36 Hours in Koreatown, Los Angeles

36 Hours in Koreatown, Los Angeles

Photo of The New York Times

As the most densely packed part of Los Angeles, Koreatown is also one of the city’s most strollable, with Art Deco buildings, palm-lined streets and East-meets-West restaurants.

11 Places
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    This 92-room boutique hotel is located in a 1920s Renaissance-revival building whose neo-Moorish interiors were restored last summer.
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    This vast 24-hour temple of relaxation is a multistoried labyrinth of salt, clay, jade and ice saunas.
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    Sprawl out in the Brutalist-style lobby or watch the street theater that is Wilshire Boulevard from the cafe's sidewalk terrace while dining on congee porridge — livened up by peanuts, fried garlic and an egg — or baked croissant and red bean buns.
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    This nautical-themed tavern is a cozy vessel, devoid of sunlight, serving grog out of the shipshape bar where once, according to nameplates on the walls, the likes of Winston Churchill, William Randolph Hearst and Jack Webb feasted.
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    Now one of the city’s pre-eminent performance spaces, the Wiltern’s terrazzo-tiled lobby and starburst-ceilinged auditorium were destined for the wrecking ball before public outrage intervened.
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    It might come as a surprise that K-Town’s largest population is Latino, but nowhere is that fact more evident than in Guelaguetza, a shrine to Oaxacan cuisine, including grilled goat, grilled cactus, sautéed grasshoppers and a prodigious list of mescal.
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    Glam neon-colored glasses? Retro sun hats? Hello Kitty everything? These and other treasures can be uncovered at the Koreatown Plaza, a 1980s mall of upscale brands, exotic supermarkets and a downstairs food court.
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    Summon your urban Arnold Palmer by shooting golf balls through a block of skyscrapers at a 150-yard driving range surrounded by acres of green netting, or escape into the adjoining spa for a rigorous Korean body scrub.
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    The rainbow of crepes, mocha waffles, mung-bean croissants and pastries is inspiring, but the greatest thing about Iota is the coffee: wake-the-dead Americanos and sweet potato lattes.
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    Join the perpetual party of loyal customers as they talk over the open grills centered on each table where hyperkinetic waiters cook bulgogi beef, shrimp and octopus accompanied by a dozen side dishes of kimchi, chile paste, and pickled roots.
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    Old Los Angeles and new Korea collide in Chapman Plaza, a riot of Asian coffee shops, boutiques, cafes, discos and karaoke joints, all within a 1929 complex of Spanish-revival towers, stained glass, Moorish grillwork and the funkiest courtyard.
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