If someone invites you out for a drink, does your brain instantly imagine beer or wine? For me, it’s wine so I’m always on the lookout for cool, unique and all-together awesome wine bars to visit. Even as a frequent visitor to Los Angeles, though, it can be overwhelming, with so many bars to choose from. So, in search of the best LA wine bars, I took the advice of some well versed vino-loving locals and did some “research” to bring you my top wine bar picks in and around Hollywood. Ugh, such a rough job!
Mama Shelter’s Rooftop Bar
If you’re looking for a vibrant but casual environment to enjoy your favorite varietal, Mama Shelter‘s is the place! To be honest, they had us at “rooftop bar” but that’s besides the point… A quick 10-minute walk down Hollywood Blvd from Loews Hollywood Hotel and you find yourself at the corner of Wilcox & Selma looking up at a pretty unassuming LA building. Wrong: Not only is it a cool restaurant and bar on the bottom floor but if you take the elevator up to the roof, you discover a uniquely Los Angeles atmosphere with string lights, adirondack-style sofas, potted palm trees — oh and did we mention killer views of Hollywood and even very own Loews Hollywood? They offer a great menu of beer, wine, signature cocktails, and some tasty bar snacks when the kitchen is open. As this was just the first stop on my bucket list of wine bars for the evening, I started with a glass of the Magic Maker Rose as I watched the sun set over my home away from home. Definitely try and get there in advance of sunset because this popular new spot fills up fast and you won’t want to miss an Instagram-worthy moment as the sun sets over LA.
Vinotéque on Melrose
Next on my to do list was a visit to Vinotéque on Melrose and I wasn’t disappointed. This was a suggestion for a more intimate and private evening of vino drinking and it definitely lived up to its reputation. A little too far to walk from the hotel this time, so I took a 10-minute Uber ride. Vinotéque is a hidden gem, literally sandwiched between two business fronts on Melrose Ave. Don’t let the exterior fool you, though. Inside awaits a charming and enchanting environment plucked straight out of a movie. Although indoor seating is available, don’t miss out on the atmosphere outside, where you’ll find wrought-iron tables inside a perimeter of herb planters freckled with heat lamps — and the projector playing classic black and white Charlie Chaplin films! If that wasn’t enough, the food and wine selections here are incredible and can’t be beat for an authentic Italian tapas and wine bar. I opted to order the Herbed Lamb Meatballs, the heartiest homemade marinara sauce I’ve ever had, paired with a smooth Intrinsic Cabernet. But the night wouldn’t be complete without some dessert and boy was I glad I made that decision! The Grilled Pineapple from their Dessert Menu was AMAZING. So light, refreshing and perfectly balanced; my waiter wasn’t lying when he called it “the most underrated item on our menu.”
Finally, we end at GC Marketplace, conveniently located just down the street from Universal Studios Hollywood. I can imagine this location comes in handy for parents who want to grab a drink and unwind after a day at the theme park with the kids. The vibe at this restaurant/wine bar/marketplace is different from the others on my list, as it’s much more contemporary and great for a quick drink. Plus, it has a little something for everyone’s tastes with a wide menu selection. And if wine wasn’t on your mind when you first walked in, it will be when the large wall of wine bottles greets you. Here, I went for a Sauvignon Blanc and a black and white cookie for the road. Be sure to verify the opening hours, as they only currently serve breakfast and lunch. I unfortunately made that mistake and had to return the following day on my way to the airport, whoops… lesson learned.
Whether you’re in the mood for a lively urban atmosphere, a secluded hideaway, or a modern and open environment you can’t go wrong with any of these local Los Angeles hot spots for a glass of your favorite wine and some excellent locations. Cheers!