This year was our first proper year getting to explore DTLA, as Husband got a job down there. It was a nice little opportunity to grab lunches and dinners before and after his shifts, and really spend a bit more time in this fun part of town.
The Ace Hotel - have dinner in the downstairs restaurant. Seriously. The food here is incredible. Finish up with drinks on the rooftop, next to the pool. Watch crazy LA peeps getting up to all sorts of crazy antics.
The Last Book Store - just go. Make sure you get up onto the second level, and wander all the way around! Flying books, exploding pianos, art galleries, weavers, and $1 books.
Follow this link to explore more hidden gems in downtown LA.
Grand Central Market - awesome coffee, and a quick and easy lunch spot. Great flavours and smells and sights. Stop by for some great fresh ingredients to cook up a feast at home.
Bottega Louis. Dinner at this place will change your life. Super high ceilings, very white and light and clean decor; and incredible food. It was very New York, very big business, but our waitress was down-to-earth, and just perfect.
Bar Ama - Tex Mex heaven. Yes, Texas Mexican. Incredible flavours. Like the asparagus and grapefruit, or crunchy nachos with quesidilla dip. Too good to be true. Spend some time wandering around the Bank District while you're there - you'll find some great art galleries, and even more amazing restaurants. In summer this area hosts the Downtown Art Walk, every first Thursday of the month (I think?! Don't take my word for it - it may have been the second Thursday. Ask the Google.)
Arts District - Poketo is great for gifts, and spend a little time on that strip for great housewares, menswear and some delicious food. Eat at The Pie Hole. This pie will change your life. We had the chicken and cornbread pie, it was melt-in-the-mouth I'm-going-back-this-week-for-more kind of good.
This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of downtown LA, it's packed with a booming fashion district, beautiful old theatres and tons of hidden gems. I will endeavour to get more of them listed here!
Other spots to visit:
Santee Alley - a pedestrian-only back alley packed with stall after stall of junkie finds! Cheap deals, carnival-esque feel and everything you may (or may not) want to buy.
Also, you can see my other guides here: Silver Lake, Hollywood, Downtown, LA & Surrounds, and Tourist-ville.