Vartan Abgaryan is in the midst of falling in love with downtown L.A. The chef, who recently left Cliff's Edge in Silver Lake in order to lead the kitchen at 71Above atop the US Bank Tower, moved downtown so he could immerse himself in the neighborhood he'll soon be serving. While 71Above isn't slated to open for a few more months, Abgaryan has spent his time (in between menu planning) discovering all that's great to eat in his new ’hood. There is so much to love, he told us, that it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 eateries. But he managed it — here are his picks.
10. Daily Dose Cafe
"Tucked down an alley off Industrial Street, the setting takes you to another place — it almost doesn’t feel like L.A. Sarkis Vartanian is a man on a mission to make healthy, delicious, organic food. The Margo sandwich and the Farmer are my go-tos, but honestly, everything is really good. Great coffee, too!" 1820 Industrial St., downtown. (844) 932-4593, dailydosela.com.
"I’ve spent a lot of time at Takami over the last several months, planning the new 71Above menu with owner Emil Eyvazoff. I love the robata selection, and also the fact that at 21 floors up, it’s a teaser for the views that we’ll have 71 floors up at 71Above! Business meetings are very painless in a place like this." 811 Wilshire Blvd., downtown. (213) 236-9600, takamisushi.com.
8. Library Bar
"Can't say too much other than that I live in the same building that houses Library Bar. I get to grab a drink and don't need to worry about driving. It's small, the drinks are really good, and the staff is really nice. What else can you ask from your neighborhood bar?" 630 W. Sixth St., downtown. (213) 614-0053, librarybarla.com.
7. The Original Pantry
"No visit is complete without an order of the pancakes. Love the feel of the place, old-school and nostalgic. Love the thick-cut pork chops and the ham steak." 877 S. Figueroa St., downtown. (213) 972-9279, pantrycafe.com.
6. BierBeisl Imbiss
"The first time I ate at BierBeisel I left completely amazed at how good the food was. Then they moved downtown for a more comfortable, relaxed space, which is perfect for me. The kaesekrainer is a fantastic Swiss cheese–infused Polish sausage and is totally addictive." 541 S. Spring St., downtown. (213) 935-8035, bierbeisl-imbiss.com.
"This has always been a favorite for me, but it's much easier to get to now that I live in downtown. I love the ramen with extra pork fat, but whichever I get, I also get another to go so that I can have it again the next day!" 327 E. First St., downtown. (213) 626-1680, dkramen.com.
"Not really surprised that RiceBar is as good as it is, especially since Charles Olalia comes from such an amazing cooking background. The rice bowls are great and fast, and I live one block away. I walk over for a quick lunch and to catch up with a friend. My favorite is probably the pork longganisa with garlic fried rice." 419 W. Seventh St., downtown. (213) 807-5341, ricebarla.com.
"You can't go wrong with any Josef Centeno place, but I could eat at Ledlow every day. I love that even a simple salad is absolutely delicious. I love that you’re right in the heart of it all, and locals bump into one another there all the time, just in passing." 400 S. Main St., downtown. (213) 687-7015, ledlowla.com.
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2. Grand Central Market
"The burger at Belcampo or the pastrami at Wexler's are both great, but the coffee shake at G&B is a serious addiction. I love the new Grand Central Market, but I’m glad that some of the longtime vendors are still there, alongside these great new places." 317 S. Broadway, downtown. (213) 624-2378, grandcentralmarket.com.
1. Broken Spanish
"Love this place. Without a doubt one of the best restaurants in the city. At one point, I ate there six days in a row and had to stop myself from going back a few days later. The chicharron is the best pork dish in L.A.!" 1050 S. Flower St., downtown. (213) 749-1460, brokenspanish.com.