When I was attending college in Los Angeles, downtown L.A. was a ghost town after dark or on weekends. Needless to say, that was a long time ago.
A recent weekend spent downtown, gave me a new perspective. It was a tease – a little three-day taste of delicious fun and thought-provoking sites. The city bustles with activity fed by condos filled with city dwellers. Restaurants, bars and stores (including a gorgeous Whole Foods) are mushrooming.
Along will pals Marcia Kay and Ron, we checked into the beautiful Omni Los Angeles Hotel. Located on Bunker Hill (Olive Street), this sleek hotel is steps away from The Broad and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
We started with lunch at Otium, the restaurant right next to the Broad where French Laundry vet, Chef Timothy Hollingsworth, is in charge. We had tickets for The Broad later in the afternoon, so we had plenty of time to relish each scrumptious bite.
Otium favorites: Crispy Potatoes with Lemon Salt, Aleppo Pepper and Creme Fraiche (to die for spuds) + Rigatoni with Guanciale, Smoked Pecorino, Snap Peas and Tellicherry Pepper + Roast Chicken with Potatoes (yes more potatoes), Onion, Shishito Chilies and Aji Verde.
We loved our time at The Broad. Over the last forty years, the Broads have built one of the most prominent collections of postwar and contemporary art worldwide. Spending time ogling modern art is of special interest to my husband Phil, who was commissioned in the 70’s and 80’s to precision machine sculptures from artists Roy Lichtenstein, Joseph and Anni Albers, and Alexander Calder. Through his work, he got to know the artists and treasures those memories.
An architectural walking tour offered by the Lost Angeles Conservancy proved to be a delight. Who knew there were so many gorgeous old downtown buildings?
We learned about Beaux-Arts architecture (first quarter of 20th century), as well as Art Deco (popular in the 1920’s). Of course we explored the Los Angeles Central Library and the Bradbury Building, and Angels Flight. My favorite was the PacMutual Center on 6th Street. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The PacMutual Building is a fine example of Beaux-Arts ideals. It has imposing exterior columns and an oh-so-grand marble lobby (Los Angeles’ Water Grill Restaurant is here.)
Lunch at Clifton’s Cafeteria was a hoot. The Clinton family’s five generations as California restaurateurs began when David Harrison Clinton came to Los Angeles from Missouri in 1888 and purchased the Southern Hotel and its dining room in downtown Los Angeles.
The setting is truly unique, with waterfalls, bridges, a chapel, foliage and taxidermy. We had cocktails, followed by turkey pot pies.
Here’s a Clifton’s Cafeteria postcard from the 1040’s …
Dinner at Church & State was a treat. It’s an inviting French bistro located on the ground floor of the original NABISCO bakery and offices built in 1925. This busy eatery is in the Arts District and offers irresistible French bistro fare (delicious bone marrow, steak frites, and pork belly – salads, soups and ooh-la-la desserts).
I had the steak frites. Delicious. But first, an irresistible endive and green apple salad.
Sunday Brunch at Bottega Louie. This not-to-be-missed experience makes you feel like you are in at the best patisserie in Paris.
We arrived as they opened in the morning and were filling the cases with just-baked breads, tarts, cakes, viennoiserie, macarons and cookies. I couldn’t resist – even though I ate the Eggs Benedict served with smoked salmon instead of Canadian bacon … I bought some almond croissants to go!
We also explored Olvera Street and Union Station, visits that brought back childhood memories. We’re looking forward to a future adventure in La La Land. There is much left to explore.