One of the best things about living in the City South area is the seemingly endless list of dining options. From corner bars to fine dining, the best burgers, noodles and tostadas are all within our reach. While a blessing, it can sometimes make deciding on dinner a challenge. One way to narrow down your options is to consider what you want to drink. If it’s a great glass of wine with a perfectly paired meal, we’ve found three great options for wine aficionados and foodies alike.
So have a seat, take a sip but whatever you do, don’t call it just a wine bar.
Kings Wine Bar
When Michael and Nu Zosel bought Kings Wine Bar in 2014, they were confident about one thing: Nu made the best egg rolls in the world. “We were just looking for an opportunity for my wife to introduce her grandparents’ recipes,” Michael says.
When the chance came to buy Kings on the border of Kingfield and Tangletown, they jumped right in. And dish by dish they began adding her family’s Vietnamese recipes to the menu, along with Chinese, Korean and Thai favorites. The result is a pan-Asian menu with a handful of the original Kings’ staples. “I find it endearing that our neighbors still love the tater tots,” Michael says.
When they bought the restaurant, they also inherited an extensive wine inventory. “It has gone through a stage of evolution since we started the business,” Michael says. They took note of what customers liked, but also took great care to make sure their collection spanned the globe. “We love that we have an international wine list,” he says. “We’re very proud of that.”
Naturally, at Kings, the international list includes sake. While not the most popular order, Michael says they have faith people will catch on. “There are some wonderful selections that people have not yet explored here,” he says. “We are eager to share with them how great these sakes are.” And the staff know how great they are because they’re educated on the wines and sake. They can guide you to a wine you’re craving or offer pairing suggestions, Michael says.
If you’re looking for that “neighborhood family restaurant” vibe, Kings has it. Nu’s in charge of the kitchen, Michael takes on the business side of things and their son David and daughter Brigitta run the front of the house.Family-run means the care can be tasted in every bite. Sharing these dishes, “Nu gets the opportunity to honor her parents who have passed away,” Michael says. “When someone is eating our pho or our eggrolls … it just brings great joy to me that we’re doing this in their memory.”
Terzo Restaurant & Wine Bar
Thomas, Charlie and Molly Broder opened Terzo in 2013 and intentionally made it different. Different, that is, from the family’s well-known pasta bar. “The approach at Terzo is a little more contemporary, a little more elevated, in terms of focus of the menu,” Charlie says.
While the food is reason enough to visit, the Italian wine list is the cherry on top. Terzo offers 30 to 40 wines by the glass and has hundreds of cellar wines. The list, Charlie says, is always evolving, “but we’re also committed to aging and cellaring wines that are worthy of it.” And that commitment is paying off, as guests are becoming more adventurous and general knowledge of wine in the public has grown.
But it’s not just about the wine. “The food mirrors that mentality of excellence,” Charlie says. Terzo is a “neighborhood spot—but what does that mean?” he says. “Just because we’re in the neighborhood doesn’t mean you can’t have world-class food and wine.” The wine cellar is a prime example. It’s a time commitment and an investment, but “for guests to explore wines they’ve never heard of before … That’s what brings us joy,” Charlie says.
Can’t make up your mind regarding what to order? Heyday’s small plates might be your solution. Chef and James Beard nominee Jim Christiansen opened the Uptown restaurant in 2014 with an aim to bring something new and interesting to the city while keeping things simple, general manager Danielle Spa says. He gets the best ingredients possible, “and then he just lets the dish speak for itself,” she says.
The small-plate style means you get to try a bit of everything, and it lets you decide how your visit will go. “It’s meant to be just welcoming and warm. Where you can come in and have a cocktail or you can do a four-course dinner,” Spa says.
Heyday always had an emphasis on quality cocktails and wines, but since they opened “people are just more interested in pairing beverages with their dinner,” Spa says. “Which I feel is really great and beneficial, and that should be a part of the experience.”
And that brings us to the wine: “I pretty much base [the wine menu] off of Jim’s food,” Spa says. “I really like to use unfamiliar varietals just to get people to go out of their box,” she adds, preferring bottles not found at other restaurants or local liquor stores. “It should be special when you go out. You should try something new,” Spa explains.
It’s easy to try something new each visit because Spa changes the wine list often, to best fit the menu. And every dish on the menu comes with a suggested pairing. So for the four-course menu, a four-course beverage pairing is also offered. “Then you don’t really have to decide anything,” Spa says. “You just sit back, relax and all our staff is trained to come over, give a quick spiel about the wine and how it complements the dish.”
Neighborhood Wine Bars, Neighborhood Events
Kings Wine Bar:
Yoga & Wine Flights
Every workout should be followed by a glass of wine. An hourlong Vinyasa flow class precedes wine flights on some Saturdays from 4–5 p.m. $25. Register on the website.
Mondays are hard. But they’re worth it when they end in a glass (or two) of wine and trivia. The questions start at 7 p.m., but get there early—seating fills quickly.
Because a bottle of bubbles isn’t just for New Year’s Eve. Starting at 5 p.m., bottles of Champagne are available at cost. Pair it with $2 oysters and you’ll forget it’s not a holiday.