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Koreatown is just south of central Los Angeles
Courtesy of Sisilia Piring/The Line

Koreatown

Koreatown
This small area with 24-hour energy packs in some of the best restaurants and nightlife in Los Angeles

Just south of Hollywood and west of central Los Angeles lies Koreatown, a bustling and culturally diverse 3-square-mile area that never seems to sleep. Unlike the majority of Los Angeles, which tends to wrap up a night out by 2 am (at the latest), Koreatown is known for its energetic nightlife and for having the city’s largest concentration of 24-hour bars, clubs, restaurants and karaoke venues.

K-Town, as it’s commonly known, has an equally vibrant history. Once a hotbed of old-school Hollywood glam, the district was home to celebrity hot spots, including the original Brown Derby restaurant, the Cocoanut Grove nightclub and the Ambassador Hotel, which hosted half a dozen Academy Awards ceremonies between 1930 and 1943.

While these legendary venues are no more, today’s K-Town is home to dozens of prized LA establishments. For a trendy overnight stay, consider the Hotel Normandie, a boutique property built in the 1920s, or The Line Hotel, an industrial-chic hotel which not only has its own design-driven shop, Poketo, but also an ’80s-themed bar, Break Room 86, with karaoke suites and boozy lollipops. There’s also the art deco masterpiece The Wiltern, a designated historical landmark, which lives on as one of the largest and most legendary music venues in the city.

Koreatown is home to several multi-storey shopping centres, such as KTP, Koreatown Plaza, which melds upmarket boutiques with more standard fashion and cosmetics shops. Refuel in the food court, a K-Town staple in its own right, with many of its stalls selling authentic, inexpensive Korean street food.

Even in a foodie city like Los Angeles, Koreatown is often heralded as one of the best and most diverse restaurant neighbourhoods in the city. You’ll find an abundance of Korean barbecue of course—try Parks BBQ or Kang Hodong Baekjeong to start. But don’t miss out on other Korean specialities, such as the rice-veggie-egg mix of bibimbap (go to Jeon Ju) or hand-made noodles (try the gook soo soup at Ma Dang Gook Soo). You can cool down with one of the many Ice Flakes—towering piles of Korean-style shaved ice with ingredients such as fresh fruit, milk pudding, cereal, red beans and nuts—at Oakobing.

K-Town is also home to eclectic non-Korean offerings and many hidden gems. Start your day with a flower-infused cold brew and slice of rose or lavender cake at Bia Coffee. For dinner, consider the fusion dishes and sophisticated cocktails at Here’s Looking at You, run by former Animal chef Jonathan Whitener, or the authentic Oaxacan cuisine at Guelaguetza, a James Beard Award winner.

 

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Ryan Killackey

Southern California

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