Metro Weekly

Downtown Los Angeles wants to be the new West Hollywood

Downtown Los Angeles -- or DTLA -- is slowly transforming into a desirable LGBT destination

Skyline_Downtown_L.A

Downtown Los Angeles – Courtesy of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

There’s no question that West Hollywood still reigns as the gay mecca of Los Angeles. However, downtown L.A. is in the midst of a revival and the LGBT community – as it does so often – is playing a role.

For many years, downtown Los Angeles, or DTLA, was essentially abandoned. That started to change in 1999 with the opening of the STAPLES Center sports arena, with progress ramping up as the economy continued to improve. In 2014, GQ went as far as to call DTLA “America’s next great city.”

The rebirth is partly due to an influx of new residents. According to the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, DTLA now has nearly 60,000 residents — a number that’s doubled since 2000. And LGBT people comprise a large percentage of those new residents.

The influence of LGBT people on DTLA was recognized this year with the creation of the DTLA Proud Festival, which “celebrates the profound revitalization of DTLA and the growing LGBT community.” It was compounded by the decision to move AIDS Walk Los Angeles out of West Hollywood to DTLA.

For LGBT tourists, West Hollywood is still the area’s best destination, but what awaits those who opt for DTLA? As it transpires, quite a lot.

Stay

Located across the street from STAPLES Center and the L.A. Live entertainment center, the Luxe City Center Hotel has a prime location. The modern property’s 178 guest rooms and suites are among the most spacious of any DTLA hotel.

The Beaux-Arts-inspired Millennium Biltmore Hotel was built in 1923 and is the grande dame of L.A. hotels. A historic and cultural landmark, it offers classic styling with modern amenities — it’s L.A.’s answer to the grandeur of the Waldorf Astoria in NYC.

The Hilton Checkers, with its Spanish-style façade, is another historic property that serves the needs of today’s travelers. Its rooftop deck offers outstanding views of Los Angeles.

Play

The police-themed Precinct is a spacious bar and nightclub that helped pave the way for DTLA’s burgeoning LGBT nightlife. A relaxed atmosphere and large dance floor ensure it’s popular with locals and tourists alike.

Redline bills itself as “DTLA’s  premier gay bar” and certainly has plenty of fans. If you’re a Drag Race fan, season 2 star Pandora Boxx hosts “Dragalicious” on Wednesdays.

Bar Mattachine_2

Bar Mattachine – Credit: Troy Petenbrink

The newest kid on the block, Bar Mattachine is a trendy, bi-level cocktail bar. Its name is an homage to the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights organizations in the United States.

The New Jalisco Bar was a mainstay of the “old” DTLA and the only full-time gay bar in DTLA for many years. It has a very loyal Latin clientele, and is enjoying continued popularity as DTLA undergoes an LGBT transformation.

Eat

Chef Ray Garcia’s B.S. Taqueria offers outstanding Mexican food and drink in a colorful, casual space. The quality of the food is exactly what you would expect from Garcia, Esquire’s chef of the year for 2015.

Spring Los Angeles is a beautiful, classy French restaurant. In addition to its outstanding menu, diners can enjoy its open kitchen, fountain, and all-glass atrium ceiling as they dine.

Bottega Louie is a combination bakery, gourmet market and Italian restaurant. It has won awards for everything from “best brunch in L.A.” to “best place to break bread with friends.”

See

A massive entertainment complex, L.A. Live sits between the STAPLES Center sports arena and the Los Angeles Convention Center. It is home to multiple performance spaces, restaurants, bars, retail outlets, and the Grammy Museum.

The Broad is one of the newest editions to Los Angeles’ world class arts scene (which includes LACMA, The Getty Center, and Hammer Museum), housing an extensive collection of contemporary art.

Two decades before Stonewall, a group of gay men at a downtown Los Angeles donut shop fought back against LAPD harassment. That slice of LGBT history is one of many interesting tidbits shared during Gay DTLA: City of Angels Walking Tour. The tour lasts 2.5 hours and visits many of DTLA’s must-see sites, including Grand Central Market,  El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, and Pershing Square.

For more information on visiting DTLA, visit discoverlosangeles.com.

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Troy Petenbrink is Metro Weekly's contributing writer for food and travel. He can be reached at thegaytraveler@gmail.com.