S. Irene Virbila

S. Irene Virbila is a restaurant critic and wine columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Her worldly perspective on the L.A. dining scene has won a James Beard Foundation Award in 1997 and the American Food Journalists Award in 2005. Before joining The Times in 1993, she wrote about food, wine and travel from Europe and Asia, trained as a sommelier in Paris, edited cookbooks and was part of the culinary scene in Berkeley when Chez Panisse changed everything. 

Recent Articles

  • Easy Thanksgiving appetizers can make everyone right on time
    Easy Thanksgiving appetizers can make everyone right on time

    In Southern California, invite family and friends over for Thanksgiving and you never know exactly when they'll arrive. Some show up early while you're still chopping giblets for the gravy or worrying over the pumpkin pie in the oven, throwing your whole cooking plan out of kilter. Others...

  • Seek out grower Champagnes for a holiday thrill
    Seek out grower Champagnes for a holiday thrill

    It just doesn't seem like the holidays without breaking out a bottle of Champagne at least once. The Grande Marques — those well-known Champagne houses such as Taittinger, Pol Roger, Moet-Chandon, Krug and more — are always welcome. But what about showing up with something less...

  • After 18 years, JiRaffe is closing
    After 18 years, JiRaffe is closing

    After 18 years, Raphael Lunetta has decided to close JiRaffe, the French bistro in Santa Monica he founded with then-partner Josiah Citrin.

  • Time your Thanksgiving turkey — with a Spotify playlist
    Time your Thanksgiving turkey — with a Spotify playlist

    The year that turkeys first began to sport those little pop-up buttons that tell the hapless turkey roaster when the bird is done, my engineer father was thrilled. No more guessing: Science had entered the turkey roasting business. I'm very sure if he were still around, this year he'd be timing...

  • Where to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau on Thursday
    Where to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau on Thursday

    Each November, on the third Thursday of the month, the French giddily celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau. That’s when the fresh, fruity Gamay from the new vintage is rushed from the vineyards into shops and wine bars in Paris and elsewhere across France. On that day, it’s almost...

  • Wine Spectator reveals Top 10 wines for 2014
    Wine Spectator reveals Top 10 wines for 2014

    Over the last few days, Wine Spectator magazine has done its annual slow reveal of the Top 10 wines from the Wine Spectator Top 100 list. And this year, when the No. 1 wine came up today, it wasn’t a Bordeaux, a California Cabernet, a Spanish Rioja or an Italian Barolo. The shocker...

  • Food truck report: Brun's Creole Soul Kitchen
    Food truck report: Brun's Creole Soul Kitchen

    If you work in downtown Los Angeles, you’ve probably noticed the food truck Brun’s Creole Soul Kitchen, whose slogan is “bringing LA to L.A."  That's where we recently found New Orleans native Brun Trumble, who really does cook everything from scratch in the truck.

  • Smoked fish is the prized catch at Pete's, Gjusta and Petrossian
    Smoked fish is the prized catch at Pete's, Gjusta and Petrossian

    Whenever I used to get a hankering for smoked fish, I'd indulge myself at Barney Greengrass at Barneys in Beverly Hills with smoked sturgeon, sable and Nova salmon. Now that the New York deli has retreated home, where else could I find some great smoked fish? Pétrossian, of course, is...

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