Maybe you know the difference between tannins and terroir, or maybe you’re doing your best to get through California’s entire supply of rosé in the next few months. Either way, you like wine. And you like drinking it in restaurants.
While it’s not hard to find places in LA that’ll sell you something good, there are a select number of restaurants that go above and beyond to provide a wine-drinking experience you’ll remember. These places have a variety of price points, staff who’ll help you figure things out if you don’t know where to start, and great food to eat with whichever bottle you choose. Here are the best restaurants for drinking wine in Los Angeles, ranging from places with lists longer than the last book you read to little spots that specialize in obscure wines you can’t get anywhere else.
When Rustic Canyon opened over 10 years ago, you had to wait weeks, and sometimes months, for a reservation. Now you can probably get a table tomorrow night, which is good news if you like wine, because Rustic Canyon has one of the best lists in the entire city. And luckily that doesn’t just mean expensive French Burgundies and entire sections of the list dedicated to one winery (although you will find both those things) - they sell $35 bottles of Italian white, too. All those options can be a little overwhelming, but the staff are extremely helpful, and will help you find the perfect bottle, in your price range, to go with your multiple orders of pozole verde.
This Italian place on Fairfax is best known for spicy fusilli and the 3:1 odds that you’ll see Chrissy Teigen eating pizza at the table next to you. But given that there’s a wine store in the back, this is also a fantastic place for wine drinking. Some of the better-known names on the list are pretty expensive, but you’ll also find some unusual, great-value bottles on there too. This is the place to drink a Corsican red you’ve never heard of or a rosé that isn’t Whispering Angel.
Botanica is a very Silver Lake spot that serves vegetable-heavy cocktails and refined-sugar-free food. So you probably won’t be surprised to hear that they only serve natural wines (those made with pesticide-free grapes and without additives). The people here have clearly done their research to put together a thoughtful list with notes to help you figure out whether you’re in the mood for a “Post Flirtation” or a “La Rumbera.”
If you’re a control freak wine drinker who can’t bear the thought of not having the perfect barolo to go with your red meat, Dialogue probably isn’t for you. But if you’re happy with someone else picking your wine (and you don’t mind spending a good amount of money on it), the beverage pairing at Dialogue is only going to make your excellent 21-course dinner better. Expect some weird tricks, like vinegar being added to a white wine to make it a rosé - but it’s all part of one of LA’s unique wine drinking experiences.
You’ve been charged with organizing a work dinner that involves your boss with the 13,000 bottle, climate-controlled wine cellar. You could be intimidated by this challenge, or you could just book a table at Craft. The list is huge (you might want to get a cocktail to start while said boss works her way through it), and even if you’re not here with the corporate card, you’ll be able to find some great value bottles - a rarity at restaurants with $36 scallops on the menu.
We’re not saying All Time is on this guide because their handwritten wine list has drawings of horses and volcanoes on it. But we’d be lying if we told you that wasn’t a factor. While a lot of restaurants take their wine programs a little too seriously, the people at this Los Feliz spot definitely do not. Come to All Time when you want to sit on a patio, eat fantastic pork shoulder tacos, and drink a wine described as “funky like James Brown.”
Lukshon is a nice spot for a kind-of-fancy Asian meal where you can eat everything from a lobster banh mi to Sichuan dumplings to Hawaiian butterfish ceviche. And while you could certainly drink Lukshon’s hot and sour gimlets with those dishes, you’d be missing out on an excellent wine list that’s well-suited to the food. It’s heavy on white wine, including a whole section of German rieslings, but there are great red options too, plus a good number of half bottles if you still need to drive home.
Too often, a restaurant will have a couple of bottles for around $40, one for $65, and then way too many in the three-figure range. A.O.C. is a serious wine restaurant, but one that hasn’t forgotten that not everyone wants to drop a car payment on something that’ll be gone in an hour. So while you will find plenty of expensive bottles, there are also organic wines, natural wines, lots of mid-range options, and some really excellent options by the glass. The staff here are particularly great too, so just tell them what you like and how much you want to spend, and they’ll find something you’ll be more than happy with.
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 with 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.
If you’re into Italian wine (or think you’d like to be into Italian wine), Osteria Mozza is where you should be drinking it. The wine list here is 68 pages deep, with bottles from across the country ranging from affordable to four-figure prices. They also have a selection of wines that come by the carafe (about a third of a bottle), so you can order a different one with each of the five courses of pasta you ordered.
All three Night + Market locations have great (and different) wine lists, but Song is the only one with a “Party Sized Bottles” section. Most of the options here are left-of-center, with mostly natural wines and reds that are all served chilled, which makes sense when you’re eating spicy Thai food. There’s also a reserve list you can look into, but if you’re spending a bunch of money on wine here, we’d argue it should be on a novelty-sized bottle.
One way you can tell that Republique is a wine restaurant is that their list is 103 pages long. Another way is that you’re guaranteed to find a wine you’ll love here. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of French on the list, and there aren’t a whole lot of lower-priced options, but Republique has a great mix of styles and a super-knowledgeable staff who can guide you to the right bottle.
Unlike that time you tried to do a gin-and-burger tasting, wine tastes better when you have it with food. The people at Maude understand this, which is why every three months, they pick a region to base their food and wine menus on. This is another place where you want to be doing the beverage pairing, if only so you can eat some Central Coast oysters with a wine made from grapes grown down the road.
You could say Oriel was a wine bar, and it sort of is, given the list full of under-the-radar French bottles and the staff’s willingness to pour you taste after taste until you find the exact Malbec you’re looking for. But while they do have a very good cheese and charcuterie board here and you could hang out at the bar, there’s also a great patio where you can have a catch-up meal over bavette steaks, French onion soup, and a bottle of red even your most annoying wine friend won’t have already heard of.
NoMad is one of Los Angeles’ best special occasion restaurants, in a beautiful hotel lobby that will make you want to try and reenact Eloise. But, they also know that if you’re spending $100 on an (extremely delicious) roast chicken, you might be looking to save a little when it comes to wine. This place has one of the more accessible high-end wine lists around, with some great value finds and a few cool natural options hidden amongst the Napa big guns. Also, there are no fewer than eight pages of champagne on the list.