Amid the seriousness of skyscrapers and corporate buildings in Downtown Los Angeles, a new center has emerged, bursting with color and promising a variety of culinary delights. Simply called Fig at 7th, this semi-circular complex serves a wide range of tastes, offering the flavors of India, Greece, Mexico, Korea and, for the less gastronomically adventurous, good old American favorites. The restaurants are clustered together as small, quick-service venues accompanied by a clean, spacious eating area that spans both indoor and out.
Not far off, another American-style eatery, Juicy Lucy, offers the classic burger, fries and shake combo. A fresh take on this traditional meal might include the namesake burger (which has cheese stuffed inside the beef), a salted-caramel shake and the Sriracha cheese fries.
Those who try to eat consciously and sustainably will be at ease munching at Mendocino Farms. Inspired by the Northern California county that has shown great support for the Slow Food movement, this restaurant “promotes eating seasonally and locally,” as explained on their website. The menu offers numerous healthy options, including robust salads and vegan dishes, alongside a long list of sandwiches inspired by seasonal produce, including “Chef Judy’s Special Sandwich Pick,” assembled from “the best the Farmer’s Market has to offer.”
Indus by Saffron brings the taste of India to the West Coast in an array of colorful, aromatic dishes cooked by renowned Chef Bhupender Singh. Singh developed his cooking skills in his home country at a restaurant “regularly named the best Indian restaurant in the world.”
Through open glass doors, passerbys walking by the Downtown L.A. location are able to watch as the chief reproduces the authentic flavors of India in the clay ovens, called tandoors.
A craving for Asian food may be satisfied at Oleego by Park’s Barbeque, which serves a traditional Korean menu, including dishes such as prime beef tongue and seasoned special pork belly, which might not appeal to less intrepid eaters. As explained on the Fig at 7th website, Oleego falls under the “fast-casual … category that combines high-quality and healthy food, with quick services and a comfortable dining environment at accessible prices.”
Joe Kim, owner and chef of The Flying Pig Café, uses his traditional culinary background with his travels over the world to create an international menu. The effect of these different cultural tastes is evident in the menu, which ranges from escargot to duck-fried rice to grilled Santa Barbara calamari.
Even more exotic tastes can be found at George’s Greek Grill, which serves traditional Greek dishes including gyro, keftethes, falafel and spanakopita. For those who prefer dishes they can pronounce, soups, salads, burgers and sandwiches are also available.
Loteria Grill, which has been successful in a number of locations including Hollywood, Santa Monica and the Farmers Market, boasts “the very best regional Mexican cuisine, handmade tortillas, [and] refreshing aguas frescas.” Chef Jimmy Shaw of Loteria Grill has been featured on the Today show, in the magazine Bon Appétit and the “L.A.’s Original Farmer’s Market Cookbook.”
Perhaps the most exciting of all the additions to the Fig at 7th complex, Sprinkles Cupcakes has appeared in its usual shades of pink and chocolate brown. Declared by the Los Angeles Times as “the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze,” Sprinkles — having perfected the soft cake texture and delicately sweet, smooth frosting from the start — remains a favorite even amid an ever-growing number of competitors. You can’t go wrong with a classic red-velvet cupcake, but (speaking from experience) the triple-cinnamon cupcake deserves high praise as well. With gluten-free and vegan options, everyone can enjoy the cheerful environment and impending sugar rush promised by Sprinkles Cupcakes.