Dear Mr. Gold:
What's the best neighborhood in L.A. to live in if you don't have a car? Purely within the gastronomical interest, of course.
—Sophia Lee, via Facebook
Dear Ms. Lee:
Although my first impulse was to nominate San Gabriel or Monterey Park, where the culinary fireworks can be intense, I'm kind of leaning toward downtown, especially the Arts District. Not only are there a lot of great places to eat within walking distance — Rivera, the Nickel Diner, Drago Centro, Wood Spoon, Tiara, Bottega Louie, Border Grill, Chaya Downtown, maybe Pete's and Cole's — but the ramen parlors and late-night izakayas of Little Tokyo are right there, and the restaurants in Chinatown, which may not be what they were in the '80s but are still something, are just a bit farther when the urge for dim sum or pho happens to strike. After rush hour, Arts District streets are almost fixie-friendly. If your tastes run in a tamer direction, the L.A. Live complex is home to as many chain restaurants as any suburban mall.
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And the trains are right there, which means you have a quick, straight shot to the Mexican restaurants of Boyle Heights and Garvanza; to the Oaxacan and Korean restaurants on mid-Wilshire; to Langer's and the Guatemalan restaurants near MacArthur Park; to the Cambodian restaurants in Long Beach; and to the Hollywood Farmers Market, among many, many options. The bicycle enthusiasts in Highland Park may beg to differ, but downtown may be the only part of Los Angeles where a car is almost optional. And thanks largely to Cedd Moses, who opens not just decent bars but lots of them, there are places to drink, ranging from King Eddy's to the Varnish — even the staunchest of motorists will envy your tottering-distance proximity to them.