Was there ever any doubt that Esters would be a boon for Santa Monica? When the team behind Rustic Canyon, Milo & Olive, Huckleberry and Cassia turned their attention to creating a neighborhood wine bar, it would have been foolish to bet against its greatness. Esters is a partnership between Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb and longtime Rustic Canyon wine director Kathryn Coker, and it serves many purposes: wine shop, market, restaurant. But we love it the most for its concise but playful wine list, and as a place to stop by after work and sit on the breezy patio and drink a glass or three, and munch on some cheese and oysters and charcuterie. If you want a fuller meal, Esters can provide that as well: For its size, the tiny kitchen puts out an incredibly impressive selection of food, everything from avocado toast to a 72-hour braised short rib steak. There's a full calendar of fun wine events, a boozy brunch service, and bartenders who are thrilled to talk you through the wines — if you really love one, you can buy a bottle to take home. What more could you ask?
Credit: Samanta Helou