Metro Daycation: DTLA’s Little Tokyo/Arts District
Welcome to Metro Daycation, our new series exploring Los Angeles’s Metro system. Each edition will present a host of entertainment and cultural opportunities, all located within one mile of a Metro stop.
The Gold Line services two side-by-side neighborhoods that each offers their own delights: Little Tokyo and the Arts District.
One is a wealth of Japanese cuisine and culture, while the other is a mural-lined destination for art and design.
Get there by taking the Metro Red or Purple Line to Union Station, where you can transfer to the Gold Line. Take the Gold Line towards East Los Angeles and get off at the Little Tokyo/Arts District stop.
410 E 2nd Street
For a casual and affordable breakfast, try Aloha Cafe. Formerly located in Monterey Park, Aloha now opens daily at 8 a.m. in Little Tokyo’s Honda Plaza to serve up Hawaiian fare. Their breakfast menu includes French Toast made from Hawaiian bread, omelettes and spam & eggs.
116 Judge John Aiso Street
Chef Glen Ishii’s mother was in the restaurant business in Little Tokyo long before he and business partner Caroline Shin (a co-founder of Kogi BBQ) opened JiST Cafe. The cute eatery offers hearty breakfast and lunch items including their chashu hash skillet, katsu sandwich and TCHO chocolate chip and banana pancakes. They have both indoor and outdoor seating. Closed Mondays.
MUSEUMS & ART
Japanese American National Museum
100 N Central Avenue
The Japanese American National Museum celebrates Japanese American history and art and culture through a variety of exhibits and programs. Current shows include a exhibit on the life of actor George Takei and a paper crane folded by Sadako Sasaki, a 12-year-old girl who was diagnosed with leukemia a decade after she survived the bombing of Hiroshima. Sasaki folded some 1,300 cranes after hearing a legend stating that anyone who would fold 1,000 would be granted a wish. Though her wish to be cured was not granted, her legacy lives on. JANM is the only institution on the West Coast to have one of Sasaki’s surviving cranes.
Visitors to the museum may also visit the Chado Team Room at the Terasaki Garden Cafe, featuring over 300 teas from around the world. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, free every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Get $2 off and a 10% discount if you take Metro.
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
152 N Central Avenue
Once a police car warehouse, this massive, 40,000-square foot space now houses some very cool contemporary exhibitions, such as SOFT WORK, a fabric installation from artist Sterling Ruby and Catherine Opie’s captivating photos of the 2009 inauguration of 44th President Barack Obama—all taken of spectators and the scene, but not the inauguration itself. If you take the Metro here, you can get two-for-one admission.
Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles
901 E 3rd Street
In addition to a rotating selection of contemporary exhibits, this gallery also offers a bookstore and the beautiful restaurant Manuela. Order a cocktail and enjoy it in the public garden where the chickens that lay Manuela‘s eggs can be found clucking in their pen. Recent exhibits have included artist‘s Jason Rhoades‘ fascinating and frenetic installations, while upcoming shows will feature work from Japanese artist Takesada Matsutani and Polish artist Monika Sosnowska.
333 E 2nd Street
For a very cheap lunch, hit up Kula Revolving Sushi in Japanese Village Plaza. Small plates of sushi go round and round on a conveyor belt. Grabbing a plate releases it from the belt and the plates go into a special slot when you’re finished. Specialty items can be ordered via an iPad. Most plates are around $2, meaning you’ll have cash left for mochi ice cream at nearby Mikawaya.
422 E 2nd Street
Sushi Gen has been around over 30 years and there are still lines of people waiting for their popular $17 sashimi lunch special on a regular basis. Yet, once you’re inside, the service is fast and tidy and regulars rave about the quality of the fish. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
The Smile’s Di Alba
827 E 3rd Street
This charming, sun-drenched eatery offers salads, focaccia and exceptionally pretty desserts. Slide up to the marble counter and peruse their thick slabs of focaccia with toppings including smoked salmon and egg or fontina and mushrooms. For dessert, there’s the blood orange polenta cake or the moist rye brownie with a hint of smoked salt.
Japanese Village Plaza
335 E 2nd Street
Japanese Village Plaza has just as many interesting shops as it does restaurants. There’s Kool’s Clothing Store for vintage-inspired fashions, while the Japangeles kiosk sells cleverly screen printed T-shirts, jackets and sweatshirts. Hello Kitty and all her friends can be found at the Sanrio Store, while the nearby Anime Jungle offers a wide selection of action figures, toys, DVDs, posters and more.
One Santa Fe
300 S Santa Fe Avenue
A relatively new addition to the Arts District, One Santa Fe has a few unique shops worth checking out. Get books on art and design at Hennessey + Ingalls; comics, games and collectibles at A Shop Called Quest; or high-end housewares and fashions at The Voyager Shop.
333 S Alameda Street, #216
Sing to your heart’s content at Max Karaoke Studio. Private karaoke rooms are relatively cheap to rent by the hour with prices as low as $4 an hour per person during weekday happy hour (1 p.m. to 8 p.m.) or if you have a party of 25 or more.
333 Alameda Street
XLanes has all the family-friendly entertainment options one could desire: bowling, karaoke rooms, pool, virtual dart machines, and video games, as well as a restaurant serving American bar food, beer, wine and cocktails. It can get crowded in the evenings and on weekends, but reservations can be requested in advance online.
SCRAP Real Escape Games
123 Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Street, Unit 200
SCRAP was one of the very first escape room games to pop up in Japan and they’ve since brought their craft to Los Angeles. Teams must find clues and solve a variety of puzzles to escape a room or complete a task. SCRAP changes their room themes often, from time travel adventures to murder mysteries. The experience usually takes an hour—or less, if you are quick with the puzzles. Tickets typically range between $30-$45 per person.
Baldoria Bar + Kitchen
243 S San Pedro Street
This modern restaurant is casual and sleek with a small patio out front. Find pizzas, share plates and bottled cocktails here. Favorite items include the 3-meat polpetti, the duck wings, ricotta toast and the Lil Tokyo Steak pizza topped with miso-marinated steak, yuzu kosho, mushrooms, tomatoes, onion and mizuna.
327 E 1st Street
A hot, comforting bowl of ramen with a healthy dose of garlic is a great end to a day of running around in Little Tokyo. Daikokuya has been around since before trendy ramen shops with iPads for ordering were everywhere, yet there’s still often a line of people waiting to slurp down their rich broth. Cash only.
814 Traction Avenue
Fritzi is a small eatery that serves burgers, salads and potato waffles, but they’re best known for their chicken, which can be enjoyed fried or rotisserie-style. The trick is to order through the take-out window inside Arts District Brewing Co., so you can wash it down with a beer brewed on-site.
300 S Santa Fe Avenue
Westbound sits on the former site Santa Fe Railway’s La Grande Station. Appropriately, this elegant cocktail bar’s handsome decor is inspired by train travel.
They serve an ever-changing menu of seasonal share plates, which pair well with their sophisticated craft cocktails.
347 E 1st Street
Casual Far Bar is great for post-work cocktails and catching up with friends, especially on their cute, tucked-away patio. During happy hour, which is Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 7
p.m., they serve $5 bar bites, $5
wells and $7 cocktails.
707 E 4th Street
Enjoy arcade games and craft cocktails at EightyTwo, a spacious bar featuring 50 classic and modern pinball machines and video games. They don’t serve food, but there’s usually a food truck parked nearby to keep patrons fueled as they pursue