Get Out of Town!
Fall in Love with Downtown Again
February, 2017 - Issue #148
"Upstairs, the rooms have been renovated to match the EXPECTATIONS of today's guests. Fresh paint and updated fixtures are the norm, so you can immerse yourself in the grandeur of Los Angeles past while enjoying modern amenities."
Like a relationship, Downtown L.A. delivers highs, lows and surprises. And, as with someone special, the more time you give them, the better things get.

Which is why Downtown is the perfect place to celebrate Valentine's Day. And with Downtown's rebirth spawning new restaurants and destinations to go along with old favorites, it's well worth an entire weekend of exploration.
Here's some ideas to help you plan a weekend to remember with someone special.

The most important decision, of course, is deciding where to stay. For elegance that never goes out of style, you can't beat the Millennium Biltmore. Its rich Art Deco interiors set a scene of unmatched sophistication and capture the glamour of a bygone era.

Upstairs, the rooms have been renovated to match the expectations of today's guests. Fresh paint and updated fixtures are the norm, so you can immerse yourself in the grandeur of Los Angeles past while enjoying modern amenities.
The Biltmore's central location also makes it the ideal hub from which to wander Downtown. It's across the street from Pershing Square, so drive to the North Hollywood Metro Station, park your car for free and then take the Red Line to skip all the traffic.

Downtown is a foodie's paradise. The possibilities are truly endless, and can't be captured here, but I'll offer these suggestions to get you thinking.

Water Grill Why has this Grand Avenue eatery been an institution since 1989, long before Downtown surged back to life in its current Renaissance? Excellent seafood, attentive service and intimate ambiance. Settle into a spacious booth, choose a bottle of wine, decide on an entree and savor the experience.

Nickel Diner What was once a tattoo parlor, and then a fried chicken joint, is now a retro diner "art directed to within an inch of its life" according to our waiter. The chilaquiles are cooked perfectly, while the Hangover Helper scramble will bring you back to life with thick hunks of bacon and Italian sausage. Too full for a maple bacon donut? Get it to go.

Perch You'll need advance reservations to snag a table at this rooftop gem. But anyone can grab a drink at the outdoor bar and enjoy the nighttime skyline panorama 15 stories up, especially if you don't mind standing to sip. The bar is crowded too, but it's a unique way to start or end your evening.

My wife loves to walk, so we spent miles criss-crossing Downtown to poke around its distinctive neighborhoods in a way that you simply can't by car.

The culinary chaos of Grand Central Market, the Bradbury Building's ornate interior and the echoing alleluias of the Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral make it clear that you have to get out and walk to truly experience Downtown.

Other destinations on our circuitous walking tour included the bustling Flower Mart, Clifton's Cafeteria, the Central Library's well-curated gift shop and Santee Alley, likely the only place on earth you can buy a $79 suit, lingerie, luggage and a bacon-wrapped hot dog in the same block.

Walking gives you a close-up view of Downtown's grit, too. Despite the gentrification, homelessness is still a reality in L.A.

But pounding the pavement also delivers unique surprises, like seeing Bobby Flay standing outside a hotel on Figueroa staring at his phone on a Sunday morning. Was he waiting for an Uber? Playing Pokemon Go? We didn't ask. Sometimes it's more fun not knowing.

But here's one thing I do know. Downtown L.A. promises to deliver a Valentine's weekend you won't forget.
Eric Harnish lives in Castaic, which is widely under-rated as a romantic destination.
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