What you Should Know about the Los Angeles Arts District in 2021

Update July 5, 2021: The DTLA Arts District has no doubt taken a massive hit due to the COVID pandemic. My old client Hammer and Spear closed their original location there in 2020 (they are still on La Cienega).

While it’s still worth visiting, just know that it’s definitely been set back. So many restaurants and stores have closed, but we hope to see a turnaround as we all make our way into a brighter future. I have updated my list below to reflect what is open and have removed those that are now closed indefinitely. R.I.P. so many gems that will be greatly missed.

Original Post from 2017: My client, Hammer and Spear, first introduced me to the Los Angeles Arts District four years ago, when they moved to the neighborhood, befriended everyone, and became a design destination and representation of what was to come.

They knew the owner of Bestia and could get a table any night of the week, when it was the hardest reservation to snag in town. They met a local photographer—who they later partnered with—to form a printing company that pays homage to the neighborhood. They launched Saint Rita Parlor, a hand-crafted eyewear company made in DTLA, and have since helped propel the careers of other artists and designers with unique perspectives and stories.

But this isn’t just a story about Hammer and Spear. It’s a story about why the Los Angeles Arts District has quickly become the most vibrant, creative neighborhood in the country right now. The foundation was built on community.

In a world full of big box retailers and cookie-cutter experiences, DTLA is full of talented individuals who had a vision for creating something local. Read on for a roundup of my favorite independent shops, bars, and restaurants that are all walkable in a city that rarely recommends walking anywhere.

A local guide to the Los Angeles Arts District

Things to do in the LA Arts District

Where to stay the night: The Hoxton is the newest hotel to open in the Arts District, with the DTLA Proper opening this month. Both are Arts District adjacent and an easy Uber ride away. But you can never go wrong with the Nomad, located in one of the most spectacular historic buildings downtown. 

Where to get caffeinated: Boxx Coffee Roasters or  Blue Bottle on the other end.

Where to go to feel like you’re in the “art world”Hauser & Wirth Gallery (don’t miss the book shop!)

Where to have a vegetarian lunch that doesn’t feel vegetarian (and a cocktail while you’re at it): Zinc Cafe & Market

Where to eat the best meal in LA for under $20 (beer included): Wurstküche (do not miss the fries!)

Where to mix dinner with art: Manuela 

Where to get a cocktail in a lovely setting: Garden at Manuela (just down the way from the main restaurant inside Hauser + Wirth

Where to find the best books on architecture in Los Angeles: Hennessey + Ingalls

Where to brag to your friends that you’ve been: Bavel

Where to satisfy your sweet tooth: The Pie Hole or Salt & Straw

Where to mix fashion with art: Dover Street Market

Where to get a nightcap: E.R.B. (Everson Royce Bar)

A local guide to the Los Angeles arts district


Photos by Ashley Burns Photography

PS. A new hotel in Downtown L.A. 

PSS. Another Los Angeles neighborhood you should know about

A Guide to the Los Angeles Arts District


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