Downtown Appetite: 2o2o The Year In Food


October 2020

Two weeks after the oldest fine dining location in LA, the iconic Pacific Dining car closes. By October most people agree, the Downtown dining scene is in serious trouble.

pacific dining car

Indoor dining is still banned, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Well, actually, it’s coming from outside.

After dozens of restaurants learn the City of Los Angeles is giving permits to set up makeshift dining areas in their adjacent parking lots, street parking spaces and lane closures; Downtown restaurants get to work building some of the most ingenious outdoor patios the DT has ever seen.

Some use pallets, some build with foliage, others buy pop-up tents, ropes, barriers, burlap, hay bushels, caution signs, outdoor space heaters, hang lights, more plywood and just about anything to attract customers to their new outdoor amendments. And it works!

People are allowed to dine outdoors with social distancing with limited capacity and eat without a mask while sipping wine in the great outdoors.

Having enough outdoor patio space now becomes a lifeline for lots of Downtown restaurants. Historic Engine Co. 28 finds an extra lane on Figueroa, sets up behind barricades and hosts live music most days.

engine co
Shown Here: Engine Co 28

Brera Ristorante uses its valet parking lot to set up a premier outdoor dining experience. Manuela expands table seating to its farm-inspired courtyard.

For those able to utilize larger areas, salvation seems near. It’s an L.A. Al Fresco experience that’s costly but shows signs promise.

The energy of Downtown’s fermented fun is growing to the point that people begin to wonder, “Maybe, if things go well, we can celebrate Halloween?”

But how? Halloween is definitely the most anticipated bar hopping, nightlife adventure of the year but Uncle Cedd Mo of 213 (Pour Your Heart Hospitality) fame is MIA. There’s no Casey’s, no Cole’s, no Seventh Grand, no Imperial Western, and even the Golden Gopher has dug himself a hole and won’t come out.

The Historic Core’s remaining eateries are all that’s left to generate the excitement that once was. The Falls, Down N Out, Redline, El Dorado, Cranes, Wolves, Clifton’s, Bang Bang Room, Precinct and so many others find their top shelves once lined with signature spirits, now lined with layers of dust.

By October 2020 – Halloween, and even nighttime for that matter, has been officially canceled. And it’s about to get even worse.

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