The Best Places to Drink Wine in LA

It’s an exciting time for wine in Los Angeles. Thanks to a growing crop of young wine talent and restaurateurs putting wine back in the spotlight, Los Angeles is no longer just a beer and cocktail kind of town. Rightfully so, considering LA’s proximity to the birthplace of some of the country’s finest wines and most diverse winemaking regions. Wine programs throughout the city have a strong point of view and are beginning to compete with their New York and San Francisco counterparts. The following lists are the finest examples of both old-school tradition and new-school playfulness. Classic or quirky, the city is happily drinking it up. –Whitney Adams

  • 1

    a.o.c.

    Wine director Caroline Styne has become a fixture in the Los Angeles wine and restaurant community, with multiple restaurants and a growing empire with her business partner, chef Suzanne Goin. The recent move and revamp of a.o.c. brought a fresh pair of eyes to the list—and cocktail program, headed up by Christiaan Rollich—that has always been strong, but is sometimes overshadowed by the new kids on the block. From the beautiful patio to the stellar food, there are few better places to enjoy a glass (or five) of wine, as the pricing is beyond fair. The seasonal, California-inspired menu also hints at the ethos of the ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • New California wine
    • low wine markups
    • outdoors / patio
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
  • 2

    Bar Covell

    Probably the most well-known and popular wine bar in Los Angeles, Covell came on the scene in 2010 at just the right time. The city was full of young wine drinkers with nowhere to go for a casual hang and glass of wine. Enter owner Dustin Lancaster and wine director Matthew Kaner, formerly of Café Stella and Silverlake Wine, respectively, to save the day. While the bar's bespoke style of service—there is no printed wine list, just knowledgeable bartenders eager to introduce you to something new—might seem nonsensical, it's exactly what's made Covell popular. There are dozens of wines open at a time and the staff is ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • singles scene
    • craft beer
    • vintage wine
    • natural wine
    • bar food
  • 3

    Bestia

    Down a deserted-looking street in the outer reaches of the Arts District lies one of LA's most popular restaurants. With a wine list that sports categories like "Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle" and "S.W.A.G. Approved" you know you're in for an experience. Wine director Ryan Ibsen has started a new practice called the "bone luge," which involves sherry being poured down an empty bone. The primary focus of the list is its pairing-power with chef Ori Menashe’s truly outstanding menu, with wines that lean heavily in the high-acid, mineral-driven, saline—and sometimes funky—direction. The bar program is overseen by Julian Cox, ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • Italian wine
    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • low wine markups
  • 4

    Capo

    A visit to Santa Monica's Capo is definitely going to set you back some dollars, but the old-school vibe and deep wine list is worth experiencing at least once. While the white table cloth restaurant feels like the kind of place you would take your visiting parents, and the wine list offers many a predictable Super Tuscan and cult California cab, it also has many surprising treats. Dig through its countless pages and you’ll find a smattering of small-production, modest vignerons amongst the blue chip wines, as well as back vintages and verticals. There's literally something for everyone.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • good wine
    • vintage wine
    • Italian wine
    • California wine
  • 5

    Osteria Mozza

    Mario Batali's flagship LA restaurant deserves mention for its all-Italian wine list, which is one of the city’s best. Over the years, the restaurant has become a pit stop for a lot of LA’s finest wine talent and the list is a reflection of several of its most recent wine directors (Taylor Parsons and now Sarah Clarke). It's truly a love letter to Italy and catalogues each and every region's powerhouses and lesser-knowns. Skip the quartinos and head straight to the bottle list where you'll find extensive Piedmontese and Tuscan offerings, as well as a variety of magnums.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • Italian wine
    • craft cocktails
    • lots of whiskey
    • amaro
  • 6

    Marvin

    The newly opened Marvin, a wine bar disguised as a French bistro, has quickly become the after-hours hang for LA's wine crowd and Hollywood's pretty young things mainly due to co-owner and wine director Max Marder. The old-world-centric list is heavy on the classics, but still offers a smattering of farther-flung wines and a solid by-the-glass list. If you're looking for value, the bottle list is full of gems under $75. And if you ball so hard, there's a nice little selection of grower champagne as well as Burgundy and Barolo—with a handful of wines offered across multiple vintages.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • champagne
    • natural wine
    • singles scene
    • full menu
  • 7

    République

    With a list that changes daily, the wine offerings at République never get old. Wine director Taylor Parsons, formerly of Osteria Mozza, works with a wide range of wine from all over the world. His heart is still in Italy and France, though, and the list leans heavily on both. About half the list is under the $100 mark, and the top end always features at least a handful of interesting back vintage wines, many of them unexpected.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • French wine
    • Italian wine
    • natural wine
    • day drinking
  • 8

    Salt's Cure

    Everything served at Salt's Cure is California-grown, including their wine list. In fact, save for a few select wines from Oregon, it's all cool-kid California, all the time. The list, curated by winemaker and distributor (and Saltie regular) Matt Ahern, is only two pages in length, but is chock-full of the best and freshest that California has to offer. Bottles rarely exceed $75, encouraging customers to explore and drink as much wine as possible.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • New California wine
    • full menu
    • craft beer
  • 9

    Spago

    When you enter Spago, Wolfgang Puck’s legendary Beverly Hills restaurant, through its long, dark, opulent bar, there’s bound to be a movie star or two sitting on the velvet-covered bar chairs and at the low cocktail tables; but they’re hardly the most interesting people here. Women dripping in diamonds, barons conducting drunken business and socialite climbers create a kind of high-rent, high-stakes theater. A longtime training ground for Court of Master Sommelier candidates, the wine list represents an impressive collection of champagne, California standards and old-world classics that appeal to wine professionals ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • outdoor / patio
    • good wine
    • vintage wine
    • champagne
    • singles scene
  • 10

    The Tasting Kitchen

    Venice's Abbott Kinney Blvd. has a few destination spots on its strip, but The Tasting Kitchen's excellent list full of French winners and other high acid, old-world wines is a bona fide wine destination. Whether it's aged chenin blanc, pink pét-nat, French ciders, red Burgundy or their fantastic cocktail program, you can't go wrong.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
  • 11

    Terroni

    Terroni is the everyman's Italian restaurant, consistently churning out great pizza and handmade pasta to neighborhood regulars. Wine director and partner Max Stefanelli, who hails from Bologna, boldly builds the wine list relying on his palate and the Italian wine he loves to support. In order to urge guests into exploring Italy's nether-regions, so to speak, he's banned both pinot grigio (unless it's skin-contact or of particularly notable quality) and Chianti from his list. While the food is delicious, the wine program is the heart and soul of the restaurant.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • Italian wine
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
  • 12

    Trois Mec

    This brainchild of chef Ludo Lefebvre and the co-owners/chefs of Animal is one of the harder reservations to score in the city. But if you do snag a seat at the tasting-menu-only spot, you are in for a real treat. The wine, like the chef, is 100 percent French. Wine pairings for the set menu are offered at two price points, and the bottle list, which leans traditional, is sprinkled with some fun natural wine surprises, which offer the most bang for your buck.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • good wine
    • French wine
    • natural wine

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