Say what you will about L.A. Live and Staples Center, but it’s definitely the only place on Earth where you can watch four different pro teams, a Jaden Smith concert, a 4-D movie, and whatever it is that goes on in an “Xbox Plaza.” Which is to say, there’s a good chance you will end up here eventually. And while there are plenty of absolutely fine establishments on-site, sometimes you want something a little better than a chain restaurant. And for those times, we created this guide. Here are the best places to eat and drink when you’re around Staples and L.A. Live.
You paid top-dollar for courtside Clippers tickets and Kawhi sat out yet again due to “load management” - rather than drown your sorrows at some on-site sports bar, head to Shibumi instead. This fancy-ish Japanese restaurant has plenty of sake and unique, seasonal dishes you won’t find anywhere else, like grilled red koji duck and salmon smoked in cherry bark. Plus, it’s small and dimly lit, so no one will see you crafting that angry tweet to Steve Ballmer.
You spent the entire night with an elevated heart rate at the [insert teenage heartthrob that you’re too embarrassed to admit you spent money to see] concert, and need a place to decompress A.S.A.P. Go to Wood Spoon. Not only does this comfortable Brazilian spot serve the best chicken pot pie we’ve ever had, but their casual, colorful space is also perfect for groups, dates, and romanticizing about your totally realistic future with Shawn Mendes.
Downtown LA is about as far as you can get from Buenos Aires, but after a couple of Palomas at Barcito, you won’t even know the difference. Stop by before the game for their apertivo hour, where cocktails are $8 and come with a free trio of snacks, then return after the Lakers win for empanadas and all sorts of things cooked on the grill. And obviously more Palomas.
WP24 is at the top of the Ritz-Carlton, right next to L.A. Live, and would be worth a trip for the views alone. Luckily, the Chinese food is actually pretty good, too. This certainly isn’t the cheapest option in the area, but when the dumplings are this solid (and you’re nowhere near the SGV), we’re fine with it. Maybe wait to put on your Anthony Davis jersey until after you eat, though - things are quite fancy here.
There are more great taco spots in DTLA than confusing one-way streets, but there’s only one that reigns supreme (and is located less than a mile from Staples Center) - Sonoratown. Almost everything at this order-at-the-counter restaurant is served on their incredible house-made flour tortillas, so you can’t really go wrong no matter what you order, but our move is to get the caramelo, which is about double the size of a normal taco, and comes topped with salsa roja, avocado, and cabbage.
From the hotel lobby all the way up to the rooftop pool, The Nomad is one of the best places in LA to celebrate. This place is opulent with a capital O, and like the particularly enthusiastic Arclight employee welcoming you to your movie, is over the top in all the right ways. Before heading to L.A. Live, make your way up their incredible rooftop, which has unbeatable views of the city, servers who will actually pay attention to you, and extremely tasty cocktails poured with a heavy hand.
Whether you’re headed to a show or plan on proposing on the jumbotron during a Kings game (please do not do this), Rossoblu is the perfect place to start off a special night. One of the best Italian restaurants in the city, the salumi selection here is massive and actually meat-y, their gelato torta is decadence via chocolate cake, and the floor-to-ceiling wall mural feels you’re eating in the opening sequence of The Da Vinci Code, except without the murder or scary parts.
If you’ve got a kid on each arm and exactly one hour before Disney On Ice Presents: Mickey’s Search Party, the last thing you want is to go to some stuffy sit-down restaurant - or worse, a sports bar. Head to Superfine instead. This tiny pizza window is located next to, and run by, the people behind Rossoblu, so you know this isn’t your typical late-night slice, and although getting the spicy Salami Honey Pizza isn’t optional, sharing it with your kids 100% is.
Time for one last drink and a bite before you head home? Do it amongst the cool kids on the rooftop at the Ace Hotel. They’ve got transportation-themed cocktails, charcuterie, and a crab Benedict that allows you to act on your fanciest breakfast-for-dinner fantasies.
You’ll walk into Guisados and notice those bubbling cauldrons of stews, all looking for a home on a freshly made tortilla. The sampler, made up of six mini-tacos, is a nice introduction to the menu, but really, order whatever you feel like. There are no wrong answers. Well, maybe except for the exceedingly spicy Chiles Toreados taco, which if you’re not Superman, will very likely turn your butt into Johnny Cash singing one of his greatest hits. #RingOfFire
Admittedly, this Arts District pizza joint is about four miles east of L.A. Live. But whether it’s a bus, bike, or car ride that you’ve gotta embark on to get to this slice, you should consider doing so. The pizza game in LA has greatly improved in recent years, and this is one of our go-to late-night slice spots - be sure to try a thick piece of their tasty Sicilian pie.
Being that a meal here feels like eating off an assembly line, the sushi at Sugarfish has no right to be this good. You order a set meal and it’s served to you a piece at a time. You don’t even see the chef unless you peek into the kitchen. The conservatively vinegar-ed warm rice juxtaposes perfectly with the colder, perfectly cut fish, and there’s really not a bad thing on the menu - but you knew that already. It’s Sugarfish.
Cole’s is closer to Staples and open later, but Philippe (open until 10pm) is our favorite old-school French Dip spot. We’d go roast beef and Swiss as a baseline if it’s your first time eating here, but the lamb dip is the flavor powerhouse. We also love the sawdust on the floor, jars of pickled eggs, and cheap coffee. One warning, though: Take it easy on their powerful mustard, which packs as big a punch as a ball of wasabi.
Faith & Flower is the perfect spot for dinner before or after your next L.A. Live visit, provided you aren’t rushed for time. The food, cocktails, and atmosphere in this place are so good that you’re going to want to hang a while. Order the oxtail agnolotti and pretend you’re not sort-of thinking about skipping the show just so you can eat more.
Mexicali Taco is not really within walking distance, but it is worth the cost of an Uber to get there - just make sure you go beyond tacos when you order. The nachos topped with all three meats (chorizo, chicken, and carne asada) are amazing, the Vampiro is a garlic-accented quesadilla that is a thing of legend – particularly when topped with a fried egg – and the cachetada is a skinny, crispy tostada dressed with chipotle aioli. How good is the food at Mexicali? We’d drive crosstown at dusk in rush hour for it.
Fig at 7th is a three-level shopping center with a bunch of quality eateries in its basement food court. Our favorite snacks to grab there are the grilled meat and rice bowl at Oleego, the bánh mì at Mendocino Farms, a curry platter at Indus by Saffron, or gelato at Pazzo Gelato. There’s also a Target here in case you and your friends want to re-enact Mario Kart with shopping carts.
Elevate Wine Bar at Ralph's
No, this isn’t a joke. Or at least not entirely. Why would we recommend a run-of-the-mill supermarket as a destination near L.A. Live? Because this one has a wine-and-beer bar where it’s $3 for 8 ounces of cold draft beer. There’s also a Murray’s Cheese Shop in this Ralph’s, in case you want some triple crème brie and fancy crackers to snack on during the drive home.
Smack dab in the Bermuda Triangle stretch of the Arts District, Wurstküche has plenty of picnic tables where you and your crew can eat sausages and drink beer. Don’t mind the line stretching out the door – it’s leading to the counter where you’ll order before grabbing a seat in the large back room or the patio. Yes, they’ve got rattlesnake sausage if you’re feeling adventurous, but we usually go for the standards: Bratwurst, hot Italian, or the kielbasa. They’re also open until 1:30am every night of the week.