AOC has maintained its seasonal consistency over the years, serving the denizens of Los Angeles for a decade. The neighborhood wine bar is back in the limelight with a charming relocated home on West Third Street and a successful reinvention from chef Suzanne Goin and business partner Caroline Styne. Now, there’s more reason to visit more than ever.
With a gorgeous patio and tastefully simple dining room with natural hues accent Goin’s rustic cuisine, AOC is a restaurant fit for many occasions—date night in a cozy back booth or drinks with friends at the communal table or bar.
AOC is still centered on Californian: seasonal salads, plenty of vegetables and dishes from the wood-burning oven including pizzette-like focaccia. Fans of the original AOC will be happy to see signature dishes such as curried cauliflower, arroz nero and bacon-wrapped dates. The expanded menu also includes larger plates to share from housemade sausages to half and whole roast chicken. While some dishes are better than others, Goin’s seasonal menu provides ample variety and generally succeeds.
Styne curates an expanded list of organic, natural and biodynamic boutique wines from around the world. Offered by the glass and by the bottle, the comprehensive selection range from the esoteric—try the Hungarian Kiràlyudvar’s Furmint ($14)—to domestics on tap. And for the first time, the bar is licensed to mix and muddle about half a dozen $14 cocktails that make use of the season’s best.
What to eat: Start with cheese and charcuterie plates and bacon-wrapped dates ($8), stuffed with Parmesan and caramelized into chewy candies when baked. Buttery clams ($14) from the wood burning oven taste of spring with green garlic—be sure to mop up the jus with the toasted bread slices. The sucking pig confit ($44), though somewhat sloppy in presentation, is large enough to feed four and calls for unctuous pulled pork over coconut rice with lemongrass sambal and whole-roasted peanuts. Definitely do not miss dessert: From butterscotch pot de crème to the more unique blood orange and pistachio vacherin, all of pastry chef Christina Olufsen's creations satisfy.
Where to sit: On warm nights, the outdoor patio is a must. Inside, ask for one of the back booths. Or, for a more social atmosphere, grab a stool at the long communal table across from the bar.
What to drink: Cocktail hour (daily 5-7pm) is a steal with $6 wine by the glass, $4 beer and $10 house-specialty cocktails.
Conversation piece: In the former space of Il Covo, and before that, Orso, AOC, with the help of designer Claire Stansfield, sought to recapture the feel of Orso's famed patio.