5 Best Places to Eat in the Downtown Arts District
This week's L.A. Weekly profiles the one of the city's hottest neighborhoods: the downtown arts district. Check out the other stories in our series: *Tyler Stonebreaker: Curator of the Downtown Arts District. *6 Developments That Will Change the Downtown Arts District's Future*How the Arts District Got Its Name.
Anne Fishbein Chocolate tart at Bestia
Clustered in pairs or trios, newer restaurants, bars and cafés have cropped up in the Arts District in the past five years or so, reflecting the forward trajectory of a city accustomed to fashioning function from old spaces and form at new locations. A path between buildings becomes part edible garden, part sanctuary at The Daily Dose. At the entrance of the Seventh Street Bridge, the Bread Lounge bears no signage alerting passers-by that some of the city's best bread is found within, save for the lone steel rack of loaves visible only at close range through the front door's glass.
This may be why, at first glance, the edible landscape of the Arts District appears to be in draft mode: The restaurants are mostly hidden, and often not within walking distance of one another. But the transformation of the Arts District nonetheless is best witnessed by exploring its food and drink options. What better way to visit a new neighborhood than to make a dinner reservation -- or just stop by for that delicious bread?
Anne Fishbein Pizza Alla'nduja at Bestia
If Church & State represented the high flier in the first graduating class of refined dining in the Arts District, Bestia is the latest generation's valedictorian. Together with Bill Chait, husband-and-wife team Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis have created a restaurant that earns aces: Wood-fired, well-portioned Italian food pairs with cocktails designed by Julian Cox in an airy, stylish space.
There is no indication outside of the inner bustle of servers and guests. Walking in, you'll have the sensation of chancing upon a well-kept secret. The buzz is justified in dishes like Menashe's tagliolini al'ortica with mushroom ragu and crispy nettles, bound by a soft-poached egg. The best seat in the house might be at the antipasti bar, counterside to the prep-cook duo tossing little gem lettuce salads and composing chicken liver bruschettas by hand. 2121 E. Seventh Place; (213) 514-5724, bestiala.com.
Garrett Snyder Bread Lounge
Bread Lounge is all white walls and clean lines. Not that your attention will stray too far from the freshly baked pistachio Danish, pain au chocolat and baguettes.
While the minimalist interior of Ran Zimon's bakery belies the comfort factor of a bakery, a bite into a kouign-amann -- a heartier Breton response to a croissant, studded with half-caramelized sugar crystals -- reinforces the aura of finely tuned concentration. It takes nothing less than practiced precision to make something this good.
Just as there's no signage outside, Zimon is happy to let the baked goods speak for themselves within. The proof is in the details, with samples of bread alongside raspberry-peach preserves at the counter and chunks of real potato in the potato rosemary loaf. Apropos of L.A.'s culinary diversity, the börek, a Balkan phyllo pastry filled with cheese and meats or vegetables, sits near the timbale and ham-cheese croissants.
Bread Lounge is a destination. Arrive after screenwriters make their morning latte pilgrimage and dine on the albacore tuna sandwich dressed in preserved lemon, dill aioli and harissa on ciabatta, then leave with a bag of kouign-amann to share. 700 S. Santa Fe Ave.; (213) 327-0782.
2121 E. 7th Place, Los Angeles, CA