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See Downtown Los Angeles’ World-Class Food and Bar Scene

From pupusas and vegan ramen bowls at Grand Central Market to one of the most innovative culinary spots in the entire city, take a mouth-watering tour

The Redbird restaurant opened back in 2014 under the direction of Chef Neal Fraser and his wife Amy Knoll Fraser. The restaurant has 4 different kitchens and it sits next to Vibiana, the city’s first Archdiocese Catholic cathedral, which also serves as a wedding, events and performing arts venue.

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For a crash course in Downtown Los Angeles’ culinary offerings, we visited Grand Central Market, a historic food hall which first opened in 1917. The options are head-spinning: freshly shucked oysters, artisanal egg sandwiches, wood fired pizza, Filipino rice bowls, vegan ramen.

One of the venues, Sarita’s Pupuseria, a Salvadorian food counter, has been serving gut-busting platters of plantains and pupusas (thick corn tortillas stuffed with savory fillings) since 1998. “When we opened, this was a completely different scene,” says manager Paul Serrano. “Now you’ve got one of everything up in here, and one of every type of person coming to check it out.” Here, a look at more of what DTLA is cooking up.

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Cruising DTLA

Riding through Downtown Los Angeles offers an ideal vantage to bear witness to the neighborhood’s stunning revival.

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Neal Fraser

Redbird co-owner and head chef Neal Fraser previously ran the restaurants Grace and BLD before opening his current spot, a DTLA standout located less than a half mile away from Grand Central Market. It’s quickly become an L.A. favorite not only for the menu but also for the space, which features an interior lounge and a dining room that offers a full bar and a retractable roof . The restaurant also features the Viviana event space next door which is operated by Neal Fraser and his wife Amy Knoll Fraser.

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Redbird Menu

Redbird’s menu includes a variety of appetizers, mains, desserts and a type of small plates course named “kickshaws.” The boite also offers a wide variety of wines, desserts and cocktails. 

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Grand Central Market

Originally created in 1917, the market offers a variety of foods that give a glimpse into the multi-cultural roots and different flavors of Los Angeles. 

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Sarita’s Pupuseria

Sarita’s Pupuseria is a popular spot at Grand Central Market. During the last few years, there’s been an expansive makeover at the market resulting in new vendors replacing old ones. But this spot has enjoyed consistently good word of mouth and popularity among visitors, and it was even briefly featured in Oscar-winning movie La La Land. 

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The Spread at Sarita’s

Featuring Salvadoran cuisine, Sarita’s offers a Latin food option that expands beyond the more typical Mexican cuisine seen throughout Los Angeles. 

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Pupusa

One of the most popular items at Sarita’s Pupuseria, a pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with cheese, coleslaw and spices. 

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Fernando Villagomez

La Tostaderia’s co-partner Fernando Villagomez opened the restaurant back in 2015 inside Grand Central Market. He also runs another popular spot at the market, Las Morelianas, which focuses on traditional Mexican cuisine.

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La Tostaderia

The venue combines a unique Mexican-American flavor with a variety of seafood options, including ceviche, octopus and shrimp.

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Rahul Khopkar

Rahul Khopkar is head chef of L.A.’s Ramen Hood, a 100% vegan restaurant situated at Grand Central Market. When the restaurant opened back in 2015, it was one of L.A.’s first all-vegan ramen restaurants. 

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Ramen Hood

Ramen Hood focuses on combining plant-based options that improve on the taste of the non-vegan counterpart while retaining the same texture.

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Cole’s

Cole’s is an eatery famous for its French dip sandwiches. Situated in the building of the Pacific Electric building, once part of the Pacific Electric railway network, Cole’s history goes back all the way to 1908.

In addition to the restaurant, the space also features a bar in the back, the Varnish, which opened back in 2009. The Varnish focuses on a variety of cocktails in an intimate vintage setting. 

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Max Seaman

Max Seaman, general manager of The Varnish, prepares a drink before the bar opens during the weekend. The venue, which quietly sits in the back of Cole’s restaurant, has a laid-back atmosphere with a vintage setting, making it one of the most popular watering holes in Los Angeles.

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Darren Crane

Darren Crane, owner of Crane’s bar, previously ran various bars in the city; this latest venture is meant to have a more relaxed and community-friendly vibe. Adding to the ambience, the bar has no cell phone reception – which he hopes may force people to interact with one another instead of staring at a phone. 

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