Multi-concept dining destinations have proliferated across the country in recent years, from Hudson Yards in New York City to more recent projects, like Julia & Henry’s, a 26-concept food hall in downtown Miami.
Moving to the West Coast, Level 8 was originated by Los Angeles hospitality veterans Mark and Jonnie Houston, who spent the past 15 years opening and operating some of the city’s most popular bars, clubs, and music venues, including Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Black Rabbit Rose, and Harvard and Stone.
Level 8 is located at the Moxy and AC Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, a dual property that has 727 combined guestrooms. The hotel opened in April and Level 8 debuted in September in a high-traffic location across the street from Crypto.com Arena and the Los Angeles Convention Center. The venue comprises five restaurants, two bars, and a nightclub, and it covers 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space.
“What we have learned in our 20-plus years of opening restaurants and bars around LA is that people want more than just dinner or drinks out,” Mark Houston said in a statement. “They want to discover something new and come away with a sense that they’ve done something memorable, something different. Level 8 is all about creating opportunities for that kind of immersive discovery; it’s a culmination of our experiences that pays homage to Downtown Los Angeles’ rich heritage and history.”
When building out the project, the Houston Brothers collaborated with Lightstone — the real estate group that developed and owns the hotels — and they pulled in some of the city’s top talent to conceptualize the diverse stable of restaurants.
Los Angeles native Ray Garcia, who’s best known for his now-closed Broken Spanish concept, is behind a South American live fire grill called Qué Bárbaro as well as the Brown Sheep, a food truck serving what he calls “authentically inauthentic” Mexican street food with an Angeleno twist.
Chef Josh Gil of Mirate, a Mexican restaurant and bar in the Los Feliz neighborhood, is also helming two concepts. The first is a French-Teppanyaki spot called Maison Kasai, and the second is Mother of Pearl, an outdoor oyster and ceviche bar.
Joel Robuchon protégé Hisae Stuck has opened Lucky Mizu, which is inspired by the Japanese art of cooking with water and will feature shabu shabu (a hotpot dish) and steam-cooked items. Diners can prepare their own dishes by dipping Wagyu beef, Kurobuta pork and fresh vegetables in a selection of broths.
The eclectic mix of restaurants includes three bars that will provide drinks and a hangout space before and after meals. Mr. Wanderlust is Level 8’s flagship bar, named for the fictional globetrotting character driving the dining location’s eccentric personality. Part-piano bar and part-jazz lounge, the lively spot incorporates a theatrical spin in its décor and programming. Look up, and you might see an aerialist swinging from the chandelier. Keep your eyes trained on the stage, and you might spy silhouetted singers. The bar serves creative globally inspired cocktails and small plates like caviar toad in the hole and chicken karaage (Japanese fried chicken).
Additional concepts include Sinners y Santos, a nightclub that channels both a 19th-century cathedral setting and the Mexican luchador tradition, and serves agave cocktails. Golden Hour is a rooftop pool deck with a rotating carousel bar that serves Tiki-inspired cocktails.
“Our trademark is a trifecta of a unique concept, a great cocktail program, and terrific entertainment, and the neighborhood provides us with so many unique cultural references that we can play off of,” Jonnie Houston said.
He and his brother had been waiting for the right opportunity to fill a gap in Downtown LA serving as a pre- and post-event destination for locals and visitors who flock to the area for games and events at the nearby stadiums and arenas.
“With Level 8, we’re really blowing it out of the water,” Houston said.