When someone says that a restaurant is “off-the-beaten-path,” they rarely mean it quite as literally as the owners of Church & State obviously do. Downtown LA is often said to be enjoying a dining renaissance, with restaurants popping up everywhere, and bars in constant swing. But just beyond a small border that contains spots such as Seven Grand, and Drago Centro, there is not much more than Little Tokyo, and Church & State.
Once you’ve made your way there, though, you’ll be pleased to find a classic French bistro with an edge. There are the requisite touches — blackboards with food and wine specials, lightbulbs strung up over head, baguettes wrapped in brown paper, and wooden boards that carry cheeses and charcuterie offerings. Keeping with the theme, the menu would make any nostalgic Francophile feel right at home. Bouillabaisse, tartes aux artichauts, steak frites, and moules marinieres are done so well, it really will make you feel like you’ve escaped to this edgy, cobblestoned street corner in Paris. Having a kir will put you over the edge with a cool romanticism that would be truly impossible about a block away.
In my experience, their dinner service is superior to lunch — the menu still boasts traditional bistro cuisine during the day, but for whatever reason the atmosphere and the dishes were infinitely more unforgettable at night. No matter when you go, there’s no reason to skip dessert, though. It's always fantastic.