Aug 2, 2022
11 min read
A Guide to Central & Mid-City LA
Given that Los Angeles is a pretty big place, this guide focuses on what sits in the middle of West and East, aka Mid-City. Though true Angelinos understand that “Mid-City” defines an actual LA neighborhood, we are using it here to describe the central areas between West Hollywood and K-Town.
So much of what defines “old LA” can be found in and around the central part of the city: Art Deco signs that rise above classic hotels, restaurants that hark back to old Hollywood glamor, and surprisingly excellent shopping that gives residents their signature laid-back look.
As areas like Korea Town fill their streets with trendy new bars, there is a sense that these LA neighborhoods are changing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Though some excellent street food has been lost, new additions are bringing fresh diversity and making these areas exciting places to visit. Here’s our take on a few favorites in Los Angeles, Mid-City.
Where to stay in central Los Angeles
The Prospect Hollywood
The Prospect Hotel brings glamour and old Hollywood charm. Each room is uniquely designed to embody the history of the property and its former neighbors. We also adore the charming courtyard – with native plants, fireplaces, and ancient fountains, it’s the perfect setting for an evening drink. And for those with work to do – guests of the hotel also enjoy free access to the nearby co-working space,NeueHouse
The Spanish colonial-style interior is beautiful and translates well to each of the eateries inside the hotel. Drinks at Bar Figueroa are brought to you by the cocktail guru fromEmployees Only
in NYC. And, don’t miss the rooftop pool – one of the best.
Petit Ermitage is very much a West Hollywood hotel, with bohemian-inspired rooms and a private rooftop pool that feels very “LA”. Catch some sun or work up there during the day, then come evening, grab a jumper and a glass of wine, and head back up to sit by the fire. It’s a transportive, leafy oasis. We’ll meet you there.
1Hotel West Hollywood
The 1Hotel West Hollywood is a beautiful, calming oasis in one of LA’s most energy-efficient buildings. Sustainability is at the forefront of the experience here, with design elements crafted from fallen trees recovered from the state of California, organic cotton sheets, and restaurant ingredients sourced from the hotel’s own organic garden.
Where to eat in central Los Angeles
Jon & Vinny’s
If you can get a table, you'll enjoy some of the best pizza LA has to offer. We recommend going for a late lunch or at some odd hour in order to secure a seat. Even when it’s crowded, know it’s 100% worth the wait.
Great Oaxacan food in Koreatown. In fact, Jonathan Gold (the first food critic to win a Pulitzer Prize) named this “the best Oaxacan restaurant” in the entire country. Opened by a husband and wife team from Mexico, it is still a family business. Order every type of mole on the menu, and enjoy the live Mariachi band.
There is a sign outside Sushi Park that basically reads “No Bullshit”. They don’t serve California rolls or teriyaki, they don’t do vegetables or salad, and don’t even think of mentioning “spicy tuna” here. Trendy sushi is not on the menu here – which is exactly why we love it. Come for high-quality fish and incredibly authentic Japanese sushi.
This is a beautiful Peruvian restaurant on Melrose Avenue, from the interiors to the plating to the food itself. Rosaliné does a great job at the classic ceviches, lomo saltado, and vegetarian options.
Otus Thai Kitchen
If you’re looking for a solid breakfast that’s
the ubiquitous avocado toast, head to Otus Thai Kitchen. We order the “Kai Kata” and a latte, and take a seat in their sunny backyard.
Gracias Madre has a gorgeous tiled courtyard and interior and serves delicious, generously portioned, vegan Mexican dishes – which are great whether you’re vegan or not.
Don’t be fooled by the exterior of this legendary Korean BBQ spot. Parks is one of the top spots for KBBQ in LA, and it’s David Chang endorsed. Reservations are recommended as this restaurant gets packed.
Grand Central Market
The Grand Central Market in LA has been showcasing local chefs, vendors, and ingredients since 1917. The options are endless, with something from every cuisine and price point. Tables are hard to come by, but with some patience, you should be able to snag one.
Where to get coffee in central Los Angeles
Go Get Em Tiger
Though not very big, Go Get Em Tiger is a great place to grab a coffee in central LA. Located on Larchmont (the unicorn of LA streets – one where you can actually take a leisurely walk), it’s a good stop-off before you browse the shops.
Known to be frequented by some of Hollywood’s elite, a stop at Alfred is as much about the experience as it is about the coffee. They have the classics and also some inventive creations of their own (we’re looking at you, Pink Drink, and Chagaccino).
Where to shop
American Rag is an LA mainstay and always a great place to find denim staples and boots to match. Selling cool brands likeUlla Johnson
and Norse Projects, there is something for everyone.
Selling high-end jewelry, clothing, and accessories, Des Kohan is the upscale boutique that makes us wish we had a black card. Collaborating with emerging designers, this shop has both unique pieces and major staples.
Did you rip your favorite vintage Levi's? Denim Revival can repair them. Or have you still not found your favorite pair of vintage Levi's? Denim Revival can provide. Do you need a vintage leather jacket to go with your new pants? Denim Revival has you covered.
Mister Freedom excels in rows and rows of well-curated vintage menswear, sourced from around the world. Alongside its own in-house label, which is pretty good, too.
The Way We Wore
The Way We Wore is your one-stop vintage shop for high-end to everyday vintage clothing and accessories. With consistent new arrivals, you can always uncover a great new (to you) find.
What to do in central Los Angeles
Cinespia, Hollywood Forever Cemetery
On Fairbanks lawn inside the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, this outdoor cinema calls for big blankets, pillows, and picnic supplies. Get cozy alongside other Angelinos enjoying a date or a night with their friends. And, if you’re thinking “it’s a cemetery, I bet they only show horror movies,” you’d be wrong. Past films include everything from
Dazed & Confused
, and season finale screenings – so, there is something for everyone.
Check out the schedule of acts coming into the historic Hollywood Bowl. This is one of our favorite venues ever. With the Hollywood Hills in the background and the natural acoustics, there is no better place to see music. Get a table and bring a picnic.
LA Farmers Market
LA has a ton of farmers' markets, but the original one on Fairfax is a must-visit. You can get everything from produce to homewares to prepared food. The flowers are also divine, buy yourself or your dinner host an armful.
Korean Spas are a way of life in LA. We’ve tried a bunch, and Olympic remains one of our consistent go-to's. Don’t come here for the luxury experience you might expect at the Four Seasons – but if you want to feel like your skin has returned to baby-soft form after a great salt scrub, this is your place.
The Comedy Store
This is an LA institution. From Whoopi Goldberg to Eddie Murphy to Robin Williams, it has hosted some legends. Grab tickets to either stage and don’t be shocked if you get a surprise celebrity comic crashing the performance.
Where to get a hit of culture
Barnsdall Art Park
Okay, so technically Barnsdall Art Park is in “East” Hollywood, but we are including it here anyway. An 11-acre park, Barnsdall is home to a Frank Lloyd Wright structure, a phenomenal art gallery, creative classes for kids and adults, and views.
This might be surprising, but if you walk past the famous lamp post installation that has been Instagrammed thousands of times, there is an incredible collection of art inside LACMA. With fantastic exhibits and a permanent collection that people travel to see, LACMA is one of our favorite museums in LA. And yes, you can still take photos of the lamp posts.
Thanks to aniconic Julius Shulman photograph
, The Stahl House is one of the most well-known residences in LA. Originally built as part of the Case Study House Program in 1960, the less-than-thrilling facade gives way to an incredible pool and views in the back. Tours are available but book in advance because they sell out quickly (tip: aim for an evening tour so you can see and watch the city transition from day to night).
La Brea Tar Pits
Off Wilshire Blvd are the centuries-old La Brea Tar Pits. One of the world's most famous fossil excavation sites, you can take a tour of the natural history museum that sits behind the viewing area. We love the fact that this is right in the middle of Los Angeles.
Where to work out in central Los Angeles
Wanderlust Yoga Studio
Wanderlust goes beyond just a yoga studio. With vinyasa, kundalini, mindfulness classes, and more, there are plenty of options to spend time on the mat. They also have a cafe, a collaborative studio space, and host events.
Modo Yoga LA
Modo has made its name across America, but we love their central LA outpost. It’s a hot yoga studio with great teachers and is exactly what we need after a night of drinking and eating tacos at 2 am.
The Wall Fitness
With unique classes including cycling, interval training, and stretching, Wall is where we go to kick our own ass. Their signature 123 Stack class is the perfect antidote for jet-lag and will keep you coming back for that adrenaline high. We also love their facilities.
Where to drink in central Los Angeles
A Los Angeles classic. The Dime is still running and it’s still as great as it ever was. If you get here early, you can slip into one of the banquets and avoid the crowds that start coming around 10 pm. It isn’t a big place, but what it lacks in space it makes up for in great music. Drinks are strong – don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Jones is also a restaurant, but we usually come here for a martini at the bar. The interior is the classic LA vibe, and the bartenders have some stories. The last time we were here, the power went out and even though they couldn’t cook food, they lit the entire place in candles and let the drinks flow. That’s the kind of place Jones is.
The Normandie Club
If you’re looking for a fancy cocktail or an impressive date spot, head to the Normandie Club in K-Town. It’s a dark, beautiful bar and we feel like you should probably order a really nice whiskey on the rocks.
This dark bar is kind of a dive, but we love it because it’s attached to one of our OG LA favorites,Canter’s Deli
. You will pretty much exclusively see LA locals here, and the rare but real LA native.
Tequila on the rocks. Tequila cocktails. Tacos to go with your tequila. That’s El Carmen in a nutshell.
Where to dance in central Los Angeles
Break Room 86
Dreams really do come true at this 80s-themed karaoke bar in Korea Town. Walk in via the secret entrance through a loading dock, and just know that one of the best bars in LA is waiting for you on the other side.
Good Times at Davey Wayne’s
Brought to you by the Houston Brothers (like Break Room 86), this is a 70s bar that you get to through a secret entrance (see a theme here?). There are mustard-colored couches, hammocks on the patio, and really, really good tunes. One of our favorite places in LA.
Okay fine, all of our places to go out are Houston Brother's establishments. They all serve their purpose, and Dirty Laundry’s purpose is to be sexy AF. With a speakeasy vibe, candlelit bar, and good cocktails, this is another of our favorite places. The real kicker is the secret dance room with fantastic DJs, hidden in the back.
Situated atop theThompson Hollywood Hotel
, Bar Lis sets out to pair French Riviera sophistication with laidback LA vibes. Stop by for a drink before sunset for great views of the Hollywood hill views (including the Hollywood sign). Come after dark on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for DJ sets, dancing, and disco balls.
Where to work
Verve Coffee Roasters
The Melrose location of this LA coffee house is large, airy, and has great outdoor space. It serves some of our favorite coffee (we buy the beans every time) – take a seat on a massive cushion, or at a table outside to get some sun while you work.
Bricks & Scones
Located on Larchmont in Hancock Park, Brick & Scones is huge. Head to the second floor and make yourself comfortable for the day. It has plenty of outlets and, yes, scones to keep you charged.
The pool at Petit Ermitage
Listen, you’re in LA. That means that you should be in a bathing suit at least 50% of the time. If that means suffering from a little screen glare while you work, so be it. Head to the bohemian-inspired rooftop of Petit Hermitage and plug away.
Sign up for Safara