10 Things to Do in DTLA That Definitely Don't Suck

Booze it up with Tiny Rhino.
Booze it up with Tiny Rhino.
Photo by Maxwell Hamilton

OK, so you're downtown. We'd be remiss to leave you high and dry, so we scoured our 2015 Best of L.A. issue and found a slew of things to check out — from a drive-in movie theater to a great Asian market to a chiropractic genius — next time you're in the heart of the city. Hell, you might even make a special trip. 

Yuk it up on a weeknight at Good Looks
The wooden stage was built by hand. The venue looks like somebody's loft apartment. The jokes tend to be weird, surprising and/or awkward. All in all, Good Looks offers the perfect boost to a weekday night. Hosted by Portland transplants Andrew Michaan and Ian Karmel, the free show — held at 8 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month at Play, a downtown warehouse events space — brings out veteran comics and local staples who feed off the DIY atmosphere and the eager crowd as they fine-tune their repertoires and test new material. Dud sets are exceedingly rare and some of the best performances are off-the-cuff, such as the time Marc Maron riffed on the venue's crappy mic stand only to get heckled by a sound guy armed with pithy clips from Maron's own WTF podcast. —Peter Holslin

Shop for something old at Olde Good Things
One corner of Olde Good Things is jammed with mysterious unmatched industrial-chic metal doors — with or without windows — from schools or sanitariums or God knows where, arranged in easy-to-view stand-up holders. Huge iron lanterns — you couldn't say chandeliers, exactly, about these hefty orbs — hang from the ceiling in blazing glory. There's a carved treasure chest in which you could fit a one-eyed dog, if you needed to. You stop counting at about 200 or so crystal late–19th century doorknobs. You can get separated from your friends in this meandering antique store of all antique stores, hard by the 10 freeway just south of the Convention Center and a stone's throw from L.A. Trade Tech College. The proprietor calls it "the place of the architecturologists," which seems apt given the great piles of wonderful old tiles and drawer pulls and "antique" slabs of wood, all going for a pretty penny. —Jill Stewart

Stock up on veggies at Urban Radish
Pasture-raised local eggs with brown and green speckles. Homemade sausage. Baskets of colorful farm-to-store sweet peppers. Raisins on the vine. Urban Radish is every foodie's dream grocery store. Owner and passionate food enthusiast Keri Johnson envisioned it as an extension of her own pantry at home, with the added mission of bringing together the Arts District community. Johnson and daughter Mackenzie curate everything down to the most minute detail, including the pickled red onions on the delicious Dragon Chicken sandwich, which has become a neighborhood favorite. Tuesday is Oyster and Wine Night, while Wednesday night is for jazz and grilled meats. In the morning there is an omelette bar and world-class breakfast burritos, served by employees sourced from Homeboy Industries, yet another way that Urban Radish gives back to the community. —Isaac Simpson

Broaden your gastronomic horizons at Little Tokyo Market Place
Sure, downtown L.A. could use more grocery stores. But it already has the best of the best. Little Tokyo Market Place is prepared for every craving, with a sushi stand, noodle kiosks, ready-to-eat roasted mackerel and kimchi pancakes, not to mention wells of pre-marinated bulgogi. In the mood for salty Japanese snack chips and a tallboy of Yebisu? Yep, got that. What about tea time with sweet-potato pastries and soft donuts stuffed with blueberry cream? On it. Plates of sashimi and salmon eggs? Um, duh. Unlike most specialized Asian groceries, Little Tokyo Market Place also stocks all the essentials, and even hipster nonessentials — DTLA health nuts will be happy to find a full shelf of kombucha. The first thing you see when you enter is a sprawling produce section with every vegetable you'll need for whatever cuisine you're fancying. And if you arrive on the right day, wander toward the tank of live crabs and you might find a butcher slicing up a 4-foot-long tuna. —Amy Nicholson

Get an attitude and spinal adjustment at Kleinbart Synergistic Chiropractic
Armed with an uber-expansive arsenal of ever-more-out-there alternative modalities, Dr. Sally Kleinbart is so much more than a next-level, amazing chiropractor. She is a straight-up, full-service, medicine woman. Kleinbart, who works out of a DTLA high-rise, is a veritable master of structural integrity. Intuitive, educated and experienced, with a strong and varied yoga/pilates/ballet background, Kleinbart pulls from a seemingly endless array of techniques: Quantum kinetics, network spinal analysis and integrative body psychotherapy are a few of the approaches she employs with ninja-like precision in alchemically awesome ways in service to her clients' well-being. Her fundamental approach is simple: Guide the body into structural alignment, whereupon its self-correcting nature will take over and make the necessary adjustments to rebalance the system, guided by its own infinite intelligence. Genius, right? —Dani Katz
  If it's March, buy a book or twenty at Downtown Bookfest
Spring is book festival season in Los Angeles, and the best place to quench your thirst for local authors and interactive literary activities is downtown. For four years, Grand Park has partnered with indie publisher Writ Large and other local literary organizations to host Downtown Bookfest every March. There's no shortage of fun for families, writers and book lovers. You can create an anthology of typewriter poems written by other visitors, listen to "post-English" literary readings in Mandarin, Spanish, Polish and Yiddish, swap cookbooks and kids' books, write a children's story and see it performed, contribute a line to a collaboratively written story or just sprawl in the grass under the shade canopies and read a book by one of the 200 local authors featured in the festival's pop-up bookstore. Grand Park is the park for everyone, and Downtown Bookfest is the people's book festival. —Jessica Langlois

Nosh on some lox at Wexler's Deli
At Wexler's Deli in Grand Central Market, chef Micah Wexler is smoking all his own fish to great success. He also makes his own pastrami, has bread and bagels baked to his specifications and generally obsesses about every aspect of his small deli operation. But what has us completely smitten with Wexler's is the lox. Slick, supple and delicate, the cured salmon tastes like a rushing mountain river in the same way an ultra-fresh oyster tastes like the soul of the ocean. There's something in the flavor and texture that's wildly ethereal, a delicacy made all the more precious because of its affordability: At $11 for a bagel with lox, cream cheese and thinly sliced red onions, you could indulge in this breakfast regularly without fear of going broke. —Besha Rodell

Step inside the past at the Palace Theatre 
Each of the renovated vintage movie theaters along Broadway has its own distinct features and unusual charms. The lobby at the Theatre at Ace Hotel is an imposing, churchlike chamber encrusted with ornate gold furnishings and gigantic mirrors, while the Los Angeles Theatre opens up like a Swiss army knife with a series of hidden rooms, including an underground ballroom, soundproof crying rooms and smoking booths, and a circus-themed playroom for children. But the Palace is the oldest and perhaps the grandest of the surviving theaters. It was originally called the Orpheum when it opened in 1911 as part of the Orpheum circuit of vaudeville venues, but the name was changed to the Palace after the nearby Orpheum Theatre was constructed in 1926. Designed by G. Albert Lansburgh, the Palace has hosted such luminaries as Sophie Tucker, the Marx Brothers and Sarah Bernhardt, and the large stage still includes a secret trap door used by Houdini during one of his famous disappearing acts. Thanks to the efforts of philanthropist Ezat Delijani and his family, the theater was painstakingly restored and is finally hosting concerts and film screenings again. —Falling James

Upcoming Events

See a film al fresco at Electric Dust Drive-In
Electric Dusk Drive-In isn't quite the last of a dying breed, but it is an endangered species. The number of drive-ins has dwindled in recent decades, so it's lucky for us that we still have a great one in the center of Los Angeles. An arresting view of the downtown skyline makes for a picturesque backdrop behind the screen, which plays cult favorites (The Big Lebowski) as well as more serious offerings (Rosemary's Baby) alike. The snack shack has burgers, hot dogs and other fare, and those who don't feel like watching from their car are welcome to partake in the lawn-style Astroturf seats — they're closest to the screen, and outdoor speakers ensure that all assembled will hear everything as clearly as they would from their radio. Pets are welcome too, so bring your dog Inigo to The Princess Bride if you want him to know where his name came from. —Michael Nordine

Booze it up at a show with Ugly Rhino/Tiny Rhino
The stage has never exactly been a stranger to strong drink. Dionysus was the Greek god of wine as well as of theater, and his annual spring festival of riotous drinking and dancing and playgoing (sort of ancient Athens' answer to Burning Man) gave birth to Greek tragedy. But UglyRhino Productions is uniquely dedicated to resurrecting those Dionysian spirits. Its specialty is accenting the imagined worlds of its immersive shows with mind-expanding concoctions served during the action. A recent evening included a tongue-scorching habanero-peach bourbon infusion, and a scene that audibly fizzled and crackled courtesy of a lemon-infused vodka soda over Pop Rocks. Its popular once-a-month TinyRhino drinking game features audiences quaffing eye-popping mixtures — such as its best-selling Stumptown Hair Bender Espresso-Vanilla Bean–Infused Vodka — whenever actors speak a selected phrase of dialogue. Best of all is the postshow partying and dancing, which continues into the wee hours. —Bill Raden


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