Ari Taymor, the chef at Alma, isn't afraid to show his love for Downtown, the neighborhood where he both lives and works.
"It's my favorite part of L.A.," Taymor says. "The architecture is beautiful, and it's so dynamic—there are a lot of galleries and creative projects you wouldn't see in other neighborhoods."
We asked Taymor where he eats and drinks when he's not behind the line. Here, his favorite spots.
Breakfast: Juice Crafters
Ari's order: At this tiny storefront stocked with bottled cold-pressed juices, he grabs a green smoothie—the Silver Cup ($8) with almond milk, coconut water, kale, walnuts, dates and banana.
Why he loves it: "In the mornings, it's tough to have enough time to sit down and eat breakfast. They basically take all the stuff I'd want to eat and put it in a blender. And they use really great ingredients too."
Second Breakfast: Spring for Coffee
Ari's order: He doubles up on his liquid breakfast with a large black coffee to go at the no-frills kiosk.
Why he loves it: "Even if you just get a drip coffee, they do a great job of keeping it fresh. It's nicely roasted and not over-extracted."
Lunch: Sushi Gen
Ari's order: At the stellar sushi spot inside an unassuming Little Tokyo strip mall, he usually sits at the counter and orders the omakase tasting.
Why he loves it: "It's simple and unpretentious, and the fish is super fresh. The service is really friendly; they don't take reservations, so you just walk in. You may have to wait, but it's worth it."
Dinner: Bar Amá
Ari's order: Josef Centeno's casual Tex-Mex joint has a bunch of dishes he likes, such as the gooey, five-cheese queso dip ($9) and the tomatillo, chile, apple and citrus-topped crudo ($13) to start. He also digs the albondigas ($13), meatballs served in a skillet with salsa verde, cotija cheese and pine nuts, then topped with a sunny-side up egg and fried masa cake.
Why he loves it: "As a kid, I ate a lot of Taco Bell. I really like the restaurant's Tex-Mex vibe, and while I stopped eating fast food a long time ago, Bar Amá really gets to that emotional satisfaction of eating cheese and sour cream."
Ari's order: A Negroni on the rocks at the classic bar.
Why he loves it: "This place has been around since 1904; it's the originator of the French dip sandwich. It's really brightly lit and kind of grimy—but the bartenders are well trained and can make anything you ask them to. And, they make your drink quickly, so you're not waiting 15 minutes for it."
Dessert: Big Gay Ice Cream
Ari's order: TBD, seeing as the NYC-based scoop shop is slated to open soon.
Why he loves it: "I've only tried their ice cream once, when they had a truck they were driving around L.A. The texture is really great, and it wasn't too sweet. Plus, the guys who own it [Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff] are just so nice and friendly. They're going to be super close to Alma. It'll round out the neighborhood nicely."
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