During the month of May Happy Hour City will be celebrating all things wine related. Each week we will educate you on the different types of wine, we will also show you how to make wine centered cocktails/drinks, and we will be giving you the inside scoop on some of the best wine bars & wineries around LA.
Happy Hour: $$
Baldoria- Restaurant Wine Bar
Sunday - Friday: 4:30 - 7:00 PM
Late Night: Friday & Saturday: 11:00 PM - 2:00 AM
When looking for a neighborhood wine spot, the options in downtown are limited, this is mostly because the wine culture around these parts is a bit on the luxurious end. Unfortunately, a few have closed down recently, thus narrowing our options further but worry not! Baldoria is here to save the day, and they have everything you need to become the local’s favorite for all things wine. We came across Baldoria via a number of Instagram interactions, so we were very excited to come visit our new Internet friends and meet face to face. When we saw their happy hour specials, we knew this was a match made in Instagram heaven.
Baldoria is located in a central spot, nearby Burroughs include Little Tokyo, Fashion District, Arts District and the Historic Core. People exploring the nearby areas might run into it, still, it’s discrete enough for locals to hide out in. That’s exactly the kind of vibe we walked into, a local bar. That’s also how we were treated, our waiter was awesome and knowledgeable and his attitude literally made Xena’s day.
When you pass the patio set up outside, the place really opens up. Mostly communal tables, once again reinforcing the whole, “Sit with people. Enjoy your food, meet your neighbors, and for pete’s sake turn OFF your cell phone.” AKA every single one of my family reunion/dinner.
There are also tables for those low-key locals and most importantly, a lot of room at the bar. David and his longtime friend Duke began the concept for the place, built it, and now they run it. You can tell they are proud of the work they’ve accomplished. The bar and restaurant have a total minimalistic feel, by the way, something that allows people to concentrate on the finely crafted foods and spirits in front of them. We had the pleasure of speaking with David, one of the owners and co-founder. He let us in on the story behind Baldoria, why he and Executive Chef Duke are Italian wine fans, and what the name means to them.
David and Duke are both Texas boys who spent some time in Italy where they fell in love with the culture of an aperitivo hour. Thus, their love for pizzas paired with Italian wines, it all makes a lot of sense. But the name is what really caught our attention as the most inspiring thing about the whole concept, as David explained, Baldoria means revelry in Italian. And when you know that, the menu, concept, and vibe all ties in.
Another thing that further drives the point this is a local bar, is their nightly Happy Hour, yes I said nightly. And yes, it does take place during the weekend, so you could hit up Baldoria twice in one day for their amazing Happy Hour deals.
The Happy Hour at Baldoria is Sunday - Friday 4:30 - 7:00 PM and they’re late night is on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 PM - 2:00 AM. It’s also another sort of hint that they care about the community and those of us locals sometimes looking for something above average on the weekdays while the tourists are away. They’re also all about their food, so they’re open for lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends. That being said, let us help you understand the menu.
Baldoria’s whole “thing” is that they rotate everything. Whatever they feel like they can live without this week will receive some attention next time. Their creative juices are FLOWING. So never expect beer, wine, or cocktails to be the same, few staples here and there but nothing too concrete. So, for Happy Hour they offer a simple 20% all liquids and all their pizzas get knocked down to $8. Given their vast selection of fine wines, beers both imported and local, and creative cocktails with a kick- it’s a solid deal. Given that their cocktails all go for $12, that leaves you paying nearly $9-$10 each, wines range anywhere from $12-$14 but they have a special rose that’s $30 a glass! This is simply because it is ⅔ of the entire bottle on the pour, beers range from $6.50- $14, so in average each one costs $8-$10 during Happy Hour, they also rotate a lot but David mentioned that they’re more commonly known for having a great sour selection. In fact, on Tuesdays, in addition to Happy Hour they have, “Tart N’ Tasty Tuesdays,” for those sour beer aficionados 30% off anything sour.
We all agreed this is a cool new way to keep a restaurant fun and fresh, but the pizza is where the it’s at. That’s the only thing they don’t really rotate, so we included the pizza options here as the menu. However, they do have seasonal pizzas! This summer they will feature a new strawberry pizza to add to their list, as far as staples go David let us know the Margherita and the Octopus one will be around for a while. Don’t expect the Baldora Old Fashioned to go away anytime soon it’s the most ordered drink during their Happy Hour. By the time this review gets published, some of the cocktails we had won’t even be on it. Still, they’re all represented well throughout our review so let’s go ahead and begin.
Rose: Chateau Val-Joinas Luberon France 2016.
The rose was perfect, light, refreshing and not too sweet.
Lil Tokyo Steak:
Miso marinated flat iron, yuzu kosho, shiitake, shishito, cherry tomato red onion with vegan parmesan cheese.
K-Town: Jameson Irish Whiskey, Soju, ginger, honey, angostura, orange.
The cocktail was pretty good. To be honest, they all looked like they were straight liquor. But I was so wrong!
So the K-Town was a nice surprise because it was not unbearably strong. They added enough ginger and honey and to balance the liquor. I could also taste the honey, would recommend but not with pizza.
Red: Tenuta Sassoregale, Sangiovese Tuscany, Italy 2015
This wine has a great body to it. It’s the red wine that won’t make you feel sleepy. Very great to pair with any pizza but mine specifically because it’s a good Italian red to accompany meats.
Hot Calabrese sausage, pepperoni, smoked bacon, red onion, sweet cherry peppers
Matt’s English Milk Punch: Jamaican Rum, Brandy, Bourbon, Absinthe, Ceylon Bark.
You can taste the spices of the black tea, it reminds me of a winter cocktail.You do have the taste of the spices of black tea, it has a very winter taste. The lactic acid let’s me enjoy it without a heaviness from any cream. The pineapple flavor balances it out, next time I’d probably ask for more ice but that’s just me.
White: Carlos Serres, Tempranillo Blanco Rioja DOC Rioja, Spain 2016.
Light, effervescent, bubbly but not too much to bother you or confuse you with a sparkling. It’s refreshing, it’s nice, and buttery tones. The description says it’s a pineapple and floral taste, but I’m not getting that.
Black Forest ham, Grand Cru gruyere, browned butter béchamel, Chino Valley eggs
Christopher Oaxacan: Verde Mezcal, Cynar, Carpano Antica
This is more on my side of preference for bitters. The Carpano Antica blends well with the smokiness Mezcal making this a very nice aperitif for right before a pizza.
The Overall Experience:
Baldoria is a well-crafted well of endless possibilities. They have food, wine, beer, cocktails, and all of it constantly on rotation means endless options. It’s the way to run a bar without needing to open a different concept for different bar(s). The way that David and Duke have been able to handle all that power of creativity with Italian class and being a part of the neighborhood, is admirable.
What Baldoria has overall dominated is the art of having options. You want to come back to see what’s new and what’s changed, that’s what keeps people coming back, and turning them into regulars. Wine fans will find this the most exciting, Baldoria’s dedication to the quality should also be applauded.
OVERALL SCORE: 4.5/5
HAPPY HOUR SCORE: 4.8/5
We’d like to thank David and Duke for accommodating us and letting us wine and dine at their spot. We’ll definitely be back for late night Happy Hour and brunch. Thanks for reading, we hope you’re enjoying wine month, and as always…