Verve Coffee - DTLA
833 S Spring St
And since we’re starting with coffee, we should really start at Verve. Just like any decent coffee house in DTLA, you’ll have to wait a few minutes, but that’s no hardship here. The interior is absolutely beautiful, the staff are attentive and wildly complimentary, and there are often free juice shots you can test while you kill time. And when your coffee does arrive I can guarantee you’re not going to be disappointed - just like how I like my men, it’s strong, dark and comes in a plastic cup!
California Millinery Supply Co
721 S Spring St
You’ll find this special spot just down the road from Verve. It’s one of those gem businesses that you hope will never get forced out of the neighbourhood by rent hikes. Even if you’re not a hat person, you can’t help feel some kind of joy passing through the floor to ceiling shelves and looking at the rows of forms, ribbons, silks and fake fruits. If you’ve got the time, stop at the desk and while away some time talking to owner Irene and her two cats - she’s an expert in her field and also long time DTLA local with plenty of insight into the state and history of the neighbourhood.
920 Maple Ave
If all that millinery goodness has sparked your curiosity for the LA fashion district, there are tons of fabric stores and haberdasheries to discover in the streets surrounding Santee Alley. If however you want to keep things short and sweet, you should just head to the daddy of the gang. Michael Levine houses quite possibly the best stock of exciting fabrics I’ve ever seen in one place. You can pick up anything from heavyweight ikat weaves to completely perfect hotdog and mustard print cotton.
408 S Main St
Good at any time of day really, but since it’s probably time for some brunch, I’m going to recommend propping up the bar at Bäco Mercat. This is a wonderful place to share a snack or two with a friend - all the dishes are incredibly flavourful and imaginative, and based around chef Josef Centeno’s “bäco” flatbreads. I feel like there’s not much to say other than you should definitely go and figure it out for yourself.
The Last Bookstore
453 S Spring St
Back on the day’s urban hike, why not stop into the Last Bookstore. One of my favourite DTLA pastimes is whiling away an afternoon on a rooftop with a great book and a glass of something delicious (more on that to come…), and I can only think of one store I want to find that book in: The Last Bookstore. It has everything including an amazing book sculpture section and an art and rarities department, plus the staff picks are always on point so if you’re feeling lazy or overwhelmed by choice, you know you’re always in good hands.
404 S Figueroa St
Time for a little afternoon alternative sightseeing, but let’s get serious, we all know what the Hollywood sign looks like! Instead, why not get yourself completely lost in The Bonaventure hotel. Built in 1976 and comprising not just the hotel, but also a mall too, this is an incredible work of future past vision in concrete and glass. The building is based around a central column that houses the elevators, and is seemingly only occupied by sleeping or mobile device using solitary middle - aged Asian men. It’s a real one off, and worth it just for a slightly too fast ride in the “red circle” elevator to the top floor where there are great city views from the revolving lounge.
The Broad Museum
221 S Grand Ave
In a city so blessed with exhaustive art collections, you could easily write off the Broad as an unnecessary addition, especially when there’s a line snaking down the street. The smart visitor will pre-book a free ticket (or check online for less popular hours) because the revolving private collection of Billionaires Eli and Edythe Broad is comprised of masterpieces and showstoppers which although some are painfully familiar are a pleasure to see in the “flesh”. Taking a little time to spend with Basquiat or Twombly is can never be a bad thing.
700 S Grand Ave
Sights seen, culture absorbed, it must be approaching the first of many cocktail hours. The bar at Bottega Louis is small for the space it’s in, but is absolutely the perfect seat for a little self-indulgent people watching. This place attracts a full mix of city characters - from morose director types to striding off-duty athletes - for its patisserie, cafe and restaurant. And despite what its spotless marble surfaces, lofty ceilings and immaculate staff would lead you to assume, everything is reasonably priced. Especially the Bloody Mary.
Upstairs at The Ace Hotel / Tacos Mexico
929 S Broadway / 913 S Broadway
Cocktail hour #2. Say what you like about the Ace, the location, the breeze, the view from the rooftop and the French 75 are all perfect if you head there for a late afternoon read before it packs out and the red rope appears downstairs. If you get peckish, they serve the best avocado on toast I’ve probably ever had (ask for the smoked salmon add on), or head back down to the street and grab a taco or three at the conveniently placed Tacos Mexico next door. Just don’t go overboard because there’s dinner to come…
347 E 2nd St
They will ruin “normal” sushi for you.
118 E 6th St
If everything’s gone well, you're appropriately tired from beating the streets, fit to burst with delicious treats, and ready for a really well made cocktail. The Varnish is located through the back door of Cole’s Bar. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a secret bar since you can find out where it is from the doorman outside or even Mr Google has a handle on it, but the entrance is certainly discreet. The lighting is so low you probably wont be able to see the menu, but since the bar tenders (sorry, I can’t say mixologist) know how to make everything, just go with your gut.
Photos and text by Ruth Bartlett