In the past decade, Downtown Los Angeles has transformed into a hotbed of eating and drinking establishments catering to the area’s prolific workforce and visitors popping in on the Metro - many looking for those elusive time-sensitive deals. Read on for 20 Downtown L.A. hotspots, new and old, that promise great food and drink experiences that won't break the bank.
When the original Don's Beachcomber opened in 1933, Hollywood became the official birthplace of the Polynesian themed Tiki culture reflected in architecture, fashion and movies. Decorated with items that Donn Beach (aka Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt) scavenged from the ocean shores, the bar later known as Don the Beachcomber served “exotic” rum drinks with flair. The island escapism offered by his imaginative Tiki concept and its many imitators flourished for decades before nearly being killed off in the disco era.
Tiki's current resurgence owes a lot to the craft cocktail movement, which recognized the potential in the elaborate tropical concoctions made with house syrups and fresh juices. With a new generation of bartenders leading the way, the L.A. tiki scene is once again thriving, and nothing says summer more than a fancy fruit garnish and a little paper umbrella.
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A Mexican dive bar by day, La Cita transforms into a live music and DJ venue at night. Located on Hill Street just steps from Grand Central Market, La Cita hosts weekday Happy Hours out on the expansive patio from 4-9 p.m., featuring $3 Tecates and domestics, $4 imports and wells. Friday's "Angry Hour" adds punk rock and free pizza to the festivities. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (2-9 p.m.) features a Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar. Sports are a big part of La Cita - two flat screen TVs indoors, two flat screens outdoors, and a large projector screen show international soccer and domestic pro sports, along with major NCAA games. Music at La Cita ranges from old school hip-hop on Monday night to rockabilly (Thursdays 4-9 p.m.), cumbia (Thursdays, $7 cover after 10 p.m.), "Punky Reggae" every Friday night and Yacht Rock on Saturday afternoon.
M-F 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sat-Sun 10 a.m. - 2 a.m.
336 S Hill St, Downtown Los Angeles
To call San Pedro overlooked is putting it mildly. Many recent transplants to Los Angeles don’t even know what to call it all (it’s pronounced 'Pee-dro’), let alone how to get there. That’s unfortunate, because this town is an unmined gem, gleaming humbly along the Pacific. The busiest port in the U.S. - by a significant margin - has seen its fair share of sailors and midshipmen for nearly a century now. That they have a hallowed history with hooch should surprise no one. Here you’ll find some of the city’s oldest dive bars, countless waterfront watering holes, multiple breweries, and a faithfully-recreated English-style pub. They even have a respectable wine bar.
When LA Fleet Week sets sail in September, San Pedro assumes center stage, welcoming sightseers from across the globe. But it’s also the perfect time for locals to check out what they’re missing, right in their own backyard. Drink your way through San Pedro at these outposts, representing the wide berth of options available in L.A.’s bustling port city.
When David Cooley decided to open The Abbey in 1991, the bar scene in West Hollywood looked much different than it does now. Cooley, an Ohioan by way of Las Vegas, moved to the city in 1981, at the start of the AIDS crisis. "When I was coming to bars on Santa Monica Boulevard, it was not as open," he says. "There were no front patios where you could have a cigarette. It was all behind closed doors and through back alleys."