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Where to Eat in Downtown L.A.
There was a time when heading Downtown for dinner was a strange concept. But, oh how times have changed. The area has experienced a restaurant renaissance in the last few years, propelling Downtown and its neighboring 'hoods into the culinary spotlight.
Long known for its cheap urban eats, roaming taco trucks, and street vendors, these neighborhoods have raised the bar of quality eats while staying true to their edgy spirit. Downtown has a diverse mix of wine bars, hot spots, and casual hangouts. In neighboring Silver Lake, the area is a smidgen rough on the exterior, but artistic at its core. Here you can find indie bistros, vintage shops, and bakeries for the hipster crowd that flocks to Sunset Boulevard. For a bit of sophistication, Los Feliz Village is a hodgepodge of French bistros, Italian trattorias, and upscale restaurants. It's still an artsy hub, no doubt about it, but with a decidedly high-end feel.
Dine and Dash
Snap up some treats on the fly from these hotspots. At Nickel Diner (524 S. Main St. 213/623-8301) downtown, loyal suitors come in search of the maple-bacon doughnut. If cheeses and charcuterie are your passion, head to the Cheesestore of Silverlake (3926 W. Sunset Blvd. 323/644-7511) and grab a panini to go.
Return of the Salad
Salad-centric eateries have been springing up all over urban Los Angeles, but let's be clear these aren't your average salad bars from the 1980s. Gone are the days of sub-par croutons and shredded processed cheese—the salad has gone couture and is never going back. Here are some of the favorite spots around town.
This casual eatery is loved by locals who can't get enough of the leafy greens brought in every morning from a gourmet lettuce farm in Ventura County. Red, green, butter, frisée, mesclun … there's a whole world of high-end lettuce out there. Order from the Big Salad section of the menu and try the grilled flank steak salad served with red and green butter lettuce, blue cheese crumbles, and red and yellow beets tossed with horseradish vinaigrette (6290 Sunset Blvd. 323/382–0380 www.tendergreensfood.com).
Chef James Kim pays homage to the urban farmer at his Silver Lake casual eatery where fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs are foraged from local Los Angeles neighbors to create an affordable California seasonal menu. The dining space is airy and simple with long wooden tables and vintage school chairs and the service is semi-cafeteria style, with orders taken at counter and oversized metal trays you take to your table. Local favorites include chicken salad with cucumbers, red onions, and lemon-tahini dressing, and the marinated steak salad with tarragon-buttermilk dressing. (3823 W. Sunset Blvd. 323/663-6885 www.foragela.com).
Greenleaf Gourmet Chop Shop
This green-friendly and health conscious salad joint offers a slew of specialty salads made with fresh, locally-grown veggies and meats, and gourmet toppings. Be as healthy—or as indulgent—as you want to be. (1888 Century Park East 424/239–8700 www.greenleafchopshop.com)
L.A. ice cream makers have tapped into the people's love for artisanal ice cream that no longer sticks to the basics. Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry? Forget it; ice cream aficionados are falling head over spoon for flavors that are far from ordinary. A handful of new ice cream shops in L.A. are meeting the taste challenge. In Brentwood, Sweet Rose Creamery (225 26th Ave. 310/260-2663) is crafting small batches of homemade ice cream. Try a salted caramel sundae or malted chocolate with toasted hazelnut praline cone. Scoops (712 N. Heliotrope Dr. 323/906-2649) has an unstoppable cult following with loyal fans who come in for fanciful flavors like rosewater pistachio, and Guinness chocolate cheesecake. In Pasadena, Carmela Ice Cream (2495 E. Washington Blvd. 323/319-6084) is the newest kid in town, offering fresh farmers' market-inspired batches of ice cream and sorbet such as lavender-honey and strawberry-buttermilk.
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