The Best Wine Bars In Los Angeles guide image


The Best Wine Bars In Los Angeles

These 19 LA wine bars prove the genre can be fun.

We love wine. And we love drinking it with friends. But in order to convince us to sip chenin blanc somewhere other than on our couch, we need more than just a run-of-the-mill, sleepy bar. Luckily, more wine bars in LA are starting to prove that the genre can be incredibly exciting. Whether you’re meeting a client or a first date, or your old roommate just wants to drink something great tonight, these are the LA wine bars you need to know about.


The Ruby Fruit

The Ruby Fruit might just be the most joyously raucous wine bar we’ve been to in LA. The new Silver Lake queer space is the first lesbian bar to open in this city in over a decade and already feels like a lived-in tentpole of the community. Imagine wall-to-wall people every night with the party often spilling out onto the sidewalk and even the parking lot. As far as the wine list goes, it’s fairly barebones—there are only ten or so options. If you’re able to snag a table, be sure to take advantage of their excellent snacks menu (the hot dog hits especially hard after that fourth glass of barbera).

On weekends, the sidewalk of this natural wine bar in Chinatown is a see-and-be-seen zoo. So don't be surprised if you clock people standing around with glasses of gamay until midnight. But you can also usually walk right up and claim a wooden banquette or tiny table inside their low-lit space. Wines by the glass span from French pét-nats to juicy Australian reds, with nothing on the daily rotating menu priced over $15. Because the place is run by the same people who operate Silver Lake wine shop Psychic Wines, count on Bar Triste's friendly staff to talk you through the bottle list.

Amidst the protected bike lanes, baby strollers, and other telltale signs of gentrification on the stretch of Venice Blvd between Mar Vista and Venice, El Chucho stands out as being pretty cool. The space (formerly La Potranca) had been a neighborhood dive for years, serving cheap beer and screening soccer games for Spanish speakers looking to stop somewhere before heading home from work. The new owners have kept the pool table, soccer games, crass posters, and cheap beer. And they’ve also added natural wine and vinyl DJ sets. El Chucho is a total scene on weekends (in case you need to wait in line to feel something). On weeknights, it’s a tame spot for a catch-up.

La Pharmacie du Vin is the kind of place you bring a date or a few friends on a sunny afternoon when you don’t want to rush the experience. This wine shop near the Sunset Junction sign in Silver Lake has an outdoor area that resembles a courtyard in a Spanish villa. Sit next to a blooming bush of roses and eat charcuterie all afternoon like an off-duty (read: unemployed) model. All the wine on the menu is for sale in the shop, where sommeliers wear navy lab coats and hundreds of bottles line dark, wood-paneled walls.

When it comes to the demographics of people who hang out in Santa Monica wine bars, Wally’s is typically tourists and sugar babies, Esters is a holding ground for hangry people waiting for their table at Cassia, and Bodega is 23-year-olds on dates. Then there’s Offhand, the chill, sophisticated-enough antidote to all of the above. Sure, the building itself looks like it could be a Chipotle from the outside. But inside, they’re spinning vinyl, pouring interesting natural wine, and the lighting is just right. This is a great spot to meet up with friends or a date when you want to chit-chat, but also want to feel like you’re out on the town. Come by for a drink and you’ll probably stay for two.

At first glance, Melanie in Beverly Grove looks and feels like many other good wine bars around town. There’s a curated list filled with mostly European biodynamic wines, a cute space that feels like a friend’s living room right as the party is starting to peak, and a menu filled with snacks you want to eat while drinking chilled Beaujolais. But what makes this spot truly recommendable is the staff. No question here is a dumb question, even if your date asks if orange wine is made from oranges. As far as the food goes, plump, buttery mussels in a vadouvan curry are a standout. And though it’s not technically on the menu, be sure to ask for a side of their perfectly-crispy shoestring fries.

This casual wine bar in Glassell Park is much larger than it appears. With two different interconnecting patios and a main bar area that’s as outside as it is inside, you have several choices when it comes to seating. If you’re rolling in with a big group though, we recommend the leafy, semi-private back patio. Beyond the wine, expect small plates like charcuterie, seasonal pasta like tagliatelle in yuzu butter, and other things that taste great as you work your way down their excellent by-the-glass list, which includes an entire chilled red section.

​​Kippered is a downtown wine bar that specializes in tinned fish. Lots of tinned fish in fact—the menu lists over 50 different varieties. But even if you aren’t someone whose eyes light up at a tin of sardines, head to this charming bar steps from Grand Central Market anyway. There’s a tight selection of sparkling wines by the glass as well as a longer bottle list if you want to hang around for a while. Kippered is run by the team that operates DTLA Cheese, so don’t be shocked when you see people ordering the soft-rind cheese from France that’s served with a glug of Champagne poured over the top.

With its sprawling sidewalk patio and menu packed with orange wines, Tilda is where you go to impress someone, anyone really. If you’re not familiar with skin contact wines (although, the fact that you’re out in Echo Park somehow tells us you are), the team will patiently walk you through their menu of native Portugal varietals and the like. If you’re hungry, grab a tinned fish board or the meatiest, most buttery Castelvetrano olives you’ve ever had in your life.

Voodoo Vin is a natural wine bar in Virgil Village with a collection of 400 bottles and a menu of simple small plates that slightly upstages the generous pours. The candlelit space feels like you’re in a barebones Parisian café with only a couple of posters on the walls, two communal tables, and a few chairs scattered on the sidewalk. It’s an intimate spot that doesn’t take reservations, so your best bet is to take a few friends who know what “full-bodied” means and snack on a few dishes. We like the beef tartare on toast with caesar cream, the bowl of spicy ‘nduja bolognese, and a plate of the kitchen’s homemade mortadella with pickled sweet chilis.

Same Same in Silver Lake is just as much a wine bar as it is a Thai restaurant, with an always-rotating list of excellent American and European biodynamic wines. It’s the kind of place you can come by yourself on a quiet Wednesday night, hang at the bar, and sip unfiltered Slovenian wine in peace or roll in on Friday with friends and power through bottles of chilled gamay like its alkaline water. Another plus: they don’t take reservations, making it a great option if you forgot that it was your turn to plan date night and everywhere else is booked up.

Even if you know absolutely nothing about wine, it's possible you have perfected the art of pointing at drink menus with confidence. So the notion of a wine bar with over 150 rare bottles generally may induce waves of anxiety. But here’s the catch—at Bar Covell in Los Feliz, there are no menus. Simply tell the people behind the counter what you’re in the mood for and they choose for you. And they usually get it exactly right. Also, the snacks menu is quite strong, and you and your date should definitely be splitting that charcuterie board.

At Vintage Wine + Eats in Studio City, one glass of chilled gamay becomes four in the blink of an eye. Aside from the easy atmosphere, the food menu has everything from cheese boards and chicken skewers to a delicious $17 bar burger topped with raclette and caramelized shallots. Swing by on weeknights between 4 pm and 7 pm when some glasses cost less than $10. 

When it comes to a night out on the Eastside, Bar Bandini usually isn’t the first place that comes to mind. But this Echo Park wine bar deserves to be in your rotation. Bandini always gets the mood right—on weekdays that means regulars drinking natural wine from the tap and complaining about how there’s too much traffic on side streets. Come weekends, things get livelier, but you’ll never have to worry about getting a lemon drop thrown in your face. In fact, the place only serves beer and wine, but it’s the furthest thing from a snooze.

With a long wooden bar, leather booths, and plenty of floral wallpaper, Holcomb is nice enough for a first date you care about, but also casual enough for a weeknight outing in a semi-embarrassing outfit. Expect a tremendous wine list—this Highland Park spot is run by the same people as the equally excellent Bar Covell in Los Feliz—and bartenders who’ll happily let you taste-test until you find the right glass. Also, tell your dog that the front sidewalk patio is friendly to their species.

Most people inside El Prado don’t even realize it’s a wine bar. Essentially serving as the pre-/post-game watering hole for Echoplex concertgoers, El Prado can certainly get loud at times, but ultimately serves as a cool, mellow spot to grab a quick drink during the workweek. If you want to hang outside, they also have one of the liveliest sidewalk patios in the neighborhood, with several intense games of chess happening at any given time.

Located in a converted bungalow in Virgil Village, this neighborhood wine bar has everything you like about your apartment (huge windows, cozy atmosphere) and none of the things you don’t (poor wifi connection, unwashed dishes in the sink). Their outdoor courtyard feels particularly romantic—think big, comfy couches, lanterns overhead, and an evening light that’s so flattering, you'll run the risk of falling in love with just about anyone sitting across from you. Be sure to keep an eye out for Melody's food line-up, since this wine bar is home to some of the most exciting pop-ups in LA.

Tabula Rasa is the anti-wine bar wine bar. There's probably a live band in the corner of this industrial space in East Hollywood and most people inside will be talking about Moby’s free meditation album and not the malbec they’re currently holding. But you can still expect great wine, along with a solid beer list and a snacks menu that has no business being as delicious as it is.

There are a lot of things French people do better than us. One of them is wine. So Garçons de Café, a little wine shop and bar in the Spring Arcade run by three Frenchman, is always an excellent choice. The wine list is mostly French with some bottles from Italy, the US, Lebanon, and Mexico, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, try one of the wine flights. Accessorize your glasses with a cheese and charcuterie platter, a Parisian sandwich, or some crème brûlée—berets are optional (but suggested).

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

The Best Wine Bars In Los Angeles guide image