: Located on the street level of the shiny Disney Concert Hall, Patina is one of the easiest restaurants to find in downtown L.A. Just follow the glare to the corner of 2nd and Grand and wait to be seated. Everything about Patina is upscale, like the building that houses it, and it's hard to find fault with the food. Executive chef Tony Esnault's menu includes delicious offerings such as duck foie gras terrine with rhubarb and strawberry chutney; butter-poached Maine lobster; glazed short ribs and Colorado rack of lamb with quinoa. The knowledgeable staff is always happy to make a wine suggestion to accompany your meal, although even the by-the-glass prices can be substantial. The best dining area is on the outdoor patio, screened from the street by bushy bamboo hedges and shaded from the sun by wide umbrellas. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 141 S. Grand Ave. (213) 972-3331.
: This elegant Art Deco supper club is located across the street from Disney Hall. It features an old-school vibe and a menu of Southern comfort food classics like beer-can chicken and meatloaf. There is also an extensive winelist and a cocktail program that rivals some of the best in town. Expect top-notch jazz and dance performances in the 300-person capacity showroom when the restaurant officially opens on April 24. 710 W. 1st St. (213) 617-8555.
: Kendall's is an opera-goer's tradition, as it's right downstairs in the Music Center. A classic brasserie, it will put you in the mood for musical appreciation with flavorful Continental cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. Make sure to sit for dinner two hours before your performance. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 135 N. Grand Ave. (213) 972-7322.
: The eclectic tavern is rustic, inviting and just what Little Tokyo needs. And the menu? A brilliant melting pot of flavors. For nibbles, there's Moroccan-spiced beef jerky on toast with a fried egg on top or delicious chopped chicken livers, Tuscan style, on toast, topped with a slice of bacon. Cod brandade fritters, straight from the fryer, are delicious with a sunny yuzu citrus aioli. The menu is mostly small plates, but not all that small, really, including salads, such as blue lake bean salad with hazelnuts and tarragon dressing, or greens with blood orange and roasted beets. Brick-roasted mussels with Thai chile sauce makes a good dish to share: Just scoop up all the fiery juices with a shell or a piece of bread. And don't forget an order of Kennebec frites. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 241 S. San Pedro St. (213) 626-5299.
: No detail has been overlooked. More than three years in the making, Bottega Louie has 20-foot ceilings, more than 2,000 feet of brass millwork, marble-tiled floors, custom deli cases and tables, and about 200 employees. The kitchen handles 600 recipes for the Italian menu and the prepared dishes for the market. The bakers turn out 800 pastries a day; stacks of pastel boxes tied with silk ribbon decorate the windows at 700 S. Grand Ave. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. (213) 402-1470.
: Church & State occupies the former loading dock of downtown L.A.'s Nabisco Biscuit Co. Building, which dates from 1925 but has been recently renovated to create a series of lofts and this working-class French bistro. "Incongruous," you might say, in a neighborhood where loft dwellers may not feel comfortable walking their dogs late at night too far from the bright-lights, big-city look of this end of Industrial Street. But what a wonderful find this is in the outer reaches of downtown's arts district. Old subway tiles line the walls. Potted plants define the oh-so-French sidewalk terrace out front. And piazza lights strung across the ceiling of the large space create a festive atmosphere just as much as the terrific downtown mix of people eating and drinking. Open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Fridays, and dinner only on Saturdays and Sundays. 1859 Industrial St. (213) 405-1434.
: This purveyor of exotic grilled sausages is making it big in Downtown Los Angeles: 24 beers on tap, a collection of gourmet sodas, Belgian fries in homemade dipping sauces and a home in a big, friendly, endearingly unfinished brick building. With an enormous grill area, chef specialties such as alligator and rattlesnake and plans for ultra-late hours soon to come, Wurstkuche warrants this close-to-home trip to the beer-making capital of the world:
Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 800 E. 3rd St . (213) 687-4444.
: Run by those behind the 40-year-old El Arco Iris on York, Yxta's menu promises fresh, simple and sophisticated cocina Mexicana. Items such as Mexican sweet shrimp, salad with skirt steak and Salmon Creek slow-cooked pork with guacamole keep the tastes both authentic and interesting. The space is the old Sixth Street Bar & Grill, and what the restaurant loses in neighborhood surroundings it certainly makes up for in flavor. Don't miss the Abuelita Chocolate Cake. Open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Fridays, and dinner only on Saturdays and Sundays; closed on Sundays. 601 S. Central Ave. (213) 596-5579.
: Tucked into a charming downtown boutique hotel is this outstanding restaurant, a pleasantly sedate refuge from the hassles of city life. The restaurant recently underwent extensive renovations and emerged as a more modern and hip version of its former self. The new color scheme is ivory, taupe, black and brown and is accented with bright colors here and there. Chef Todd Allison has created a fresh, accessible menu of modern classics including pan-roasted loup de mer with braised Underwood Ranch vegetables and romesco sauce; herb-crusted rack of lamb with Rancho Gordo heirloom bean ragout, shank meat and natural jus; Gilroy roasted garlic and fava bean angnolotti with chanterelle mushrooms and crispy pancetta; and grilled Black Angus filet mignon with sauteed wild spinach, baked Yukon gold potatoes and roasted shallot demi. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 535 S. Grand Ave. (213) 624-0000.
: At this casual, Latin-themed restaurant, [John] Sedlar is sending out small plates calibrated to get even the most jaded foodie excited. He grinds his own maize for the handmade Nixtamal tortillas florales with flowers and herbs pressed into their surface. Served with a silken avocado butter, these are a must. He does the crudo genre a favor with his raw scallops garnished with cucumber, gentle horseradish pearls and ginger salsa, and reinvents chile relleno by stuffing a pickled pasilla pepper with a perfectly tuned avocado salad. Seared black cod with matchsticks of serrano ham is another beautiful tapa. Or a crispy duck leg in a Rioja and morita chile sauce. Open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Fridays, and dinner only on Saturdays and Sundays. 1050 S. Flower St. 213-749-1460.
: Much as
marks the enjoyment of French fare,
is the Spanish precedent of any tasty meal. Provecho, found Downtown, is no exception to the namesake. With bold, fresh flavors, like an Australian lobster ceviche and chicken sopes with spicy onion marmalade, this restaurant and tequila bar presents a contemporary hangout with a hard-to-beat Mexican menu and lots -- and lots -- of high-quality tequila. Creative drinks, including a mango sapphire and cilantro martini are available at Provecho's lounge, Remedy, making it a spirited spot for a fiesta. Open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Saturdays. 800 Wilshire Blvd. (213) 489-1406.
: Floor-to-ceiling windows and a turn-of-the-century tile floor belie the unassuming nature of Pete's Cafe. The bistro serves brunch every day starting at 11:30 a.m. and keeps the kitchen open till 2 a.m.--which is usually when the urge for an order of bleu cheese fries strikes. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 400 S. Main St. (213) 617-1000.
: One of Downtown's elegant options, Zucca is but one branch on the Patina Group tree. Focusing on traditional(ish) Italian food, the restaurant makes its own pastas, and fish and cheese are imported from Italy. They even import flour from Italy for the pizzas, and claim to "match the water to that used in pizzerias in Naples." We're not sure exactly what that means, but it does sound impressive. Located just a few blocks away from Staples Center, this is a good choice for pre-game or -concert dining. Open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Fridays, and dinner only on Saturdays and Sundays. 801 S. Figueroa St. (213) 614-7800.
: CASA, Downtown's thriving cocina and cantina, effortlessly embraces both the colorful spirit of Mexican cuisine and L.A.'s too-cool trendy. With an informal lunchtime taqueria menu, a chic luxury dinner menu and cocktail lounge with strong, Mexican-flavored concoctions, CASA makes guests feel right at home -- with (of course) some delicious albondigas (pork and beef meatballs),
(braised rabbit with chestnuts) or
(black bean puree, citrus marinated onions and cilantro). Fiesta-seekers can top off the evening with a nifty twist on the original Mexican beer-cocktail: una Cerveza Sangrita (house-made sangrita, Corona lager, Herradura silver tequila and a salted rim). Salud! Open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Fridays, and dinner only on Saturdays and Sundays. 350 S. Grand Ave. (213) 621-2249.
: This trendy new diner is located on a historic stretch of Main Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. Inside you're greeted with a picture-perfect model of a pre-WWII-era diner. High ceilings, vintage wallpaper, wooden tables, scuffed tile floors, cushy red leather booths and an old-school, lunch counter-style open kitchen make for a historically sentimental scene. You can almost picture John Fante ambling into this place for a cup of coffee back when Angel's Flight first ran and Bunker Hill stood proud. The menu is moderately priced and carries a roster of egg and pancake dishes along with burgers, salads, soups and vegan and vegetarian options. Open for lunch Tuesdays through Sundays; dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays; closed Mondays. 524 S. Main St. 213-623-8301.
: With a fully restored building and a true-to-tradition menu, Cole's ("Originators of the French Dip") is back, bringing the signature sandwich -- and a few new twists -- to the tables of its classic downtown location. This old-time saloon, now under the guidance of Cedd Moses and 213 Inc., also features homemade, seasonal pies (predominantly made from local farmers market produce), tasty appetizers (Americana soups and salads) and drinks (beer, wine and Moses' classic cocktails), plus a speakeasy bar soon to come. Eat cheap with the Saloon Specials, daily 4 -7 p.m. Enjoy the characteristic charm of a Los Angeles classic, and don't miss the violet mustard. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 118 E. 6th St. 213-622-4090.
: Blossom offers tasty Vietnamese grub such as pho and crepes, and an array of coffees and teas at very affordable prices -- all in an atmosphere that feels decidedly chic. Bring your own beer, sit outside and watch the street traffic go by. Open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Saturdays. 426 S. Main St. (213) 623-1973.
: The wine's the thing at Banquette, a lovely Parisian-style eatery that features an impressive wine list and an irresistible selection of homemade pastries. The romantic dining spot also features a week's worth of after-7 p.m. specials, including "The Friday Five," when five wines are featured for $5 a glass. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 400 S. Main St. (213) 626-2768.
: Downtown is now flush with the riches of Italy, as Celestino Drago invades the financial district with Drago Centro, located in an elegantly renovated former Bank of America. Like Drago's other L.A. joints, the menu at Centro is traditional Italian with a California twist and features such decadence as foie gras crème caramel and risotto cakes with octopus. Invest in some time at the bar for a glass of vino from a globally comprehensive list featuring more than 1,000 wines. For the truly exclusive, the vault has been transformed into the private dining room, complete with a flat screen showing a live feed from the kitchen. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 525 S. Flower St., Suite #120. (213) 228-8998.
: Forget all the fancy-pants highbrow downtown steakhouses that brag about their aged USDA beef and garlic mashed potatoes. The Original Pantry has been the preeminent steakhouse for picky downtown carnivores since 1924. Garlic mashed potatoes aren't on the menu, but you can order cole slaw in pint, quart or gallon sizes. A gallon serving of coffee is available for serious caffeine fiends. The Pantry's slightly shabby décor seems frozen in time, a worn slice of the 20th century that is both comforting and visually exciting compared with the sleek, modern design of many of downtown's newest generation of restaurants. Old wooden booths and fluorescent lights define the dining room. The servers, with expressive, lined faces and white coats, look like they've been working at the Pantry since 1964. Slide onto a grill-side stool and watch the chef flip cooked-to-order hunks of meat and expertly fry up hash browns. Breakfast is served 24 hours a day at the Pantry, as are the steaks. 877 S. Figueroa St. (213) 972-9279.
: Rumor has it that one sip of Ciudad's "Supremo Mojito" -- a frothy concoction of fresh mint, lime, sugar and 12-year-old Zaya Gran Reserva rum -- is enough to turn any nonbeliever into a fan of Cuba's favorite cocktail. Of course, the famed mojitos are just one of countless epiphanies in store for visitors to celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger's pan-Latin restaurant in downtown's Financial District. Other draws include the hopping weekday happy hour, paella-themed Tuesday nights, tapas-centric Sunday evenings and frequent live Latin jazz sessions on the patio. Just hearing the daily specials can be a sensual experience (i.e. Spanish rice infused with saffron, almonds, garlic and nutmeg, for example), but Ciudad regulars know to order the Peruvian ceviche with their mojito before even cracking the menu. Open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Fridays, and dinner only on Saturdays and Sundays. 445 S. Figueroa St. (213) 486-5171.
: After months of delays, the downtown outpost of wine bar BottleRock officially opened. Only a stone's throw from the recently opened Corkbar in South Park, this incarnation of Fred Hakim's popular wine bar expands on the space and the menu of the Culver City original. The downtown BottleRock's dinner menu still features cheese, charcuterie and roasted veggies, but otherwsie there's little overlap between the two locations. Executive chef Jared Levy (Providence, Blue Velvet), who oversees the menu for both, will actually be in the kitchen of the downtown venue cooking up small plates of green curry mussels, seared scallops with lamb sweetbreads, pork belly risotto, roasted bone marrow, fava and pistachio falafel and potato gnocchi, to name a few. Prices, as well as the lunch menu, haven't yet been finalized. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 1050 S. Flower St. (213) 747-1100.
: With an easygoing approach to wine, Corkbar aims to create an unpretentious tasting experience for aficionados and newbies alike. Inspired by California wine country, the bar serves a rotating selection of 40 wines by the glass and many more by the bottle in a relaxed, communal setting. Corkbar also features a selection of craft beers and farmer's market fresh food that can be enjoyed inside or on the patio. Close your eyes and it's almost like you're in Napa. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 403 W. 12th St. (213) 746-0050.
: Not surprisingly, Water Grill specializes in seafood. Not just any old seafood but dazzling and inventive seafood. You'll find no breaded clam strips here. Instead, the ever-changing menu explodes with an imaginative medley of mouth-watering creations culled from the deep sea and fresh water alike. Dungeness crab cakes with harissa, herbed cous cous and yogurt lime cucumber sauce. Slow-poached Columbia River sturgeon with roasted and pureed beets, warmed spinach and horseradish-celery sauce. The lively bar is an ideal place for walk-ins to sample oysters and appetizers. Open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Fridays, and dinner only on Saturdays and Sundays. 544 S Grand Ave. (213) 891-0900.
: High-backed booths create a private setting for dates or business deals over oysters-on-the-half-shell. If you're not into eating from the sea, check out the bar area, which offers a menu of burgers and buffalo wings. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 633 W. 5th St. (213) 629-1929.