Our favorite wine bars in the West
Following is a list of our favorite wine bars in the West broken down by the following regions: Northern California, Southern California, Northwest, Southwest, and Mountain States.
Carpe Vino. A wine bar and retail shop specializing in wines of the Sierra foothills, tucked into a cozy, Gold Rush–era brick building. Well-priced flights change weekly. Limited food, but you can order in appetizers from the neighboring restaurant. Closed Mon–Tue. 1568 Lincoln Way; 530/823-0320. ―Charity Ferreira
Andalu. This small-plate restaurant with a stylish bar has an excellent wine program. The flights are carefully thought out, with generous pours. Tasty bar snacks (try the roasted pimentón cashews). 3198 16th St.; 415/621-2211.
A16 Restaurant and Wine Bar. The southern Italian menu and owner-sommelier Shelley Lindgren’s unique Italian wine list are equal draws at this sleek wine bar–restaurant. Wines are offered by the glass or half-carafe to encourage adventurous pairing. Closed Tue. 2355 Chestnut St.; 415/771-2216.
Bacar Restaurant and Wine Salon. A legendary book-length wine list, elegant downstairs wine salon, and eclectic California Mediterranean menu make this one of the city’s most popular destinations for enjoying wine with food. 448 Brannan St.; 415/904-4100.
First Crush Restaurant, Wine Bar & Lounge. The all-California wine list at this intimate theater district restaurant–wine bar includes many small-production wines and unusual varieties. The fresh, seasonal menu has a California flair. 101 Cyril Magnin St.; 415/982-7874.
Hayes & Vine Wine Bar. This Hayes Valley pioneer remains one of the city’s most soigné places to taste wines by the glass (the list of 40 changes every Monday) and nibble cheese or charcuterie. 377 Hayes St.; 415/626-5301.
Incanto. The wine and atmosphere are both Italian at this sophisticated neighborhood restaurant–wine bar. Wines come in tastes, glasses, and half-liters, plus several flights; the “mystery flight” makes fun guesswork. Closed Tue. 1550 Church St.; 415/641-4500.
Nectar Wine Lounge. Spare decor and a packed bar in the Marina district, with a good, if whimsically described, list of wines for tasting. Closed Sun. 3330 Steiner St.; 415/345-1377. ―C.F., Amy McConnell, Kate Washington
Soif. This downtown wine bar and retail shop pours more than 50 wines by the glass or 2-ounce taste. Suggested pairings on the eclectic menu can be sublime, like marinated Monterey Bay sardines with a crisp French Sauvignon Blanc. Closed Sun. 105 Walnut Ave.; 831/423-2020. ―C.F.
Willi’s Wine Bar. The vibe is relaxed and sophisticated, the small-plate menu is eclectic (in a good way) and tasty, and the extensive wine list is available by the half-bottle, glass, and 2-ounce taste. Closed Tue. 4404 Old Redwood Hwy.; 707/526-3096. ―C.F.
Va de Vi Bistro Wine Bar. Globally influenced small plates accompany more than 40 wines by the glass and fun, thoughtful flights at this new spot in the heart of the downtown shopping area. Don’t miss the garlicky pommes frites with parsley and olive oil. 1511 Mt. Diablo Blvd.; 925/979-0100. ―C.F.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY
A.O.C. When the tiny bar at Lucques became too popular for its own good, chef Suzanne Goin and co-owner Caroline Styne created an elegant spin-off where Lucques’s regulars could come for extraordinary small plates and 50 wines by the glass. 8022 W. Third St., Los Angeles; 323/653-6359.
Bodega Wine Bar. Deejays spin wicked tunes on Monday and Thursday nights at this sexy Euro-style wine bar. The kitchen dishes out simple pizzas and a terrific hummus, and on Wednesdays, any bottle in the house is just $20. 260 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; 626/793-4300.
Café Veneto. Locanda Veneta’s casual next-door sibling has a wonderful selection of organic wines, many available in small tasting portions ― as is the food, including delicious lasagna and chocolate pizza. 8636 W. Third, Los Angeles; 310/273-3605.
Cobra Lily. Two stuffed boar heads keep watch over this matchbox-size tapas bar with a 100 percent Spanish wine list and tapas such as grilled octopus and serrano ham and salt cod fritters. Closed Sun–Mon. 8442 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; 323/651-5051.
The Den at Opaline. Opaline’s bold wine list has nary a Cabernet Sauvignon on it, focusing instead on wines you might be less familiar with. The come-as-you-are front room ― the Den ― offers about 15 such wines by the glass or half-liter, along with nibbles like foie gras mousse on brioche. Closed Sun. 7450 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; 323/857-6725.
Enoteca Drago. Dramatic cathedral ceilings and handmade Murano glass chandeliers set off a menu of small bites like miniature ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and foie gras. All 20 Italian wine regions are represented on the wine list, with 50 choices available by the taste or glass. 410 N. Cañon Dr., Beverly Hills; 310/786-8236. ―Brad A. Johnson
Catal Restaurant & Uva Bar. Joachim Splichal of Patina runs this outdoor wine bar right smack in the center of Downtown Disney, the shopping and entertainment complex that connects Mickey Mouse’s two Anaheim theme parks. Sample more than 20 wines by the glass, plus Mediterranean-style dips, thin-crusted pizzas, and ceviches. 1580 Disneyland Dr., Downtown Disney District, Anaheim; 714/774-4442.
Vine. The bar at Vine offers 30 wines by the glass and a view of the open kitchen, where chef Justin Monson might be braising lamb shanks in Zinfandel. The restaurant holds organized wine tastings every Wednesday. Closed Sun–Mon. 211 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente; 949/361-2079. ―B.A.J.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY
Crush. Grotto lighting in a cool blue-and-red room with mosaic tables. Nine flights are available, priced from $8.50 to $12, along with beautiful fruit and cheese plates and tapas-like snacks. 530 University Ave., San Diego; 619/291-1717.
Gaffney’s Wine Bar. Knowledgeable owners hold court in the area’s most convivial wine bar, especially strong in Zinfandels and Cabs. Generous two-glass flights join snacks such as a pâté sampler and caprese mozzarella and tomato salad. Closed Mon. 897 S. Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas; 760/633-1011.
The Grape. A high-ceilinged, narrow room located deep in the Victorian-era Gaslamp Quarter, the Grape (one of San Diego’s first wine bars) might have a hard-liquor atmosphere, but its 30 flights entice wine lovers. 823 Fifth Ave., San Diego; 619/238-8010.
The Wine Lover. A buzzing establishment right in the heart of the Hillcrest cinema and restaurant district. The Italian marble bar is a stunner, and so is the wine list. In particular, look for the wildly eclectic flights, including “international discoveries” ― quite a bargain at four wines for $10. Romanian Cabernet, anyone 3968 Fifth, San Diego; 619/294-9200. ―Peter Jensen
Navarre. Regulars flock to this tiny cafe for its perfect, well-priced tapas and more than 60 wines by the glass, quarter- or half-carafe, or bottle. 10 N.E. 28th Ave.; 503/232-3555.
Noble Rot. Themed wine flights invite patrons to branch out, with some three dozen wines by the glass and more by the bottle. Small plates start with salads and terrines and end with sweets like crème brûlée. Closed Sun. 2724 S.E. Ankeny St.; 503/233-1999.
750 ml. Sample 35 wines by the glass at this campily elegant wine bar–restaurant. Menu of “starters” and “finishers” ranges from crunchy truffle-scented pommes frites to seared sea scallops. Closed Sun. 232 N.W. 12th Ave.; 503/224-1432.
Vigne Wine Bar. Forty selections by the glass or 900 by the bottle, from all around the world. The food matches the bar’s spare, minimalist decor: Choose from simple small plates like smoked salmon or select cheeses. Closed Sun–Mon. 417 N.W. 10th Ave.; 503/295-9536. ―Bonnie Henderson
Eva Restaurant. A cheerfully intimate place to savor wines by the glass or bottle, including a nice selection of dessert wines and Ports. The creative menu is made for wine; try the Cabrales cheese flan. Closed Mon. 2227 N. 56th St.; 206/633-3538.
Portalis. This cozy neighborhood spot has 30 wines by the glass or 1 1/2-ounce taste, a light menu of snacks to go with them, and a retail shop. Choose a bottle and drink it there for a $7 corkage fee. Closed Mon. 5310 Ballard Ave. N.W.; 206/783-2007. ―Charity Ferreira
Bin 941. Funky and friendly, with an eclectic collection of objets, from lava lamps to eggbeaters. Drop in early or late for slightly eccentric but tasty small plates, like smoked halibut spread with lemon-curry oil, with wine from the diverse list. 941 Davie St.; 604/683-1246.
Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar. The name plays on the wine term (the measurement of grape sugars) and the attractive warehouse-district brick walls, which are hung with ever-changing local art. Sit in the pleasant open-air courtyard and enjoy appetizers and wine from early evening to 10 p.m., or snack on late-night fondue with the midnight crowd. Closed Sun. 1138 Homer St.; 604/915-9463.
Cru. Stylish and comfortable, with delicious small plates. Pairings from the small but strong wine list are governed by an innovative color-coded system that makes matches as good as that between husband-and-wife team Mark Taylor (the sommelier) and Dana Reinhardt (the chef). 1459 W. Broadway; 604/677-4111.
Umami Tapas & Wine Bar. This tiny new Yaletown spot with Japanese-inflected small plates uses the principle of umami ― the fifth taste, denoting savoriness or meatiness ― to pair wines from its selective list. All are available by the glass or bottle. Closed Sun. 572 Davie; 604/696-9563. ―Kate Washington
The Cave Creek Coffee Company & Wine Purveyors. Locals come early for lattes, then return at dusk to linger over 25 to 30 wines by the glass, more than 100 by the bottle, and light snacks. Live music some nights. 6033 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek; 480/488-0603.
Kazimierz World Wine Bar. Enter through the back, speakeasy style, and travel the world via wines from the U.S., Australia, France, and Italy, plus a few from countries such as Algeria and Romania. Choose from 100 wines by the glass, accompanied by snacks like Egyptian flatbread pizza. 7137 E. Stetson Dr., Scottsdale; 480/946-3004.
Paola’s Wine Bar. Euro-style bar that’s part of Christopher’s Fermier Brasserie, serving flights and dozens of choices by the glass, as well as antipasto and crostini. At happy hour on weekdays, prices on wines by the glass and most bar food are half off. In the Biltmore Fashion Park, 2584 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix; 602/522-2344.
Postino Wine Bar. Comfy sofas dot the architectural interior of what was once a neighborhood post office. Sample 20 wines by the glass or choose from among 100 bottles while snacking on bruschettas, salads, and panini. Closed Sun. 3939 E. Campbell Ave., Phoenix; 602/852-3939.
Sugo Pastaria Wine Bar. A cozy red interior is the backdrop for a menu that champions Italian wines. Offerings include carpaccio and fresh pastas as well as many wines by the glass. Not sure? You can taste a wine before you commit. 4151 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale; 480/949-7846. ―Nora Burba Trulsson
Le Café Miche. Relax with live music (Thu–Sat), luscious French nibbles, flights, and a by-the-bottle list of superb depth and range. 1431 Wyoming Blvd. N.E., Albuquerque; 505/299-6088.
Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro. New but already dark with the patina of a European wine cellar. Zinc’s happy-hour bar menu offers 20 wines by the half-glass, glass, half-bottle, or bottle. 3009 Central Ave. N.E., Albuquerque; 505/254-9462. ―Sharon Neiderman
Adega Restaurant and Wine Bar. Stylish adjunct to one of Denver’s most wine-focused restaurants, with an eclectic by-the-glass list, including a Riesling du jour. Mix-and-match bar menu with inventive snacks and more substantial picks. 1700 Wynkoop St., Denver; 303/534-2222.
Brix. This cozy and convivial Cherry Creek North bistro-cum-wine bar has an international wine list, with more than 30 offered by the glass, and sophisticated comfort food like shepherd’s pie and cornmeal-crusted calamari. On St. Paul St., between Second and Third Avenues, Denver; 303/333-3355.
13th St. Wine Bar. A romantically lit bar with cushy chairs to sit in and savor the 33 wines by the glass and snacks like smoked salmon, antipasti, and panini. Closed Sun. 1301 Washington Ave. at 13th St., Golden; 303/271-0730.
Trios Enoteca. The reasonably priced (especially at happy hour Tue–Fri) list of wines by the glass and bottle ranges widely, from Tuscany to California to Mexico. Dimly lit and comfortable. Closed Sun–Mon. 1730 Wynkoop, Denver; 303/293-2887.
The Village Cork. This snug nook offers affordable flights and about 30 wines by the glass complemented by a chalkboard menu with pâtés, artisan cheese plates, and brie with roasted garlic. Closed Sun. 1300 S. Pearl St., Denver; 303/282-8399. ―Lori Midson, Kate Washington
Mosaic Gallery Wine Bar & Restaurant. Local and international art, a hip urban feel, and homey comfort food make this a nice spot for enjoying a glass or bottle of Walla Walla wine. 500 W. Main St., Boise; 208/338-5006.
Red Feather Lounge. An extensive wine list heavy on Idaho, Oregon, and Washington bottles; lots of wines by the glass, plus a full regional menu. 246 N. Eighth St., Boise; 208/429-6340. ―Charity Ferreira