Exploring Downtown Los Angeles

Food, Nightlife, Things to Do, What's New — By Sujata Day on September 11, 2011 at 3:24 am

My cousin flew in from Boston, and I’m always on the lookout for places to entertain that are new to me AND my guest. I decided on spending a Saturday evening in Downtown LA, to avoid the much-maligned Labor Day weekend beach traffic.

We started the evening off by taking in an independent flick at the Downtown Independent Theater on Main Street. Alexei Kaleina, the writer/director of the film we were going to see, The Afterlight, was a friend of mine who was flying in from Brooklyn for the weekend to attend his screening. The Downtown Independent is a great theater to discover obscure, smaller films before they hit the festival circuit. Walking in, we could smell the buttery aroma of the freshly popped corn at the concession stand where we purchased our tickets, Red Vines, Coke, and, of course, a large popcorn to share. The seats at the Downtown Independent are comfortable (which is more than I can say for the Arclight theaters, where the seats seem to be made for humans over 6’5” tall). Beautifully shot and brilliantly acted, we congratulated Alex on completing his first feature film and bid adieu.

Downtown LA At NightPhoto Courtesy of: Mikey Wally/Flickr

Our friends were meeting us a couple blocks away, so we decided to walk to the restaurant. Unheard of in LA, I know, but I didn’t want to lose my sweet parking spot. We strolled past Little Tokyo and had 20 minutes to kill, so we popped into some of the boutique shops. There was a karaoke DJ set up in the courtyard of the Japanese Village Plaza, beckoning me to belt out my infamous version of “Fame” but alas, the pull of the myriad Sanrio stores won. Ten minutes and a mini Pochaco backback later, we headed to our dinner destination.

Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo in Downtown Los AngelesPhoto Courtesy of: LA Wad/Flickr

In June 2010, LA Magazine dubbed Spitz Restaurant as having the ‘Best Sandwich in LA.” We snagged a tall table and perused the 1-page menu. Her friends were looking for parking (good thing I left my car by the theater!) and we were starving, so we ordered an appetizer plate of ‘Doquitos’ to appease our grumbling tummies. The fried crunchiness of the Doquito’s pita shell melted perfectly with the juiciness of the flavored chicken. I ordered the classic beef and lamb Doner wrap, Mediterranean style with a Greek salad. The table shared sides of French fries, sweet potato fries, and pita strips. The wrap was en pointe dripping with juicy meats and spices, and the fresh salad contained jalapenos, which were a nice surprise. The hummus and fried pita chips, soaked with oil, wins the award for my favorite side.

Sufficiently stuffed, our posse was ready to kick back a few cocktails. We hit up Perch, Downtown LA’s newest addition to the bar/lounge scene. High up on the 15th and 16th floors of a building on Fourth and Hill, Perch’s cool meter continued to rise as the upscale, well-dressed patrons were friendly, service was quick and easy (cocktails cost around $14), and heat lamps were aplenty. Get there early to grab some couches by the firepits, or hover around parties that look like they’re ready to jet and pounce on the first available seats. I’m just going to go out on a limb here and call this place the new Edison of Downtown LA.

Tags: "little tokyo", "main street", Diversity, downtown, Offbeat L.A.