Surprise, surprise! DTLA has been listed at the tippy top of several travel lists for 2014. GC magazine declared that “America’s Next Best City is inside LA” — declaring DTLA one of the coolest places in the country (!) and the New York Times listed DTLA as their #5 recommendation of 52 spots for the year.
The GC article is worth reading, not because of any significant cultural insights, but because it tracks the development of several chefs and restaurants that have made downtown’s food so exciting in recent years. If you haven’t spent any time dining downtown in the past year, make that your New Year’s Resolution!
The New York Times article, as posted online, is a sumptuous display of photos and will have you drooling as you dial your travel agent, or while a few hours away on Kayak. Nonetheless, DTLA is #5 world wide – here are a few of the reasons we think it’s worthy of exploration in 2014.
1. The Grand Central Market:
No matter why we’re downtown (see below), we always save time for the Grand Central Market — a huge city block full of food and adventure for all. Over the years, the market has served downtown’s changing community (click here for a brief history of the place), but in the last year has made a seismic shift from traditional vegetable stalls that served the working class local community (and provided affordable and authentic chow for office workers) to a destination in keeping with NYC’s Chelsea Market or SF’s Ferry Building.
Although still under the control of the same family that has run the market for over 20 years, the shift is radical. Some pundits are wary that the old vendors will be pushed away (Read Steve Lopez), but others claim the space provides a legitimate blending of high-low culture unique anywhere else in LA.
Either way – shouldn’t we all explore and support this delicious, changing landscape? (Hint – if you have jury service downtown, this is undoubtedly where you’ll go for lunch). Here is a link to all the vendors.
We love both EggSlut and Thai Sticky Rice, and also thought that DTLA Cheese looked pretty great (just didn’t have enough time to sample!). The BBQ at Horse Thief is tremendous, and it’s particularly nice to sit below the Angel Flight and let the kids watch the trams ride up and down the hill.
2. The Culture (and the Shopping):
Besides the excellent dining and the surging art scene, we go downtown for a few things on a regular basis. One is for culture — the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Music Center, and MOCA top that list – and we write about these places on a regular basis. All three offer excellent opportunities for families on a regular basis, notably the Toyota Symphonies for Youth at WDCH, the World City concerts, and anything at Grand Park.
The other thing we travel readily for is discounted shopping – whether at the Flower Mart (click here for a Kids Off the Couch article about this adventure, which is great for all ages), or when we’re on the hunt for excellent discounted fabrics or jewelry (which are adventures worthy of another post).
3. DTLA Flea
We have hob mobbed at the DTFlea a few times, and can report that it will soon be a weekly (not a monthly) event. As in, each Sunday, starting 1/26, you’ll be able to bring the family and browse the tables of handmade and found items to your heart’s content. Here is the event info, including a map.
Best advice: Treat yourself like a VIP and purchase tickets in advance to avoid the long lines! The items tend toward the crafty, but there are fun food trucks and lots of interesting folks who show up so it’s certainly worth a few hours of your time, especially if you pair it with some other DTLA exploring.
As with any cultural proclamation, there are plenty of dissenters. Here’s the LA Weekly on why all this “coolness” isn’t!
One Final Note: There is apparently a craft booth in the Grand Central Market on Sundays — would love to hear from a reader who has participated!