Tucked in the back of the Edgemar Shopping Center on Santa Monica's Main Street, Salute Wine Bar brings a slinky lounge experience to the beach.
Wrap-around couches are long enough for groups and low enough to get intimate with a date. High, wood-beamed ceilings add to the atmosphere (and, regrettably, the noise). If your focus is food, snag one of the bistro tables with chairs, or belly up to the back bar for a view of the whole candlelit scene.
Dozens of red and white wines lined up along the side wall offer you 2 oz. tastes and plenty to talk about. Sample domestic, French and Italian wines while your personal wine card inserted into each wine dispenser tallies your tastes.
For the most part, you're on your own: There aren't any helpful descriptions for the wines. We like the Twin Vines Vinho Verde, a refreshing white that's great with seafood. For a rich, robust red, go with Italy's Barbera d'Asti.
A strong Italian small plate menu includes basics like cheese and charcuterie platters, plus more substantial fare like pizza and Kobe beef sliders (pair with the Nadia, a well-balanced Bordeaux blend from Santa Barbara). For dessert, the chocolate sampler matches up smartly with Sandeman 20-year tawny port.
Salute Wine Bar
2435 Main St., Santa Monica (310) 450-3434
Price: 2 (out of 4) Noise: 3 (out of 4)
Parking: Lot for Edgemar or metered parking until 10p on Main St.
Scene: Casually cool westsiders, couples, and big groups
Best bets: Truffle ravioli; eggplant caponata; Kobe beef sliders
Nearby: Bar Copa; Finn McCool’s; Hidden
Alfresco: When the weather gets warmer, enjoy your wine at Salute’s outdoor tables overlooking the plaza.