clock menu more-arrow no yes

22 Restaurants With Best Value Wine Lists in the US

View as Map

Here's a list of some of the best value wine lists across the country, both large and small, old and new. Some of these lists are classics, and many of them are off the beaten path, but all of them defy the accepted norm for restaurant wine list pricing. As it stands, the standard wine list markup is three times the wholesale price of any given bottle. Of course, markups vary from list to list and even within a list (where the lower-end wine can see higher markups, and the higher-end, lower markups).

But this list is about the exceptions. Take, for example, Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa. Its 220-page, five-pound list full of fine and rare wines priced below retail has long been a sort of mecca for wine nerds. But the cheap and deep business model that Bern's has become synonymous with has become increasingly difficult to sustain; most of the restaurants that once embraced this model have either closed or their stocks have been ravaged.

But there are some that continue to defy the odds, and others that embody a different kind of value wine list, like Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn whose idea of value is having great, off-the-beaten path wines in the $20 range. Other examples include Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant in Portland, OR with 150 Champagnes all with very slim markups; Becco in New York with its "Reserve list"; and Anthony's Pier 4 in Boston with its unlikely selection of vintage Burgundy wearing 1990s pricing.

All the restaurants below have been chosen not just for value, but the overall quality of the selections. There are still plenty more hiding throughout the country, so if you have a restaurant you think should be added, please do leave your suggestions in the comments.

· All Wine Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant

Copy Link
2225 E Burnside St
Portland, OR 97214
The newest addition in Cheryl Wakerhauser's stable of Champagne-loving patisseries. Bar Vivant focuses on the savory with a list of tapas and an ambitious list of 350 wines, including a strong selection of sherries and of course, 150 Champagnes all wearing very slim markups. This may be the best place in America to drink Champagne. [Photo: Avila/Eater PDX]

2. Ambonnay

Copy Link
107 SE Washington St
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 575-4861
Visit Website
Ambonnay is a close second behind Pix when it comes to Champagne destinations on a budget. They happen to be in the same city, but both are worthy of this list. This is the first wine bar to focus only on Champagne and sparkling. The markups on bubbly are some of the lowest in the country and the selections strike a smart balance between growers and big houses. [Credit: Ambonnay]

3. New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro

Copy Link
2210 S Pacific Hwy
Talent, OR 97540
(541) 535-2779
A storied Oregon hideaway run by the husband-and-wife team formerly behind the New Boonville Hotel. They can easily be lumped into Chez Panisse school of California cooking (Charlene, the chef, was a cook there and the couple met at the restaurant's 7th birthday party). The restaurant is considered one of the country's best-kept secrets and the legendary wine list, which is run by Charlene's husband Vernon, tops out at 80 pages. [Photo: Yelp/Monica T.]

4. Vinegar Hill House / Hillside

Copy Link
72 Hudson Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 522-1018
Visit Website
One-stop shop for off-the-beaten-path natural wines mixed with and affordable mix of well-edited classics. The draw here isn't a deep cellar, it's the slim markups across the board and the consistently strong list of wines under $50, with many dipping down into the $20 range. [Photo: Krieger

5. Alta

Copy Link
64 W 10th St
New York, NY 10011
(212) 505-7777
Visit Website
Alta remains one of Manhattan's best-kept secrets. The cellar, maintained by Christopher Chestnutt, is home to some of the best back vintage deals on Rioja stretching back to the 1950s, most of it priced well below retail. The list is also owns a rock solid selection of back vintage wines from Tuscany and Piedmont blended in with newer releases of great wines under $75. You can drink very well around $50 here, but the sweet spot is in the $75-200 range where you'll find great wines with decades of age for prices you just don't see in this city anymore.

6. Becco

Copy Link
355 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 397-7597
Visit Website
NYers, remember Becco? Eighteen years after Lidia and Joe Bastianich opened the restaurant on a terrifying, touristy stretch of 46th Street, the cellar at Becco is a relic in the best sense. It boasts a full list of solid wines priced at $25, but the draw is the 'Reserve list', which is home to tons of back vintage wines that are priced like they were purchased during a different era for Italian wine. Think Barolo. [Photo: Becco ]

7. Eleven Madison Park

Copy Link
11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-0905
Visit Website
EMP isn't giving wine away at basement prices, but it still belongs on this list simply because there isn't another restaurant cooking at four-star level with markups that are this low on a collection this diverse. The wines are priced at standard or below standard markup and there is a strong selection of wines under $75. But the prices on the high-end make the decision to splurge far easier than one might think. [Photo: Krieger/Eater NY]

8. Gilt

Copy Link
455 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022
(212) 891-8100
Visit Website
Even though Gilt is in the twilight of its life (it's slated to close sometime in the next couple of months) it's worth a mention before it does. Wine director Patrick Cappiello has fashioned what Eater called "New York's Greatest Sleeper Wine List." The drawe here is the list of white Burgundy, which is deep and priced well below standard. The list is also full of gems in the $50 dollar range that make diving into the bottom shelf here particularly rewarding. Get there before it closes. [Photo: Gilt]

9. Crabtree Kittle House

Copy Link
11 Kittle Rd
Chappaqua, NY 10514
(914) 666-8044
Visit Website
This is an old school list in the best sense. Manned by wine director Glenn Vogt, who has spent two decades building the list. All the classics from France, Italy, and California at reasonable prices, with plenty of values on the lower end that will be candy for the trained eye. Go with someone who can sniff it out and pillage.

10. The American Hotel

Copy Link
49 Main St
Sag Harbor, NY 11963
(631) 725-3535
Visit Website
Another classic that's been frequented by the linen-clad Sag Harbor crowd for ages. Prices are low and the cellar is deep. The wine list covers 85 pages, 1,700 selections, and 30,000 bottles. It's a journey, but one that will offer rewards on the low end and high end alike. Think Burgundy, Bordeaux, and German riesling. [Photo: The American Hotel]

11. Heirloom Café

Copy Link
2500 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 821-2500
Visit Website
Heirloom café is known firstly as one of SF’s best wine-centric restaurants. Owner/Beverage Director Matt Straus worked as a sommelier in fine dining restaurants before deciding to open a place where he could apply a proper cellar program to more casual food. He spent eight years buying wine and stocking it away before opening the restaurant and continues to buy and cellar, offering one of the city’s best collections of quirky vintage wine at affordable prices. [Photo: Justin Lewis/Eater SF]

12. PRESS

Copy Link
587 St Helena Hwy
St Helena, CA 94574
(707) 967-0550
Visit Website
If you want to drink back vintage Napa wines, this is the best wine list in the country for it. Kelli White, the former head sommelier at Veritas, one New York’s deepest, primarily European wine lists, and Scott Brenner, the former wine director at Aureole in NYC, took over the list in 2010 and have since grown it from 250 to 1,200 selections—800-900 of which are cabs—stretching back to the 1950s. It’s now the finest repository of old Napa wine in the world and most of the prices are kept right at retail, so you can drink deep with $150 to spend. [Photo: PRESS]

13. Passionfish

Copy Link
701 Lighthouse Ave
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
(831) 655-3311
Visit Website
This may be the best midsized wine lists in all of the Central Coast both in terms of selection and price. The mark ups are between 50-80%, rather than the standard 300%, which means that most of the wines are at or below retail pricing. The selections weave through some of European esoterica, the classics, and California's new counter culture. There's a strong focus on natural wines from the Loire and beyond as well as Champagne and German Riesling.

14. Terroni

Copy Link
7605 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Terroni has all of things we associate with a great wine list: compatibility with the food menu, vintage depth, etc. But it also has smarts, magnetism, and very fair prices both by the glass and bottle. It remains one of LA's best, and most value-driven lists. Ask for guidance and be adventurous. [Photo: Terroni]

15. Upstairs 2

Copy Link
2311 Cotner Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 231-0316
Visit Website
Upstairs 2 is the restaurant situated right on top of the massive LA wine store, The Wine House. The wine list is short and well priced, but the real kicker is the restaurant's liberal policy with corkage. Buy any wine from the shop downstairs and bring it upstairs. Corkage is $10. [Photo: Upstairs 2]

16. Bern's Steak House

Copy Link
1208 S Howard Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 251-2421
Visit Website
Bern's is the stuff of legend in the wine world and certainly the most enduring of its kind. While some complain that the deep and cheap cellar full of fine and rare wines at basement pricing has been picked over after years of wine people for all corners of the US making special pilgrimages to Tampa to liquidate it. Regardless, it remains one of the country's great, off-the-beaten path wine destinations. [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

17. Lotus of Siam

Copy Link
953 E Sahara Ave, Village Square Commercial Center
Las Vegas, NV 89104
(702) 735-3033
Visit Website
Off-Strip Vegas Thai institution known for its extensive collection of German and Austrian riesling at incredibly cheap prices. There's also an extensive collection of Napa Cabernet and Bordeaux, but the real draw, specifically with the food, is riesling. [Photo: Lotus of Siam/Eater Vegas]

18. Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks

Copy Link
528 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 532-9100
Visit Website
Colleen Hein's eclectic mix of mostly traditional and quirky Old World wines, many with a little age, is priced low enough to makes this one of Boston's great wine destinations. In addition to wine, there's a reserve list of rare beers worth digging into as well. [Photo: Flickr/NathanF]

19. Anthony's Pier 4

Copy Link
140 Northern Ave
Boston, MA 02210
(617) 423-6363
Visit Website
Anthony's Pier 4 is a Boston institution that's become more of a granny hang out than a wine hang out. But those in the know are hip to the deep cellar, which offers a grip of vintage Burgundy at 1990s pricing. Outside of Burgundy there's a strong riesling collection and a number of surprisingly quirky surprises from all over. And for those looking to do the Napa thing, head for anti-cult wines with age. [Photo: Anthony's Pier 4]

20. Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

Copy Link
5839 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77057
(713) 780-7352
Visit Website
Recently-departed Wine Director and Master Sommelier Drew Hendricks stacked this one deep and built in deals throughout the list on everything from Mosel riesling to top Burgundy. If you train your eye around $150 (and even far lower) there's a lot of wines priced to move. [Photo: Pappas Bros Steakhouse]

21. Bleu Provence

Copy Link
1234 8th St S
Naples, FL 34102
(239) 261-8239
Visit Website
A big, and surprisingly savvy list full of gems from the Loire, Jura, Burgundy, and southern France and beyond. The list is almost more enticing on the low end, where you'll find wines from small, traditional producers from the Old World with some time in bottle, priced well below standard. The small, but killer selection of Beaujolais—much of it with age and priced like Beaujolais never got big—is worth a visit alone. [Photo: Bleu Provence]

22. Blackberry Farm

Copy Link
1471 W Millers Cove Rd
Walland, TN 37886
(865) 984-8166
Visit Website
Blackberry Farm is a luxury resort in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains. While there's lots of beauty and all that, one of the big draws is the wine list, helmed by sommelier Andy Chabot, which is among the best in the country. There's impressive amount of depth and incredible value throughout the list, even on the low end, where you can find things like back-vintage, village-level Bourgogne blanc and rouge from top producers for pennies on the dollar.

Loading comments...

1. Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant

2225 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214
The newest addition in Cheryl Wakerhauser's stable of Champagne-loving patisseries. Bar Vivant focuses on the savory with a list of tapas and an ambitious list of 350 wines, including a strong selection of sherries and of course, 150 Champagnes all wearing very slim markups. This may be the best place in America to drink Champagne. [Photo: Avila/Eater PDX]
2225 E Burnside St
Portland, OR 97214

2. Ambonnay

107 SE Washington St, Portland, OR 97214
Ambonnay is a close second behind Pix when it comes to Champagne destinations on a budget. They happen to be in the same city, but both are worthy of this list. This is the first wine bar to focus only on Champagne and sparkling. The markups on bubbly are some of the lowest in the country and the selections strike a smart balance between growers and big houses. [Credit: Ambonnay]
107 SE Washington St
Portland, OR 97214

3. New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro

2210 S Pacific Hwy, Talent, OR 97540
A storied Oregon hideaway run by the husband-and-wife team formerly behind the New Boonville Hotel. They can easily be lumped into Chez Panisse school of California cooking (Charlene, the chef, was a cook there and the couple met at the restaurant's 7th birthday party). The restaurant is considered one of the country's best-kept secrets and the legendary wine list, which is run by Charlene's husband Vernon, tops out at 80 pages. [Photo: Yelp/Monica T.]
2210 S Pacific Hwy
Talent, OR 97540

4. Vinegar Hill House / Hillside

72 Hudson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201
One-stop shop for off-the-beaten-path natural wines mixed with and affordable mix of well-edited classics. The draw here isn't a deep cellar, it's the slim markups across the board and the consistently strong list of wines under $50, with many dipping down into the $20 range. [Photo: Krieger
72 Hudson Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201

5. Alta

64 W 10th St, New York, NY 10011
Alta remains one of Manhattan's best-kept secrets. The cellar, maintained by Christopher Chestnutt, is home to some of the best back vintage deals on Rioja stretching back to the 1950s, most of it priced well below retail. The list is also owns a rock solid selection of back vintage wines from Tuscany and Piedmont blended in with newer releases of great wines under $75. You can drink very well around $50 here, but the sweet spot is in the $75-200 range where you'll find great wines with decades of age for prices you just don't see in this city anymore.
64 W 10th St
New York, NY 10011

6. Becco

355 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036
NYers, remember Becco? Eighteen years after Lidia and Joe Bastianich opened the restaurant on a terrifying, touristy stretch of 46th Street, the cellar at Becco is a relic in the best sense. It boasts a full list of solid wines priced at $25, but the draw is the 'Reserve list', which is home to tons of back vintage wines that are priced like they were purchased during a different era for Italian wine. Think Barolo. [Photo: Becco ]
355 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036

7. Eleven Madison Park

11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010
EMP isn't giving wine away at basement prices, but it still belongs on this list simply because there isn't another restaurant cooking at four-star level with markups that are this low on a collection this diverse. The wines are priced at standard or below standard markup and there is a strong selection of wines under $75. But the prices on the high-end make the decision to splurge far easier than one might think. [Photo: Krieger/Eater NY]
11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010

8. Gilt

455 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022
Even though Gilt is in the twilight of its life (it's slated to close sometime in the next couple of months) it's worth a mention before it does. Wine director Patrick Cappiello has fashioned what Eater called "New York's Greatest Sleeper Wine List." The drawe here is the list of white Burgundy, which is deep and priced well below standard. The list is also full of gems in the $50 dollar range that make diving into the bottom shelf here particularly rewarding. Get there before it closes. [Photo: Gilt]
455 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022

9. Crabtree Kittle House

11 Kittle Rd, Chappaqua, NY 10514
This is an old school list in the best sense. Manned by wine director Glenn Vogt, who has spent two decades building the list. All the classics from France, Italy, and California at reasonable prices, with plenty of values on the lower end that will be candy for the trained eye. Go with someone who can sniff it out and pillage.
11 Kittle Rd
Chappaqua, NY 10514

10. The American Hotel

49 Main St, Sag Harbor, NY 11963
Another classic that's been frequented by the linen-clad Sag Harbor crowd for ages. Prices are low and the cellar is deep. The wine list covers 85 pages, 1,700 selections, and 30,000 bottles. It's a journey, but one that will offer rewards on the low end and high end alike. Think Burgundy, Bordeaux, and German riesling. [Photo: The American Hotel]
49 Main St
Sag Harbor, NY 11963

11. Heirloom Café

2500 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Heirloom café is known firstly as one of SF’s best wine-centric restaurants. Owner/Beverage Director Matt Straus worked as a sommelier in fine dining restaurants before deciding to open a place where he could apply a proper cellar program to more casual food. He spent eight years buying wine and stocking it away before opening the restaurant and continues to buy and cellar, offering one of the city’s best collections of quirky vintage wine at affordable prices. [Photo: Justin Lewis/Eater SF]
2500 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94110

12. PRESS

587 St Helena Hwy, St Helena, CA 94574
If you want to drink back vintage Napa wines, this is the best wine list in the country for it. Kelli White, the former head sommelier at Veritas, one New York’s deepest, primarily European wine lists, and Scott Brenner, the former wine director at Aureole in NYC, took over the list in 2010 and have since grown it from 250 to 1,200 selections—800-900 of which are cabs—stretching back to the 1950s. It’s now the finest repository of old Napa wine in the world and most of the prices are kept right at retail, so you can drink deep with $150 to spend. [Photo: PRESS]
587 St Helena Hwy
St Helena, CA 94574

13. Passionfish

701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950
This may be the best midsized wine lists in all of the Central Coast both in terms of selection and price. The mark ups are between 50-80%, rather than the standard 300%, which means that most of the wines are at or below retail pricing. The selections weave through some of European esoterica, the classics, and California's new counter culture. There's a strong focus on natural wines from the Loire and beyond as well as Champagne and German Riesling.
701 Lighthouse Ave
Pacific Grove, CA 93950

14. Terroni

7605 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Terroni has all of things we associate with a great wine list: compatibility with the food menu, vintage depth, etc. But it also has smarts, magnetism, and very fair prices both by the glass and bottle. It remains one of LA's best, and most value-driven lists. Ask for guidance and be adventurous. [Photo: Terroni]
7605 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

15. Upstairs 2

2311 Cotner Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90064
Upstairs 2 is the restaurant situated right on top of the massive LA wine store, The Wine House. The wine list is short and well priced, but the real kicker is the restaurant's liberal policy with corkage. Buy any wine from the shop downstairs and bring it upstairs. Corkage is $10. [Photo: Upstairs 2]
2311 Cotner Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Related Maps

16. Bern's Steak House

1208 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Bern's is the stuff of legend in the wine world and certainly the most enduring of its kind. While some complain that the deep and cheap cellar full of fine and rare wines at basement pricing has been picked over after years of wine people for all corners of the US making special pilgrimages to Tampa to liquidate it. Regardless, it remains one of the country's great, off-the-beaten path wine destinations. [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]
1208 S Howard Ave
Tampa, FL 33606

17. Lotus of Siam

953 E Sahara Ave, Village Square Commercial Center, Las Vegas, NV 89104
Off-Strip Vegas Thai institution known for its extensive collection of German and Austrian riesling at incredibly cheap prices. There's also an extensive collection of Napa Cabernet and Bordeaux, but the real draw, specifically with the food, is riesling. [Photo: Lotus of Siam/Eater Vegas]
953 E Sahara Ave, Village Square Commercial Center
Las Vegas, NV 89104

18. Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks

528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215
Colleen Hein's eclectic mix of mostly traditional and quirky Old World wines, many with a little age, is priced low enough to makes this one of Boston's great wine destinations. In addition to wine, there's a reserve list of rare beers worth digging into as well. [Photo: Flickr/NathanF]
528 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215

19. Anthony's Pier 4

140 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210
Anthony's Pier 4 is a Boston institution that's become more of a granny hang out than a wine hang out. But those in the know are hip to the deep cellar, which offers a grip of vintage Burgundy at 1990s pricing. Outside of Burgundy there's a strong riesling collection and a number of surprisingly quirky surprises from all over. And for those looking to do the Napa thing, head for anti-cult wines with age. [Photo: Anthony's Pier 4]
140 Northern Ave
Boston, MA 02210

20. Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

5839 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77057
Recently-departed Wine Director and Master Sommelier Drew Hendricks stacked this one deep and built in deals throughout the list on everything from Mosel riesling to top Burgundy. If you train your eye around $150 (and even far lower) there's a lot of wines priced to move. [Photo: Pappas Bros Steakhouse]
5839 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77057

21. Bleu Provence

1234 8th St S, Naples, FL 34102
A big, and surprisingly savvy list full of gems from the Loire, Jura, Burgundy, and southern France and beyond. The list is almost more enticing on the low end, where you'll find wines from small, traditional producers from the Old World with some time in bottle, priced well below standard. The small, but killer selection of Beaujolais—much of it with age and priced like Beaujolais never got big—is worth a visit alone. [Photo: Bleu Provence]
1234 8th St S
Naples, FL 34102

22. Blackberry Farm

1471 W Millers Cove Rd, Walland, TN 37886
Blackberry Farm is a luxury resort in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains. While there's lots of beauty and all that, one of the big draws is the wine list, helmed by sommelier Andy Chabot, which is among the best in the country. There's impressive amount of depth and incredible value throughout the list, even on the low end, where you can find things like back-vintage, village-level Bourgogne blanc and rouge from top producers for pennies on the dollar.
1471 W Millers Cove Rd
Walland, TN 37886

Related Maps