Your penchant for gourmet tastiness is matched only by your penchant for cheapness -- leading you to engage in savage turf wars with Freegans for access to Spago's dumpsters. For a less bandit approach, try V-vin wine bar.
Boasting a 6-seat bar, 7 small tables, and cubbied, bottle-stocked walls, V's a new, casual, appendage to Valentino, the 35 year-old Santa Monica institution that's won enough awards to make Al Gore fat with envy. Unlike its host restaurant, V doesn't take reservations, and its menu forsakes wallet-busting entrees to focus on small plates like Gorgonzola-stuffed Zucchini Flowers and Il Cullatelo, referred to in prosciutto circles as "The King" (which explains why it comes out crooning "In the Ghetto"). The scaled-down wine selection's designed to be paired with the grub; order by the bottle, and get 15% off the restaurant's price -- or order by the glass and get no discount whatsoever, because you're classy like that.