My old client, Hammer and Spear, first introduced me to the L.A. 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 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.
Where to get caffeinated: Blacktop Coffee
Where to buy yourself some cool eyewear so you’ll fit in downtown: Warby Parker at Alchemy Works
Where to go to make friends and buy something gorgeous for your home: Hammer and Spear
Where to go to feel like you’re in the “art world”: Hauser & Wirth Gallery
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
Where to have a cozy dinner: Church & State
Where to brag to your friends that you’ve been: Bavel
Where to be a pinball wizard: Eighty Two
Where to get a nightcap: E.R.B. (Everson Royce Bar)
Photos by Ashley Burns Photography