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The Downtown Boom, Phase 2: Rolling Out the Blood-Red Carpet -- Bullfighters and Happy Hours Galore

After staying apace with the rash of bar and restaurant openings in downtown Los Angeles over the past few months, now it's time to track the specials and events that these joints are offering to encourage the ballyhooed era of the "new" downtown.

John Rivera Sedlar's Rivera rolls out the symbolic blood-red carpet at a reception for photographer Michael Crouser's "Los Toros" photo series and book on Wednesday, April 15. Honoring the tradition of torero in Los Angeles is relatively rare; and the ear-cutting, kick-ass Matadora Cristina Sánchez, who retired early from bullfighting and truly earns the label of "maverick," doesn't get much mention around these parts. So it's awesome that part of the evening will include the inaugural display of Crouser's photos murals that feature Sanchez in Rivera's Sangre room. The cocktail schmooze time and book signing with Crouser goes from 5-7 p.m., followed by a $65 four-course Spanish dinner at 7 p.m. Mixologist Julian Cox's "Sanchez" cocktail will make its debut, too. 1050 S. Flower St., Downtown, (213) 749-1460 or www.riverarestaurant.com.

More relative newcomers in the area are extending regular deals in the afternoon/evening. As Daily Dish notes, "Aperitif Time" at Drago Centro means under-$10 snacks and pizza, and alcoholic beverages priced between $4 and $7 in deluxe surroundings on weekdays from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.

525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, (213) 228-8998 or www.dragocentro.com.

Meanwhile, Drago Centro's neighbor, Chaya Downtown, gets happy hour started earlier at 3 p.m. with $5 signature cocktails, apps like calamari and white anchovies, and $4 sushi rolls -- all in the convivial spirit of Asian-Mediterranean fusion partnership. No need to fight traffic during the week if you're not already in the neighborhood -- the menu is also available on Saturdays from 5-7 p.m.

525 S. Flower St., Downtown, (213) 236-9577 or www.thechaya.com/downtownLosAngeles.

Casa's Patio Party officially opens its outdoor space at California Plaza on Thursday, April 16, and benefits Grand Performances and its public music program. Starting at 11 a.m. and continuing on through the night, Casa pushes the $7 Cazadores margaritas and $4 shots, and downtown worker bees get two-for-one drink specials with the flash of a business card. The live music/ribbon cutting ceremony that we hope involves comically oversized scissors starts at 5 p.m.

350 S. Grand Ave., Downtown, (213) 621-2249 or www.casadowntown.com.

After being open for about a month, the freshest Magnolia location welcomes folks Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m. You get the happy, alcohol-spiked idea by now.

825 W. 9th St. (James M. Wood Blvd.), Downtown, (213) 362-0880 or www.magnoliala.com.

To get advance word on food and wine events in Los Angeles, as well as notes on restaurant openings and closings, plus tips on new gourmet ingredients and best buys at local farmers markets, sign up for LA Weekly's food newsletter The Gold Standard at laweekly.com.


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