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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Cocola: The SoHo-ization of L.A.

September 25, 1987|RUTH REICHL

You can finally stop wondering if downtown is ever going to turn into a real artist's neighborhood that West Coast SoHo people keep talking about. With the arrival of Cocola, 410 Boyd St., (213) 680-0756, it is clear that the SoHo-ization of L.A. is upon us.

Cocola has all the signs of the artist's restaurant. The neighborhood is slightly funky, and decidedly bare, but the room is clean and slick and filled with blond wood. A long metal sculpture hangs over the bar. The menu is graphically striking, and the food is a chic and eclectic blend of oysters on the half shell, ceviche, watercress salad, hamburgers, grilled salmon, chili, lobster tacos and pasta of the day. The waiters, of course, are poets and artists, with the help of an occasional out-of-work actor. And naturally the place stays open until 2 a.m.

But for all its hip airs, the restaurant has a pleasantly laid-back feeling. The food's pretty good and everybody seems eager to please. This airy, light-filled room is a nice little lunch spot, a perfect place to eat after the theater, and unquestionably the best-looking bar in the neighborhood.

At least for now.

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