Pasadena lacks a few kinds of essential food-and-drink establishments (like a proper deli and a really good gastropub à la the York), but it’s doing great in the wine bar department. There’s been a fair amount of hoopla around such places as Noir, Vertical, Bodega and the Wine Detective, but somehow we hadn’t noticed what a happening scene has developed at the Heritage Wine Company.
We stopped by the other night after another terrific free concert at the Levitt Pavilion and discovered that much of the space once used for displaying bottles in the retail store is now devoted to sitting and standing space for wine bar customers, most of whom seem to be 30ish, attractive and lively but not rowdy. The daily chalkboard is packed with interesting and reasonably priced wines by the glass, including plenty in the $7 to $9 range, where we mostly live. There’s always a good prosecco, another sparkling wine, a couple of rosés, a dozen or so whites and an equal number of reds, typically lesser known and from small producers in Paso Robles, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Santa Barbara area. The bartenders are smart, college-girl types who know their wines and will help you find something you like.
Thanks to a partnership with caterer Fell’s Point, there’s a surprisingly substantial menu, considering that this is not actually a restaurant: crab dip, potsticker meatballs, a green salad, a small pizza, cheese and charcuterie plates, that modern essential, the short rib grilled cheese, and a rich french toast crème brûlée. Most are designed to share, either at the bar or at one of the small tables, and prices range from $5 to $15.
As for happy hour, yep, they’ve got a good one: Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m., every wine on the chalkboard is $2 off. Add 90 minutes of free parking (enter through the alley off of Raymond), and it’s hard to resist making this a regular after-work stop.
Heritage Wine Company, 155 N. Raymond Ave., Old Pasadena, 626.844.9333, heritagewinecompany.com. Closed Mon. AE, MC, V. $ – $$