Downtown LA

Los Angeles Street

The last time we attempted to visit an area near Skid Row was back in 2005. After many turns and u-turns we ended up at a street that was full of homeless people, dirty tents, and shopping carts full of belongings. There were so many homeless in the streets that even if we had wanted to drive down the road, we would of been unable to as they completely blocked traffic. It was a quick u-turn to get out of there; we never made an attempt to return. Now, in 2013 we decided that since we were staying only a few minutes away in Hollywood Hills, it would be worth a second try. This time, armed with better directions and a bit more confidence, we ventured downtown.

Los Angeles Street

The day was bright enough to give the area a less threatening feel, and although the homeless and street bums were still present in the area, we felt safe enough to get out of our vehicle and travel around on foot. It appeared that a lot of the useless junk that use to be sold in Chinatown around 2005 is now being sold off of Los Angeles Street and Winston. Nothing really worth purchasing, just bulk junk. We made our way through the crowds trying to avoid the stink of urine and stepping in trash and food that littered the streets.

Skid Row alley

The old buildings and abandoned suites provided unique photo subjects, but with the crowds, the flow of foot traffic, and a concise effort for personal safety, we didn't take as many pictures in the area. Many of the buildings in the area have been around since the 1900's and it was a shamed to see so many of them being destroyed and neglected. The Rosslyn Hotel was built in 1914 and at one time it was the largest hotel on the Pacific Coast, with 1,100 rooms and 800 baths between the hotel and its annex.

Rosslyn Hotel

As taken from the Los Angeles Conservancy website in regards to the Rosslyn Hotel - "When the New Rosslyn opened in 1914, newspaper reviews described a lobby adorned with marble, mahogany, and art glass, as well as a grand 450-person dining room. The lobby originally featured an enormous five-panel mural by artist Einar Peterson depicting the history of Los Angeles. The mural has since been obscured by a drop ceiling, and years of insensitive alterations and neglect have covered over or destroyed much of the interior decoration.

Despite its once-celebrated status in the downtown hotel industry, as the character of the neighborhood began to change, so did the Rosslyn. It went dark for some years before the Frontiera family purchased it in the late 1970s, renaming it the Frontier. The family’s leadership and support were instrumental in fostering the art gallery scene that is now a staple of the area. Renamed the Rosslyn Lofts in 2006, it currently provides both market-rate lofts and low-income housing."

5th Street

We traveled on foot exploring the Historic core and surrounding area of LA until lunch time rolled around. It's interesting to see how much a city can change with just a street or an alley in between. At one point we felt like we were in slums and the next we were walking through an obviously higher reserved area.
Main Street
4th Street
Winston Street
Main x Winston
Main Street
Main Street

In this area you will find Baco Mercat a unique sandwich shop developed by chef Josef Centeno.
Baco Mercat

As taken from their website - "The bäco bread is served in its original sandwich form, but we also roll it thin and bake it crispy with toppings. This inspiration is taken from the Spanish version of a pizza called “coca.”

Our menu spans Western- and Eastern-Mediterranean influences, includes both small and big plates, and continually changes with the seasons. We source our poultry, pork and beef from producers who raise their animals humanely with no growth hormones or antibiotics. We love Southern California's produce, and you'll find lots of vegetable dishes on our menu, too. Our commitment is to bring you the best-quality ingredients and make them as tasty as possible."

Boquerones : lace-battered, saffron, honey, espelette
Lamb Meatball : mint, pine nut, tomato
The Toron : oxtail hash, cheddar tater, horseradish

Between the two sandwiches, the Lamb Meatball was the winner, with much more flavor and taste in each bite. We found the Toron, which is the popular dish, lacking in flavor.

We decided to have a taste of their port wines and a bit of dessert to finish the meal. The wines and desserts were the highlight of the meal. Each one showcasing flavors and were better prepped than the sandwiches. Sadly, for those of you reading this, the desserts are seasonal and the ones we had may no longer be available.

Port Wines
Pistachio Cheesecake
Spiced Plum Bread Pudding

If you find yourself in the area, stop by for the Spiced plumb pudding or the Pistachio Cheesecake if they are in season. Fantastic dishes. Their appetizers and "bacos" leave something to be desired however.

After lunch we walked back to our car and then down to Chinatown.

Gallery Row
Gallery Row

It seems that the hustle and bustle that we once knew of Chinatown was now gone. Much of the items that use to be found in the area now were being sold down by Skid Row. The area no longer provided any photo opportunities and seemed to be a bit like walking around in a quiet residential neighborhood. We decided to head down to Melrose Avenue for the rest of the day.

La Brea Avenue
La Brea Avenue
Taken from the wikipedia entry for Melrose Ave - "Melrose Avenue is an internationally renowned shopping, dining and entertainment destination in Los Angeles that starts from Santa Monica Boulevard at the border between Beverly Hills and West Hollywood and ends at Lucille Avenue in Silver Lake. Melrose runs north of Beverly Boulevard and south of Santa Monica Boulevard.

Pioneered by adventurous independent retailers and restaurateurs, Melrose Avenue captured the global imagination as the birthplace of Southern California's New Wave and Punk cultures. Rapid notoriety quickly lured movie stars, moguls, and style seekers, leading the press to dub Melrose Avenue "the new Rodeo Drive." Ready for its close-up, the avenue enjoyed its share of TV and movie cameos, and appears regularly today in Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" segments, in addition to pop culture gems like Entourage and LA Ink.

Melrose District got its notoriety in Aaron Spelling's 1990s soap opera on the Fox network Melrose Place.

As a constantly evolving merchant district, it has featured stores such as Vinyl Fetish, Harvey's On Melrose Golden Girls Rattan Furniture and Retail Slut, They all closed several years ago, Harvey's has made a come back after 20 years but on Beverly the new Melrose while The Burger That Ate L.A., a landmark fast food stand, was in recent years replaced with a Starbucks. The original Johnny Rockets opened in this end of Melrose in 1986. Long-term stakeholders like The Groundlings, l.a.Eyeworks, Angeli Caffe and Sportie LA have shown continued dedication to the community. In 2005, musician and director Joe Hahn, member of the rock band Linkin Park, opened his concept retail store SURU on the 7600 block of Melrose. Canadian designer John Fluevog opened on Melrose in 2003. As one of the city's most walking-friendly neighborhoods, this must-see destination has maintained its reputation for an original, alternative and independent experience for more than three decades."

After reading through all of that, you would think that there would be so much to see and so much to do on Melrose Avenue. Truth be told, unless you enjoy window shopping for clothes or bar hopping, it's pretty much the opposite. None of the buildings contain any of the rustic charm that can be found near the Historic district. A lot of the stores are copies of each other, and if they can't bring you in with unique food, they strive for wit and creative names and menus. If you are looking for a place to start at, head to the Groundlings theater and go from there.
The Groundlings

Across the street and down a block you'll find Necromance, a store selling unique items such as skulls, taxidermy, and odd knick-knacks.
*Not an actual y-baby fetal skeleton. It's made of resin.

Next up, Beverly Hills! You can continue reading by going here.