Corkbar – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Corkbar - Downtown

My cousin Phil has been traveling from San Diego to Los Angeles quite a bit these past few weeks for work. On one such occasion, The Astronomer and I met up with him for dinner in downtown. Phil is a diehard Lakers fan and suggested that we dine in the L.A. Live area to be near Kobe and company. I was in a low-key mood and suggested that we check out Corkbar instead. Without putting up much of a fight, Phil agreed. Thanks for being so accommodating, Cuz.

Corkbar - Downtown

Located about a quarter mile from the bright lights of the Staples Center, Corkbar is a neighborhood wine bar with an interesting menu. It came highly recommended to me by Diana Takes a Bite and WeezerMonkey. We happened to dine here during happy hour (3 to 7 PM) and took advantage of a few good deals on drinks and appetizers.

Corkbar - Downtown

The boys got things started with a Beach House Amber from Strand Brewing Co. (all draft beers are $5 during happy hour). The Astronomer offered me a taste, but I opted to smell it instead. As anticipated, the aroma was of sudsy beer.

Corkbar - Downtown

To start, we shared an order of cheddar cheese gougères ($7). Served straight from the oven, the puffs were light and airy with prominent cheesy notes. Whereas gougères I’ve encountered in the past were bite-sized morsels, these ones were the size of inflated golf balls. While I found the super-sizing not the least bit distracting, my dear Astronomer thought it was too much of a good thing.

Corkbar - Downtown

The main course I was most excited to sample was the root beer-braised short ribs ($16), which were served over cheesy polenta. The hunks of tender meat were nicely caramelized with a mild root beer essence. Only when we closed our eyes and concentrated really hard were we able to extract a little sassafras flavor from the meat. It’s just as well that we couldn’t really taste the sticky sweet soda; root beer and polenta would’ve been a questionable combination.

Corkbar - Downtown

The spring lamb sandwich ($16) was our least favorite bite of the night. The bread (ciabatta) and fixins (cucumber, mint, feta) were solid, but the lamb itself was dry and lacked the distinct gaminess characteristic of lamb.

Corkbar - Downtown

I was most pleasantly surprised by the banh mi sliders ($15), which were comprised of ground pork patties, cilantro, and pickled carrots and daikon sandwiched between toasted challah buns. The inspired trio were accompanied by a saucer of Sriracha on the side.

Corkbar - Downtown

Priced at five dollars a slider, these weren’t the most economically savvy banh mi on the block. However, I was comfortable paying a hefty premium on this occasion for the quality ingredients, bright flavors, and oh so soft challah. Grandma would probably slap me silly if she ever found out about this indiscretion.

Corkbar - Downtown

For dessert, I insisted that we indulge in “Breakfast” ($10). The cinnamon brioche muffin came adorned with a rum caramel sauce, vanilla whipped cream, and bacon bits.

While I’m usually a tremendous fan of incorporating smokey pork into sweet creations, in this situation the bacon seemed like an afterthought. Had the piggy shards been infused into the muffin and the caramel, the flavors would have been fuller and more cohesive. I wanted more bacon. A lot more.

Following our dinner, the three of us walked to L.A. Live to watch the Lakers blow it in the playoffs and came this close to receiving jaywalking citations. Just another night in downtown Los Angeles.

Corkbar *CLOSED*
403 West 12th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Phone: 213-746-0050

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8 Responses to “Corkbar – Los Angeles (Downtown)”


  • i’m having images of cheesy gougères knocking around my head. i want some to knock around in my belly :(

  • I used to live the by the Staples Center and received a jaywalking ticket ($90) and I wasn’t even jaywalking … don’t get me started. The banh mi sliders do look delicious.

  • I remember talking to you about this meal, but how come you left out about the Jaywalking part? :)

    Corkbar was the first time I used my dSLR (Safe to say, those pics will never see the light of day). How the time just flew by!

  • The rootbeer short ribs was by far the best dish. I take responsibility for ordering the lamb sandwich… the jaywalking incident was ridiculous… glad we didn’t have dinner at LA Live like I suggested.

  • Too much of a good thing?! Poppycock!

  • been wondering about Corkbar, but will meh dessert and dry lamb I’m not too sold. but this was still probably better than anything at LA Live :)

  • ack! i was in dt la this entire past week for work!

    nothing about this does not look awesome. although i was in parties the entire week, i would’ve mos def forced my colleagues to visit this place if i knew.

    there’s always a next time i guess. hahahaa

  • oh and btw, good call staying away from la live. convention center/staples center/la live area was insane!!!!!!!!!

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