By Carla Marie Rupp and Jason Rupp
We’re hooked on Downtown LA and want to go back for more. The revitalized city is affordable, and has so many places of interest with its restaurants, museums, concerts and plenty of opportunities for shopping and exploring. And you can go almost anywhere from here since the city has such a good transportation system.
We recently spent a bit of time in Downtown LA exploring Chinatown and other ethnic areas. But we also explored the Fashion District where we found bargains that were typically way below standard prices. In the Jewelry District we discovered a number of Middle Eastern restaurants, in an area that some call “Little Persia”, as well as a number of friendly and personable shopkeepers.
We also found a friendly shopkeeper practically next door to our hotel, the moderately priced Cecil Hotel on Main Street, that’s popular with buyers from the toy, fashion and jewelry industries. He was a friendly Mexican tailor who repaired some slacks for only $5. Another shopkeeper around the corner sold me a nice jacket for $11 that worked well for an impromptu day of spring skiing during our LA trip. You come across so many deals in downtown LA!
You also find so many local people willing to share their insights with you, especially about their favorite places to eat well, and eat economically. On the bus back from the Santa Monica Pier, for example, we met an artist who told us about the Mexican restaurant “Mexican Tacos” that is near our hotel, which he frequents several days a week because he finds it so delicious.
Another day a bus driver recommended the 5 Cent Diner on Main Street in the Historic Core Area (Downtown LA is getting sectioned off into the various historic areas) and sure enough, it turned out to be a popular, cool old-style place.
One of our favorite 24-hours places is the Original Pantry Cafe, 877 S. Figueroa Avenue, and a neighborhood landmark since the 1920s. I became hooked on its breakfast of buckwheat pancakes covered with syrup and butter and served with bacon, eggs and hash browns. The waitstaff still wear black and white and serve professionally (and fast). It’s also a good place stop after a late-night outing or concert.
You’ll find plenty of other good places in the LA Live entertainment district as well as in the wonderful hotels in the area. If you can, visit the Grand Central Market, a must-see area for foodies in LA’s Downtown that has dozens of food stalls and good picture ops also.
Self-guided tours are also available for many architecturally interesting sights, such as the Los Angeles Central Public Library, whose architecture reflects the Egyptian-style architecture mania that swept the country in the 1920s following the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. It’s quite a contrast to the Angel Railway Flight, a funicular that connects Hill Street and California Plaza and is the cutest, shortest railway ever.
Today few inner cities can match the excitement and vitality of Downtown LA. It’s a great place to explore, a delightful mix for both tourists and residents.
If you go:
LA Inc. The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau
The Original Pantry Cafe
877 S. Figueroa St. at 9th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
The Cecil Hotel
640 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014