When spring arrives in Los Angeles, our thoughts turn to the great outdoors, whether we crave farmers market–fresh dishes, chic alfresco dining, or a carefully prepared picnic for a visit to The Getty. What the restaurants in our spring selection all share is a reputation for taking simple, honest food and turning up the refinement factor several notches, ultimately partnering them with the right wines and spirits.
Wally’s Beverly Hills
While Wally’s Wine and Spirits is a West LA shopping institution for its prolific selection of wine, spirits, and specialty foods, it is now channeling its success into a restaurant inspired by the well-stocked vinotecas of France, Italy, and Spain. Their new Wally’s Beverly Hills space not only brings a slice of European life to your dining experience, but also mingles upscale dining and shopping into a tidy and stylish way to enjoy one’s evening. In addition to over 2,500 carefully selected wines and a smart array of rare spirits and cutting-edge craft beers, there are more than 200 cheeses and charcuterie as well as a selection of fine caviar, chocolates, and truffles waiting to be paired with your selections.
Once the store has whet your appetite, you can do as the Europeans do and enjoy the vinoteca, which shines under the direction of proprietors Maurice, Paul, and Armand Marciano, along with Christian Navarro and Chef Ralph Soroczynski. The sit-down menu created by Soroczynski is French Provence-influenced cuisine, with flavors and seasoning that give it a definitive Southern California flair. A menu of 100-plus wines by the glass to mix and match with the fresh-crafted dishes ensures you’ll never have the same experience twice.
447 Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
The Little Door
How do you follow a perennially successful act like The Little Door, a beautifully tucked-away West Hollywood fixture that has drawn the discerning and the discreet among Hollywood A-listers, business titans and other fashionable regulars since 1996? By planting The Little Door Santa Monica in one of the best sections of that town (a tidy bungalow on the border of Santa Monica and Brentwood) and building it into an equally charming Mediterranean-inspired hideaway that brings European dolce vita to your backyard.
Executive Chef T. Nicolas Peter’s spin on Mediterranean cuisine, an impressive wine and cocktail menu, and rooms echoing the romantic feel of Southern France and Spain ensure it will become a local institution in its own right. Planning a business dinner or a party? Take your guests to Europe via the homey Citron Room swathed in vibrant yellow hues, or the regal Burgundy Room, decorated with dark red tones and rustic accents. No matter which location is closer to home or work, a night in Europe is a delectably easy escape through The Little Door.
246 26th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90402
8164 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Though Santa Barbara has always been a “food-and-wine” town, there are several new establishments defined by youthful energy and inventiveness that reconcile small town charm with big city dash … and much of that is happening beyond the busy hub of State Street. Restaurant Julienne, which rests at the heart of the up-and-coming Presidio neighborhood, has been setting the standards for other modern wine country eateries to follow. The kitchen’s philosophy is simple—splicing global recipes with local ingredients to attain true Santa Barbara cuisine.
There are a lot of big and wonderful ideas emerging from the shoebox-sized space, from house-made charcuterie and “seacuterie,” rilettes, patés, and letter-perfect cheese plates to Vietnamese and Argentine-inspired appetizers to simple, sturdy, and elegant main courses with locally sourced seafood, poultry, and beef. There are also several vegetarian options and explosively flavorful side dishes as well as tasting menus that bring even more romance to the intimate setting at dinner hour.
138 E. Canon Perdido St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Brunch Pick: Cliff’s Edge
The patina of Silver Lake’s reputation as a dining destination grows brighter by the day. If you haven’t been to L.A.’s artiest area lately, a brunch-time trip to Cliff’s Edge will help you understand what the buzz is all about. This restaurant is credited for helping the area lift off and up among particular diners seeking sharp, contemporary cuisine crafted from seasonal ingredients. Under the direction of Cordon Bleu–trained Chef Vartan Abargaryan, Cliff’s Edge continues to keep diners on their toes with a constantly changing menu of rustic-yet-elegant food that may include such dishes as a Bacon and Cheddar Frittata set off by jalapeño crema, Bucatini Carbonara with bacon breadcrumbs, and an Asparagus Omelette that’s anything but ordinary with the inclusion of morel cream and watercress.
The patio itself at Cliff’s Edge is a feast for the senses, anchored by a sprawling ancient tree and abundant greenery that make the street and surrounding area seem miles away. Richard Swan and Dan Thompson elevate Cliff’s Edge’s cocktail game in the recently remodeled, elegant and cozy bar, with a selection of fresh syrups and infusions that change frequently.
Brunch 11am–4pm, Sa-Su
3626 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026