Like many SoCal neighborhoods, downtown L.A. has been blessed with a spate of restaurant openings these last few months.
Debra King opened this modest cafe and bakery just east of the 1st Street bridge this summer. She does some terrific cookies and cakes, including a chocolate layer cake that hits all the right notes. But you can enjoy a fine breakfast or lunch as well, perhaps a slice of fluffy frittata laced with roasted vegetables or a beef tenderloin sandwich.
* Tenderloin sandwich, $8.95 (includes side and one cookie). 1326 E. 1st St., (323) 261-0852.
On event nights at Staples Center, which is across the street, you’d be wise to have a reservation at this American spot housed in a historic Mission-style building. The menu sticks to tried-and-true favorites such as baby back ribs and roasted chicken. But there are some twists, like mac and cheese bites: mac and cheese turned into crunchy, golden golf-ball-sized spheres.
* Ribs, $21. 1037 S. Flower St., (213) 746-
Julie Rico and Sid Carter opened this mod hot dog shop (designed by Silver Lake architect Ana Henton) earlier this month. The menu stars dogs, either your standard variety or foot-long. But what has people talking are the “Dosed Fritos,” a bowl of Fritos topped with homemade chili and all the fixings: cheese, jalapenos and sour cream.
* Dosed Fritos, $3.60. 500 S. Spring St., (213) 817-
Vegetarians have lots of choices at Fred Eric’s whimsical lunch spot. The grilled “freshwich” made with seitan (a wheat-gluten meat substitute) and baba ghanouj and served with a lemon-tahini dipping sauce is a spin on a Vietnamese spring roll. But carnivores get respect too. There’s some tasty Japanese-style chicken curry, and a burger, natch. In a rush? Grab a salad or a ready-made sandwich in the neighboring marketplace.
* Seitan freshwich, $10. 127 E. 9th St., New Mart, (213) 623-3663.
626 Reserve Wine Bar
More than two dozen wines are offered by the glass at this 8-month-old wine bar and restaurant, opened by the owners of the neighboring 626 Gallery, which specializes in African American art. The eclectic, informal menu, developed by Rod Aglibot, ex of Koi and Yi Cuisine, includes crab cakes and chicken fajita quesadillas.
* Crab cakes, $14. 626 S. Spring St., (213) 627-