Tag Archives: Downtown LA restaurants

Alma Lovin’

Smoked Salmon with Housemade English Muffins
Alma started as an acclaimed pop-up restaurant in Venice, but laid down roots last year next to a taxi dance hall downtown on South Broadway. It has a cool minimalistic and modern interior with an open kitchen where a talented young chef named Ari Taymor hones his craft. Taymor’s modern American cuisine is the food equivalent of a Terrence Malick film or an opera by Phillip Glass; in other words, it’s not for everyone. But for foodies and other bon vivants (myself included), dinner at Alma can be a very special experience.

The menu, which is printed in lower case letters on pages of a yellow legal pad, changes daily and features small plates composed of seasonal, market-driven ingredients, many of which are sourced from an exclusive arrangement with a garden/micro-farm in Venice. The flavors are complex and nuanced. The combinations are, for the most part, interesting and inspired. As you would expect, there are foams and droplets of sauce.

My favorite dish is the Chicken Liver Toast & Date Jam, a perfect amalgam of sweet and savory, creamy and crunchy. I’m also a big fan of Alma’s Seaweed & Tofu Beignets with Yuzu Kosho and Lime, as well as their unusual “onion salad” of Spring Alliums, Kumquats, Goat’s Milk, Turnips and Coffee Granola. For dessert, I recommend the Warm Rye Bread Pudding with Red Fruits, Almond Brittle and Frozen Yogurt. You can enjoy it all with an organic wine, craft beer or homemade soda.

Alma is located at 952 S. Broadway, Los Angeles (Downtown). UPDATE: ALMA IS NOW CLOSED. VERY SAD.

Spring Alliums, Kumquat, Goat Milk, Turnip, Coffee Granola

Spring Alliums, Kumquat, Goat Milk, Turnip, Coffee Granola


Uni Toast, Burrata and Caviar

Uni Toast, Burrata and Caviar


Seaweed & Tofu Beignet, Yuzu Kosho and Lime

Seaweed & Tofu Beignet, Yuzu Kosho and Lime


Dungeness Crab, Summer Squash, Almond Milk, Quinoa and Basil

Dungeness Crab, Summer Squash, Almond Milk, Quinoa and Basil


Seared Yellowtail Jack, Celery and Lentils

Seared Yellowtail Jack, Celery and Lentils


Chicken Liver Toast and Date Jam

Chicken Liver Toast and Date Jam


Grilled Scallops, Smoked Pork, Corn, Miso and Apricot

Grilled Scallops, Smoked Pork, Corn, Miso and Apricot


New York Steak, Morel, Snails, Asparagus and Smoked Garlic  Bearnaise

New York Steak, Morel, Snails, Asparagus and Smoked Garlic Bearnaise


Jidori Chicken, Carrot, Lemongrass and Basil

Jidori Chicken, Carrot, Lemongrass and Basil


Charred Eggplant with Trumpet Mushrooms, Broccoli, Bulgur and Pine Nuts

Charred Eggplant with Trumpet Mushrooms, Broccoli, Bulgur and Pine Nuts


Sweetbreads, Mole, Beet and Cherry

Sweetbreads, Mole, Beet and Cherry


Buttermilk Cake, Apricot and Brown Butter Ice Cream

Buttermilk Cake, Apricot and Brown Butter Ice Cream


Chocolate, Popcorn and Sorrel

Chocolate, Popcorn and Sorrel


Warm Rye Bread Pudding with Red Fruits, Almond Brittle and Frozen Yogurt

Warm Rye Bread Pudding with Red Fruits, Almond Brittle and Frozen Yogurt


Modern, cutting-edge French cuisine next door to a taxi dance hall

Modern, cutting-edge cuisine next door to a taxi dance hall



Alma on Urbanspoon

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The Dynamic Duo


Many newly-formed couples made headlines in 2012: Kim & Kanye, Romney & Ryan, and Honey Boo Boo & TLC to name a few. But, to me, the most noteworthy new pairing of the year was Steak Tartare & Mustard Ice Cream. While raw beef and a scoop of frozen spicy dairy seem the unlikeliest of pairings, once mixed together, they transform into one the most incredible dishes I have ever tasted.

This ingenious coupling is the highlight of the menu at Eat Drink Americano, a cool little gastropub that opened downtown earlier this year. Located in an alley in the hipper-than-hip Downtown Arts District, just outside of Little Tokyo, the restaurant has a very cool industrial chic, steampunk-esque interior. It’s cozy, dark and intimate, with exposed brick walls, a giant graphic mural and a wine bottle chandelier.

The menu is eclectic and some items are much better than others. Besides the Steak Tartare and Mustard Ice Cream, I recommend the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich with wakame seaweed and saffron aioli on an English muffin. Other dishes, such as their “Third Street Salad” and the Classic Ceviche, are nothing to write home about. I love that they have an open kitchen, but they can use more than just two people working in it, as the service can be extremely slow. But if you order correctly, it’s definitely worth the wait.

Eat Drink Americano is located at 923 E. Third Street, Los Angeles (Downtown).

Craft Beer Sampler


Soft Shell Crab Sandwich with wakame seaweed and saffron aioli on an English muffin


Third Street Salad with butter lettuce, corn, black beans, bell pepper, tomato, red onion and a cilantro lime vinaigrette


Classic Ceviche with fresh caught yellowtail, peppers and choclo in a spicy citrus marinade


Exposed brick walls and a wine bottle chandelier



Eat.Drink.Americano on Urbanspoon

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Everybody Loves Louie


For the past few years, there has been a restaurant renaissance going on Downtown and it all seemed to start with Bottega Louie. With high vaulted ceilings and marble floors, this perennially packed-to-the-gills eatery is the loudest restaurant in LA, but it is also one of the most fun. It’s the place I picked for the past couple years to have lunch with my family on my birthday. Bottega Louie resides in a cavernous bright space with an open kitchen, bar and dining area flanked on one end by a big wood burning pizza oven, and on the other end by a small gourmet bakery and market which reminds me of NYC’s Dean & DeLuca and sells some of the city’s best French macarons. I don’t recommend Bottega Louie for a quiet or romantic dinner, but if you’re looking for a festive and boisterous atmosphere, this is the place for you.

The menu at Bottega Louie is extensive and features mostly Italian fare with a few French dishes mixed in. While the food is not uniformly amazing, it’s all at least very good. The Portobello Fries are exceptional and an absolute must-have. Other small plates include delicious Tomato Bruschetta, Brussels Sprouts & Pistachios and Clams Casino. Salad options include a delicious Lyonnaise Salad with frisee, watercress, shallots, chives, lardons, a poached egg and a warm red wine vinaigrette. There are many pasta dishes on the menu and my favorite is the Trenné, which is pan sautéed until crispy and topped with braised prime rib eye, Tuscan black kale & shaved grana parmesan (pictured above). Entrees are solid and include Roasted Chicken, Shrimp Scampi and New York Strip Steak. I also recommend ordering one of their Neapolitan pizzas. Save room for dessert, and specifically the Butterscotch Budino. It is one of my favorite desserts in the city and rivals that of Gjelina.

Bottega Louie is located at 700 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles (Downtown).

Portobello Fries


Lyonnaise Salad with frisee, watercress, shallots, chives, lardons, poached egg and warm red vinaigrette


Tomato Bruschetta


Sausage Pizza with mozzarella, grana parmesan, tomato sauce, oregano & fennel sausage


Cheeseless Veggie Pizza (special order by my wife; she loved it)


Butterscotch Budino


The loudest restaurant in LA


Macarons!


Bottega Louie on Urbanspoon

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Bäco-licious


I cannot stop thinking about Bäco Marcat, an awesome new Downtown restaurant from Josef Centeno, the super-talented chef of Lazy Ox Canteen. I think it’s the quintessential LA restaurant. Like Los Angeles, it’s not formal; it’s cool and laid back with a rustic industrial chic interior that feels very 2012. The cuisine defies classification and is incredibly original. Like the population here, the food is an eclectic mix of cultures including Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern and Moroccan. Most of all, Bäco Marcat is fun! They make and bottle their own “Bäco Pop,” an orange ginger juniper soda and they have an amazing bar serving super cool and inventive cocktails with names like the “Gin-Pop!” and the “Black Mint Spritz.”

There are so many great things on the menu, it’s hard to know where to start. First of all, there are the “Bäcos,” inventive and scrumptious sandwiches prepared with the chef’s signature flat bread. I highly recommend “The Original” Bäco with pork belly, beef carnitas and salbitxada (a savory sauce similar to romesco), as well as “The Touron” Bäco with oxtail hash, pickles, crispy potatoes and cheddar. I also recommend the Bäzole Soup, which is kind of cross between a Japanese Ramen and a Mexican Pazole, made with house-made noodles, pork-chile broth, pork and beef carnitas and a fried egg. There are also delicious “Cocas,” crispy flat breads with a variety of toppings including one with house-made Merquez sausage, harissa and goat cheese. Bäco Mercat has several yummy specialty salads and vegetable dishes including my favorite dish on the whole menu, Kabocha Squash with brown butter. I’ve had pureed squash a million times before, but never like this; it is outrageously good! If you have room for dessert (or even if you don’t have room for dessert!), order the Pistachio Semifreddo Dark with pine nuts, caramel and sea salt. This sweet and salty dessert completely blew me away. If I lived or worked Downtown, I would probably eat here everyday.

Bäco Mercat is located at 408 S. Main St., Los Angeles (Downtown).

They make their own sodas!

Spice Roasted Peanuts with paprika

Bäzole (soup with house-made noodles, pork, chile broth, pork & beef carnitas with fried egg)

"The Toron" Bäco (sandwich with oxtail hash, pickle, tater & cheddar)

Kabocha Squash with brown butter

"The Tomato & Cheese" Coca (crispy flat bread with confit tomato sauce, mozzarella & smoked jalepeno)

Pistachio Semifreddo Dark with pine nuts, caramel & sea salt

I love this place!


Bäco Mercat on Urbanspoon

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