17 Must-Try Restaurants and Bars in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo
If you haven't visited Los Angeles' downtown in a while, you may be surprised to know that it's undergone a bit of a renaissance that has transformed it quite dramatically in the past 10 years.
One neighborhood that's continued to thrive is Little Tokyo, which consists of about five city blocks in the northern part of Downtown L.A. This Japantown is where Japanese culture reigns supreme, with an abundance of cultural and historic activities to explore, but it's the Japanese food that is perhaps its main draw. Here are 17 restaurants and bars in Little Tokyo that should be on your culinary bucket list.
Indulge in authentic Japanese comfort food at Suehiro Cafe. The restaurant, started by two sisters, has been up and running for 50 years.
The menu offers a relaxed atmosphere with Japanese favorites like ramen, gyoza and chazuke.
Since 1903, this family-owned establishment has provided Los Angeles with handcrafted mochi confections.
People flock to the little shop, with a line often running out the door.
Offering the popular Japanese sanuki-style udon, Marugame Monzo is where you go to fulfill a craving for the chunky, chewy noodles served in a dashi-based broth.
Meanwhile, the modern atmosphere provides an elevated dining experience.
Sushi Gen Restaurant
Head to the Honda Plaza strip mall for an unbeatable deal on raw fish at Sushi Gen Restaurant.
The restaurant is known for its sashimi lunch special, which comes with miso soup, a warm tofu dish, a big bowl of rice and a large sashimi plate that will put you back less than $20!
This high-end sushi restaurant in Little Tokyo is known for its Omakase dining experience. You’ll be amazed by the edible art created using high-quality cuts of sushi-grade fish.
Meanwhile, the kitchen whips up creamy pastas topped with seafood, wagyu fried rice, grilled Chilean seabass and more. The stylish atmosphere only adds to the allure.
A no-frills setting puts the emphasis on the colorful dishes served at Aloha Cafe. This Little Tokyo staple is a family-run, daytime diner serving up Hawaiian cuisine.
Come for the spam and eggs, slow-cooked BBQ pork or French toast featuring giant blocks of sweet Hawaiian bread.
Another low-key breakfast spot, Jist Cafe features a quaint interior and sunny patio.
Serving Little Tokyo since the 1920s, the cafe will keep you full with its hefty portions, including the Super Huge Breakfast Burrito and the classic Porky Omurice (ketchup fried omelet rice with hickory ham and peas in demi-glace sauce).
If you’re looking for a luxurious place to DIY your own dinner, look no further than Kagaya. The famous shabu-shabu will set you back a pretty penny (plan to pay $128 for the wagyu beef!), but the quality meat and seafood are every bit worth it.
With your order, you’ll get two seasonal appetizers, a bowl of soup, assorted fresh vegetables, udon noodle soup, housemade pickled vegetables and dessert.
Men Oh Tokushima Ramen
Slurp back some ramen at Men Oh Tokushima Ramen. Located in the Honda Plaza, the tiny, bustling establishment is revered for its flavorful, fulfilling bowls of the popular Japanese noodle soup meal.
Order the tokushima-style ramen, consisting of a 16-hour-simmered pork broth, for a truly mouth-watering experience.
A morning must and a perfect afternoon pick-me-up, Cafe Dulce impresses with its coffee, tea and donut offerings.
Pair any of the tea lattes with the green tea donut and be whisked away to a sugary, high-energy heaven.
Move over meaty broth dishes and spicy tuna rolls! Shojin provides a pleasing twist on traditional Japanese cuisine with its fully plant-based menu.
Creative menu items include the new Aburi “Wagyu Roll,” featuring marinated thinly sliced eggplant nigiri sushi topped with truffled enoki mushroom.
Wolf & Crane
This divey-meets-chic hangout is a neighborhood favorite known for its creative cocktails and inviting decor. It’s also home to the largest collection of Japanese whiskey in the U.S.
If you’re feeling hungry, you can nosh on gyoza, steamed edamame or chicken karaage.
Far Bar may be hard to find, but once you do, expect to stay for hours.
The quaint space is home to a string-lit patio, a dizzying array of artisan beers and spirits, and delicious bar food, including burgers, bacon fried rice, sushi rolls and more.
This woman-run cocktail bar will make you feel like you’re on vacation thanks to its fruity, nautical-themed cocktails with names like “Drink Like a Fish” and “Get Wrecked.”
Small, sensational bites include tangy, spicy wings and hot fried-chicken sliders.
A hidden gem with all the fun, The Escondite is a local’s favorite. Expect live music and quality cocktails with funny names like “The Lot Lizard” and “The Clown Suit.”
There’s also plenty of yummy bar food and a great patio with views of the downtown skyline.
Craft beer connoisseurs will love this new hangout in Little Tokyo on the border of the Arts District.
The microbrewery and tap room offers small snacks, too, while you can bring in bites or order from nearby restaurants to complement your beer-tasting experience.
Justice Urban Tavern
Located within the neighborhood’s DoubleTree hotel, Justice Urban Tavern is a bustling sports bar. The energy is lively, the decor is sleek and the environment is welcoming. It’s the ideal spot for a hearty bite and a delicious drink.
Both locals and guests of the hotel both rave about how unexpectedly elevated the experience proves to be.