This must be the Arts District

Visitors don’t come to the Arts District to escape from city life: This is downtown Los Angeles, and the neighborhhood is gritty. But it’s also a vortex of creative energy with a thriving community built on legacies of art, punk and industry.

Get to know Los Angeles through the places that bring it to life. From restaurants to shops to outdoor spaces, here’s what to discover now.

The Arts District has its own urban geography: Sandwiched between the Los Angeles River rail yards and Alameda Street, its bridges and roads are thoroughfares for commuters and freight barreling to and from the nearby 10, 101 and 5 freeways.

Here among the warehouses and truck depots is a nexus of independent galleries, public art, edgy shops and some of the best restaurants and cafes in the country. Just beyond 1st Street was the city’s original red-light district. And before it was the Arts District, the area was known as the Warehouse District. Continuous new construction — including its first (and controversial) high-rise — promises future transformation.

Downtown is made up of several neighborhoods, and over the course of a decade I’ve lived in its Historic Core, Little Tokyo and Arts District, each of them profoundly distinct. Friends in the core jokingly call the Arts District “the suburbs of downtown.”

That’s partly because the Alameda corridor divides it from the more densely populated historic center, Skid Row, Little Tokyo and Olvera Street. It’s also subtextual commentary on the sprawl of housing and retail developments, encroaching on the once-inexpensive lofts that drew artists here in the first place. (What used to be a bar that was the epicenter of L.A. punk rock is now a store selling T-shirts that say “Brentwood Swim Club.”)


But the idiosyncratic spirit of the Arts District remains palpable. At night, thumping warehouse raves at the southernmost part of the neighborhood, impromptu takeovers on the 6th Street Bridge (fireworks and drag races included), and swirls of people around the bars and galleries at Joel Bloom Square, which is actually a triangle, are reminders of the brilliance and allure of living in a city where it feels as if anything can happen.

The late Bloom, with the eponymous “square,” was a beloved community activist who owned a general store on Hewitt Street. “I get a feeling here I haven’t gotten anywhere else,” he said in a 1994 interview with the L.A. Times. “It may look desolate, but it’s not. There’s no place I’d rather be.”

On the south fringes are abandoned buildings, piles of detritus, parked big rigs. But also, members-only club Soho House; Maru, arguably the most stylish coffee shop in L.A.; Bestia, one of the hardest reservations anywhere; and avant-garde clothing boutiques such as H. Lorenzo and Dover Street Market. Some alleyways you avoid, and some lead you to a secret movie theater, mural, gym, tea house or tacos.

The north half of the Arts District is a playland of bars, breweries, restaurants, galleries and stores. The international art gallery Hauser & Wirth established itself as a central hub when it debuted in a former flour mill on 3rd Street in the spring of 2016. But the artist ghosts of another generation might haunt the American Hotel (the building with Kent Twitchell’s giant mural of Ed Ruscha overlooking Bloom Square) around the corner on Traction, where the punk scene at legendary Al’s Bar blazed in anarchic fashion until the club closed in 2001. They probably never expected a Kreation juice bar would open across the street.


Nearly 200 years ago the whole area was the source of a different kind of juice: cabernet. Those vineyards gave way in the late 19th century to orange and grapefruit groves, where the story of the Arts District as we know it began. The warehouses and depots built to support the packing and shipping of citrus laid the foundation for the neighborhood’s architectural character (which also helps make it one of the world’s most filmed locations). Factories overtook the citrus groves, and when the factories emptied between the ’50s and ’70s, artists moved in, creating live-work spaces.

Jump to the present, and the 35-story mixed-use high-rise looming above the 4th Street Bridge is nearing completion. (It was connected to a corruption scandal centered on former City Councilmember Jose Huizar and bribes from real estate developers.) Several hundred new apartments have been built at Alameda and Industrial, with more to come. Film production studios are taking over old warehouses. A brand-new shopping center on Traction called Signal brings luxe retailers including Flamingo Estate, M5 Shop, Lawson Fenning and Alchemy Works.

The neighborhood keeps changing. For many who live, work and play here, there’s still no place they’d rather be.

What's included in this guide

Anyone who’s lived in a major metropolis can tell you that neighborhoods are a tricky thing. They’re eternally malleable and evoke sociological questions around how we place our homes, our neighbors and our communities within a wider tapestry. In the name of neighborly generosity, we included gems that may linger outside of technical parameters. Instead of leaning into stark definitions, we hope to celebrate all of the places that make us love where we live.

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Undiscovered America Mural on the East 4th street in the Arts District neighborhood.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

View the 'Undiscovered America' mural on 4th Street

Downtown L.A. Public art
Murals are part of the fabric of the Arts District’s street-art scene, one of the most vibrant in the world, with some of the most iconic graffiti and paintings in Los Angeles. That includes “Undiscovered America.” Originally painted by Earth Crew 2000 in 1992 to honor Native cultures, the mural is pivotal for several reasons. The same year, L.A. was rocked by the Rodney King riots. Earth Crew 2000 notably brought together graffiti artists from several crews to promote nonviolence and environmentalism. Though street murals began showing up in L.A. decades earlier, “Undiscovered America” was among a new wave to be spray-painted graffiti-style, bridging the gap between traditional muralists and taggers. It depicts Native nations in North, Central and South America and a medicine wheel as a symbol of healing. The collective restored the mural five years ago.

You’ll see dozens of murals throughout the Arts District, including JR’s Wrinkles of the City, La Abuelita by El Mac, Ed Ruscha by Kent Twitchell and Jen Stark’s Chromatic Cascade.
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A cream-top coffee at the Maru Coffee shop in the Arts District neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles.
(Silvia Rázgová / For the Times)

Start your day with a Cream Top at Maru coffee shop

Downtown L.A. Coffeehouse
Anywhere you find yourself in the Arts District, you’re probably within a few blocks of an excellent coffee shop. Each has its own appeal. Hyperlocal Etiquette and Eightfold serve residents of nearby buildings. The flagship L.A. location of Verve has soaring ceilings and bay windows. Efficient and friendly Blue Bottle opens at 6:30 a.m. Rykn serves a naha fizz with espresso and yuzu.

But Maru Coffee does stand out as a local company roasting its own beans with attention paid to its brewing techniques, service, design and atmosphere. Bigger than the original Los Feliz location, the downtown Maru here usually has a shorter line but can get crowded, especially on the weekends.

It’s most well-known specialty drink is probably the Cream Top, a take on the popular-in-Korea versions of the Viennese Einspänner, which is usually iced coffee topped with thick whipped cream. Was Maru the first to introduce the Korean-style Einspänner to L.A.? Maybe. Regardless, its rich, sweet whipped cream layer is so lush it’s velvety.
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Diners enjoy a late morning breakfast at the Guerrilla Cafecito.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

You're here for the breakfast burrito at Guerrilla Cafecito

Downtown L.A. Mexican
Guerrilla Tacos started as a food truck here in the Arts District. It used to park in front of Handsome Coffee (now Blue Bottle) on Mateo and Willow and created culinary shockwaves when it first started serving tacos with fillings such as sweet potatoes and almond salsa or duck breast and Cara Cara oranges. (The late L.A. Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold referred to them as tasting-menu dishes that happened to be composed on tortillas.)

Now, Guerrilla Tacos is the full-fledged restaurant helmed by Brittney Valles (which offers excellent tacos and a compelling tequila and mezcal list). Right next door is Guerrilla Cafecito, serving coffee and breakfast daily. Locals (and visitors to the neighborhood) come for the hefty breakfast burrito, larger than a brick, known as the GTLA burrito. It’s stuffed with eggs, steak, hash browns, cheese, avocado and salsa. It’s big enough to share.
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Merchandise on display at The Good Liver.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

Shop for City Pop records and home goods at the Good Liver

Downtown L.A. Home store
The Good Liver home goods shop feels like a gallery, with displays of Japanese glassware and knives, British tea pots, Korean incense holders and more. The personal selection of artisan crafts collected by founder Bert Youn might also include wood bird callers, porcelain figurines, brass flower vases and steel fabric scissors, as well as Teutonic soaps and U.S.-made leather work gloves.

An elegant tea bar in one corner of the store is a fairly recent addition, featuring teas from Kettl and occasional tastings and classes. And Youn keeps expanding. If you’re a fan of City Pop — the style of Japanese pop music associated with emerging Western influences in the 1970s and ’80s — newly custom-built shelving holds a collection of LPs. And through a side door, a new stationery shop is now connected to the store.
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People mingle and dine on food-truck offerings in Smorgasburg at ROW.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

If it's Sunday, it's Smorgasburg

Downtown L.A. Food market
Row DTLA is home to the weekly outdoor food fest Smorgasburg. On Sundays, food trucks and stands representing experimental culinary ventures from across the city come together on the five-acre site of the Alameda Produce Market at this retail and restaurant complex. Smorgasburg director Zach Brooks orchestrates the congregation, which also serves as an incubator for vendors that might launch businesses beyond the market.

Crowds beeline it for Chimmelier’s Korean fried chicken sandwiches. But also try Goat Mafia’s birria tacos in the “L.A. style,” with a cheesy crust; Love Hour smashburgers; pork belly breakfast tacos at Macheen; and Kinrose’s Middle Eastern ice cream in flavors such as brown sugar and spiced walnut, topped with crumbled baklava. The Armenian skewers grilled over almond wood at III Mas Barbecue are spectacular, marinated with Chaldean curry, tamarind and tarragon, and served with aish baladi pita.

The new year always brings a new lineup of vendors. And every quarter, the Smorgasburg L.A. Art Fair, curated by the neightborhood’s Art Share L.A., features artisan vendors and live performances for a day of music, art and food.
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An exterior of Dover Street Market near the Sixth Street Viaduct in the Arts District.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

For avant-garde fashion, step into Dover Street Market

Downtown L.A. Clothing store
Art meets fashion at Dover Street Market, the retail creation of Comme des Garçcons designer Rei Kawakubo and her husband, the fashion label’s president, Adrian Joffe. The first location opened nearly 20 years ago on Dover Street in London. The Arts District store debuted in 2018, a 15,000-square-foot boutique-meets-gallery designed by Kawakubo in a nearly windowless white brick building in the shadow of the 6th Street Bridge.

It’s a maze of cutting-edge fashion in here. Brands are organized between art installations — from artists such as Bjorn Dahlem, Yuichi Higashionna, Gary Card, Stuart Haygarth, Warren Muller, Lyn Dillin, Some labels you might recognizes, and some you might not. Find the latest sneaker collab between Bone Soda and Salomon, watches collected by Dimepiece, Cecilie Bahnsen and Bottega Veneta pre-spring 2024 collections, and rare Hermès bags curated by vintage-shop-to-the-stars What Comes Around Goes Around.

The in-store cafe is Rose Carrarini’s Rose Bakery, with a sunny patio out back.
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People peruse books from Bookshelf Residency display at the Contemporary Art LA.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Move over, MOCA. Check out the Institute of Contemporary Art

Downtown L.A. Art Museum
In a former warehouse on industrial 7th Street, the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles’s rotating exhibits are intimate and experimental with an original curatorial perspective. The exhibit “Barbara T. Smith: Proof” — a survey of the Pasadena-based performance and conceptual artist’s six-decade career — was named one of the best museum shows of 2023 by L.A. Times art critic Christopher Knight. The show included Smith’s fascinating “The Celebration of the Holy Squash, 1971,” a religious ceremony centered on a giant Hubbard squash, which she created as a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine.

The flexible art hall is also a community space. A recent neighborhood posada gathered attendees for an art workshop with Milatido and Mercedes Getz and an exhibit by elementary students at Para Los Niños, whose charter school is located down the street. Families sat at long tables wrapping yarn around tree branches, sharing tamales and champurrado and listening to live band Cumbia Quest.

ICALA’s bookshelf residency promotes local booksellers and independent publishers, showcasing titles available for sale and public programs. Browse the shelves, which recently featured concept bookshop Reparations Club and titles including Marilyn Nance’s “Last Day in Lagos,” Nadine Ijewere’s “Our Own Selves,” and “Forothermore” by Nick Cave.

Also, the museum is free.
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A pair of David Kawecki Puzzle Chairs stands on display at the Motley Design Warehouse.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

Find midcentury modern treasures at Motley

Downtown L.A. Vintage store
Looking for a Paul McCobb bar cart? Fratelli Mannelli travertine giraffe sculptures? What about Walter Castle’s Molar Chair, the brightly colored one from the late 1960s with curves that made it resemble a giant tooth? You might find any of these at Motley’s downtown warehouse.

Motley specializes in vintage midcentury modern designs from Denmark and modern and contemporary art from California. Its 7th Street showrooms are packed with furniture — dining chairs, tables, desks, sofas, rugs and textiles, tableware and shelving, such as the modular 1970s Cado Royal System. A small space is devoted to vintage clothing. Find daily sale items in its outdoor parking lot.
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Carnitas Taco and Fish Flauta at Ditroit Taqueria on Friday June 30th 2023 in Los Angeles, CA.
(Andrea D’Agosto / For The Times)

Snack on a crispy flauta in a back alley at Ditroit Taqueria

Downtown L.A. Mexican
Chef Jesus “Chuy” Cervantes created the taqueria menu at Ditroit, located behind its sister restaurant Damian (both are from Mexico City chef and restaurateur Enrique Olvera). The taqueria gets its name from the Mexican slang “por ditroit,” or behind, referring to Ditroit’s location in Damian’s back alley, a fitting location for this part of the Arts District, where industrial alleyways are filled with the surprising (sometimes good, sometimes bad — and in this case great).

The tortilla for long, crispy-crunchy flautas are filled with swordfish and fried in rice bran oil, then topped with shredded lettuce, salsa de aguacate, crème fraîche and queso fresco. Each bite is an explosion of textures and flavors.
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Ana Matsubara practices her craft before a class at Still Life, a pottery studio and store, in the Arts District neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

Take a pottery workshop at Still Life Ceramics Studios

Downtown L.A. Ceramics studio
Neighborhood ceramics studio Still Life is expanding; the space soon will double in size, taking over the adjacent storefront that used to house the Spirit Guild distillery on Mateo Avenue. Owners Ana Henton and Mel Keedle have built a community hub for potters. In addition to a retail space featuring local ceramic artists, the studio hosts classes on handbuilding, using the potter’s wheel, specialty glazes, slipcasting and more. But you don’t need to be a proficient or even very committed pottery student.

Classes include one-hour workshops, such as its Bowl in One lesson offered on Fridays and Sundays: Sign up to learn how to throw a bowl on the potter’s wheel, no experience necessary. Make a bowl, then choose a glaze; the studio will glaze and fire it for you (you’ll pick up your finished piece on a later date).
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A customer chacks out the books at Hennessey + Ingalls, an art, architecture and design bookstore in the Arts District neighborhood.
(Silvia Razgova / For the Times)

Buy an art book or magazine at Hennessey + Ingalls

Boyle Heights Book Store
The northern wall of books at Hennessey + Ingalls is a good place to start exploring, where titles organized by artist line the shelves, from A to Z (from radical Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz to 16th century Italian painter Taddeo Zuccari). Or go straight to the magazine stand that lines the front windows to browse the large selection of print media. If you’re a magazinehead looking for the latest Cabana, Juxtapoz, Art in America, Hi-Fructose, Gentlewoman, Apartamento, Konfekt, Numéro or Vogue México, see you there.

With its roll-up garage door and inviting sunlit windows, Hennessey + Ingalls’ Arts District location makes for a casually edifying midafternoon pit stop. The family-owned store moved from the Westside (remember when it was on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica?) to the Arts District in 2016, across the street from SCI-Arc architecture school. Founded by Reginald Hennessey 60 years ago, it’s the largest art, architecture and design bookstore in the western U.S. It’s no wonder that art directors come to shop the in-depth selection of books on art and art history, architecture, photography, interior design, graphic design and landscaping.

Love art books? See also Hauser & Wirth and the rotating library at the Institute of Contemporary Art.
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 A visitor enjoys late-afternoon sunshine at the courtyard garden of Hauser & Wirth Downtown Los Angeles.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

Find a secret wildlife habitat at Hauser & Wirth

Downtown L.A. Art Museum
The international art gallery Hauser & Wirth has become a cornerstone of the Arts District since it opened several years ago in a Neoclassical former bank building plus a complex of warehouses that once served as a flour mill on 3rd Street. The Artbook store alone is worth a visit, but there’s also a restaurant, Manuela, and a wide breezeway that leads to an open-air courtyard.

Spaces that hint at the natural world are few to none in the Arts District, but you can find respite in the garden here, a hidden gem that is a certified wildlife habitat recognized by the National Wildlife Federation. Raised beds of herbs and vegetables are maintained for Manuela; a coop is dedicated to chickens; native plants flourish. If you’ve been walking around all day, the courtyard and garden are an idyllic place to rest.

Certainly, you should visit the exhibits, which recently have included works from artists such as Mike Kelley, Louise Bourgeois and Harmony Korine. But the bookstore, courtyard, garden (and chickens) also beckon.
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An audio system on display of Common Wave Hi-Fi.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

Geek out on world-class audio gear at Common Wave Hi-Fi

Boyle Heights Electronics
This is an audiophile wonderland, a store designed for the exploration of stereo gadgetry. Common Wave is where dream systems are realized. But you don’t have to be an audio expert to appreciate the showroom, made up of several listening spaces that feature distinct configurations of digital and analog equipment, including cult-favorite loudspeakers (Ojas, Devore Fidelity, Graham, Harbeth, etc.), various integrated or tube amps, and turntables, many of which look like pieces of art.

Founder Wesley Katzir guides customers through different audio scenarios and discusses what kind of music you like, and where you’re listening to it, to help figure out your setup. The store also hosts occasional events: musical performances, DJ sets, listening parties.

Walk into Common Wave and the first thing you’ll see are the records, a good place to start if you’re not in the market for a new stereo. But you probably soon will be.
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Mini bikes riders, some from the 605 Minibike Gang, hang out on the Sixth Street Viaduct, aka the Sixth Street Bridge.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Take a sunset stroll on the 6th Street Bridge

Downtown L.A. Historic landmark
The 3,500-foot-long concrete and steel 6th Street Viaduct looms large in the southeastern Arts District. The bridge — whose designers also called it the Ribbon of Light because of its tilted arches, illuminated by colored LED lights — stretches from Boyle Heights, over the 101 Freeway and L.A. River, to downtown. It has become a civic structure in ways both intended and not, part of its charm. Locals launch fireworks from it, use Bird scooters to do doughnuts, throw impromptu parties.

It’s a good-time bridge that also affords stunning sunset and sunrise vistas of the downtown and Boyle Heights skylines. To the north you can see all the way to the San Gabriel mountains. It’s also a great vantage point for viewing the murals below, including Royyal Dog’s “Peace to You,” depicting Rihanna in traditional Korean hanbok. And it has its own social charisma. Joggers and flaneurs from both sides of the bridge always say hello when passing each other. Where else in L.A. does that happen?

Pro tip: You can take a partial walk across the bridge by using the helical ramps at about its halfway point. The spiral walkway leads to an undercrossing that takes you to the other side.
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The dining room inside Yess Aquatic restaurant located in the Arts District.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Try for a bar seat at Zen-like Yess and order chirashi

Downtown L.A. Japanese
Junya Yamasaki, chef at the helm of Yess, has a gentle yet laser-focused approach to cooking with the seasons, highlighting local seafood and vegetables. Located in a former bank building on 7th Street that was empty for decades, the restaurant is sleek, beautiful and uniquely equipped, with a wood-fired range and robata grill (and a manually cranked machine for desserts of spectacular shaved ice).

His dish called monk’s chirashi is inspired by time spent cooking at a Buddhist monastery outside of Kyoto: a bowl of seasoned rice topped with pristine vegetables, nuts and/or fruit, such as walnuts smoked in their own shells, dried sliced mandarins, Asian pear, roast pumpkin and pickled sunchokes. The dining room is reserved for tasting menus, but at the long wood bar (each of the 42 seats are made from surplus wood from Ise Jingu shrine in Japan) you can order a la carte, available for walk-ins only. It is worth giving it a shot.
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Diners enjoy the diner service at Baroo, a modern Korean restaurant in the Arts District neighborhood.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

Book a 'cycle of life' tasting menu at Baroo

Downtown L.A. Korean
This is the second incarnation of Baroo, the beloved restaurant from chef Kwang Uh that used to be an experimental cafe located next to a 7-Eleven in East Hollywood. He and his wife and partner, Mina Kim, opened the new Baroo in the Arts District last year, serving only tasting menus, and you will need a reservation. When you do score a table (or even better, seats at the chef’s counter), you will be in for a ride. Uh is known for his transformative flavors, sometimes sparkly and punchy, sometimes herbal and subtle, and often the result of fermentation techniques and surprising combinations.

Dinner is coursed out loosely according to a Buddhist version of the cycle of life, from pre-birth to beyond death (but it isn’t twee or stuffy, promise; it’s also well paced). Uh studied Buddhism in Korea, and there might be a tenor of spirituality in his cooking approach. Mostly it just comes across as magical. Recently dinner at Baroo 2.0 included a velvety pumpkin juk with a froth made of traditional Korean tea; a seared scallop with puffed rice; seaweed-battered skate served ssam-style in a lettuce wrap; soy-braised cod; short ribs with burdock jus; rice with wild mountain greens; and melon panna cotta with misugaru ice cream and sorrel. Try any of the drink pairings — whether wine, Korean sool or nonalcoholic.
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Diners enjoy the company and drinks at the Everson Royce Bar.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

Have a cocktail on the patio at Everson Royce

Downtown L.A. American
The Arts District has no shortage of nightlife, including several places for solid cocktails: Death & Co., Cha Cha Cha, Let’s Go! Disco and restaurants such as Bavel and Damian among them. But low-key one of the best bars in the city is Everson Royce. People love this place for its excellent happy hour and outdoor patio. It’s like being in a friend’s backyard, with picnic tables, strung lights and a vine-wrapped tree, except you’re in the middle of downtown.

Where other Arts District bars might feel niche or scene-y, ERB is a one-size-fits-all kind of a bar. The patio accommodates large parties; you can order platters of burgers and fried chicken with flaky buttermilk biscuits and pitchers of cocktails. Or if you’re solo, the bar inside is welcoming, whether you want dinner, snacks or drinks (or all of the above).

The cocktails are thoughtful, with combinations of fresh ingredients in flavor profiles that keep the list interesting, but lean fairly fruity. (The Teaches of Peaches combines vodka, white peach, tamarind, basil and lemon.) The wine list is smart, and the beers won’t disappoint aficionados either. On Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays it’s open until 2 a.m. Sometimes there’s a dance party.
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People attend a movie screening at the Secret Movie Club in the Arts District neighborhood.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

Watch a favorite cult film at Secret Movie Club

Downtown L.A. Movie Theater
Secret Movie Club screens great movies — often on film — at a few theaters and a drive-in in L.A. (including the Million Dollar Theater and Glendale Sears parking lot), as well as at its Arts District headquarters, located in an alley off of another alley, on the second floor of a former toy factory.

Founder Craig Hammill is the principal programmer and devotes the space to the club’s most avant garde and hard-to-find movies, as well as readings, Q&As with filmmakers, workshops, premieres and occasional dance parties. A filmmaker himself, Hammill started the movie club when he was a USC student and is quick to point out that the films aren’t just about what he likes. “We ask people, what movies do you want to see?” he says. “One of the dangers is that a programmer will have a certain taste and not even realize they’re repeating themselves. Anime and Godzilla movies were holes for me. We try to be hive minded.”

Recent screenings featured “Children of Men” as a post-apocalyptic nativity story for the holidays; “Run Lola Run”; an Alfred Hitchcock series with “The Wrong Man,” “I Confess” and “Strangers on a Train”; “Rumble Fish”; “Un Prophète”; and “King Kong vs. Godzilla,” the 1962 original on 35mm. The club is a creative incubator and community hub, with monthly open mic nights as part of its Secret Filmmaking workshop series. (Parking is in the back on Wilson.)
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A grill master tends to the al pastor spit at Ave 26 Tacos.
(Silvia Rázgová / For The Times)

It's late. You want suadero at Ave. 26 Tacos

Downtown L.A. Mexican
Open until 2:30 a.m. daily — 3:30 a.m. on weekends — Ave. 26 is the neighborhood’s go-to late-night spot for tacos. The taco stand takes over a parking lot at the corner of 4th and Alameda (at the border between the Arts District and Little Tokyo). There’s a system to ordering here: At the station on the left, you’ll get in line for al pastor, carne asada, pollo, buche, cabeza, chorizo and suadero tacos. Or, to the right, cheesy mulitas, quesadillas and burritos. Drinks such as horachata and aguas frescas are also at a separate stand.

The spit for al pastor is always enticing (deservedly so), but a favorite here is the suadero, beefy chunks of meat prepared carnitas-style. A fried baby potato comes with every order. Add onions, cilantro and salsa at the condiments station. Eat immediately in the parking lot. Goodnight.
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