European-style cafe culture comes to Pico-Robertson with the opening of the cafe and wine bar Cardinale du Vin. The wine bar portion, which debuted on Saturday, January 27, is now open Wednesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; daytime cafe hours are forthcoming.
Cardinale du Vin has been in the works since the summer of 2022 when co-owners Jackie Liu and Justin Ngamthonglor learned that one of their favorite wine bars, Dead or Alive Bar in Palm Springs, was closing. As regulars in Palm Springs, the closure gave them the push to sign a lease in August 2022 to open a place that harkened Dead or Alive’s spirit. “We always thought that we would open a wine bar,” Liu says. “Maybe when we retired, something way down the line. We both love wine, but we never really thought it was a possibility.”
The day-to-night concept was always part of the business plan, as Liu and Ngamthonglor see coffee and wine as a natural pairing. They’ll be brewing beans from Tectonic, which has a cafe in West Hollywood. In addition to beverages, Cardinale du Vin also serves food from chef Royce Burke, previously of Yarrow. The current menu features oysters, crudo, and sandwiches, with plans to expand breakfast items including pastries and lunch and dinner options like an egg salad sandwich, skirt steak, and more in the future.
Liu and Ngamthonglor, who live in the Pico-Robertson area, want to create a space that feels like a neighborhood spot. Wines start at $12 a glass, along with more high-end options available. Most of the wine is selected by Liu and Ngamthonglor and includes pours that “punch above their weight,” boasting flavor profiles that far exceed price.
Though the space at Cardinale du Vin is reasonably tight and L-shaped, its design and furnishings are intended to be welcoming whether visiting day or night. A bar runs the length of the room on one side, while a communal table that Liu refers to as the “dining room” sits on the other. A few additional tables can be found on the patio. The furniture leans midcentury and takes cues from the time Liu and Ngamthonglor spent in Palm Springs.
“I feel like this is a very LA thing where you start at home, have your first cup of coffee and breakfast, and then migrate to another coffee shop to have a latte and work on your laptop a little bit,” Liu says. “I think that’s exactly what we’re trying to create but also [it has a European soul]. You want to have a glass of wine at 10 a.m.? Absolutely.”
Cardinale du Vin mixes the Old World with the new and creates something that’s inherently Los Angeles. “It’s European soul, but LA native,” Liu says. The new opening is part of a larger trend toward “democratizing” wines. The latest wave of wine bars opening around Los Angeles are markedly less stuffy than the last generation and often go beyond serving only wine, like Culver City’s Esme which also operates as a cafe during the day. There is renewed interest and excitement around accessible natural wines and Old World classics, especially when they’re served in spaces that transcend tradition and forge a new type of all-day and night hangout.
Cardinale du Vin is located at 8912 W. Pico Boulevard in Pico-Robertson and is open Wednesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.