The Best Places to Eat, Stay, and Live It Up in L.A.’s Koreatown

Everything you need to know to get the most out of the largest Koreatown in the world.

A group of eight women in habok dancing

L.A.'s Koreatown is a microcosm of all the best things about the city—there are great restaurants and bars, and always something to do.

Photo by betto rodrigues/Shutterstock

Los Angeles’s Koreatown truly needs no introduction. Sited east of L.A.’s posh Wilshire Park neighborhood, south of Little Bangladesh, and a bit west of downtown, K-town is home to the world’s largest population of ethnically Korean people outside of Asia and is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city.

Koreatown clocks in at just three square miles, but it’s packed with popular Korean chain and mom-and-pop restaurants, bars, karaoke lounges, spas, and thanks to its close location to Tinseltown, Hollywood history. The neighborhood is pretty walkable as far as L.A. goes, and there are three convenient Metro Purple Line stops located on Wilshire Boulevard, which runs east to west through the middle of Koreatown, making it an ideal area to explore by foot. (And that is a good idea, given that K-town is a notoriously difficult place to find parking—even by L.A. standards.)

Whether it’s having a tipple in one of the city’s most storied bars, or pampering yourself at a K-spa, there’s something for everyone in Koreatown. Consider this your definitive guide to one of L.A.’s most vibrant—and delicious—neighborhoods.

Betty Draper (January Jones) and Don Draper (Jon Hamm)  sit at a booth at the Prince.

The Prince bar in Koreatown has been in a number of movies and TV shows, including AMC’s Mad Men.

Courtesy of Doug Hyun / AMC

What to do in Koreatown

Have a drink at the Prince
Location: 3198 West Seventh St.

Founded in the 1940s, Koreatown’s Prince bar is one of the oldest in the city. Located in a brick Tudor revival–style building, the bar was once popular with both executives and celebrities of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Behind its bright red, coffered doors, the atmosphere feels as if it hasn’t changed one bit in the years since. Inside, visitors will find curved red leather booths, scarlet lamps, floral wallpaper, and oil paintings of British landscapes and noblemen. In 1991, Korean owners purchased the bar (including all of its iconic decor, which they’ve kept intact), and now, guests can dine on Korean bar food like stir-fried squid and tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes).

If the Prince’s interiors look familiar, it might very well be because you’ve seen them before. It’s a popular filming location and has appeared in a numerous Hollywood productions, including Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (though it was only briefly lensed in a scene in the movie; Faye Dunaway famously called Polanski a “mother******” in a booth here), the sitcom New Girl, and most recently, Mad Men. With the over-the-top midcentury decor, it’s easy to imagine Don Draper (Jon Hamm) enjoying an Old-Fashioned at the bar.

Visit the Koreatown Pavilion Garden
Location: 1000 S. Normandie Ave.

Sited at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Normandie Avenue across from what was the very first Korean grocery store in the city, the 5,000-square-foot Koreatown Pavilion Garden (also known as Da Wool Jung) provides a welcome respite from the neighborhood’s hustle and bustle. It’s an ideal place to simply take in the small garden’s scenery or to meditate. Built with pine, the traditional Korean-style pavilion is painted green, blue, and rusty red. Dedicated in 2006 to commemorate the centennial of Korean immigration to the United States, Da Wool Jung is meant to symbolize the cultural, economic, and political growth and power of the Korean American community.

Get a treatment at Olympic Spa
Location: 3915 W. Olympic Blvd.

Korean beauty trends have taken the world by storm—and in turn, the popularity of Korean spas is steadily on the rise. Koreatown has its fair share of K-spas to choose from; Olympic Spa is one of the most popular. At this women-only facility (which also does not allow children under the age of 12), guests will be able to indulge in saunas, Korean salt rooms, and hot and cold baths. However, going to a Korean spa isn’t just a one- or two-hour affair—people often spend five to six hours or even a full day to get the full K-spa experience. Olympic Spa offers a variety of services, but its most popular option is the Goddess treatment, which involves a full body, exfoliating Korean scrub, an aromatherapy-focused massage, a scalp massage, a facial mask application, and hair-smoothing shampoo rinse. Memberships (which start at $350 per month) are available, which allows for unlimited access to the spa as well as discounts on massages and treatments.

Traditional Korean foods on plates and in bowls, including stew, doenjang jjigae, pancakes, and bibimbap.

The rumors are true: The best Korean restaurants outside of Korea are located in K-town.

Photo by mnimage/Shutterstock

The best places to eat in Koreatown

Gol Tong Chicken
Location: 361 S. Western Ave., #101

Though it may have a humble exterior, never underestimate a strip mall restaurant in K-town. Sandwiched between a video store and a hair salon, Gol Tong Chicken is owned and solely operated by retired Korean movie director Kil Chae Jeong, who goes by the nickname, “Gol Tong,” which means “stubborn” in Korean. Gol Tong serves up dakgangjeong-style Korean fried chicken (a sweet, boneless variation of KFC) and garnishes platters with healthy helpings of pineapple, grapes, blueberries, apple slices, avocado, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes, plus a sprinkle of sesame seeds. The fried chicken comes with the option of three different sauces: original, soy garlic, and sweet chili. To get a taste of all three, order the Director’s Cut.

Sun Nong Dan
Location: 710 S. Western Ave.

Sun Nong Dan is all about the beef. This Koreatown restaurant, which made it on legendary food critic Jonathan Gold’s list of the 101 best restaurants in Los Angeles in 2017, is best known for its seolleongtang (an ox bone broth–based soup known for its milky white appearance). However, one of the most popular—and eye-catching—dishes is its koh galbi jim, which features short ribs, back ribs, and oxtail stir-fried with peppers and onions and topped with a generous helping of mozzarella cheese that’s set ablaze by a waiter at your table. For something on the lighter side, try the won gi tang: short rib meat and ox knee and tail in a clear, savory broth with jujube berries, green onions, and thinly sliced pieces of oyster mushroom. As an added bonus, Sun Nong Dan is open 24/7 for those late-night Korean food cravings.

Mountain Cafe
Location: 3470 W Sixth St., #5

For simple, homey Korean stews, it’s hard to beat Mountain Cafe. There are 15 entrées on the menu, ranging from yukgaejang (spicy beef and vegetable soup) to samgyetang (a soup with a whole chicken that sings with flavors like ginger, jujube, and garlic). Mountain Cafe is very much a no-frills, no-nonsense restaurant, but in addition to flavorful Korean stews, diners here will also find generously portioned banchan like kimchi, kkakdugi (daikon kimchi), and its popular jang-jorim (beef braised with shishito peppers, onions, and eggs). If you’d like a second helping or two of banchan, refills are available upon request.

Ham Ji Park
Location: 3407 W. Sixth St., #101

Just as Sun Nong Dan is known for its beef dishes, Ham Ji Park is known for its pork. Portions at Ham Ji Park are (to say the least) huge and are meant to be shared among three to four people. Don’t miss out on the sweet and savory dweji-galbi (barbecue pork ribs) and its hearty gamjatang (pork neck bone and potato stew). All entrées at Ham Ji Park are served with salad as well as banchan like kkakdugi, blanched soybean sprouts, kwari gochu (spicy shisito peppers), and eomuk bokkeum (stir-fried fish cake).

Exterior of Chapman Market

Founded in 1929, Chapman Market was one of the first buildings ever designed to be easily accessed by automobile.

Courtesy of Carol Highsmith/Library of Congress

Where to shop in Koreatown

Chapman Market
Location: 3465 W. Sixth St.

It’s hard to miss Chapman Market with its Spanish colonial revival architecture, wrought iron fences, and art deco embellishments. Chapman Market first opened its doors in 1929 and was one of the first buildings to be designed to be easily accessed by automobile. For those who can’t decide where or what they’d like to eat in Koreatown, the market offers a variety of restaurants, boba shops, and bars for guests to choose from, including Quarters Korean BBQ, Tiger Boba, and Colombian restaurant Escala K-town, which is also a popular spot among music lovers because it regularly hosts local DJs.

Koreatown Plaza
Location: 928 S. Western Ave.

Sited off of Koreatown’s main artery, Western Avenue, Koreatown Plaza is a three story–tall extravaganza of Korean food, goods, and beauty. An H Mart largely occupies the ground floor of the building. Hair salons, food courts, and a variety of shops including Aritaum, a K-beauty store that carries skincare products produced by popular brands like Laneige, Iope, and Sulwhasoo, occupy the second. On the third floor, visitors will find a home goods store.

6ixth Sense Los Angeles
Location: 3881 W. Sixth St.

Founded in 2016, 6ixth Sense Los Angeles is a not-so-secret secret in Koreatown. Specializing in lifestyle and home goods, 6ixth Sense is stocked with items that originate from all around the world, including Japan, France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. The store is perhaps best known for its bright, quirky, pop-y items, but there’s a bit of something for everyone here, no matter what your aesthetic may be.

The dining area of the Amadeo Suite in the Hotel Per La

Hotel Per La’s decidedly Italian theme harkens back to the buildings roots as the Bank of Italy’s headquarters.

Courtesy of The Ingalls

Where to stay in and near Koreatown

Hotel Per La
Location: 649 S. Olive St.
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The building that now houses Hotel Per La was originally built in 1922 to serve as the Bank of Italy headquarters. In the summer of 2022, Hotel Per La officially opened, providing guests with Italian-inspired hospitality, design, and food. The hotel boasts 241 rooms, a café, restaurant Per L’Ora (which describes itself as “DTLA meets the Italian coast”), and a rooftop bar that has dramatic views of the Los Angeles skyline and serves a mean Negroni. It’s less than 15 minutes away from Koreatown by car.

The Line Hotel
Location: 3515 Wilshire Blvd.
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The Los Angeles outpost of the swanky Line hotel brand (owned by the Sydell Group, which also helms Nomad and Freehand) opened in 2014 and has 388 rooms. Interior decor at Koreatown’s Line Hotel leans minimalist: Rooms have chic bare concrete walls while colorful light fixtures and Mexican-style blankets provide bright pops of color. The minibar, stocked with both Western and Korean snacks, pays testament to its prime location in K-town. The on-site restaurant, Openaire, is located with a greenhouse-style building filled with plants. Here, diners will find creative dishes like mung bean latkes, buttermilk fried quail, and house-made milk bread served with nori butter.

Hotel Figueroa
Location: 939 S. Figueroa St.
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Founded in 1926, the Hotel Figueroa was once an exclusive women’s hostelry by the YWCA and is thought to be one of the first large hotel properties owned by and intended for women in the nation. Here, guests will find a mix of Spanish contemporary design and Moroccan-inspired influences. Once the hotel opened its doors to men in 1928, it quickly became the spot for artists, celebrities, and musicians in L.A. These days, it’s still a popular meeting place for creative types. There are 268 rooms at Hotel Fig, and though it’s not in K-town proper, it’s an easy 13-minute drive away.

Mae Hamilton is a former associate editor at AFAR. She covers all things related to arts, culture, and the beautiful things that make travel so special.
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