The Downtown L.A. Wine Scene

When the biggest stars of television and music walk the red carpet, they do so at L.A. Live, the massive entertainment venue that has reshaped downtown Los Angeles and created a long-needed “core” for the “City of Angels.”

L.A. Live not only hosts the annual Primetime Emmy Awards and the Grammy Awards, it’s home to six live entertainment venues, 19 dining experiences, not to mention the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks.

It’s the place where many vacationers cap a day of touring, and for wine-focused travelers, it does not disappoint. Among the many options for a good glass or bottle are:

  • gLAnce — Located at the lobby level of the JW Marriott Hotel, this wine bar offers an international selection of wines, along with seasonal small plates meant for sharing.
  • Fleming’s — Just steps from the Nokia Theatre concert venue, this L.A. Live branch of the national steakhouse chain offers exceptional steak and seafood choices, along with 100 wines by the glass.
  • LA Market by Kerry Simon — This restaurant echoes the excitement of the L.A. Live entertainment district, showcasing Chef Kerry Simon’s “rock and roll” approach to modern cuisine. Helmed by Chef de Cuisine Nona Sivley—a Louisiana native and winner of “Hell’s Kitchen, Season 8”—the kitchen serves up California cuisine with a garnish of good old-fashioned Southern flavor. Menu highlights include staples such as hearty sandwiches and burgers, classic salads and hearth-fired pizzas, along with entrées that accent both chefs’ backgrounds—from barbeque shrimp and grits and home-style meatloaf, to wild mushroom agnolotti and roasted chicken with quinoa. The well-chosen wine list emphasizes California producers.
  • Rock’n Fish — Quality prime beef and fresh fish highlight the menu, complemented by an extensive wine-by-the-glass list and a wide-ranging “Wine Book” featuring excellent bottle selections from all over the wine world.
  • Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill — Puck modernizes the traditional “bar and grill” concept with approachable fine dining in a stunning setting. Esteemed hospitality designer Tony Chi captures the essence of the relaxed California dining experience that Puck made popular with the original Spago. Chi drew inspiration from the restaurant’s neighbors, the Nokia Theatre and the Grammy Museum, interweaving musical patterns in many of the key design elements including the floors, light fixtures and wood grains. Just like its name, the restaurant features a contemporary “bar and grill” menu artfully executed by Chef Russ Simon. The menu includes Puck’s signature comfort food that can be enjoyed either as a casual quick-bite in the bar and lounge, or as a leisurely dining experience. And for something different, wine-wise, check out the “Esoteric Reds” and “Esoteric Whites” on the extensive wine list.
  • The Farm of Beverly Hills — The concept is simple: use farm-fresh ingredients to create innovative dishes. And the execution is superb, from breakfast through dinner. The restaurant’s wine list is a true delight, featuring numerous “old favorites” and a number of surprises, with many selections available by the half-bottle—perfect for a couple on a date.

To work up an appetite for any of these L.A. Live dining destinations, spend some time at a nearby winery. That’s right, there’s a working winery in downtown Los Angeles, and it’s steeped in history.

Since 1917, San Antonio Winery has been the heart of winemaking and wine culture in Los Angeles. It is the last producing winery in the city, and continues to hand-craft wines from estate vineyards in Napa Valley, Monterey, Paso Robles and other viticultural areas throughout California.

At one time, more than 100 wineries could be found within the boundaries of Los Angeles. San Antonio is the last winery standing, and continues to be owned and operated by the family that founded it—now in its fourth generation.

And no wine-focused trip to Los Angeles is complete without a stop at one of the city’s most historic restaurants: Philippe the Original. It’s famous for its French-dipped sandwiches (roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey or ham), served on a French roll that’s dipped in the natural gravy of the roasts.

One wouldn’t expect a fancy wine list at a restaurant where you stand in line to order, and watch as your sandwich is prepared right in front of your eyes. But Philippe’s offers numerous wines by the glass, including vinous delights by Duckhorn, Sonoma-Cutrer, Groth, Merry Edwards and many more.

Posted in Our Wine Travel Log
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