You may have to battle for a spot at Venice Beach Wines, a 35-seat bar, but it's worth it. Formerly a bodega, the spot is half bottle shop and half wine bar; folks come both for the cozy atmosphere and the excellent wine choices. (The recommendations — say, an Albariño with a crisp acidity on the tongue — hold up as well.) One of the best tables in the house is actually a giant stump, trucked down from Oregon. It gives a view of the kitchen, which cooks up grilled sandwiches (the lambwich is divine), local organic salads and artisanal cheese plates. Everything is thought-out and house-made. All in all, it's the type of place that makes you want to linger, which is exactly why it's so difficult to find a place to sit in the first place. 529 Rose Ave., Venice. (310) 392-3539,

—Katharine Gammon

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