Eating + Drinking

Impress an Oenophile (or a Date) With These 7 Wine Bars

Photo courtesy of Bar Bandini/Facebook

Los Angeles is one of the most exciting places in the country to drink wine right now. On the whole, wine culture has sprouted out of the stuffy, old-school past into hipper, fresher digs, and our nightlife is better for it. For a regular evening out, these are all perfect options for a sophisticated and stylish good time—especially date nights. But for specific oenophiles who keep notes on their iPhones about the latest releases to try, these bars are your playground. Of course, for anyone in between who’s even remotely curious about wine, just pull up a stool and ask what’s new. Your bartender will be excited to show you.

Photo courtesy of Bar Bandini/Facebook

Bar Bandini
An anchor to the booming natural wine scene in Los Angeles, Bandini has a buzzy, well informed by-the-glass list that rotates often. It’s a date-night dim, cozy-narrow space that just so happens to encourage up-close and personal conversations (weekend nights promise high-octane chatter). Get ready to see some ridiculously delicious stuff on tap. 2150 Sunset Boulevard

El Prado
El Prado is a chic, casual brick-walled wine and beer bar with drinking snacks (nuts, olives, pâté) that plays only vinyl from its in-house collection. Reliably relaxed, the place is a grown-ups’ dive featuring cozy nooks and a smoking patio out back. It’s also perfectly unpretentious about its wine, which is always very good. 1805 Sunset Boulevard

Photo courtesy of Tabula Rasa Bar/Facebook

Tabula Rasa
For wine nerds: Come and get that grower champagne, pet nat, or orange wine you’ve been lusting after—Tabula Rasa has a crazy by-the-glass selection that may just paralyze you with too many stellar choices. For everyone else: Come to drink some damn good pours, craft beers on tap, and upscale bar snacks for the relaxed, romantic-casual, grown-up night out you deserve. Weekday evenings each have their own specials: killer bottles deals on Grand Cru Monday, lobster rolls and oysters on Tuesday, an educational wine tasting on Wednesday, and a Thursday night pizza party. 5125 Hollywood Boulevard

Photo courtesy of Mignon Wine & Cheese Bar/Facebook

What a tiny little charmer! Mignon is a nostalgic slice of Paris hidden downtown, offering respite from the grit and hustle in the form of Frenchie bar bites (olives and marconas, cheese plates, pâté de campagne) and natural-leaning French wines by the glass in a romantic, shoebox-size space. Every night has $6 wine happy hour, 6–8 p.m. 128 East Sixth Street

In lieu of a wine list, the bartenders will ask a few questions about what you’re in the mood for. Rustic reds, maybe, or mineral-y whites? Your fate is in their hands, but you’ll receive a few customized suggestions to try and to expand your palate and broaden your wine risk taking. All of this happens in a chic and cozy space at the foot of Hotel Covell, with an upscale bar snack menu. 4628 Hollywood Boulevard

Photo courtesy of Esters Wine Shop & Bar

Esters Wine Shop & Bar
On one hand, this is a fine wine bar for Santa Monica, a sibling of Cassia, with which it shares a hallway, and the Rustic Canyon family of restaurants. But it’s so much more. The wine list is superb, every drop served expertly curated by the owners. There’s a menu full of wine-friendly food, from mac and cheese and charcuterie boards to salads and more. It’s also a retail shop that puts together dynamic gift or picnic baskets. And burger night? It’s a must. 1314 Seventh Street, Santa Monica

Photo courtesy of Augustine Wine Bar/Facebook

Augustine Wine Bar
Filled with vintage radios, a piano, and bottles to the rafters, the Sherman Oaks charmer is as eclectic as the wines it serves. Natural wines, wines older than you, red, white, pink and everything sparkling, there’s always something delicious and special to sip that you often won’t find anywhere else. For bites, there are tater tots and farro risotto and fantastic cheese and charcuterie boards. Put that all together and it’s a no-brainer for date nights, but solo sippers can enjoy a spot at the bar even on the busiest weekends. 13456 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks