10 Restaurant Wine Lists Celebrating California Cabernet

These Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners across the United States feature standout selections of California’s renowned red wine
10 Restaurant Wine Lists Celebrating California Cabernet
A significant portion of Next Bistro's 4,000-bottle wine inventory is made up of California Cabernets. (Next Bistro)
Nov 18, 2021

While many international regions produce Cabernet Sauvignon, California is home to some of the world’s best examples. There are plenty of exceptional restaurants serving these renowned wines locally, but you can also find top-notch collections at any array of destinations across the U.S. Discover 10 diverse Restaurant Award–winning spots where California Cabernets shine, from a historic hotel in a small town to relative newcomers in big cities.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s nearly 3,800 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 100 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!

Note: Opening hours and menus are subject to change as the industry continues to adjust to evolving regulations.


Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 575-5129
Website www.delfriscos.com
Grand Award

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse has an impressive 16 Restaurant Award–winning outposts throughout the country. At 2,600 labels, its New York Grand Award winner is home to the brand’s largest wine list, offering an encyclopedic California selection among a host of international strengths. Cabernet Sauvignons and Cabernet-based blends are grouped together, with standouts including verticals of Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Special Selection and Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Hillside Select. Several picks from the state’s premium producers are available by the glass via Coravin. Wine director Johnny Kozlowski leads the team of sommeliers, who are there to guide guests to the right bottle to pair with the traditional steak-house menu by chef Zack Brown.


The Cave Bistro & Wine Bar

2343 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, Fla.
Telephone (239) 513-0095
Website www.thecavenaples.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Owners Jim and Laura Dixon have been avid wine collectors for three decades, fueling their passion with visits to wineries around the world. The couple opened the Cave Bistro & Wine Bar in 2017 with the goal of bringing the European wine cave experience to their town of Naples, Fla. It’s now a full-service American restaurant with an adjoining retail store, plus an 8,400-square-foot cellar housing the Dixons' personal collection of about 8,900 bottles as well as numerous luxury cars. The bistro’s wine program comprises more than 1,000 labels, with eight pages of California Cabernets and dozens under $200, covering benchmark names as well as lesser-known producers. The kitchen is overseen by chef Brooke Kravetz and serves dishes including a flatbread with braised short rib, cocoa-crusted venison and wild mushroom pappardelle with truffle.


The Firehouse

1112 Second St., Sacramento, Calif.
Telephone (916) 442-4772
Website www.firehouseoldsac.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Outdoor dining at the Firehouse
The Firehouse offers the option of outdoor dining on a patio. (Courtesy of the Firehouse)

Taking its name from the 19th-century firehouse in which it resides, the Firehouse is a Sacramento institution with 1,800 wine selections supported by a 15,000-bottle cellar. Managed by wine director Mario Ortiz (who has been with the restaurant for decades), the list has received a Best of Award of Excellence since 2002. Expect massive verticals from producers such as Silver Oak and Dominus Estate, in addition to extensive large-format options from equally prestigious names. and Chef Stephen Ashley's menu ranges from lobster bisque to brined pork chop with apple butter to steaks and herb-crusted rack of lamb.


Grasing’s

Sixth and Mission Streets, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.
Telephone (831) 624-6562
Website www.grasings.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Grasing's exterior
Grasing's diners are welcomed by a charming exterior. (Courtesy of Grasing's)

Located in the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea on California's Central Coast, Grasing's sources bottles from across the state, pulling together an envious Cabernet list. Wine director, co-owner and chef Kurt Grasing’s 2,100-selection wine collection offers something exciting for even the most seasoned California Cabernet fans. On the culinary side, his classic yet innovative steak-house menu plays to the strengths of the wine list, with sides like exotic mushrooms and mac ‘n’ cheese. While the steaks are the star of the show, the seafood and locally sourced salads play strong supporting roles.


Maple & Ash

8 W. Maple St., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 944-8888
Website www.mapleandash.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Steak at Maple & Ash
Chef Danny Grant’s Maple & Ash is a playful, modern steak house. (Courtesy of Maple & Ash)

The wine list at Maple & Ash takes a deep dive into California Cabernet. Wine director Amy Mundwiler’s list is sprinkled with informative and entertaining notes on many of the wines. For value-minded diners, Mundwiler keeps a section of the list dedicated to "Dope Wines Under $99." Chef Danny Grant prepares a menu of aged cuts from a wood-fired grill to pair with the 1,500-selection list. Another location in Scottsdale, Ariz., also holds a Best of Award of Excellence.


Next Bistro

5003 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville, Texas
Telephone (682) 325-4046
Website www.nextbistrotx.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Bottles on display at Next Bistro
The 4,000-bottle inventory serves as dining-room art at Next Bistro. (Courtesy of Next Bistro)

Between Dallas and Fort Worth, in the small city of Colleyville, Texas, Next Bistro features an international wine list that stands out when it comes to California. It’s run by husband-and-wife proprietors Tom and Ying Aikens, with Ying overseeing the kitchen and Tom managing the Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine program. Of the nearly 800 labels, more than 200 California Cabs, including verticals from Purlieu, Staglin and more, peppered with collector’s labels from producers like Hundred Acre. A portion of the 4,000-bottle inventory is visible through the restaurant’s glass-enclosed, walk-in wine cellar. Ying’s menu is a collage of cuisines, with starters like beef tenderloin eggrolls, baked French brie and crab cakes with remoulade leading into a selection of pastas and more meat-centric entrées.


Polo Grill

2038 Utica Square, Tulsa, Okla.
Telephone (918) 744-4280
Website www.pologrill.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Polo Grill dining room
Polo Grill is a longtime Restaurant Award winner excelling in numerous regions in addition to California, like Burgundy and Oregon. (Courtesy of Polo Grill)

A Best of Award of Excellence winner for two-plus decades, Polo Grill prides itself on a comprehensive California Cabernet experience. Wine director Kelsey Israel's list of about 1,800 selections boasts an impressive collection of verticals from blue-chip Napa and Bordeaux producers, as well as many lesser-known, hard-to-find gems. Chef Robert Merrifield’s menu features classic steak-house starters like escargots and grilled shrimp cocktail along with wine-friendly mains like bone-in pork chop with whipped sweet potatoes and a full slate of steak cuts and preparations.


Press Restaurant

587 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, Calif.
Telephone (707) 967-0550
Website www.pressnapavalley.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Dining room at Press Restaurant
Natural light floods the dining room at Press Restaurant. (Photographer Name)

Press Restaurant is situated at the center of Napa Valley, so it’s no surprise that the modern steak house is home to a stunning collection of local labels. Wine director Vincent Morrow oversees the 1,750-selection list of exclusively Napa Valley wines, with the exception of some fortified wine options. Through close relationships with vintners, the team has secured 40-plus pages of Cabernets and Cabernet-based blends. You’ll find robust verticals from Mayacamas, Chateau Montelena and Heitz, plus solid large-format and half-bottle sections. The wine-list’s focus reflects the roots of the restaurant, which was founded by the late Leslie Rudd of Rudd Estate and is now owned by his daughter, Samantha Rudd. Complementing the Best of Award of Excellence–winning program is chef Phillip Tessier’s local cuisine./p>


The Smokehouse Restaurant at Antrim 1844

Antrim 1844 Hotel, 30 Trevanion Road, Taneytown, Md.
Telephone (800) 858-1844
Website www.antrim1844.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Lamb chops at the Smokehouse Restaurant at Antrim 1844
The Smokehouse Restaurant at Antrim 1844 serves a French-inflected American menu. (Courtesy of the Smokehouse Restaurant at Antrim 1844)

Just south of the Mason–Dixon line, in the small town of Taneytown, Md., discover a world-class selection of California Cabernets at the Antrim 1844 Hotel’s Smokehouse Restaurant. It opened as a bed-and-breakfast in 1988 and has held a Restaurant Award since 1998. Wine director Richard Mollett’s whopping 2,700 wine selections shine in France, especially Bordeaux, the Rhône and Burgundy, as well as Italy and Spain, but California Cabernets are the star of the program. There are dozens of verticals from Bond, Ramey, PlumpJack and many more, with particularly lengthy ones from Dominus Estate and Jordan. Even better, many are priced under $100. In the kitchen, chef Ilhan Erkek incorporates American and French cuisines into an elegant menu.


Vertical Detroit

1538 Centre St., Detroit, Mich.
Telephone (313) 732-9463
Website www.verticaldetroit.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Vertical Detroit’s wine room
Vertical Detroit has, fittingly, an abundance of strong verticals on its wine list. (Courtesy of Vertical Detroit)

A wine bar, restaurant and retail store, Vertical Detroit offers a serious selection of California Cabernet (as well as strong showings in Old World regions including Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy and Spain). Honoring the restaurant’s name are five regularly changing tasting flights of three vintages each from prominent producers—current offerings include Dominus and Alpha Omega—and there are dozens of wines available by the glass. Wine director and co-owner Remy Lufty's program includes 2,250 selections across some 6,000 bottles. Chef Matt Barnes sources much of his menu from local purveyors like Motor City Seafood and Wolverine Packing.


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Restaurants Restaurant Awards Dining Out Cabernet Sauvignon California Mendocino Napa Santa Barbara County Sonoma

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