Our Best of L.A. issue came out last week, and there is so much good stuff named in our Food & Drink section, we've decided to compile a daylong agenda to help you navigate all its liquid pleasures (we also put together a Best of L.A. food itinerary — 100 miles of cross-town travel filled with the top ceviche, sandwiches, tacos, burgers and more).
Now, take a tour of L.A.'s best coffee, wine, beer and cocktails to get you through every hour of the day. Here's how to drink the best of L.A. from morning 'til night.
If you happen to have your laptop handy, head to our pick for Best Coffee Shop for Working, Fix Coffee in Echo Park, where the neighborhood is quiet and there are outlets at every table (yes, even the ones outside!). “Fix Coffee is a godsend: Its coffee, its booze, its menu, its baked goods and the many (many) electrical outlets it provides, along with free Wi-Fi, for us sun-starved writers who set up camp for the entire day while nursing a single cup of yerba maté (More hot water, please?). The staff never once flashes anyone the stink-eye — there's no attitude here at all. … We may never leave.”
If you're not the type that likes to hang out in a coffee shop, you can always grab a growler of cold brew to go at our pick for Best Place to Get a Growler Full of Coffee, Lo/Cal in Santa Monica: “Even though Stumptown, from beer-centric Portland, Oregon, invented the whole concept of kegging coffee to begin with, our favorite place to fill up a 64-ounce brown jug with a week's worth of joe is still across town at Lo/Cal, a minimalist neighborhood coffee shop on Pico in Santa Monica, which treats you like, well, a local. Not only does Lo/Cal have one of the widest selections of Stumptown cold brew to choose from — including a single-origin tap that rotates monthly — but at only $20, it's also the cheapest fill in the city.”
No matter what time you find it socially acceptable to ditch the caffeine for booze, our pick for Best Beer-Tasting Spot for Sour Lovers, Phantom Carriage, has a tasting room that's open in time to get an assortment of palate-cleansing sours in your hand by high noon: “If you keep up with the SoCal beer scene, you've probably heard about sours. They're the region's newest beer trend, yet somehow they're nowhere in sight. That's not for lack of effort. Lots of breweries are making sours, but they take longer than most other beers to age and get all bacteria-fied. Many simply aren't ready yet. If you're interested in sampling some sours sooner than later, though, head south to Carson and get yourself to Phantom Carriage. This gem of a spot rotates through four to six sours on tap, which, trust us, is a lot.”
Just up the 405 from Phantom Carriage is our pick for Best New Brewery, Three Weavers in Inglewood, whose tasting room doesn't open until a little later in the afternoon: “Brewmaster Alexandra Nowell has the precision of a surgeon, and her clean, crisp beers — from the flagship Deep Roots ESB to collaboration brews spiked with ingredients such as coffee and yuzu — are balanced enough to make Northern California jealous and bitter enough to give San Diego a run for its money.”
For a fancified craft beer (and even fancier sopa de fideos), make the afternoon drive to Whittier for our pick for Best Craft-Beer Michelada, Colonia Publica, where IPAs and stouts stand in for fizzy yellow beer in the original Mexican beer cocktail: “Though a few shtick-y gastropubs have attempted to swap out the michelada's light Mexican lager for something more small-batch, it wasn't until Colonia Publica opened in Uptown Whittier that the full range of craft-beer michelada possibilities became evident. Chef Ricardo Diaz (Guisados, Colonia Taco Lounge, Bizarra Capital) is the man behind Colonia Publica, and his lineup of new-wave micheladas is made with everything from IPAs (the IPAlada pairs Epic's Escape IPA with grapefruit juice) to oatmeal stouts (La Morena is a take on a black-and-tan made with horchata and St. Ambroise oatmeal stout).”
Start off the evening with a glass of quirky wine at our pick for Best Wine Bar, Augustine, where you can get interesting bottles unavailable anywhere else in L.A.: “Sherman Oaks' newly opened Augustine Wine Bar is an incredible evolution in the world of wine bars, an oddity and a gamble. Here's the premise: Owners Dustin Lancaster and Matthew Kaner (who also are responsible for Bar Covell, the wine bar in Los Feliz), along with Dave Gibbs (the singer-songwriter best known for his band Gigolo Aunts), opened a neighborhood wine bar with affordable, quirky wines, a short but ambitious food menu and a specials board with around 16 rotating vintage wines from Gibbs' personal collection, available by the glass and bottle each night. These are wines of stunning rarity and age, bottles that you might possibly stumble upon on one of the country's grandest wine lists in a restaurant that's been collecting for decades. Some of them are too rare or weird even for that.”
For the perfect recommendation to pair with that perfect meal, go visit our pick for Best Sommelier, Taylor Parsons of République, whose wine list is as approachable as his staff is knowledgable: “When République opened, you could often see Taylor Parsons ducking in and out of the cellar room, tasting and swirling wines, then rushing out to tables to exclaim upon what he had found in the glass. No one was more enthusiastic, more excited to share his love for wine than Parsons. This is still the case, though now that he’s taken over duties as general manager as well as being wine director, he’s less likely to be tasting wine on the floor and more likely to be in some managerial meeting. If you’re lucky enough to catch him, though, he’s a font of friendly knowledge and is likely to have some bottle open in back that he just can’t wait for you to try.”
Get a good meal in your system before making a reservation at our pick for Best New Cocktail Bar, Normandie Club, which is making omakase-style bartending a little less pretentious: “If you're tired of paying dearly for tickets to the L.A. Cocktail Show, there's a place that offers respite. Koreatown's Normandie Club has already received accolades from Esquire and from top L.A. food writers, for good reason. The place gets it right every step of the way. … The place is dark and sturdy, like an old rich guy's library, but the airs are few. Waxed mustaches and arm garters don't play here, the bouncer stays outside, and there's almost always a place to sit, a candlelit table or bar, even when it's packed. The patio, next to the Hotel Normandie, is sublime on a summer night. And the drinks from its 'classic cocktail canon' are the best in town — stiff, elegant, studious and delivered without fuss or attitude.”
For booze-free revelry, your best bet is one of our finest discoveries: Best Mocktails at a Jewish Community Center, 72 Virgins. “72 Virgins is a series of four-week workshops that teach the art of making nonalcoholic cocktails as pretty as they are delicious. … What to expect? Just a bunch of open-minded and curious folks breaking bread together — except instead of bread, they're mixing, muddling, juicing and experimenting. Ingredients range from homemade jamaica punch to ginger beer, vinegar to seasonal fruits and herbs.”