Tabula Rasa Bar
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Thai Town's first neighborhood wine bar is a bastion of exciting wines and a stellar Cuban sandwich.
Cozy, friendly and unpretentiously esoteric, Tabula Rasa is the neighborhood wine bar that Thai Town’s been missing. In the mood for bikini-clad exotic dancers? That’s a few doors down. Craving serious cocktails? That’s just a little bit further down the road at Harvard & Stone. This particular stretch of Hollywood Boulevard has no shortage of nightlife options. But as far as vino is concerned, nothing quite hits the mark like Tabula Rasa—Latin for “blank slate,” which is fitting considering this is a real bare-bones kind of place. Designer Ricki Kline (Seven Grand, Honeycut, The Varnish) managed to turn up the charm in a space that previously dispensed marijuana. Polished cement floors, exposed brick and a peeling wall tree mural give the room a worn-in, homey feel, conducive to sipping surprising varietals while carb-loading on a gooey Cubano sandwich or “D’s Nuts and Pickles” (i.e. salty corn nuts and pickled vegetables). Bestia vets Zach Negin and Daniel Flores have curated a short but solid rotating wine list based on their relationships with producers up north and abroad. They keep the really good stuff in a secure, temperature-controlled glass compound, while the more wallet-friendly options are within arms length of their affable pundits behind the stick. Here’s a tip: Skip the overrated and all-too trendy orange pinot grigio for a bartender’s choice. You may end up trying your first Basque bubbly or decide you suddenly love rosé.
Good for: Satisfying that occasional craving for great wine and a low-key place in which to drink it. You don’t need to be a connoisseur to sip here. Just tell your bartender what you’re leaning toward—dry, sweet, red or white—and they are sure to find something to wet your whistle. Conversation is loud, but if you’re listening closely, you just may catch some Bob Dylan or James Brown from the staff’s personal vinyl collection.
The scene: Anything but stuffy. You'll find couples straight from a concert and groups of friends capping off a late-night Thai food binge. The crowd is sophisticated, young and casual; Tthey know their wine, but are also open to trying new things.
Drink this: It’s never a bad idea to begin with something light, bright and effervescent, like an Antxiola Txakoli from Spain’s Basque region ($12/$48). If you’ve never heard of it, great—that’s the whole point. The goal here is to get imbibers to break out of their wine comfort zone, so you might as well start with the bubbly. Speaking of: Broc Cellars’ deliciously crisp-yet-buttery Grenache Rosé ($14) was hands-down our favorite wine of the evening. Here’s the clincher: On occasion, Negin and Flores will pour glasses of the special wines they typically sell by the bottle. This one in particular would normally cost $56, so if it doesn’t happen to be offered by the glass on your visit, it’s worth splurging on the whole bottle. In terms of red, there’s plenty of variety, ranging from a juicy, fruit-forward La Clarine Farm Mouvedre ($14/$56)—which is typically used as a blending grape—to the full and earthy Brea Pinot Noir ($14/$56). And if you’re all wined out, there's also a fantastic selection of craft beer on tap sure to please any palate, like Avery’s Passion Fruit White Ale or Brouwerij Van Steenberge’s Belgian Dark Triple Ale.
Our tip: Good luck finding a parking spot. Spare the stress and just pay for a ride-hailing app like Uber or Lyft. That way you’ll also be able to drink to your heart’s content.
5125 Hollywood Blvd
|Opening hours:||Sun-Thu 5pm-1am; Fri, Sat 5pm-2am|
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