Philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad have brought new life to Bunker Hill with the opening of their "gift to the city" in the form of The Broad Museum. Located right across the road from MOCA and next door to Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall masterpiece, there’s a legitimate arts and culture row on Grand Avenue shedding new interest on downtown.
After navigating the two-story Broad—viewing the web-like façade and contemporary collection with pieces by Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol among the 2,000 curated selections—a memorable bite to eat should follow. Fortunately, the dining scene has also taken a giant leap forward in this area of the city. Here are a handful of new options that aim to capture your imagination.
Located adjacent to The Broad Museum, Chef Timothy Hollingsworth (former chef de cuisine of The French Laundry in Yountville), along with top LA restaurateur Bill Chait, will open the official eatery for the museum in November. The façade features a Damien Hirst fish mural called Isolated Elements, which leads to an indoor-outdoor rustic-yet-sophisticated space of steel, glass, wood, copper, stone and ceramics—all created by local artists and artisans. Otium is Latin for "leisurely social activities." The vertical gardens from Green City Farms on the restaurant’s rooftop will grow herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers, which will be liberally used in the seasonal menu’s flatbreads, lamb chops and whole fish offerings.
222 South Hope Street / OtiumLA.com
Nick + Stef’s
This modern steakhouse concept was just reopened by Chef Joachim Splichal and the Patina Restaurant Group. Back and better than ever are the 28-day dry-aged USDA prime steaks and show-stopping tomahawk rib chop, both grilled over oak and mesquite. For a larger group, pre-order a whole-roasted suckling pig or leg of Colorado lamb while you peruse the extensive global wine list with over 500 labels. Other carnivorous delights come in the form of Black Angus beef and wagyu, but be sure to hit the raw bar first with oysters, seafood cocktails, and shellfish platters.
330 South Hope Street / (213) 680-0330
Le Petit Paris
This new French-style brasserie has recently opened in the historic core by restaurateurs Fanny and David Rolland. Located next door to the Howard Griffin Gallery in the El Dorado building, this two-story 1913 gem is listed on the National Register of historic places and was once the home of Actor Charlie Chaplin. The space still retains many of the original pillars, gold leaf, and iron work with added circular chandeliers lighting the black-and-white photography of Paris. The menu consists of French classics: croque monsieur, steak tartar, Burgundy escargot, a salad of frisée, bacon, potato, and poached egg. Don't miss the duck foie gras which pairs beautifully with a viognier from Malibu wines, produced in California by a French winemaker.
418 Spring Street / (213) 217-4445
Chef Bernhard Mairinger, who hails from just outside of Saltzberg, had originally opened a fine-dining concept in Beverly Hills. This Austrian joint leans on the more casual side, however. The décor is meant to resemble an Austrian wine cellar, but it's infused with L.A. flair with things like tabletops made from an old basketball court in a DTLA youth hostel. Two master bakers from Austria produce homemade breads, rolls, pastries, and the popular salty Bavarian pretzels. They carry nine imported beers on tap and a proprietary wine label. Try their very own Grüner Veltliner, the perfect sidekick to crispy veal schnitzel, lardon potato salad, and a sausage sampler with everything from Käsekrainer to Weisswurst.
541 S Spring Street / (213) 935-8035
Probably the most talked-about downtown refurbishment in decades, the landmarked Clifton’s has reopened, bringing upscale-meets-nostalgic cafeteria fare by Chef Jason Fullilove. The three-story venue was originally built in 1935, but now includes five bars and a dramatic central atrium full of taxidermy. Don’t let the stuffed bear or buffalo startle you as you carry your tray of roasted turkey with gravy-laden mashed potatoes, Waldorf salad and a side of Jell-O through the 47,000-square-foot space. On the way out, grab a Verve coffee at The Mill bakery located near the exit.
648 South Broadway / (213) 627-1673
Chef Ray Garcia—who is also behind the casual B.S. Taqeuria concept a few blocks away—relies heavily on the influence of his Latin roots for his latest concept, Broken Spanish. The chef recreates traditional cuisine with an elevated twist, clearly defined in dishes such as tamales with lamb neck, king oyster mushrooms, and queso Oaxaca. Other notable menu items include oxtail quesadillas with plantain and habanero and chile rellenos with potato and kale, but the most talked-about item to date has been the tortillas served with a little ramekin of whipped carnitas fat, which you can wash down with plenty of good mezcal and tequila cocktails to cut through the richness.
1050 South Flower Street / (213) 749-1460
Perfect for a pre- or post-GRAMMY Museum visit or L.A. Live excursion, Barcito is a buzzy Argentine-inspired bar off Grand Avenue. Owner Andrea Borgen spent her childhood summers visiting her grandparents in Buenos Aires, an influence that shines through in the cuisine produced by Executive Chef Chuck Abair. Finger-food highlights or ‘picadas,’ include provoleta with seared goat cheese and charred lemon on crunchy bread or ricotta-potato dumplings with pistachio pesto. Plancha dishes from the griddle feature smoked chili-garlic shrimp on potatoes with remoulade and, of course, ever-changing empanadas which are baked in-house. The restaurant also produces its own white and red wine blends from Paso Robles which come in individual size bottles.
403 West 12th Street / (213) 415-1821