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Curbed Cup 1st round: (2) Koreatown vs. (15) Sawtelle

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Which neighborhood should advance? Vote now!

The Wiltern in Koreatown.
Kent Kanouse

The Curbed Cup, our annual award for the neighborhood of the year, is kicking off with 16 neighborhoods vying for the prestigious (fake) trophy. We’ll reveal each of the neighborhoods this week, and polls will be open for 24 hours so you can cast your vote as to which ones should advance. Let the eliminations commence!


If we had one word to sum up Koreatown, it might be “overwhelming.” The busy neighborhood has so much to see and do, it can be hard to decide where to start.

A trip to the spa? A bit of bulgogi? Dumplings? Soondae? Maybe you’d prefer to catch a show at the Wiltern? Or drive golf balls into a big net right off Wilshire Boulevard?

Koreatown packs a lot into a relatively small area, and now developers are trying to pack dozens of new projects into that same space. Among the highlights: a condo and hotel project next to the historic Wilshire Galleria, a museum (with housing attached) dedicated to Korean American culture and history, and a massive mixed use project partly developed by the county.

The walkable neighborhood is already home to three subway stations and iconic Los Angeles landmarks like the Bullocks Wilshire Building, the soaring Wilshire Boulevard Temple, and, of course, Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment building.


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One of the more low-key areas on the Westside, Sawtelle is a haven of Japanese culture and cuisine that’s easy to walk around. And, thanks to the recently completed Expo Line extension, it’s a bit more transit-friendly as well.

Developers seem to be gravitating toward the area lately, and an affordable housing complex, a boutique hotel, and a residential project close to the train are all now in the works.

A foodie’s paradise, Sawtelle also attracts plenty of film snobs, with the lovely Nuart Theatre and the nearby Cinefile video store (still hanging in there after 18 years in business).

Further down the block is Touch Vinyl, one of LA’s best record stores, and a couple spots to pick up used and rare books. What more could one ask for?