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The best wine bars in Los Angeles

In the mood for some quality vino? Sniff, swirl and sip your way through the best wine bars in the city.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Bar Bandini

The right lighting, knowledgable bartenders, excellent pours—there's a lot that goes into creating a top-notch wine bar. In LA, cocktail bars and beer bars are aplenty, but there are also fantastic boîtes offering quality reds, whites and everything in between. Whether you're an aficionado, newbie or just someone looking for a great first date spot, this town has you covered. Winos, check out our top picks of the city’s best wine bars and dig in your heels.

 

LA's best wine bars

1

Bar Covell

Dustin Lancaster and Matthew Kaner became friends at the retail shop Silverlake Wine, and years later opened Bar Covell. There’s never a quiet night at this Los Feliz den of wines that all have a story to tell through interesting, lesser-known bottles. Kaner and staff are as deft in wine speak as they are in steering the consumer toward a happy pour of wine (or bottle) served in Riedel glasses. Ask for a seat at Bar 1 for prime people watching, and discover a new wine from the ever-changing menu. A limited food menu of wine- and beer–friendly items like cheese and charcuterie help satiate wine geeks and amateur enthusiasts alike.

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Los Feliz
2

Bar Bandini

Dark, sexy and surprisingly unpretentious, Bar Bandini is the neighborhood wine bar Echo Park didn’t know it needed. A curated selection of natural and organic wines and beers is listed on black letter boards, both legible and imposing in scale. Dark painted walls, suede banquettes and black slate surfaces are balanced with rustic exposed wood, conducive to both date nights and catching up with friends. Bandini’s tap offerings are all produced in California—Zin fans might opt for the Field Recordings Fiction, a robust and brambly blend from Paso Robles, while white wine drinkers should go for the Batterieberg C.A.I. Reisling: dry, crisp, ripe and seriously quaffable.

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Echo Park
3

Augustine

From the successful duo behind Bar Covell comes Augustine, a Sherman Oaks wine bar specializing in some serious vintage varietals. Matthew Kaner and Dustin Lancaster, along with newcomer Dave Gibbs, have carved out a little slice of heaven from a former Brats Brothers along Ventura Boulevard, complete with black truffle cheese plates, $6 tater tots and some of the rarest vino you'll find in the valley, let alone the entire city. There's a rotating list of 75 varieties by the glass, including gems like the spicy reserve Vina Olabarri tempranillo from Spain's Rioja region and an Austrian sparkling rosé. Intimate two-tops and low lighting make this a prime date spot—it doesn’t get more romantic than comparing notes on a $350 bottle of 1959 Coron Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru.

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Sherman Oaks
4

Esters Wine Shop & Bar

Snuggled directly beside Cassia on Santa Monica’s 7th Street, this wine shop and bar is light, bright and airy, with its impressive inventory visibly stocked to the ceiling on the surrounding shelves. Some 250 wines are for sale by the bottle, and about 20 by the glass in the bar, with France, Italy, Spain and the U.S. all represented through the thoughtful selection of wine director Kathryn Weil Coker. Wine aficionados looking to splurge, schmooze and be seen while they sip will do just fine here, while if you’re on a budget, you’ll likely flinch at the sight of Esters' by-the-glass wine prices. The outdoor patio offers a breezy option for glamorous al fresco imbibing, and don't forget to pair your vino with some of chef Jeremy Fox's fine cheeses and charcuterie.

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Santa Monica
5

AOC

Caroline Styne and Suzanne Goin have created a beautiful restaurant and wine bar with AOC, where just as many people come to sip on unique wines as they do to enjoy dinner. The wine list is dedicated to boutique producers of the unusual and eclectic (think: small production, biodynamic), with a condensed list of twenty-some wines by the glass, ranging from $9 to $28. No cute water glasses here—serious winos can appreciate the aromas and flavors in proper wine glasses, better appreciated with Goin's signature seasonal, Cal-Med small plates. Stop in for $6 wine by the glass during nightly happy hour and take in the action from the communal table alongside the well-heeled crowd.

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Beverly
6

Barbrix

This Silver Lake wine bar feels like home away from home: a cozy den with an elevated, wood-beam ceiling over a 360-degree bar and L-shaped dining room that gives way to an open kitchen. The ever-changing wine list presents affordable and accessible value wines from around the globe with a focus on the marriage of food and drink. Sit on the patio or four-sided bar as you choose from more than 50 pours by the glass, from California Syrah to Rhone Valley reds, and share plates like deviled eggs, pork and ricotta meatballs and a seasonally changing assortment of cheese and charcuterie.

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Silver Lake
7

Pour Haus Wine Bar

The revitalization of DTLA is alive and well, as evidenced by this wine bar and retail store nestled on an enchanting, neighborhood block. Owner (and wine pro) Lorena Porras worked as a wine distributor for eight years and offers global wines she’s passionate about from small-production, family-owned winemakers. The atmosphere is derived from the friendly, easy-going staff, Porras included, who’ll help you decide on a wine by the glass or a three- to four-glass flight, which rotates monthly. If you really liked a wine you tasted, grab it off the shelf and take it home for more imbibing. Join locals at the intimate bar or patio or drop in for trivia night on Tuesdays at 7:30pm, when the winning team wins $20 toward their bill.

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Downtown Arts District
8

Vertical Wine Bistro

Turn into an alley and climb the wrought iron staircase that leads to this eclectic wine bistro as the sounds of Sinatra drift around you. A domed glass ceiling reminiscent of Paris’ indoor markets marks the entryway of this sleek, elegantly-lit and dark-toned noble house of wine in Pasadena. Old World is the focus here, with French and Italian terroir-driven wines (think: earthy and mineral-y), though equally impressive is a list of New World crowd-pleasers: fruit-forward, lush, opulent wines from California. Ask to try a vertical flight—a tasting of three wines from three consecutive vintages from a single producer—poured in Riedel glasses. Hungry? There are small plates—cheese, charcuterie, sliders and pizza—for snacking and sharing, as well as full dinner options.

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Pasadena
9

D'Vine Wine Cellar

Raise a glass to D’Vine, an unstuffy wine sanctuary hidden beneath Downtown’s O Hotel, where imbibers descend into a shadowy den of communal tables and worn-in sofas. Start by cracking open the D’Vine binder, a compendium of all of the 50-plus international varietals and the dozen-or-so grape-based spirits that this cellar can hold. If you get overwhelmed, D'Vine's spirited wine director Joe Ochs (formerly GM of Scratch Bar) or his posse of in-the-know servers are there to lend a hand. And if you get hungry, there are funky cheeses (3 for $12) and adventurous French dishes to share.

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Downtown
10

Bacaro LA

On most nights this intimate Downtown wine bar is hopping with USC sorority girls, grad students and professors, as well as the nearby, after-work crowd. The wine program focuses on Italian wines by the glass and changes as frequently as the attention span of its patrons—the chalkboard wall showcases a constantly rotating menu of eight reds, seven whites, two sparkling and two sweet, replaced after each case. The atmosphere is pure conviviality, and serious wine geeks sit at the long, communal table to make new friends and sniff what’s in their glass. Don’t miss Sunday brunch (11am-3pm), as well as Monday night happy hour (5-7pm) with $5 plates and half-off wines by the glass.

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USC/Exposition Park
11

Venice Beach Wines

The smoky scent of grilled panini and pizzas fills the interior and tented patio space at Norma Alvarado and Oscar Hermosillo's casual and intimate neighborhood wine bar. There are 20 wines by the glass ranging in different prices, regions and varietals—choose from 100% Tempranillo house red to Sexual Chocolate, a rich Zinfandel and Syrah blend with a subtle mocha finish—and a small plates, Mediterranean menu. Venice’s eclectic, artsy crowd convene around communal tables—opt for the table made from an old Oregon stump—for weekday happy hour from 4-6pm when beer is $4, wine by the glass is $7 and bottles are 25% off.

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Venice
12

Luna Vine Wine Bar

Between the top-notch vino and engaging staff, this Magnolia Park gem is just the boîte to awaken your palate. The staff has put together a score of excellent varietals—from a Santa Barbara calm, cool and collected 2010 White Hawk Cordon Syrah to Coto de Hayas' brazenly bold 2011 "Garnacha Centenaria." Guests would be remiss not to sip these alongside small plates off executive chef Wes Pumphrey's carefully curated American-Mediterranean menu: try the lamb meatballs, the charcuterie and cheese boards, and the pistachio biscotti with a side of spiced chocolate for dessert. Take advantage of "studio hour" from 4-6pm when there are half-off specials on selected wines and beers.

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San Fernando Valley

See the best wine bars in America

Comments

2 comments
kellyhargraves
kellyhargraves

what about VINOTECA on Hillhurst? i love that place