The New York steak with French fries & a caramelized onion au jus at Bottega Louie. Photo courtesy of Bottega Louie.

A common misconception about Los Angeles is the city is packed with aspiring actors, singers, and models that live on little more than blanched greens and tic tacs. There are plenty of twig-thin aspiring models, but there is also some amazing dining and drinking to be done. Each neighborhood features a unique cadre of restaurants that cater to every taste, palette and cuisine, especially downtown LA.

Some of the best dining spots in Los Angeles are right in the heart of downtown, located near top tourist attractions like the Staples Center and Dodgers Stadium. Here is a collection of some of our favorites.

Bottega Louie
Bottega Louie is unique among Downtown Los Angeles restaurants because it is a hybrid of fine dining and retail. It’s a gourmet experience that delights patrons with Italian specialties such as Napolitano-style pizza, calamari, portobello fries and world-famous parmesan pretzels. Typically packed with hungry guests, Bottega Louie does not accept reservations, which means getting a table in peak hours is challenging. But it’s worth the wait, especially for diners who have room for dessert from the on-site bakery. The macaroons, especially the earl grey and pistachio flavors, are outstanding.

Border Grill Downtown LA
If there’s one cuisine that Los Angeles gets right at almost every restaurant, it’s Mexican food. Border Grill Downtown LA takes Mexican cuisine to another level with an upscale experience featuring uncommon dishes. The fiery and unusual flavors of Oaxaca and the Yucatan straight are brought to hip and urban setting here. The Border Grill’s many flavor-packed margaritas and mojitos are the perfect pairing for Yucatan Pork, Gaucho Steak and Peruvian Ceviche. Executive chef Monique King and restaurants owners Mary Milliken and Susan Feniger pride themselves on establishing authentic modern Mexican cuisine, and it shows.

Checkers Downtown
Another popular favorite with both locals and tourists, Checkers Downtown adds a California twist with a French accent to classic American dishes. Favorite dishes include pan-roasted sonoma duck breast, rock shrimp and saffron risotto, and braised shortrib “Potpie.” Cocktails are also a specialty her. All of the drinks are made from scratch (you won’t find any mixers) by experienced mixologists. Our favorites are the Black Checker, Red Checker, Blackberry Mint Mojito and the Aviation made with violet liqueur.

The ‘perch’ in the name of this trendy downtown Los Angeles restaurant has nothing to do with seafood: it’s based on the rooftop location of the trendy French bistro that provides guests with amazing skyline views of Los Angeles. Though it’s only open for dinner, Perch is the perfect place to stop by on a breezy night where you can enjoy tasty French pastries and classic Parisian cocktails while lounging with friends and family around one of the many outdoor fireplaces and fire pits. Though the menu is all in French, the food is decidedly approachable and made with a casual flair. Specialties include Ratatouille Tart, Pan Seared Escolar and Buffalo Frog Legs.

Yojié Shabu Shabu
Self-described as “Japanese Fondu” Yojié Shabu Shabu is known for shabu shabu, a cuisine where diners cook thin slices of meat and fish in a boiling miso broth. The restaurant provides a fun atmosphere with a trendy purple interior and eclectic artwork. Thee are plenty of deals, as well, including a large sake at just $7 and a free large Plum Hot Sake with a check-in on Yelp. Free parking is available around the corner (practically unheard of in Los Angeles).