Preux and Proper, 840 S. Spring St. or

Library Bar

BEST Gastropub: Library Bar



Yang Chow; At 819 N. Broadway or

The Slippery Shrimp is the draw here, the plump prawns fried in a perfectly crispy batter with a sauce that contains sweet and spicy elements. The Yun family has run the restaurant for 41 years, and while there are many pork, poultry and beef dishes, really, you want the Slippery Shrimp.   

Reader Recommended

New Moon, 102 W. Ninth St. or

Peking Tavern, 806 S. Spring St. or


Golden Dragon; At 960 N. Broadway or

You know how it works: You wait for a table (especially on the weekend), grab a seat and then hail the carts loaded with delicacies that come zipping past. There is pork, beef, chicken, duck, buns and vegetarian fare. Golden Dragon is best experienced in a group.

Reader Recommended

Ocean Seafood, 750 N. Hill St. or

CBS Seafood Restaurant, 700 N. Spring St. or


BEST American cuisine: Redbird



Tender Greens; At 505 W. Sixth St. or

The restaurant at the base of the PacMutual Building has all the familiar Tender Greens fare — think grilled salmon, fried chicken, and the collection of salads and sides. It also has indoor and outdoor seating, the latter in a pretty courtyard. It’s easy whether you’re dining in or taking out.

Reader Recommended

Blue Cow Kitchen & Bar, 350 S. Grand Ave. or

Café Pinot, 700 W. Fifth St. oré-pinot.


Church & State; At 1850 Industrial St. or

This Arts District favorite, now 10 years old, stays consistent with a romantic decor and a menu of French favorites including Burgundy Snails, Bouillabaisse and Steak Frites. The wine list offers plenty of Bourdeaux and other French bottles. When it’s warm, dine on the patio.

Reader Recommended

Le Petit Paris, 418 S. Spring St. or

Perch, 448 S. Hill St. or

Border Grill

BEST Brunch: Border Grill



Library Bar; At 630 W. Sixth St. or

A gastropub can be many things. At this Financial District joint it’s a place to grab craft draft beers or a nice bottle of wine, and to nibble on Crostini (four for $11), Garlic Parmesan Fries, the Vegan Fried Chicken Sandwich or a grilled cheese with asiago and sharp cheddar. 

Reader Recommended

The Stocking Frame, 900 S. Hill St. or

Karl Strauss Brewing Company, 600 Wilshire Blvd. or


Saffron Indian Cuisine; At 505 S. Flower St. and 300 S. Grand Ave. or

The pair of DTLA food court locations both offer accessible Indian fare that you can order a la carte or in combo form. Options include Chicken Tikka Masala, the Peeli Daal with four kinds of lentils, and a spinach-powered Saag Paneer. Naturally, there’s naan and basmati rice.

Reader Recommended

Gill’s Cusine of India, 838 S. Grand Ave. or

Kapoor’s Akbar, 701 W. Cesar Chavez Ave. or

Grand Central Market

BEST Dining Hub: Grand Central Market



Maccheroni Republic; At 332 S. Broadway or

This Historic Core mainstay has family-friendly price points and delicious homemade pasta. There’s a rigatoni with eggplant dish (and another with tomato sauce), a drop-dead gnocchi and an agnolotti with osso bucco. There are also daily specials, and you can bring your own wine.

Reader Recommended

Terroni, 802 S. Spring St. or

Colori Kitchen, 429 W. Eighth St. or


Ramen Hood; At 317 S. Broadway or

What separates this Grand Central Market ramen joint from all others is that it is completely vegan — not that you can taste any difference in the rich sunflower seed broth (simmered with kelp and shitaki mushrooms) and thick noodles. Sides include a Banh Mi Poutine.

Reader Recommended

Takami Sushi and Robata, 811 Wilshire Blvd. or

Shabu Shabu House, 127 Japanese Village Plaza Mall or

Tenno Sushi, 207 S. Central Ave. or


SugarFish; At 600 W. Seventh St. or  

Chef Nozawa’s mantra is “Don’t Think. Just Eat.” That’s easy when you order the Trust Me set menus that include albacore, salmon, tuna and other sushi options. You can also get a la carte hand rolls and cut rolls. The meal is fast and efficient. 

Reader Recommended

Sushi Gen, 422 E. Second St. or

Takami Sushi and Robata, 811 Wilshire Blvd. or


Ohana Poke; At 735 S. Figueroa St. or

Helmed by chef Eric Park and located at the food hall of the FIGat7th mall, Ohana Poke blends traditional Hawaiian fare with classic Japanese dishes. It also offers fried chicken in original, spicy or sweet chili honey flavors. 

Reader Recommended

Okipoki, 507 S. Spring St. or

Sweetfin, 735 W. Seventh St. or


BEST Bang for Your Buck: Guisados



Korea BBQ House; At 123 S. Onizuka St. or

For more than a decade, Korea BBQ House has offered a jam-packed menu full of traditional Korean dishes. There are numerous combos, with beef, pork, chicken, rib, shrimp, salmon, tilapia and other options. At lunch there are 25 specials. 

Reader Recommended

Manna Korean BBQ, 333 S. Alameda St. or

Oleego By Parks Barbecue, 735 S. Figueroa St. or


Border Grill; At 445 S. Figueroa St. or

Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s long-running favorite offers fresh fare in a modern atmosphere. The ceviche choices stand out, while the Yucatan Pork and the Grilled Skirt Steak have legions of fans. Or try the Taco Tuesday offerings, and wash everything down with a sangria.

Reader Recommended

Guisados, 541 S. Spring St. or

Broken Spanish, 1050 S. Flower St. or


Spitz; At 371 E. Second St. or

Known for a selection of wraps and sandwiches, Spitz has developed a following for simple yet bold flavor pairings. Best described as Mediterranean street food, the Little Tokyo spot specializes in döner kebabs built around minced beef and lamb, or a chicken option. Indulge with the Street Cart Fries.

Reader Recommended 

George’s Greek Grill, 350 S. Grand Ave., 735 S. Figueroa St. or 445 S. Figueroa St., or

Sevan Garden Kebab House, 621 S. Broadway or


Shekarchi; At 920 S. Olive St. or

The Middle Eastern favorite has spent more than 30 years serving kebabs, stews, wraps and other Persian favorites in Downtown Los Angeles. Combo plates include basmati rice, and don’t forget the hummus. Note: The new Olive Street location opened this month.

Reader Recommended 

The Exchange, 416 W. Eighth St or

California Kabob Kitchen, 141 W. 11th Street or


Water Grill; At 544 S. Grand Ave. or

Perfect for both a business lunch or date night, Water Grill holds almost every seafood staple imaginable. The raw bar is jammed with fresh oysters and shellfish, while entrees include Atlantic Cod, Mahi Mahi and Chilean Sea Bass. The wine list is extensive and the wait staff is first class.

Reader Recommended

Fisherman’s Outlet, 529 S. Central Ave or

Rock ‘N Fish, 800 W. Olympic Blvd or


Morton’s The Steakhouse; At 735 S. Figueroa St or

Will it be the Filet Mignon? The New York Strip? The Rib-Eye? The Cajun Rib-Eye? This temple of meat at the FIGat7th mall offers classics you can sink your teeth into, in a clubby, luxurious setting. Sides include Creamed Spinach and Horseradish Mashed Potatoes. 

Reader Recommended 

Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse, 330 S. Hope St. or

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, 800 W. Olympic Blvd. or


Sticky Rice; At 317 S. Broadway or

The Grand Central Market stall has been dishing out authentic and original iterations of Thai street food since 2013. There are pan-fried noodles, rice plate offerings and specials including the Crying Tiger Steak. Naturally, there’s a Thai Iced Tea to wash it all down.

Reader Recommended 

E-Sea Fresh Restaurant, 1100 N. Main St. 


Café Gratitude; At 300 S. Santa Fe Ave. or

Chef Dreux Ellis has a vision to provide 100% organic, plant-based cuisine in an environmentally friendly manner. Café Gratitude offers meatless twists on pizza, enchiladas and Mexican lasagna. Keep an eye out for the affirmations. This is food with a helpful attitude.

Reader Recommended 

Zinc Café, 580 Mateo St. or

Blossom, 426 S. Main St. or


Ricebar; At 419 W. Seventh St.

The Seventh Street spot draws a steady stream of diners to the shoebox space with just seven counter seats. Chef/owner Charles Olalia lets customers mix and match proteins with a selection of rices in dishes such as Pork Longanesa and Chicken Tinola. 

Reader Recommended 

Lasa, 727 N. Broadway or

The Park’s Finest, 1267 W. Temple St. or


Blossom; At 426 S. Main St. and 451 Gin Ling Way or

The two locations of Duc Pham’s Blossom are flush with Vietnamese favorites. That includes five kinds of pho, a collection of vermicelli noodle salads, and rice dishes with beef, chicken, tofu and more. Be sure to finish up with some Vietnamese coffee.

Reader Recommended 

Pho 87, 1019 N. Broadway. 

Pho Saigon, 1753 S. Hill St. or


Plan Check; At 1111 Wilshire Blvd. or

Plan Check’s PCB burger, with its schmaltz onions and trademark “ketchup leather,” isn’t just the best burger in DTLA — it might be the best burger in the city. It’s thick and cooked to order, and of course, you can get cheese and bacon. Or get tricky with the short rib burger.

Reader Recommended 

Shake Shack, 400 W. Eighth St. or

Tommy’s, 2575 Beverly Blvd. 


Crepe Xpress; At 529 W. Sixth St. or

An adorable and quaint French crepe restaurant on the edge of the Financial District, Crepe Xpress dabbles in both sweet and savory selections such as the Voila Crepe and the Bonjour Crepe, while also offering traditional pancake combos and paninis. Bon appetit!


Pizzanista; At 2019 E. Seventh St. or

Founded by skateboarder Salman Agah, the Arts District’s Pizzanista offers almost 20 different choices, from a traditional pepperoni to the Meat Jesus to veggie versions to, get this, a macaroni and cheese option. There are also gluten-free choices.

Reader Recommended 

California Pizza Kitchen, 735 S. Figueroa St. or

Two Boots Pizza, 828 S. Broadway or


Daikokuya; At 327 E. First St. or

As much an institution as it is a restaurant, the Little Tokyo staple is a rite of passage for people seeking heaping bowls of thick noodles with flavorful broth, whether at lunch, for dinner, or after the bars close. The top seller is the Daikoku Ramen bowl, with the Spicy Miso Ramen a close second. 

Reader Recommended

Ramen Hood317 S. Broadway or  

DTLA Ramen952 S. Broadway or


Mendocino Farms; At 735 S. Figueroa St., 444 S. Flower St., 300 S. Grand Ave. or

This chain born in Downtown operates on the principle of taking the finest ingredients and putting them between bread. There are original MF creations such as the Pork Belly Bahn Mi, reinterpreted classics including the Modern Tuna “Almost Melt,” as well as vegetarian and vegan options like the Superfood Hemp Burger.

Reader Recommended

Philippe The Original, 1001 N. Alameda St. or

L.A. Café, 639 S. Spring St. or


Eggslut; At 317 S. Broadway or

Chef Alvin Cailan’s provocatively named restaurant continues to draw large crowds. Since 2011, Downtowners have queued up at this Grand Central Market stall to order egg-forward sandwiches made with fresh ingredients and swaddled in warm brioche buns.

Reader Recommended

The Original Pantry Café, 877 S. Figueroa St. or

Urth Caffé, 451 S. Hewitt St. or


Drago Centro; At 525 S. Flower St. or

For nearly a decade, Celestino Drago’s upscale restaurant featuring authentic Italian dishes and reinterpreted classics has been a go-to destination for Financial District power lunches. Try the Pan-Roasted Bistecca or handmade orecchiette pasta with chicken sausage. 

Water Grill; At 544 S. Grand Ave. or

The classic Downtown restaurant is synonymous with seafood, offering everything from wild Dungeness Crab and Littleneck Clams to Columbia River King Salmon and fresh lobster. Start your lunch with Atlantic Cod Fish Tacos or the Clam Chowder. There are salads, sandwiches and full entrees.  

Reader Recommended

Café Pinot, 700 W. Fifth St. or

Sugarfish, 600 W. Seventh St. or


Redbird; At 114 E. Second St. or

This Downtown favorite serves French- and Italian-inspired American cuisine in a gorgeous room. Dine on divine dishes like Seared Fois Gras, Braised Goat, Barbecue Smoked Tofu or a Bone-in Rib-eye (it feeds two). Don’t pass up the Bananas for Chocolate for dessert.

Reader Recommended

Patina, 141 S. Grand Ave. or

Water Grill, 544 S. Grand Ave. or


Border Grill; At 445 S. Figueroa St. or

Every weekend Downtowners flock to Border Grill for the brunch offering unlimited small plates and bottomless booze-filled beverages. Choose from Green Corn Tamales, Yucatan Pork Benedict, vegetarian tostadas, and many more inventive and delicious twists on Mexican fare. 

Reader Recommended

Perch, 448 S. Hill St. or

Bäco Mercat, 408 S. Main St. or


Redbird; At 114 E. Second St. or

Chef Neal Fraser and Amy Fraser have that rare achievement where the room looks as the good as the food tastes. Standout options include the rich Burrata (with strawberries and duck prosciutto), Rack of Lamb and the Squid Ink Bucatini. The cocktails are fresh and inventive, and the wine list is as thick as a telephone book.

Reader Recommended

Water Grill, 544 S. Grand Ave. or

Broken Spanish, 1050 S. Flower St. or


Mendocino Farms; At 735 S. Figueroa St., 444 S. Flower St., 300 S. Grand Ave. or

There are long lines for lunch at Mendocino Farms, which makes sense considering that owners Mario del Perro and Ellen Chen get their ingredients directly from some of the state’s best farms. There are sandwiches, salads and wraps, with favorites including the Peruvian Steak Sandwich and the Prosciutto & Chicken.

Reader Recommended

Wurstküche, 800 E. Third St. or

Clifton’s, 648 S. Broadway or

Urth Caffé, 451 S. Hewitt St. or


Rossoblu; At 1124 San Julian St. or

Opened by chef Steve Samson and Dina Samson, Rossoblu offers Bolognese-inspired Italian cuisine. It specializes in handmade pastas, salumis and grilled meats, including Roast Suckling Pig and Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder. It’s well worth the drive to the City Market South complex in the Fashion District.

Reader Recommended

The Exchange, 416 W. Eighth St. or

Hock and Hoof, 517 S. Spring St. or


Urth Caffé; At 451 S. Hewitt St. or

It’s fitting that this Arts District eatery is just around the corner from the Arts District Dog Park. There seem to be nearly as many pups as people on the patio. The ownly downside is, the organic coffee and tea is for humans only. People and their pets spend hours here.

Reader Recommended

Wurstküche, 800 E. Third St. or

Zinc Café and Market, 580 Mateo St. or


Guisados; At 541 S. Spring St., 1261 Sunset Blvd. or

This local-born taqueria offers a variety of tacos, many for under $3. The simple menu features perfectly braised meats, fresh vegetables and wonderfully spicy chiles. For the truly bold, try the Chiles Toreados with habanero, serrano and Thai chiles. For the truly uncertain, the sampler platter never disappoints.

Reader Recommended

Philippe The Original, 1001 N. Alameda St. or

L.A. Café, 639 S. Spring St. or


Clifton’s; At 648 S. Broadway or

Clifton’s has been a Downtown institution since 1935. Although it’s more upscale than it was back in its Depression-era heyday, it still offers a cafeteria-style experience in the dining room, and ratchets things up with good cocktails in the upstairs Gothic Bar or the Pacific Seas, a tiki bar. Enjoy the dioramas.

Reader Recommended

Philippe The Original, 1001 N. Alameda St. or

The Original Pantry Café, 877 S. Figueroa St. or


Perch; At 448 S. Hill St or

There’s something about dining on a rooftop in Downtown L.A. that turns the normal into the sublime. Such is the case with Perch, a restaurant that sits 16 stories above Pershing Square. Enjoy French cuisine and craft cocktails by firelight as you take in the view. 

Reader Recommended

Faith & Flower, 705 W. Ninth St. or

Le Petit Paris, 418 S. Spring St. or


Perch; At 448 S. Hill St or

Los Angeles is best seen from above, and few places in the city offer a view like that at Perch. This 16th floor rooftop restaurant provides an unparalleled panoramic vista of the Downtown skyline that is even more spectacular at night.

Reader Recommended

71Above, 633 W. Fifth St. or

L.A. Prime, 404 S. Figueroa St. or


Redbird; At 114 E. Second St. or

The Redbird menu is enthusiastically praised; the room is its equal. Designed by Robert Weimer along with chef Neal Fraser’s wife/business partner Amy Knoll Fraser, the retractable roof teases a view of the former St. Vibiana’s cathedral, paying homage to the building’s ecclesiastical roots.

Reader Recommended

Faith & Flower, 705 W. Ninth St. or

Cicada, 617 S. Olive St. or


Perch; At 448 S. Hill St or

With a stellar view of Downtown, Perch is one of the best places in the city to enjoy an open-air meal. Order a plate of mussels (be sure to add a side of bacon mac & cheese) and a bottle of champagne, and enjoy the experience on the 16th floor.

Reader Recommended

Maccheroni Republic, 332 S. Broadway or

Urth Caffé, 451 S. Hewitt St. or


Grand Central Market; At 317 S. Broadway or

A classic L.A. destination since 1917 and current home to Eggslut, Belcampo Meat Co., Ramen Hood, Berlin Currywurst and much more, Grand Central Market offers a wide selection of dining options. The property was just purchased, but the new owner promised not to change too much. 

Reader Recommended

Little Tokyo, First and Second streets or

L.A. Live, 800 W. Olympic Blvd. or


Mendocino Farms; At 735 S. Figueroa St. or

Mendocino Farms hits the sweet spot between healthy, farm-fresh fare and solid, gourmet comfort food. The FIGat7th location, the chain’s third and largest in Downtown, offers seaonal specialties and Mendocino classics like the Farm Club. There’s a kid’s menu and even beer. 

Reader Recommended

The Melt, 735 S. Figueroa St. or

Morton’s Steakhouse, 735 S. Figueroa St. or


Eggslut; At 317 S. Broadway or

If the daily line at Eggslut is any indication, eggs are no longer just for breakfast. While they offer a simple bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, more adventurous diners will be drawn to the Slut, a poached egg in a jar with potato purée, chives and gray salt.

Reader Recommended

Ramen Hood, 317 S. Broadway or

Belcampo Meat. Co., 317 S. Broadway or


Yard House; At 800 W. Olympic Blvd. or

With more than 100 brews on tap, Yard House is a beer lover’s paradise. It’s always packed before games at Staples Center or concerts at L.A. Live, and has an accessible menu with loads of burgers and salads. Consider it equal parts sports bar and casual eatery.

Reader Recommended

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, 800 W. Olympic Blvd. or

Katsuya, 800 W. Olympic Blvd. or


Best Girl-Ace Hotel; At 929 S. Broadway or

Named for a 1927 film first screened at the adjacent United Artists Theatre, Best Girl bills itself as a neighborhood bistro offering casual dining and a seasonal menu. Chef Michael Cimarusti is best known for his seafood, and the crab cake here is testament to that. But the burger is excellent, too.

Reader Recommended

LA Prime-Westin Bonaventure, 404 S. Figueroa St. or

The Nomad Restaurant-Nomad Hotel, 649 S. Olive St. or

Checkers Downtown-Hilton Checkers, 535 S. Grand Ave.

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2018