Whether it be for a sporting event, a movie premiere, or a concert, chances are good that you’re going to find yourself in Staples/L.A. Live area sometime soon. And chances are good that you’re going to want to do some eating and drinking before or after the big event. Here are our favorite places to do so in the area.
Downtown LA is about as far as you can get from Buenos Aires, but after a couple of Palomas at Barcito, you won’t even know the difference. Stop by before the game for their apertivo hour, where $8 cocktails come with a free trio of snacks, and come back after for empanadas and all sorts of things cooked on the grill. And obviously more Palomas.
WP24 is at the top of the Ritz-Carlton, right next to LA Live, and would be worth a trip for the views alone. Luckily, the Chinese food is actually pretty good too. This certainly isn’t the cheapest option in the area, but when the dumplings are this solid (and we’re nowhere near the SGV), we’re fine with it. Maybe wait to put on your Metta World Peace jersey until after you eat - things are quite fancy here.
The hardest thing about having Broken Spanish so close to Staples is figuring out when to use it. Cocktails before the concert? Celebratory/consolation dinner after the Clippers win/lose? Obviously the answer is all of the above, and to always get the chicharron.
Time for one last drink and a bite before you head home? Do it amongst the cool kids on the rooftop at the Ace Hotel. They’ve got transportation themed cocktails, charcuterie, and a crab benedict that allows you to act on your fanciest breakfast for dinner fantasies.
You’ll walk into Guisados and notice those bubbling cauldrons of stews, all looking for a home on a freshly made tortilla. The sampler, made up of six mini-tacos is a nice introduction to the menu, but really, order whatever you feel like. There are no wrong answers. Well, maybe except for the exceedingly spicy Chiles Toreados taco, which if you’re not Superman, will very likely turn your butt into Johnny Cash singing one of his greatest hits. #RingOfFire
Admittedly, this Arts District pizza joint is about 4 miles east of L.A. Live. But whether it’s a bus, bike or car ride that you’ve gotta embark on to get to this slice, you should consider doing so. The pizza game in LA has greatly improved in recent years, and this is one of our go-to late-night slice spots - be sure to try a thick piece of their tasty Sicilian pie.
Being that a meal here feels like eating off an assembly line, the sushi at Sugarfish has no right to be as consistently good as it is. You order a set meal and it’s served to you a piece at a time. You don’t even see the chef unless you peek into the kitchen. The conservatively-vinegared warm rice juxtaposes perfectly with the colder, perfectly cut fish.
Cole’s is closer to Staples and open later, but Philippe (open until 10pm) is our favorite old school French Dip spot. We’d go roast beef and swiss as a baseline if it’s your first time eating here, but the lamb dip is the flavor powerhouse. Take it easy on their powerful mustard, which packs as big a punch as too much wasabi. The sawdust on the floor, the jars of pickled eggs, the cheapest mug of coffee in Chinatown, these are a few of our favorite things about Philippe.
Faith & Flower is the perfect spot for dinner before or after your next L.A. Live visit, provided you aren’t rushed for time. The food, cocktails, and vibe in this place are so good that you’re going to want to hang a while. Order the oxtail agnolotti and pretend you’re not sort of thinking about skipping the show just so you can eat more.
Mexicali Taco is not really within walking distance of, but it is worth the cost of an Uber to get there - just make sure you go beyond tacos when you order. The nachos topped with all three meats (chorizo, chicken and carne asada) are amazing, the Vampiro is a garlic-accented quesadilla that is a thing of legend – particularly when topped with a fried egg – and the catchetada is a skinny crispy tostada dressed with chipotle aioli. How good is the food at Mexicali? We’d drive crosstown at dusk in rush hour for it.
Fig at 7th is a three level shopping center with a bunch of quality eateries in its basement food court. A heads-up: most of them close at 7pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Our favorite snacks to grab there are the milanesa torta at Torta Company, a grilled meat and rice bowl at oleego, the bánh mì at Mendocino Farms, a curry platter at Indus by Saffron, or gelato at Pazzo Gelato. There’s also a Target store here in case you and your friends want to re-enact Mario Cart with shopping carts.
Bäco Mercat’s namesake bäco is a hulking flatbread sandwich, basically a combination of “bread” and “taco.” If you’re weary of a chef reinventing the taco wheel, don’t be. The bäco is it’s own thing, and you should give a few from the menu a try. We like going here with a couple of friends and sharing what arrives at the table.
This little coffee stand in Union Station closes early (6pm on weekends, ☹) but if you make it there during business hours, they’re brewing some of the finest coffee in town (yes, we’ve had Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, Blacktop Coffee and most of the other spots you could name). And just so you know, their strawberry & Nutella “Kronut” is f*cking exceptional.
No, this isn’t a joke. Or at least not entirely. Why would we recommend a run-of-the-mill supermarket as a destination near L.A. Live? Because this one has a wine and beer bar where it’s $3 for 8 ounces of cold draft craft beer. There’s also a Murray’s Cheese Shop in this Ralph’s, in case you want some triple crème brie and fancy crackers to snack on during the drive home.
Smack dab in the Bermuda Triangle stretch of Downtown L.A.’s Arts District, Wurstküche has plenty of picnic tables where you and your crew can eat sausages and drink beer. Don’t mind the line stretching out the door – it’s leading to the counter where you’ll order before grabbing a seat in the large back room or the patio. Yes, they’ve got rattlesnake sausage if you’re feeling adventurous, but we usually go for the standards: Bratwurst, Hot Italian or the Kielbasa. They’re also open until 1:30am every night of the week.
In the alleyway behind the Milner Hotel, you’ll find this low-key little bar. Nothing cool or hip here, which is fine by us, because the bartender is friendly, the drinks are cheap, and the popcorn is free. A little more normal clientele than the nearby beloved dive bar & weirdo magnet Hank’s.