Corkbar: Drink More Wine

Red or White?…is what the waitress would ask me after I decided that instead of my regular cocktail, I would step up my sophistication level and drink some wine.

MJ and I recently became fans of wine but like most people that drink wine for the first time, we had no clue how to order it.  When the waitress would ask what kind of wine we wanted, we would say, “red”, then she would read out these complicated names, in which I would turn to her and nod at the “House Cabernet” selection because not only was the price affordable, but it was an actual name that i recognized.  With time I learned a few other trusty wines that friends would recommend and I got a little better at ordering it. The problem I found was that because wine was linked to some sort of sophistication level, it was a bit intimidating to even try it when you didn’t know what to try.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned a lot more about it.  Everyone kept mentioning the name “Corkbar” to me.  Most of my good friends that have been lofting in downtown religiously stay up to date with the new downtown restaurants, which LA desperately needs more of, and told me I had to check out this new spot.  “It’s super chill”, “It reminds me of the spots they have in Santa Barbara”, “You have to try their appetizers and wine, it is sooo good!”, they would say.

So we did, and in true “downtown” flair we trained it once again.  Hoped on the Los Angeles Subway, Blue Line towards the Staples Center (PICO stop), a few blocks from Corkbar.

“We created Corkbar with a simple mission in mind: re-create the California wine tasting experience.”

We loved it! A nice size establishment bright and warm at the same time. Cool wood deco and wine modern shelving, “Wine Country meets chic”, says Caleb co-owner of Corkbar,  as he describes the decor.  The best part about it is you get the California wine experience for a GREAT price.  Their wine selection is categorized in their drink menu making it easy to maneuver through.  I personally called it the bible of California wines”, I was almost tempted to take one with me!  ”What I specifically liked was that it was not intimidating at all and anything goes sneakers and jeans, perfect for the train ride back, or the suit and the loose tie, perfect for the after work happy hour.”-Ella 

I had the opportunity to sit and chat with one of Corkbar’s owners Caleb Wines (appropriate last name right?).  He shared the inspiration behind Corkbar, schooled me on the chemistry behind good wine, and he encouraged me not to shy away from the wine experience.  Caleb shared his thoughts on the foodie culture and his thoughts on eating socially….

What word would you use to describe the Corkbar menu? 

“Eclectic”, he said.  You won’t find a complicated new gastronomic menu here he added, in other words u wont have to squint at your food and guess what it is? I asked, and as we both laughed about it he assured me i wouldn’t need to do that.

“We are dedicated to bring our love for wine to Southern California….70 wines by glass and dozens more by the bottle…a dozen artisanal beers and farmer’s market fresh food menu.”

This is when I knew that the owners behind Corkbar truly understood their consumers.  The “inspiration behind Corkbar”, Caleb added, “was to bring what we experienced on our vacations while wine tasting here to Los Angeles.   All the owners are from Los Angeles and if you are from L.A., you know there is nothing like Corkbar around.  Unlike other downtown chic bars where, “you can barely read the menu because of the lighting in there”, Caleb jokes, Corkbar serves the same quality food and drinks in a more RELAXED atmosphere.

Its nice to see downtown expand and when I asked Caleb how he felt about the foodie craze… 

…he said, he loved it.  The best part of L.A. food is you can eat great tasting food straight out of a “paper bag” or “ some fine china”. Whether it’s an expensive French cuisine where they serve art on a plate, that he also personally enjoys, or the classic the Tommy Burgers, people are enjoying the food experience and talking about it because “Good is Good” he added.

We ended with his thoughts of StomachLife’s take on enjoying food socially and how important that was to him.  

He said “Corkbar is all about enjoying food socially.”  You never really see someone enjoying a whole bottle of wine if its not with friends.”  Wine is meant to be enjoyed with friends and family and that was the point of creating a place like Corkbar.  Their appetizers and entrées are big enough to share along with their wine.  The music is even hand picked by the owners, music they have enjoyed together and music that helps add to the atmosphere.  Selections of rock, jazz and latin play in the background as you enjoy the Corkbar social experience. ..and that is exactly what we did truly enjoyed the experience.

As we ended our interview Caleb ended with some wise words we can all use after a long day…

“When in Doubt drink more wine”- Caleb …..

Dig In:

Banhmi Sliders; Ground pork, ginger, cilantro, garlic, carrot, daikon 

on mini challah bun, served with side of sriracha. $15 

w/Wine: Riesling, Sparkling, Albariño, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon

Seared Salmon; 

With green lentils, grain mustard and herbed butter. $17 -Ella

w/Wine: Marsanne, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc 

Click for Corkbar Menu

Happy Hour

Monday thru Friday, from  3pm-7pm. 

Draft beer discounts, half-off appetizers, wine specials, and more!


Yelp Says: 4/5* , $$

403 W 12th St Los Angeles, CA 90015 Neighborhood: Downtown
(213) 746-0050