No one would deny that the mimosa is the crown jewel of weekend brunch. The combination of fresh orange juice with bubbly Champagne is, no question, a staple on the morning table. However, there's another light and delicious drink that can be a great brunch alternative for those who may not want mimosas: sangria. Originally a Spanish and Portuguese drink, sangria is a mixture of wine with fresh fruit; sometimes other juices or liquors are added.
Unlike mimosas, which, let's be honest, always taste the same, sangria recipes can vary greatly, making the drink interesting at every restaurant that offers it. To honor this eclectic addition to boozy brunches, we decided to rank the top five bottomless sangria brunches in Los Angeles. Similar to our Best Brunches in Los Angeles list, we're defining brunch as "a sit-down full-service weekend meal with a dedicated brunch menu," which all of the restaurants below have.
5. Casablanca Restaurant
A Mexican restaurant named after a film about a Moroccan city, Casablanca Restaurant is the oldest establishment on the list, opened on New Year's Eve 1979 by the current owner's father. "My father owned a movie theater in Mexico in the early '50s, and he loved the movie Casablanca and he loved Humphrey Bogart," says Carlos Haro, who took over the restaurant when his father retired two years after it opened. While the restaurant is filled with memorabilia from the film about Morocco, its cuisine is classic Mexican-American food. A tortilla maker stands in the center of the restaurant, churning out fresh tortillas. For Sunday brunch, $15.99 gets each customer an entrée, dessert and a choice of bottomless mimosas, Champagne, Bloody Marys or red sangria for two hours. The sangria recipe, which is made fresh daily, was actually developed in-house by a waiter many years ago after he began experimenting with different juices including orange, pineapple and apple. The brunch menu offers many Mexican-style seafood options as well as a chorizo omelet. Sunday brunch also features a live guitar player, a great addition to the ambiance.
220 Lincoln Blvd., Venice; (310) 392-5751, casablancarestaurant.net.
4. Tortilla Republic
Tortilla Republic has a signature sangria, offered on Saturdays and Sundays as bottomless for $20 per person after 11 a.m. or $10 before, with a two-hour limit. The red sangria has syrah, pomegranate, simple syrup, orange juice and fresh fruit — it pairs quite well with the brunch dishes, such as a breakfast quesadilla and an egg-machaca burrito.
616 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 657-9888, tortillarepublic.com/west_hollywood.
Spanish tapas and wine bar Manchego is a real family affair. "Manchego is always going to be a place that reminds me of Spain, it reminds me of people going and basically losing track of time," says head chef and owner Ash Amir, whose parents help do the books. The brunch menu may not be long, but you can get bottomless red or white sangria for $15. Calling it "simple and strong," Amir says freshly squeezed orange juice is used for the white and pomegranate juice for the red. "I know it's not very traditional to use pomegranate juice, but pomegranate gives it the sweet, savory taste that's kind of unique," he says. To pair with the sangria, try the grilled cheese sandwich, made with a mixture of Spanish cheeses, or the blood sausage.
2518 Main St., Santa Monica; (310) 450-3900, manchegosm.com.
2. Bacaro L.A./Bacari PDR/Bacari GDL
With three locations across Los Angeles (USC, Playa del Rey and Glendale), this Venetian-inspired wine bar offers a small-plates brunch and many flavorful drinks, including its red sangria. "We start with red wine and inside we soak limes, oranges, apples, orange liquor, pineapple juice and a couple of spices. That all soaks in the wine for two days, then everything is strained out and is ready to serve," says the owner. White sangria is also offered during the summer.
L.A.: 2308 S. Union Ave., University Park; (213) 748-7205, bacarola.com.
PDR: 6805 Vista del Mar Lane, Playa del Rey; (310) 439-2100, bacaripdr.com.
GDL: 757 Americana Way, Glendale; (818) 696-1460, bacarigdl.com.
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1. Vintage Enoteca
Who knew blackberry sangria was the brunch drink missing from our lives? Vintage Enoteca, a neighborhood wine bar with a seasonal menu of Italian-inspired small dishes, decided to combine blackberry with red wine to make a delicious sangria that's so good the owners decided to bottle it. Both the blackberry sangria and the passion fruit–flavored white sangria are delicious; they're offered as bottomless options for only $12 per person for five hours every Saturday and Sunday. Since Vintage Enoteca's sangria is made with quality wine, the restaurant feels comfortable making the wine 90% of the drink — so it's strong as well. For those who want the blackberry sangria beyond just brunch or happy hour (when it's also offered), it's being brought to market by a boutique winemaker from Napa, Leonard Wine Company, under the label V Sangria.
7554 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 512-5278, vintageenoteca.com.
Honorable Mention: Pip's on La Brea
Owner Derrick Pipkin was born and raised in the area and ate at this restaurant (when it was an Italian joint) with his family for 20 years. With no restaurant experience except for a week working at Pioneer Chicken when he was 16, Pipkin noticed a for-lease sign on the restaurant eight years ago. Three days later, he signed the lease and people have been enjoying Sunday brunch there ever since. For $35 per person, the restaurant offers bottomless mimosas or sangria plus an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring an eclectic mix of items from Argentine chef Luis Carrizo Salvat, including eggs, salmon lasagna, ribs and egg rolls. "It's something different from a lot of places out here," Pipkin said.
1356 S. La Brea Ave., Mid-Wilshire; (323) 954-7477, pipsonlabrea.com.