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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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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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