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As good as the food is at a restaurant, what can make a meal even better is the wine selections to pair with the food. It is not about the size of the list or having the correct list of wines. It is about understanding the cuisine of the restaurant and the customer and then creating a list to appeal to both. My recent story in California Winery Advisor listed 15 of the best restaurant wine lists in Los Angeles and you can read it here. ************************************************************** Wondering who has the best restaurant wine lists in Los Angeles and why? It is not the size of the wine list. It is not because it has a list of every aspirational, expensive, highly scored wine. And it is definitely not a good list when the list consists of generic mass-produced brands that can be found on the shelves of the local grocery store. A good wine list is one that is curated by the wine director of the restaurant to pair with the food on the menu. It is a list that offers a range of price points and combines familiarity as well as uniqueness. With so many exceptional restaurants in Los Angeles, a good wine list is what can set one apart from another. Here are 15 restaurants offering some of the most interesting, exciting and appropriate wine selections for the customer.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Editor’s note: Until my son moved to Los Angeles to go to medical school and then decided to stay there for his residency, I’d never thought of L.A. as a culinary destination. But since then, every time we visit him, he takes us to a new and fascinating place: a hole in the wall that serves fabulous ramen, or a seemingly ramshackle place on the beach the cooks up spicy wonderful Caribbean food, or the place that is reported to have the best burger in L.A., located down a hallway behind a butcher shop in Santa Monica. Who knew that an intern has so much time to eat? But it is turning out that L.A. has one of the most vibrant and diverse food scenes I’ve ever visited. With this in mind I asked our wine columnist Allison Levine, who lives in L.A., for a list of her favorites. —Sasha Paulsen
For years, when one thought of food, restaurants and must-eat-at destinations, Los Angeles was not a city that came to mind. But the city of 14 million has been gaining recognition for its food scene over the last five or so years.
Los Angeles Times Food Critic Jonathan Gold called Los Angeles the “food city of the moment” and restaurant critics from New York and San Francisco have agreed. In fact, Zagat named Los Angeles number one in their list of “30 Most Exciting Food Cities in America 2017.”
I spend much of my time traveling around the country and the world. It is always exciting to explore the food scene in a given city and enjoy wonderful meals. But every time I come home to Los Angeles, I am really blown away by the quality and diversity of the food scene, where chef-driven restaurants, exotic cuisine and innovative cooking are all celebrated. There is also the sheer quantity of restaurants.
New restaurants are opening on a weekly basis. Local celebrity chefs have opened additional locations, new young chefs have realized their visions and a handful of well-known out-of-town high-profile chefs have descended upon Los Angeles for their newest outposts. At times, it seems almost impossible to keep up, but I do my best. Here are some of my favorite restaurants where I had some of my more memorable meals of 2017.
One of my favorite neighborhood restaurants is not in my neighborhood. It is across the city but that will never stop me from going back to Kali.....again and again! Kali is the baby of Chef Kevin Meehan and Wine Director Drew Langley. Chef Meehan worked at Citrine and Patina Restaurant Group before launching his underground passion project Kali Dining. Langley worked as Wine Director at Providence for a decade. He and Meehan had met years prior while together at Bastide and Citrine. With a shared passion for fine dining hospitality, Meehan serves a menu of contemporary California cuisine paired with Langley's creative and concise international wine list in a casual, neighborhood restaurant. The menu at Kali consists of locally sourced seasonal ingredients. While elements of the dishes change seasonally, there are a handful of my favorite dishes that I can find when I am there. Kali offers a five-course tasting menu option for $65 ($95 with wine pairing). But if you are with a group of people, I suggest ordering a la carte. While the menu is not a share-plate menu, with four people you can order a handful of first course selections to share and then select a a few second course selections off of the menu and then share them to get a taste of all of the different flavors.