Downtown LA – Finally

Our family has lived in Los Angeles for 4 ½ years now and we’ve visited neighborhoods from Santa Monica to Silverlake. But one area that we never manage to get to is Downtown.

For the husband’s birthday, we decided to take ourselves out of the westside and into the

center of the city. Our extremely patient and generous friend agreed to watch our boys (along with her 2 boys) for our 18 hour downtown adventure.

We started at our hotel, The Omni in California Plaza. We got a good deal on Expedia that included parking and a deluxe breakfast. The hotel was beautiful and our room was in the corner with a view of California Plaza. It’s more of a business traveler hotel, but it was great for us with a clean, comfy room in a convenient location.

Our plan was to spend the afternoon walking around and doing a mini pub

crawl, but the weather wasn’t cooperating and it was pouring rain. We took the hotel car to The Must Bar on 5th and Spring and considered never leaving. We loved it there. We sat at the bar and the husband ordered a black sangria and I had the Allagash beer recommended by the bartender (they had gluten-free beer, too!). The menu looked very good, but we had dinner reservations so we tried the cheese plate. The best thing about the cheese plate was that you could order whatever you wanted, it wasn’t already made. We got a robusto (aged gruyere), manchego, figs, and smokey bacon jam. If you haven’t tried bacon jam you must try it. Here it was what tasted like bacon in a small bowl of warm honey. (I had it at The Six Restaurant in West LA and it was more like a salsa and also very good).

The guy sitting next me had a lovely plate of what he said was salmon on polenta fries (Not Yo Mama’s Fish Sticks, salmon with scallion grits) that he orders every time he comes. And that’s what I loved about the place. Everyone seemed to know each other, but were welcoming just the same.

We reluctantly left there and walked up 5th Street to Grand to try a well-known LA restaurant, the Water Grill. A friend recommended it and said that it’s consistently good.

I’m always skeptical of restaurants that appear in tourist guidebooks, like this one, but I needn’t have been. It was fantastic. We started a sampler plate of oysters and I don’t know what I loved more, the oysters or the sauces to go with it. Our plain salad of mixed greens was ok, but pretty salty, however the main course more than made up for that. I had the Nantucket Bay Scallops with Kurobata Pork Belly. The pork belly was the melt in your mouth kind and the scallops were perfectly cooked. They were lying on top of creamy polenta, which is always good. And it was.

The wine list was way overpriced so we both got single glasses of wine. I think the desserts were the best part of the entire evening. We shared a budino and a scoop of salted caramel ice cream. I think I gained 5 pounds on the dessert alone, but it was so worth it. The budino was rich and delightful I can’t stop thinking about it.

After dinner we had nice walk back to our hotel and our downtown adventure was over. It was 10:30. Ok, maybe adventure is a bit of stretch, but we had a great time.

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