Though LA bars remain closed, we’re not completely out of options when it comes to drinking in public - particularly when you’re in the mood for wine. From a Downtown French bistro with a daily Happy Hour to a sprawling wine garden in Malibu, here are 15 spots around town with great wine - and even better outdoor spaces to drink it on.
Let’s be totally clear - you go to Sushi Note because they serve some of the freshest fish in Los Angeles. But you go back so you can sit outside, make friends with the sommelier, and drink from their extensive wine list all night. The servers will happily let you try as many wines as you’d like until you find the one you want, but if you feel like leaving everything in the hands of the som, they’ll course out a pairing for every piece of fish you eat.
Don’t mistake Esters as a holding pen for people waiting to get sat next door at Cassia - this is a fun, laid-back wine bar with a great front patio to boot. The wine list covers a lot of ground, but they’ll happily direct you towards something you’ll want to drink. It’s also a wine store, so if one of the bottles on the wall strikes your fancy, you can grab it, and pay retail price plus a corkage add-on (which still ends up being a good value for a wine bar). The food is mostly snacks that go with wine - charcuterie, cheese, sugar-y lavender almonds that are much tastier than they sound - but there’s enough stuff to make this a casual dinner spot, too.
With a slightly hidden Chinatown location (it’s under the Gold Line tracks) and a dimly lit patio that feels like you’ve stepped into a New York film noir, Oriel is one of our favorite casual date spots in LA. There is a fantastic French menu (get the bavette steak), and while the wine list isn’t very long, it’s full of interesting and well-priced selections that even your friend who has a wine fridge at home probably hasn’t tried.
Bandini is one of those places that always seems to get the mood right. The Echo Park wine bar has a spacious back patio, excellent wine, and a nightly food pop-up that currently makes one of our favorite new pizzas in LA. If that combination doesn’t sound appealing to you, we have completely different pandemic moods.
This Beverly Grove wine bar is one of those rare “neighborhood” spots that’s actually filled with people who live in the neighborhood. With a massive front patio stretching down Beverly Blvd., it’s also a great place to take a date or some friends, and still feel like you have plenty of room to stretch out and relax. You’re obviously here to drink wine, but if you ignore the food completely, that’s also a mistake. Their jamon toast is borderline legendary in our minds and they also have a pop-up “Marvito” menu filled with breakfast items, tacos, and a burger you need to try immediately.
Located inside a converted bungalow in Virgil Village, Melody has been open since 2017 but is still somewhat of a secret. And that’s exactly why we like it so much. Come here any day of the week and you’ll find a relaxed crowd of mostly locals drinking natural wine on their side patio, chatting up the bartenders, and snacking on whatever pop-up is on the premises that night. Come Wednesday-Saturday, and it’ll most likely be Metztli, home to some of our favorite new tacos in town.
Do you have a strong opinion on merlot vs syrah? Do you know which kind of wine glass will go best with what you want to drink? If you’re a serious wine person, you probably already know about Wally’s. If you want to be a serious wine person, you should start going to Wally’s. This Beverly Hills spot is, like most bars and restaurants around these parts, kind of a scene - the patio is full of rich people who love wine more than they love their spouses. Come here to people-watch, and don’t leave without getting one of the pizzettas.
We love Mignon for several reasons. For one, this Historic Core wine bar is doing an excellent nightly Happy Hour from 6-7pm with $2 oysters and $7 wine. Secondly, you can pick up some Cento Pasta across the street (they moved their kitchen during the pandemic) then come back and eat it all on Mignon’s quiet front patio. As far as the wine goes, the list is small and mostly European, but with a bunch of unusual picks in the mix.
With unobstructed views of the Hollywood Sign and the surrounding hills, Kensho has arguably the most idyllic setting of any wine bar town. It’s located on the grounds of the ever-popular Yamashiro in Hollywood, but just know that tiny patio is quiet, low-key, and even when it’s full, you’ll still feel like you have the place to yourself. We love Thursday and Friday nights, when they set up a Yakitori grill right on the patio.
Most of us know absolutely nothing about wine, but have perfected the art of pointing at things with confidence. So the notion of a wine bar with over 150 types of rare wines generally induces waves of anxiety. But here’s the catch - at Bar Covell, there are no menus. You simply explain to one of the employees what you’re in the mood for (to the best of your ability) 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.
Pour Haus wins the award for the best Happy Hour of any wine bar in the city. The laid-back spot in the Arts District serves $5 red, white, and sparkling options from 4-7pm every day of the week, and also a handful of excellent snacks at the same price. They’re also doing Saturday night wine flights as well.
To be clear, you come to this casual Venice spot for the excellent seafood, but you stick around to drink wine, make friends with your server, and longingly stare out at the ocean in the distance. They have an excellent stock of high-acid whites, plus “Mom’s Champagne Closet” for when things get celebratory. And in 2020, just getting to the end of the day is reason enough to pop some bottles.
Belle Vie is a little neighborhood French bistro in Brentwood with a well-priced, all-French wine list. But you’re probably not going to look at it. Why do that when you can just chat up the owner/sommelier, have him pour you a bunch of wines to try, and not waste time wondering if you prefer grenache-syrah over regular syrah? While you’re at it, have him order your food, too - you’re going to have trouble choosing, so you might as well just let the expert handle this.
Lolo is a neighborhood hangout in East Hollywood with an extensive wine list, heavy pours, and a menu of things that go well with that wine. The outdoor dining room is small, but they’ve spaced the tables out so there’s more than enough room between your neighbors. As far as the food goes, anything involving pasta or bread is probably a safe bet, since both are made in-house (the cacio e pepe is particularly worth your time). The portions are big for the price, meaning if you’re on a date, it’s safe to just order a couple entrees, split an appetizer, and be out for under $80. Side note - they have great wine packages as well for at-home use.
We’ll be honest here - in pre-pandemic times, this ultra-popular Malibu wine garden was a bit of a sh*t show. Luckily, that’s all gone away with appropriately distanced tables and a six-person maximum per group. Now, you can actually enjoy your wine and the peaceful Malibu scenery without having to worry about a stiletto going through the roof of your foot.