Budding Downtown LA has been on the brink of a food explosion for decades and nowadays plenty of restaurants recognize for their culinary merits are in abundance.

Recently named by Bon Appetit as one of the top 10 new restaurants in America, is Baco Mercat. The ‘baco’ is a signature creation of chef Josef Centeno. It’s a sandwich meets taco and it’s a must grub, especially the “el pesco” with crispy shrimp.  Just make sure you have a reservation.

Pizza Nista is where every local stops for the best slice in town.  Plus local bar Tony’s shares a wall, and you can order your pizza to the bar.

One of the best hidden, but not very well kept secrets, in Little Tokyo is Shabu Shabu. The menu hasn’t changed in over twenty years and there are only 25 seats. The wait is inordinately long, but the key is to go about an hour early, put your name in and go have a drink at the restaurant catty-corner. Based on the popularity alone, they could have expanded but they didn’t, and the quality shows. Bring cash.

Gastropub Little Bear opened across the street from favorite Church & State and gave them a definite run for their money.  They call themselves a cafe pouring Belgian style imported and domestic beer, Belgian food favorites in an updated traditional style.  The dinner selection is delectable, but they’re also open for brunch Saturday and Sunday 10am-3pm and the Hollandaise sauce is a must try.

In need of coffee or quick fix—hit up Handsome Coffee Roasters (fair warning, no sugar allowed) or Bread Lounge Bakery. Both serve excellent coffee and if you’re lucky you’ll find the EggSlut truck outside Handsome. Or order the Plenty of Fish at Bread Lounge, one of the best quick sandwiches in town.

-Arianna Schioldager

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