Just south of Hollywood and west of Downtown Los Angeles lies Koreatown, a bustling and culturally diverse 3-square-mile neighborhood that never seems to sleep. Unlike the majority of Los Angeles, which tends to wrap up a night out by 2 a.m. (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 hotspots.
K-Town, as it’s commonly known, has an equally vibrant history as well. Once a hotbed of old-school Hollywood glam, the district was home to celebrity enclaves, including the original Brown Derby restaurant, the Cocoanut Grove nightclub, and the Ambassador Hotel, which hosted a half dozen Academy Awards ceremonies between 1930 and 1943.
While these legendary spots are no more, today’s K-Town is home to dozens of prized L.A. 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 push-pops. There’s the art deco masterpiece The Wiltern, a designated historical landmark, which lives on as one of the largest, most legendary music venues in the city.
Koreatown is home to several multilevel shopping malls, such as KTP, Koreatown Plaza, which melds upscale boutiques with more standard apparel and cosmetics shops. Refuel in the food court, a K-Town staple in its own right, with many of its stalls slinging 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 neighborhoods in the city. You’ll find an abundance of Korean barbeque, of course—try Parks BBQ or Kang Hodong Baekjeong to start. But don’t miss out on other Korean specialties, 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 combos 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, led by former Animal chef Jonathan Whitener, or the authentic Oaxacan cuisine at Guelaguetza, a James Beard Award winner.