Back in early March, a reader sent in a tip to watch for a new deli shop from the Crenshaw District, called Mike’s Deli, that was opening along First Street in the Little Tokyo and Civic Center area. Now, Mike’s Deli has been open for a little longer than a month and has added another eatery to a growing neighborhood in Little Tokyo. Already, it seems like Yelp reviewers have embraced the new location with 4.5 out of 5 stars.
On any given day or night, Little Tokyo is a thriving district that feels, in my opinion, like one of the most coherent neighborhoods in Downtown LA. Not long ago, Little Tokyo was as empty and derelict as any other abandoned part of Downtown LA but has evolved quickly into a culinary and retail hot spot. Residents have also been moving in as new developments have been completed (i.e., Hikari, Sakura Crossing, Savoy, etc.).
Contrary to the district’s ethnic moniker, it has evolved into a diverse culinary dining scene filled with eateries of many backgrounds in addition to Japanese ramen and sushi, such as Korean, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Hawaiian and now Mike’s Deli on First Street.
Mike’s Deli is stocked with Boar’s Head meat sandwiches, and according to the manager I spoke to at Mike’s Deli, has become a popular lunch spot for Civic Center workers including LAPD and even those here in Downtown LA on jury duty. In addition, I was told that a few residents of Little Tokyo have discovered the deli by just walking by.
To me, this is the exciting evolution of a cosmopolitan neighborhood (as one would expect for a metropolis as diverse as Los Angeles) and reminds me of the kind of neighborhoods one might see in New York where people of all backgrounds live in close proximity, bringing together a diverse mix of culinary tastes.