The smoky scent of grilled panini and pizzas fills the interior and tented patio space at Norma Alvarado and Oscar Hermosillo's 7-year old casual and intimate, beachside neighborhood wine bar. Cheese selections are a must and pair nicely with any wine or beer from a $5-20 list dominated mostly by Belgium, Germany and California. The staff is as low-key as the bar-goers but attentive and helpful in navigating an impressive list of wines from around the world.
Good for: A truly down-to-earth wine bar experience. There’s no pretension here: Great wines, great food and a lively atmosphere make for an ideal post-work hangout. Weekday happy hour (4-7pm) sees 25% off bottles and a paired down menu of wines by the glass, beer and under $11 bite specials.
The scene: Venice’s eclectic, artsy crowd convene around communal tables—opt for the 4- 5-person table made from an old Oregon stump, but buzz around this tiny, Rose Avenue joint is traveling with in-the-know out-of-towners and smart Eastsiders.
The playlist: Conversation is so lively that whatever is playing in the background is fairly unrecognizable during peak hours, so you’ll just have to project with your friends.
The bartender says: There’s a small plates, Mediterranean menu of cheese and charcuterie to salads and Panini from chef Jill Davie, formerly of Josie Restaurant.
Drink this: There are 20 wines by the glass ranging in different prices, regions and varietals from a 100% Tempranillo house red ($10)—from local growers and more house wines to come—to Sexual Chocolate ($15), a rich Zinfandel and Syrah blend with a subtle mocha finish.