Our Story

Esters is a chic wine bar and shop in downtown Santa Monica that feels like a neighborhood clubhouse for drinking, eating and socializing.  In 2023 and 2024, we were named a James Beard Award semifinalist for “Outstanding Bar.” We’re totally nuts about planet-friendly wines from small producers – both classic wines and “thinking outside the box” wines. Our shelves are stocked with hundreds of bottles from all over the world, and our cellar is deep with Burgundy.  But do not fear, Martini lovers, we have a full bar as well!  Yes, we love our seasonal cocktails (and mocktails).  Of course, along with the millions of drinks, we offer simple, delicious food.  Inspired by our favorite bistros and wine bars in Spain and France, we serve an all-day menu of farmers’ market-driven dishes, snacks and cheeses that pair with wine, including a daily happy hour.  If you love what you’re drinking and eating, take it home!  Our shop is full of wines, artisanal snacks and gift boxes, so that you can share a bit of Esters with the ones you love. 

Sherry Spritz

“My hope is that Esters is that kinda-cozy and kinda-fancy, but still chill place to hang out.  And of course, drink and eat a lot!   When Tug and I were dreaming up Esters, we thought about our favorite times to drink wine, which is when we’re on VACATION!  Often, we get up late, have a quick pastry and coffee, walk the new city, and be starved by 3pm. At that time, most full-service restaurants are closed, so we have to pop into a wine bar.  Naturally, we open a bottle and have a lunch/happy hour until late afternoon, when we start exploring again.  It’s called leisure.  So that’s my dream for Esters – come drink at 3pm and enjoy life!  Come have a sandwich during lunch, or share endless bottles of wine, oysters and market platters with friends in the evening.  Esters is a place to take a date, a friend, a parent, or a colleague from work.  You can stay for 30 minutes or 3 hours.  As my dad likes to say, ‘it’s a safe place’ and all are welcome here.  You can’t buy happiness, but you can come to Esters.” – Co-Owner & Rustic Canyon Family Wine Director Kathryn Coker

Market Platter

Our History & Team: We opened in July 2015, across the hall from our sister Cassia, in the Telephone Building—a 1937 Art Deco landmark in downtown Santa Monica.  Contrary to popular belief, we’re not named after anyone called Ester. Esters are the compounds found in wine that hold its aroma – when you swirl your glass, you release the esters. That was Kathryn’s idea, and she’s the co-owner with her husband Tug, alongside the restaurant group’s co-owners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan.

Interior Shot

We’d be nothing though without our incredible team who keep this place humming – General Manager Daniel Yeom, Chef de Cuisine Sheyna McCallister, Sommelier Randall Middleton, Bar Manager Jonah Atkins, and so many more awesome people. 

To apply for a job or see what positions we’re currently hiring for, please visit our Rustic Canyon Family Jobs Page.

We’re always planning fun things here too, so sign up online for our e-newsletter.

Fish Dish
Woman holding wine glass
Outdoor Patio
Hand holding a Barrel-Aged Negroni

In the Press

Los Angeles Times – Our Critic’s Favorite Spots To Drink In LA

Wine Enthusiast – The Best American Restaurants This Year Are Wine Bars

Wine Enthusiast – The Best Wine Bars in Los Angeles

Goop – The Wine Delivery and Subscription Guide

LAist – A Natural Wine Happy Hour For Every Day Of The Week

Los Angeles Times – 30 great places to drink wine in Los Angeles

Star Wine List – 16 great wine bars and wine restaurants in Los Angeles 2022

Condé Nast Traveler – 24 Best Bars in Los Angeles

Time Out Los Angeles – Meet the finalists of Time Out L.A.’s 2018 Bar Awards

Seven Fifty Daily – How to Successfully Co-Merchandise Food and Wine

Food & Wine – 5 Mistakes People Make When Drinking Champagne

Los Angeles Times – The Woman Behind Esters, Best Wine Bar in Southern California

Robb Report – Sunday Brunch: The Elegant Wine Shop Serving a Boozy Brunch

Santa Monica Centric – Faces of Downtown: Kathryn Coker

Insider – 9 tips for ordering wine at a restaurant without feeling like an idiot

Los Angeles Magazine – Best of L.A. 2017: 92 of Our Favorite Things to Eat, Do, and Buy Right Now

Food & Wine – F&W’s 2017 Sommeliers of the Year

Los Angeles Times – New Esters wine shop in Santa Monica has 250 wines and great bar food