Ten great restaurants in LA for wine lovers
Surrounded by a region of wineries, farmland and seafood, it’s easy to see why Los Angeles is almost as famous for its fine dining as it is for its film stars. See our guide to the city’s top restaurants, recommended by Californian wine producers.
Recommended by Luc Morlet, founder and winemaker at Morlet Family Vineyards:
In 1998 chef Suzanne Goin and wine director Carolyn Styne opened their restaurant Lucques in West Hollywood and it has been a haven for LA gastronomes ever since.
Set in a carriage house once belonging to the silent film actor, Harold Lloyd, it’s been given fairytale touches such the greenery-covered entrance, garden seating and a wood-burning fire.
The menu is packed with market-driven produce, combined in hearty and ambitious dishes. Goin masterfully intertwines cuisines, serving lamb cheek barbacoa with ras el hanout spice and quail with red curry dressing.
Over the years Styne’s wine lists have won numerous awards from major US wine publications, and she continues to delight diners with her selection of interesting styles from around the world.
Scroll down to see Goin and Styne’s wine bar-cum-restaurant, AOC, which they opened not far from Lucques. Book now
Recommended by David Fischer, COO at Ramey Wine Cellars:
République Central LA
République was opened in 2013 by Walter and Margarita Manzke, a husband-and-wife team with a passion for contemporary French cooking.
Margarita is a skilled pastry chef who trained at Le Cordon Bleu, while Walter trained in the kitchens of Alain Ducasse and El Bulli.
Together they have created one of the city’s top food and wine destinations, set in a historic venue that was built by Charlie Chaplin in 1928.
Nods to French cooking can be seen in details such as the Normandy butter, alongside tributes to California like the Sonoma duck breast.
The wine list is laid out under quirky chapter headings — see ‘Tuesday Night’ for casual weekday drinking. Or check the section of recommendations from ‘Friends, Sommeliers and People We Drink With’ before plunging into over 100 pages of carefully chosen wines.
Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner or weekend brunch. Plus, there’s a Crèmerie Artisan Ice Cream window on one side of the building with 12 daily changing flavours. Book now
Opened in January 2018, Majordōmo is famous restauranteur David Chang’s first foray into the LA dining scene.
With a complex and daily-changing menu, Chang brings his own special blend of Asian-European cooking, made using the best fresh produce that California has to offer.
The menu begins with deceptively simple bing flatbreads, topped with thrilling things like ‘cave aged’ butter, pork neck or white sturgeon caviar.
Chang’s appetisers are predominantly raw fish delicacies such as oysters, diver scallops or uni — a sea urchin’s gonads.
Following this are a selection of market vegetable, sushi and rice dishes before getting into the carefully constructed fish and meat choices; frequent explanations from your waiter may be necessary.
Much like the menu, Majordōmo’s wine list is richly varied with selections from the premium regions of France, Italy and the US, as well as an intriguing ‘Something Different’ section. Book now
If you’re a fan of elevated American cuisine and sweeping cityscape views, dining 950ft above ground level at 71Above is a must.
Located on the 71st floor of the US Bank Tower in Downtown LA’s Financial District, 71Above claims to be the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi River.
The kitchen is led by chef Vartan Abgaryan, who originally trained at Le Cordon Bleu before bringing his own brand of New American cooking to 71Above.
His seasonal three-course dinner menu is priced at $78 per person or $126 with wine pairing. There is an option to add more courses depending on your appetite and budget.
The ‘Fall 2018’ menu includes indulgent main courses such as chicken with brioche-truffle stuffing and the finest ingredients like Ōra King salmon or Wagyu sirloin steak.
The wine list is lengthy, devoting pages to Italian and French wines, although Californian producers take centre stage. If you can’t quite commit, there are plenty of wines by the glass and half bottles available. Book now
Kali modestly describes itself as a ‘small neighbourhood restaurant’ on Hollywood’s southern border with little Larchmont Village.
It was created by chef Kevin Meehan and wine director Drew Langley, two lifelong friends who have shaped Kali with their own areas of expertise.
For dinner, Meehan’s offers a choice of a tasting menu ($95 per person, $125 with wine pairing) or an eight-course chef’s menu ($115 per person, $165 with wine pairing).
His lunch and brunch menus are more informal a la carte affairs, made with the same level of detail and creativity.
Look out for their ‘Kollaboration’ events, when the team invite top chefs from other LA restaurants to host a five-course dining experience for one night only.
With experience at numerous Californian restaurants, including a stint at Michelin-starred Providence, Langley is on hand to suggest innovative wine pairings and he is constantly perfecting his wine list. Book now
Recommended by Bruce Cakebread, president of Cakebread Cellars:
Spago Beverly Hills
From Mayfair to Maui, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has opened his ‘New American’ restaurants in top locations all over the world.
Established in 1997 in the heart of Beverly Hills, Spago is the reimagined version of his first flagship restaurant, originally located in West Hollywood.
Expect market-fresh ingredients that are combined to create Puck’s signature dishes, fusing Asian, European and Californian flavours.
Look out for tongue-in-cheek twists on tradition, including the Anglo-inspired ‘Yorkshire Pudding’, made with whipped beef tallow and bresaola.
The formidable wine list spans the best appellations of California and devotes many pages to French, German, Italian and Austrian classics, plus a selection of Japanese saké wines.
For intrepid foodies, there’s the 14-course tasting menu, priced at $145 per person or $270 with wine pairings. There are also extensive a la carte, pre-theatre and bar food menus. Book now
Recommended by Joe Cusimano, representing Trefethen Vineyards:
Bottega Louie Downtown
Downtown LA is a patchwork quilt of cuisines, from the authentic Asian dining in Chinatown and Little Tokyo to the Financial District’s European-style classics like Bottega Louie.
Occupying the ground floor of the Brockman Building, Bottega Louie is an Italian restaurant, French patisserie and gourmet food shop rolled into one. It claims no reservations are necessary as the enormous dining room can seat a 225 people.
There are breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch options. The fare is classic Italian made with the choicest ingredients, think clam linguine and truffle pizza. Afterwards, let yourself succumb to the temptations of the macaroon counter.
The wine list covers a good spread of price points, focusing on Italian and Californian producers, with many available by the glass or quartino.
Keep an eye out for Bottega Louie’s brand new West Hollywood branch, set to open in 2019. Find out more
Wally’s Beverly Hills
Wally’s Wine & Spirits is known across California as a retailer of fine and everyday wines. However it has also opened two vinotecas, one of which is in Beverly Hills (just down the road from Spago).
Chef David Féau creates decadent dishes of octopus, foie gras, white truffle or Sonoma lamb. While wine director Matthew Turner, formerly of The French Laundry, selects a seemingly endless selection of wines by the glass and ‘off the beaten path’ bottles.
Wally’s is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, plus there’s a special cheese and charcuterie menu if you need a quick bite to accompany your wine tasting. Find out more
Recommended by Bradley Groper, representing Long Meadow Ranch:
Salt Air Venice
You’ll find Salt Air on the trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard, in the beachfront LA neighbourhood of Venice. Flanked by boutiques and juice bars, Salt Air has a wholesome, airy feel with skylights and a casual bistro set-up.
The name and location rightly suggest a fish- and seafood-heavy menu, offering steelhead trout, octopus, mussels, oysters and salmon. There’s also lamb belly and strip steak to please meat-lovers.
Salt Air’s wine list has been put together by former owner of the Elvino wine shop Bart Miali, and includes a succinct and comprehensive selection of red, white, sparking and by-the-glass wines. Book now
Recommended by Tom Hinde, winemaker at Yao Family Wines:
Named the ‘the grand dame of LA wine bars’ by Ray Isle in his LA wine bars guide, AOC has also been highlighted as a top foodie destination.
Choose from an impressive array of small plates or focaccia sandwiches in the brunch, lunch and dinner menus. There is separate menu dedicated to cheese and charcuterie.
Needless to say you are in good hands here, with celebrated chef Suzanne Goin behind the menu and wine director Carolyn Styne providing an eclectic yet approachable wine list. Book now