10 Greatest Lunches in Downtown LA

Downtown Los Angeles is delicious, with a plethora of lunch dining options that cater to every palate, from hidden gems to secret tacos to upscale eateries offering events of fusion cuisine. Here’s a list of the 10 greatest lunches of 2023.

Class, Hospitality and Views at Bar Clara

Bar clara

They say crème rises to the top. At Hotel Per La, it’s a quick elevator ride past 12-stories of suites to the rooftop bar and poolside luxury of Bar Clara. Bar Clara offers great options for lunch from their all-day menu, including one of DTLA’s favorite pescatarian plates, their Grilled Albacore Tuna Sandwich served on a brioche bun.

Choosing between daytime and night or accepting both as a place to explore this rooftop of gifts involves a heated pool, surrounded by rows of private gazebos and lounge chairs, and daytime or nighttime electric views of DTLA. www.Hotelperla.com

Putting out the flames of hunger at Engine Company No. 28

Company No. 28 sits inside a historic fire station in the Finance District and is a long-time go-to spot for DTLA business regulars. It’s said more deals have been made at Engine Co. 28 than there are fire-proof bricks in its historic firehouse facade, erected in 1912.

With its rich history and unique ambiance, American comfort food takes on a whole new meaning as diners are whisked back in time with hearty meals, iconic decor, and good old-fashion service.

Engine’s lunch is fueled by menu favorites like Firehouse Chili with Mignon Cubes, White Bean, Cheddar Cheese, Onion, Tomato, Sour Cream, Cilantro, and Tortilla.

If that sounds the stomach growling alarm, then surely they’re Club Me Chicken, with whole chicken breast, avocado, bacon, tomato, butter lettuce, and garlic aioli, will put out the fire. If that doesn’t work, try dousing those hunger flames with an old-fashioned lemonade, or maybe just an old-fashioned Engine Co. No. 28 bartenders ride the fire truck from open to close.

Engine Co. 28 is located at 644 South Figueroa St., LA 90017. www.enginecono28.com

Vegetarians Rejoice at Tulsi Indian Eatery

Vegetarians and lovers of Indian cuisine rejoice! Old Bank District’s Tulsi Eatery, featuring flavors from the four corners of India, is a hit with the locals.

Looking to eat healthy and enjoy the spices of life, city workers from the neighboring Civic District flock religiously to Tulsi daily for authentic fresh ingredients, comfortable dining areas, and exotic, hard-to-find dishes of India made from potatoes, lentils, plant-based meats, and spiced mixed veggies, all at an affordable price.

Championing the Indian community, Tulsi serves full-sized dosa, a variety of curry bowls, and festive thali trays, among other delicious items for lunch, including a rainbow of lassi flavors, in the true spirit of providing the community with Indian dishes extremely hard to find outside of Asia.

Tulsi Eatery is located at 408 S. Main Street, LA, CA 90012. www.tulsieatery.com

From Lunch Til’ Late at Hatch Yakitori and Bar

Well, deck the halls with boughs of skewers; this year brought new lunch hours to one of DTLA’s favorite chill spots, Hatch Yakitori in the Finance District.

So much more than fine casual dining, Hatch is well known for their Happy Hour gateway menu that leads to Chef Eric Cieolo’s tantalizing plates of bone marrow. Squid Ink Karaage, Raw Oysters, Salmon Furikake, Pork Belly, Wasabi Short Ribs, Skewers, and more.

Beverage options include sake, sake, and more sake, and a wide variety of Japanese whiskies, just in time for happy hour, or fountain drinks and mock cocktails for those who have to hurry back to work.

Located in the southern base of The Bloc/Sheraton Hotel’s open-air courtyard, Hatch keeps a steady crowd of tourists, shoppers, and locals alike all singing FA, LA, FA, LA, LA in unison over the new lunch hours at Hatch. Now open Tuesday–Friday, 11:30 a.m.–late. Hatch is located at 700 W. 7th Street, LA, CA 90017. www.hatchyalater.com

Go heavy on the salad at Âu Lạc on Bunker Hill.

Bunker Hill’s hidden lunch gem comes in the form of Âu Lạc, a sanctuary for all-natural, plant-based cuisine. One of downtown’s most sought-after eateries offers a unique dining experience that is not only delicious but also mindful of nutrition and ethical choices.

Chef Ito has lent his innovative touch of Vietnamese fusion to the Âu Lạc menu, serving aesthetic plates of enzyme-rich, nutritious foods that have gained him accolades from all over the world.

Âu Lạc is a paradise for salad enthusiasts. Virtually everything on the menu starts as chopped veggies, legumes, and grains and is either served mixed in a bowl by salad tongs or transformed into hot faux meat dishes like fried calamari, pho beef balls, and BBQ pork rolls. These dishes are so convincing that they can fool your taste buds into thinking they contain meat. Yet, the real magic lies in the energy that replaces that heavy post-meal feeling, leaving diners invigorated and with an even less heavy conscience.

Âu Lạc is located at 710 West 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, and serves lunch from Tuesday to Sunday, 12 PM to 3 PM. www.aulac.com

It’s Official Downtown LA loves us some Fixins at LA LIVE

Lunches in South Park haven’t been the same, thanks to Fixins Soul Kitchen.

This soulful culinary court, founded by Kevin Johnson, the All-Star basketball player, and his wife, Michelle, has become a beautiful addition to LA Live with a lunch menu that wins any championship.

Oh weeee!

Johnson’s family gatherings, BBQs, and reunions at Grandma Glady’s inspire Fixins’ unforgettable menu, featuring their famous peach cobbler, fried catfish, shrimp and grits, oxtails, and more. And let’s not forget about their mac and cheese. Never before has the town tasted anything like it, as proven by Fixins’ uncanny ability to generate positive vibrations with every down-home-cooked plate.

Fixins is located at 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite 110, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Fixin’s is open Mon – Thurs: 11am – 9pm and Fri: 11am – 11pm.

Taco Fun at Loqui in the Arts District

Seriously don’t know what’s more fun: arriving early before the lunch rush to Loqui or watching their remarkable team work in unison as they push out hundreds of delectable beef, birria, shrimp, mushroom, chicken, and pork tacos wrapped inside their signature corn and flour tortillas.

Served hot with a side of chips and guacamole, adding rice and beans, Loqui offers up solid flavors that satisfy the appetite without emptying the wallet.

Founded in 2013, Loqui had humble beginnings as a weekly pop-up, but it has since become a beloved lunchtime destination with their opening in DTLA in 2019. For neighbors and civic workers who gather to eat and converse within their beautifully arranged outdoor courtyard on a daily basis, Loqui has become a valued commodity for lunch crowds.

Roasted salsa, tortillas, and taco meat combos at Loqui deserve every bit of praise they receive, and the atmosphere is always warm and friendly. Loqui’s commitment to offering customers a rotating menu that captures the essence of street food culture is commendable, and they have excelled in bringing the vibrant flavors of Mexico to life.

As Loqui’s influence continues to grow and the Arts District continues to expand, these elements make Loqui a must-visit lunch destination for taco lovers everywhere.

Loqui is located at 803 Traction Ave., #150, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Serving Monday–Friday: 10:30–9:00. www.eat Loqui.com

The perfected lunch fiestas of Sonoritas in South Park

Enchiladas Verdes, Rib Eye Asado, Mar y Tierra Nachos, and Salmon Burritos are just a glimpse of the delightful items on the lunch menu at Sonoritas, located in the vibrant neighborhood of South Park.

Seems Sonoritas is on a relentless pursuit of culinary perfection, refining each dish, every sauce, and every ingredient to make sure lunch breaks in downtown LA come with the tastiest and most memorable dining experiences. Decorated with colorful wares from Mexico and using two walls of various spirits, including the largest selection of tequilas and mezcals, dining at Sonoritas is like stumbling upon a full-blown festival hidden in the middle of the city.

Picture succulent steaks, prepared to perfection and bursting with tender, juicy, and rich flavors, or combo plates thoughtfully accompanied by spicy plates of rice and beans, along with their salsas, tortillas, and cheese dips, all painstakingly made from scratch.

At Sonoritas, it’s easy to savor every moment and every flavor. Even if it only lasts a few hours at the table, each flavorful dish will live in the memory of Downtown’s taste buds for a lifetime.

Sonoritas is located at 1050 Flower St., Los Angeles, CA 90015, and opens early at 10:30 AM for lunch. www.sonoritas.com

From the sea to the shore at Pez Cantina on Bunker Hill

Picturesque Bunker Hill is in plain sight for lunch diners at Pez Cantina, where husband and wife duo Chef Bret Thompson and Lucy Ramirez Thompson present dishes inspired by the two’s frequent journeys to Loreto, Baja California.

It seems the Thompsons are on a mission to capture the spirit and soul of this region and deliver it with a genuine mix of authentic cuisines and beverages, spirited cocktails, and one-of-a-kind outdoor solace.

Since its beginnings, Pez Cantina has invited diners to partake in their generosity of style and class with a menu that boasts an array of delights from the sea to the shore.

Imagine savoring the tantalizing combination of grilled octopus with a crispy potato-bacalao croquette, baja ponzu, and nopales pico de gallo. Or picture indulging in the harmonious Grilled 8-oz. Angus Filet Mignon with Pez fries and chipotle aïoli. Or mixing seafood with earthly pleasures with the Molcajete Surf and Turf, a stew of grilled filet mignon, grilled shrimp, carnitas, nopales, and pepper jack cheese, served in a bubbling hot cauldron of smoky chorizo broth.

Umbrellas block the sun from shining too brightly on their serene outside patio, yet they still allow for a captivating skyline view that serves as the backdrop for DTLA’s business elite. Whether planning a power lunch, aiming to impress a colleague, or looking to add a touch of romance to your workday, Pez Cantina is and will remain the ideal DTLA lunch destination. It’s a place where Downtown can momentarily escape to the shores of Mexico before venturing back to the office towers that completely surround the establishment.

Pez Cantina opens its doors for lunch at 11:30 AM, making it the perfect midday retreat. Located at 401 S Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90071. www.pezcantina.com

Author: Keri Freeman

Military mom and proud parent, artist, writer, musician and film maker. Cocktail connoisseur. Publisher of DTLA Weekly.