Santa Monica Bars & Nightlife
1 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica
A meal at 1 Pico comes with the best element of staying at Shutters on the Beach: the view. You know where the sidewalk ends and the sand begins? That’s where you’re sitting. Or rather one floor up in the breezy, wood-beamed dining room. And judging from the hamachi tartare, squid-ink pasta, and simply, beautifully prepared market fish, chef David Almany designed the menu with the scenery in mind.
2807 Main St., Santa Monica
From Main Street, you can just see Ashland Hill’s tiny brick front—big enough for a handful of stools at the bar and a kitchen counter for quick orders. Keep walking and you’ll get to the picnic-tabled back patio. For food, there are shared plates (crispy cauliflower, shishito mac ’n’ cheese) and Ashland Hill’s take on pub food (a shawarma wrap, fried chicken sandwich, white cheddar burger with Parmesan cheese fries). Drinks range from “super local,” i.e., Ashland Hill’s own, to Southern Californian, Stateside craft beers, and a mix of California and international wines. There are cocktails, too, and if you happen to be a gin drinker, this is where you want to be. There are dozens of gins to choose from, maybe ten different kinds of tonic, and a menu of fixings to go with it all.
Santa Monica Brew Works
1920 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica
It doesn’t get more local than drinking Santa Monica-made beer in this no-frills tap room. If you’re new to the game, start with their 310 blonde ale and check the food truck schedule before you go. If you’re taking the metro from further east, Santa Monica Brew Works is just a couple of blocks from the 17th Street/SMC stop.
Esters Wine Shop & Bar
1314 7th St., Santa Monica
Historically, LA hasn’t been known for wine bars, but a recent surge of wine-centric openings, including Cassia’s sister spot Esters, is changing all that. Being that it’s a partnership between Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan (Huckleberry, Milo & Olive, Rustic Canyon) and longtime collaborator and wine expert, Kathryn Coker, the highly curated booze offering is supported by an elegant menu of charcuterie, local and imported cheese, and more substantial dishes like grilled cheese and avocado toast. And as gorgeous as the interior of the Deco building that houses it may be, the best seats in the house are on the outdoor patio. The tiny on-site market is hostess/birthday/thank you gift heaven.
217 Broadway, Santa Monica
We love the choose-your-own-cocktail method practiced here: Pick your spirit, a fruit or veggie, and some herbs, and resident mixologist Vincenzo Marianella will whip you up a delicious cocktail. They also have some pretty rad signature drinks if you'd rather not work for it, and the $5 price tag during happy hour is inarguably awesome.
101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
When you daydream about moving to California and lounging in a beach house, the image you conjure probably looks something like the Bungalow. Its notable address on the corner of Wilshire and Ocean means that the west side hang-out has a solid view of the Pacific, with the décor to match—the shaded patio is dotted with hammocks, relaxed couches, and white-washed Adirondack chairs gathered around cozy fire pits. They also lay definitive claim to the best margarita in this part of town. Unfortunately, the secret's out about this spot, so the lines can get long on Fridays and Saturdays—we'd only recommend it for a weeknight or Sunday afternoon.
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