Eye on L.A.: Eat, drink, play in downtown LA


Eye on L.A. teamed up with Los Angeles Magazine to explore the best of downtown. The July issue of Los Angeles Magazine is your guide to downtown. Los Angeles Magazine's "Best of L.A." issue hits newsstands in August.

Early residents of downtown L.A. were considered "daring," but today, those risks have paid off. Downtown residents say not only do they have an improved quality of life, they also have a tremendous sense of community.

Downtown living

WaterMarke Tower is a 35-story high rise where the Financial District meets L.A. LIVE. Residents enjoy views of the downtown skyline and the Hollywood Hills. Amenities include a private residential resort with a breathtaking pool terrace and spa, ultra lounge and serenity garden [Watch video].

If you've considered moving to downtown L.A., but don't know where to begin, a Saturday Housing Bus Tour might be for you. From Adaptive Reuse loft-style pads in historic office buildings to luxury apartments, downtown has unique real estate for those of you bored with suburban living.

On this extensive, four-hour tour, you'll visit a sampling of six or seven residences - both for sale and for lease - among 75 existing residential properties and many more under construction. You'll also get an introduction to downtown's many neighborhoods, highlighting downtown icons such as L.A. LIVE, STAPLES Center, the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels.

Downtown restaurants

Something very special is happening to L.A. dining, and for all you food connoisseurs out there, if you haven't hit the downtown dining scene, you simply can't call yourself a true foodie. Here are some scrumptious spots you've got to try! [Watch video]

Botegga Louie is a New York-style Italian eatery with an open-view kitchen and pizzeria area and patisserie. Specialties include the thin crust pizza, crispy portabello fries and delicious macarons in 11 flavors and colors.

Wurstküche started the sausage and beer craze in L.A., but it's not just your average everyday sausage. We're talking gourmet sausages like rabbit, rattlesnake and even alligator.

WP24 by Wolfgang Puck at the Ritz-Carlton at L.A. Live sits 24 floors above the Los Angeles skyline. The restaurant features Wolfgang's award-winning modern Chinese cuisine and reflects Puck's time spent in the Far East and his passion for Asian ingredients and techniques.

While observing the spectacular panoramic views of the city, guests can enjoy the dynamic menu in the main dining room or have a more casual experience in the expansive lounge, where diners can choose between Asian small plates or sushi and nigri. Wine aficionados can appreciate an extensive list of more than 400 labels. They also have Asian beers and sakes by the bottle and glass.

Church and State is a true romantic French bistro located inside the historic Nabisco Building. The eatery serves casual French fare including their specialties Roasted Bone Marrow and Escargot.

At Yxta Cocina Mexicana, Mexican food goes cosmopolitan. Specializing in their vegetable mole and seasonal margaritas, Yxta is an out-of-the-way hotspot that is filled with locals during happy hour.

Starry Kitchen is a fun-loving Asian restaurant where diners often come for a colorful berating from owner Nguyen Tran, who is as big a draw as the menu.

Downtown bars

Seven Grand. The name says it all. This whiskey bar can be found at Seventh Street and Grand Avenue. Located on the second floor, tartan-covered stairs and hunting-themed wallpaper lead the way to a sophisticated hunting-club atmosphere complete with stag heads, billiard tables and comfy leather chairs. Behind the bar is any whiskey you can name and many others you can't. From $1,200 a shot for rare whiskeys to bourbon and rye, the only other thing on the menu is an assortment of what every gentleman desires - a good cigar.

Villains Tavern is located in the warehouse section of downtown. This tent-like structure is in a parking lot. Inside, the atmosphere is more Art-Deco with a decades-old mirror taking over the whole space behind the bar. There's a dress code, so no baggy, saggy jeans allowed. There are some unusual food offerings, such as bacon caramel popcorn to go along with the great drinks like the Belladonna, all served in mason jars.

The Cana Rum Bar differs from your average bar - you need to be a member or know one to get in. But don't worry, membership is a mere $20 a year, and for that you get invited to unlimited rum tastings for free. That alone is worth the membership. Their collection is unparalleled covering every rum-producing nation in the world. One drink that keeps customers coming back for more is the Brazilian Neck Tie.

Eye on L.A.'s Albert Lawrence caught up with actress Naturi Naughton over a quick bite at Engine Co. No. 28 in downtown L.A. [Watch video] You can follow Naturi on Twitter @naturinaughton.

L.A. Live is Southern California's premiere entertainment complex, just across the street from Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The complex includes the Nokia Plaza which hosts red carpet premieres and special events; music and theatre venues, the Nokia Theater and Club Nokia; Regal Cinemas, Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes, the Grammy Museum and numerous restaurants and night clubs [Watch video].

Downtown outdoors

Gorgeous green spaces are usually not what comes to mind when thinking about downtown L.A., but the truth is when it comes to the great outdoors, Eye On L.A. found out that downtown's got a lot to offer [Watch video].

Maguire Gardens is designed by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and located at the Central Library. It seamlessly combines art, architecture and natural elements.

If you want to enjoy the great outdoors on a bicycle, check out DTLA Bikes - downtown's biggest bike store. It features 10,000 square feet of showroom and an indoor track to try out your potential bike before you rent or buy it. DTLA Bikes also does bike repairs and is currently the only bike rental shop downtown. Rentals run $20 to $45 per day depending on the bike.

EYE DEAL: Eye on L.A. viewers can enjoy a weekend rental special. Rent a bike on Friday, then get Saturday and Sunday free. And if you like the bike, you can purchase it minus the rental cost. Just say you saw it on Eye On L.A.

Downtown shopping

When shopping for the very latest in fashion, one might not think to come downtown, but with the help of Los Angeles Magazine, Eye On L.A. discovered that's all changing. Now you might have to hunt around to find a few of these fashion forward gems, but they're well worth the search [Watch video].

Secret Service, which is located in an old firehouse, offers a shopping experience for men. In addition to having an on-site custom motorcycle shop, all merchandise is designed on premises, and there are plenty to choose from with an emphasis on CRATE denim and shirts which can also be found at Barney's, Urban Outfitters and other upscale stores. Even the furnishings are for sale, mostly vintage items from old signs and funky decanters to rusty railroad nails. It's truly a very unique shopping experience, but call first to be sure they are open, since hours vary.

Check out Apliiq for custom one-of-a-kind pieces you can create yourself online. Just log on, pick from hundreds of fabrics, some rare and from all over the world, choose where you want it to go on your hoodie, T-shirt, dress and they will ship it to you. Or, visit their store just outside the Arts District and order there. There is a seamstress on-site, but it will usually take a couple of days for your custom piece. They also have pieces ready for purchase in the store with no waiting necessary.

Thvm Atelier is an indie, avant-garde boutique featuring both men's and women's fashions where you'll find Thvm-designed denim jeans of every color and fit from straight to skinny to tapered. It also features one-of-a-kind designer pieces from Endovanera among others and jewelry from Arielle de Pinto.

Downtown's all-day adventures

Eye on L.A. discovered that downtown offers many experiences that can keep you entertained all day long, including spending the day at the Los Angeles Central Library or at the interactive Grammy Museum [Watch video].

Come downtown and visit Los Angeles Public Library's state-of-the-art Central Library. Enjoy the art and architecture of the wonderful Goodhue Building with its distinctive sphinxes and rooftop pyramid. Wander through the high-tech Bradley Wing, designed by famed architect Norman Pfeiffer, and gaze at the 8-story atrium with its whimsical chandeliers. Learn about the library's comprehensive book, magazine, audio and videotape collections as well as its extensive network of informational databases. Free docent tours are given daily.

The Grammy Museum pays tribute to music's rich cultural history. This 21st-century museum explores and celebrates the enduring legacies of all forms of music, the creative process, the art and technology of the recording process and the history of the premier recognition of excellence in recorded music - the GRAMMY award. Through public and educational programs, exhibits and more, guests will experience an insider perspective of the world of music.

The Downtown Art Walk is a free community event that takes place on the second Thursday of every month in and around the historic core and old bank district of downtown Los Angeles, home to more than 40 art galleries. Start your walk between Main and Spring Streets, at 4th and 5th.

Some of the best things to do in downtown Los Angeles are free! Check out a list of fun activities to do in downtown that won't weigh heavy on your wallet. [Watch video]  

Get contact information and addresses of all the restaurants featured on this week's episode.

[Original air date: July 23, 2011]

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