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HomeDowntown Los AngelesDTLA Gets a Fast Food and Fast-Casual Face Lift Near 7th Street...

DTLA Gets a Fast Food and Fast-Casual Face Lift Near 7th Street Metro Center

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New Taco Bell coming to the corner of 7th and Flower near the 7th Street Metro Center station // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Whether you work there or are just passing through, downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) is a bustling wonderland for Angelenos who hate to cook. Restaurants and food courts offer just about every type of cuisine, price point, and atmosphere one could possibly ask for.

That also includes a plethora of fast food and fast-casual joints, primarily clustered around the 7th Street Metro Center station. FIG at 7th and the Taste Food Hall within the complex are mostly populated by chains and fast-casual franchises, as opposed to the independent vendor dominance at Grand Central Market. At The Bloc built into the 7th Street Metro Center, the anchor restaurants are independent fine dining with heavy foot traffic coming for far more casual fare like Starbucks, Qwench, and Marugame Ramen.

Amidst these microcosms of commuter, visitor, and work-live arrangements in DTLA lofts that make the neighborhood such a hotspot for dining, 7th Street is seeing more local and national chains take over empty restaurant spaces.

One of the most notable changes is Taco Bell coming to the corner of 7th and Flower. LA is actually Taco Bell’s birthplace and the chain has dozens of stores throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Although given that there’s a Pinche’s Tacos on Grand Street, Ocho Grill inside Taste Food Hall down the block, Chipotle around the corner, and numerous taco trucks around the neighborhood at any given time, it will be interesting to see how this new location fares.

Fast-casual Mexican grill competitor Qdoba is out of the 7th Street game, with Hawaiian grill franchise Ono BBQ entering the space it once occupied on 7th and Hope Street.

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At the time of writing, Ono BBQ is still under construction after fast-casual Mexican grill Qdoba vacated the large space adjacent to the Metro entrance in late 2023. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Ono Hawaiian BBQ was founded in 2002 and the chain is rapidly expanding in 2024. With more than 100 stores in California and Arizona, the company recently opened a store in Lancaster with further plans to expand throughout SoCal. DTLA can be a surer bet for expanding a franchise compared to other LA neighborhoods based on the sheer volume of commuters and tourists. While proximity to the Metro doesn’t have the same cachet in LA that it would in a city like New York or Chicago, LA is becoming more transit-forward and being literally on top of a major hub will only be a net positive for businesses, residences, and mixed-use developments alike.

Ono Hawaiian BBQ and Taco Bell aren’t the only restaurants coming to the block, though. Northern Cafe Chinese Dumpling House is coming to 725 7th Street. The restaurant appears to operate under a franchise model with each individual store throughout the city having its own independently operated website. We expect they will open its 7th Street DTLA location soon after the time of writing.

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The storefront is finished but they were still closed for business at the time of passing by. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

The franchise originated in the San Gabriel Valley and offers table service and house-made dumplings that keep diners coming back. Northern Cafe openings are known to have fervor with lines forming outside, so you might want to wait for opening day hysteria to calm down before picking up some xiao long bao.

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