Would it surprise you to learn Los Angeles actually has a clean and efficient subway system? On many of our trips to LA these days, my husband and I  ditch the car and take the train to LA instead. By making downtown our base, we’re able to take the subway everywhere we want to go. The result is a hassle free and traffic free trip. I swear, there were moments I can trick myself into believing I’m in the Big Apple.

Union Station

Where Amtrak drops you off (we caught the train at the Santa Fe Depot in San Diego).  The historic train station was built in 1936 and features a beautiful dome ceiling. Getting on the subway from here is a snap– just follow the signs.

800 N. Alameda St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012


A map of the LA Metro system (red and purple lines are the only undergrounds);


Purchase tickets;


The Downtown Standard

The Standard’s Rooftop Pool.

About a two-block walk from the 7th Street Metro Station, the Standard is a great place to stay downtown.  The mid-century modern building has historic value— it’s on the national register of historic places. Don’t forget to check out the metal artwork over the entryway which tips you off to the building’s original purpose—home to Superior Oil Company. There are plenty of quirky touches to go around and dark areas broken up by blocks of vibrant color like a lemony yellow dining room. True to the Standard brand there’s a sceney pool area complete with German beer garden.

550 S. Flower

Los Angeles, CA 90071



The Millennium Biltmore and The Westin are also great downtown options;


The terrace at Perch.


A short walk from the Standard, Perch is a whimsical French-style bar and bistro on the top floor of the Pershing Square Building. Offering panoramic views of the city, you truly feel nestled in amongst the skyline. Go for a crisp glass of Provence-style rose during “Aperitif hour” or stay for dinner and dine on French classics like Bouillabaisse and Steak Frites.

448 S. Hill St.

Los Angeles, CA 90013




The pastry case at Bottega Louie.

Bottega Louie

This large restaurant may be the most New Yorky of all. Featuring soaring ceilings, an open kitchen, bistro style bar and mouthwatering French bakery, it’s bustling morning, noon and night. Bottega Louie really is great for breakfast, power lunch, dinner, drinks or just dessert. The pastry case with candy colored macarons, perfect petite pastries and sugar-dusted beignets is impossible to pass up. We walked here for breakfast but it’s very near the 7th Street Metro Station.

700 S. Grand Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90014


Baco Mercat

The packed dining room at Baco Mercat.

How to describe Baco Mercat– Catalonian, Italian, Asian fusion? Recently proclaimed one of the best new restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit, whatever it is, it’s absolutely delicious. After one bite of the restaurant’s signature flatbread sandwich or baco with crispy pork belly and beef carnitas you’ll be planning your next visit.

408 S. Main St.

Los Angeles, CA 90013



The Wiltern’s glamorous foyer.

The Wiltern

After dinner at Baco we headed to the Pershing Square Metro Station and took the purple line to The Wiltern Theater for My Morning Jacket. The Wilshire/Western subway stop is directly across the street from the blue-green theater– considered one of the finest examples of art deco architecture in the US.

3790 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90010


Other places worth checking out:

The Central Library.

The Central Library

The inside has been chopped up through multiple remodels but the exterior of the 1920’s era building is definitely worth a peak. I particularly love the view from the South entrance at Hope Street.

630 W. 5th St.

Los Angeles, CA 90071


Future Home of the Downtown LA Ace Hotel

I am so excited about this I can hardly stand it. Renovations have started on the United Artists Theater, which will become the uber-cool Ace Hotel Franchise’s 5th location by the end of next year.

933 S. Broadway

Los Angeles, CA 90015

The former United Artists Theater (future home of the Ace) under construction.

Other great downtown restaurants:


This outpost of LA’s renowned gourmet burger chain has five kitchens serving unique food concepts so, while you can snag a killer burger, if you want say– a fired-to-order donut or a corned beef and mustard sandwich, you can find it here.

852 S. Broadway

Los Angeles, CA 90014


The Lazy Ox Canteen

This restaurant in Little Tokyo has received praise from virtually every note worthy LA publication, but while the menu is creative, it isn’t intimidating, The Lazy Ox is a great place to grab a burger—recently voted LA’s best, or go a little more gourmet with braised shortribs and grilled octopus.

241 South San Pedro St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012


Outside Church and State.

Church and State

Located in the up and coming downtown Arts District the atmosphere on a quant block of warehouses turned lofts, is one of the best in the city. The pitch-perfect French fare is worth the trip. Note—do not walk here. There are some pretty sketchy areas between the heart of downtown and this neighborhood. Drive, or if you’re going car free, take a cab!

1850 Industrial St. #100

Los Angeles, CA 90021



Chef Ricardo Zarate pioneered Peruvian tapas at his original downtown location. With the opening of more upscale Picca and his increasing popularity, Mo-Chica outgrew the original space. New larger, downtown digs on 7th are industrial and colorful, but it’s the unique, bold flavors in Zarate’s amazing food that shine through!

514 W. 7th St.

Los Angeles, CA 90014


The Varnish

Located in the back of Cole’s French Dip, this is one of the most authentic Speakeasy experiences around. Maybe it’s the grittiness of downtown combined with the unpretentious location, and the dimly lit space. While enjoying an expert old fashioned listening to a pianist playing vintage tunes— you’ll almost be waiting for someone to burst in saying “this is a raid.” You don’t need reservations, but for guaranteed entry go early. They won’t let you in if there are too many people.

118 East 6th St.

Los Angeles, CA 90014




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