Los Angeles’ Chinatown is an eclectic little neighborhood where you can shop for items ranging from herbal remedies to Asian art. In addition to traditional Chinese shops, this buzzing district has trendy galleries and stylish restaurants. Stock up on rare spices and inexpensive jewelry, savor a meal of dim sum or sip craft beers.
The development of Union Station in 1938 forced the city’s early Chinese community to relocate from its initial settlement. The Central Plaza, the neighborhood’s busy main square, was dedicated the same year and still forms the heart of Chinatown to this day. Be sure to check out this bustling square at night, when it is illuminated with neon pagoda lights and lanterns.
Across the street from Central Plaza, you’ll find Chung King Road, which has some of the city’s top art galleries. This once-rundown pedestrian passage is now regularly packed with trendsetters attending gallery openings, particularly on Saturday nights. Seek out more contemporary galleries along Gin Ling Way, on the west side of Broadway.
Stop for lunch at Philippe the Original, a cafeteria-style deli that claims to have invented the French dip sandwich. A neighborhood institution since 1908, this low-key restaurant is also known for its potent house mustard.
Take a look inside Taoist Thien Hau Temple, which is dedicated to the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. Look for a ceremonial drum and bell hanging next to the beautifully carved columns at the temple’s entrance. Inside, you’ll see granite panels carved with depictions of tigers and dragons.
Like other Chinatowns around the world, Los Angeles’ Chinatown is particularly festive during Chinese New Year. Typically beginning in late January, this month-long festival features fireworks displays, pageants, parades and other lively events. If you visit during this celebration, be sure to try nian gao (a steamed cake), which is traditionally eaten during the New Year.
Chinatown is bordered by Alameda Street, Bernard Street, Yale Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue. You’ll find plenty of open-air lots and enclosed garages for parking. Alternatively, ride the metro to Chinatown station.