As the years have led to urban expansion, only one Los Angeles winery has stood the test of time. The San Antonio Winery and Restaurant in Lincoln Heights is so beloved as a local drinking institution, it was given cultural monument status in 1966. Since then, the hidden-away winery, down a few side streets in an industrial part of the downtown area, has been quietly serving up glasses of fine wine from their Italian-style villa. Terracotta roofs and tall greenery line the exterior of this operational winery, which has been bottling since 1917. Free wine tastings and tours are available daily, and the attached Maddalena restaurant serves homey Italian food.
Gennaro?s Ristorante has managed to stay open for nearly 30 years not only because of its menu of Italian pastas and grilled meats, but also because of its dedication to Italian-style hospitality. When guests first enter the eatery, they head to the sitting room?a cozy area with marble flooring where they can sit beside a roaring fire and sip Italian wines and creative cocktails from the bar.
They then head into the dining room for a night of devouring meticulously prepared entrees, such as pork medallions with a green-peppercorn-and-cognac sauce, or tagliolini pasta with squid, shrimp, and mussels. The inclusive restaurant caters to all types, offering a vegan menu and gluten-free options. While patrons eat, performers soothe the ears with classical piano or guitar music or gentle earlobe rubs.
At Left Coast Wine Bar & Gallery, an eclectic mix gathers to sample more than 400 wines from California, South America, and Europe and admire works from local artists. Visitors clink bottles of craft beer or glasses of malbec and sweet chardonnays while jazz, rock, and open-mic performances fill the air with music seven nights a week. The outdoor patio treats revelers to fresh air as they savor Italian and French cheeses or munch on grilled panini sandwiches. A cozy upstairs loft provides an intimate setting for singer-songwriters to serenade guests with acoustic versions of popular ringtones.
You could argue that every meal at Gaucho's Village includes live entertainment—servers are constantly visiting tables with humongous skewers of meat and slicing off choice pieces with a sword-like knife. To summon such a show to your table, all you need to do is turn a small marker over to display its green side, or turn your "Bring on the Meat" t-shirt right-side out. Then, you select from an array of flame-roasted cuts, ranging from the traditional picanha, or sirloin cap, to tri-tip and filet mignon wrapped in bacon. The blazing churrasco fires backstage also cook lamb, pork, and sausage, and the menu suggests a proper wine pairing for each cut.
Though these meats have been featured on the Travel Channel's Tastiest Places to Chow Down, they aren't the only impressive spectacle at the restaurant. The real show occurs on weekends, when samba dancers and DJs rev up the always-festive atmosphere. Guests who would rather kick back than shimmy along can visit the attached lounge. There, a separate lounge menu boasts empanadas and coxinha—fried balls of chicken and cheese—as well as flavored hookah on a back patio fenced with live bamboo.
For shoppers feeling anxious over deciding among the many wines that line Flask Fine Wines' shelves, just wait a few days. On Thursday and Saturday evenings, the shop hosts a tasting bar that lets patrons sample a vast array of varietals. After sipping a few samples, guests can narrow it down to select a favorite or two, and purchase a full bottle to take home. Those more interested in fine spirits will also find an impressive selection of bourbons, tequilas, and both single-malt and kind-of-dating-someone-malt whiskies.
redwhite+bluezz, a nightly confluence of wine, contemporary American cuisine, and live jazz music, won the Best Live Music Club and Best Wine Selection awards from Pasadena Weekly in 2011. Divided into The Grill and The Vintage Room, the decorated eatery fuels feasts with a menu of grilled beef, seafood, and chicken dishes alongside platters of artisan cow, sheep, and goat cheeses and trays covered in charcuterie, some cured in-house. Seasoned sommelier Russ Meek complements the eats by crafting his signature flight menus, which offer pairing suggestions from the expansive wine list, 40 of which are available by the glass. Sounds of humming horns, rattling drums, and strumming guitars reverberate in the jazz club, where heralded local musicians perform every night and during Sunday brunch. Dedicated to enriching entertainment, redwhite+bluezz hosts a slew of monthly events, including 90-minute flight school sessions that document the history, background, and embarrassing middle school stories of local wines.