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When the idea of going to a winery in the heart of Los Angeles downtown was brought up, I was rather excited. I had been wanting to go wine tasting and I thought I had to travel at least a little bit more in order to get to one such as those in Temecula. Honestly, although I have been living in the south bay for over 20 years, I did not even know of this place even though it is so close by.

I was then told that there is also a restaurant inside this winery that serves good food for a reasonable price. At this point, delighted and eager, I went online as I always do before going to a restaurant to do my homework and research.

As much as the winery side seems promising, I must admit that I became rather skeptical and a bit deflated when I found out the restaurant is cafeteria style… I tried my hardest to find more photos and reviews to try to gain some assurance that the food will be decent. But I was not able to find enough stars to build the confidence.

But at least, I will be able to do some wine tasting and perhaps a tour of the winery –  an excursion of sort.

It is true when they say it is better to have low expectation, because I was thoroughly impressed after taking a few steps inside the establishment! There is an area to the right as you entered that sells chocolates, cookies, various food items, souvenirs, … and as you go further in, you reach Maddalena, the restaurant. This cafeteria style restaurant is not at all what I had imaged. I had images of school cafeterias, or at best, the image of the cafeteria at the Getty in my head. This place is warm and welcoming and not at all the stark and bare appearances of cafeterias that I had been to.

Though not elegant, the tables have tablecloths. There were wine barrels and probably left over decor from Valentine’s day that exuded warmth and comfort. The fact that the whole place is clean and well taken care of added to the overall comfort.

Display of all the dishes were right next to the order line so one can see exactly what  the food will look like. There were enticing desserts right at where one orders so it was hard not to choose one.

For the entrees, we chose the homemade Lobster Ravioli, and the Rack of Lamb, with the dessert being Creme Brulee. The raviolis were good, though not a tremendous amount of lobster, but nevertheless enjoyable.

After the delightful meal, we headed over to the wine tasting room and opted for the Artisan Flight featuring 4 wines from the estates vineyard. We leisurely took seats at a nearby table and sipped on what I deemed to be rather good tasting wine.

I am hoping to go back in the very near future and try their sweet and semi sweet selections and perhaps try the lasagna that looked really enticing at the display table. Definitely one of the most pleasurable experience so close to home.

San Antonio Winery and Maddalena Restaurant:  737 Lamar Street, Los Angeles, CA 90031  Phone: 323-330-8737 (restaurant)