The city fathers want us to believe that Bunker Hill is the heart of downtown – Disney Hall, MOCA, the coming Grand Avenue Project, the tall shiny buildings. Or you can look to the neon glow of Southpark, Staples Center, Nokia Theater, LA Live etc. We, your fearless travel guides, generally find this stuff boring and not particularly unique to Los Angeles.
What is unique is that downtown is something of a house of mirrors; you are never quite sure what you are looking at. 7th street was the Rodeo Drive of the early 1900’s. Then, like much of the “historic core”, it suffered a decades long slide. With the opening of Bottega Louie (2009) the buzz is back: big crowds at night, hip new joints like 7 Grand, Silo the Vodka Bar, Mas Malo, Sugarfish… This is becoming the heart of downtown; cool, yet still a bit gritty, an entre to the eastside of downtown. Other great finds moving east include the not-to-be missed Perch, atop a historic building at 5th and Hill, and Church and State in the historic “Buiscut Building”. The Bradbury Building is an interesting view into the architecture of L.A. gone by, but don’t miss the Eastern Building at 9th and Broadway. And while you’re on Broadway – what about the amazing theatres in various stages of restoration? Check out the Orpheum for a fully restored movie palace! What about the Arts District as long as we’re on the eastside? (www.artsdistricla.com ). Grit and chic side by side, now this is downtown L.A. (If in town check out the Art Walk on Thursday nights). Check out Wurskuche for some awesome sausage and beer or nearby sushi, ramen, and sake extravaganza in Little Tokyo.
Bottom line: the authentic traveler takes the subway downtown gets off at 7th/Metro or Pershing Square and starts walking east.