For 57 years Chez Jay has been a cultural watering hole in Santa Monica. It’s played host to any number of celebrities, politicians, and no-name funsters. The charm of Chez Jay’s is its consistency. The menu hasn’t changed, the lights and d√©cor are the same as they’ve been for decades and I’d bet that there’s a peanut hiding out somewhere in there that is older than me. Walking into the darkened room with the Christmas lights blinking always seems like coming home. But after 57 years there’s something new at the Chez.
It’s called Jay’s Patio and it’s an outdoor seating area that is hidden behind the iconic landmark. For most of us who love being outside, finding a good place to enjoy the sun, have a meal, read a book and enjoy the quiet is not easy in this town. Sure there’s outdoor seating at many places on the Third Street Promenade, and a few places on Montana Ave have some tables outside, but those are right up against lots of traffic, either foot or car.
Finding a nice outdoor spot, with good food, decent parking and some solitude is rare, but the good news is that this new grubspot has all that and more. It’s a nice physical and emotional connection between the local landmark bar and restaurant with the beautiful Tongva Park.
I had lunch on Sunday at Jay’s Patio and was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it was to enjoy a huge turkey burger lunch in the sunshine. The handmade burger was amazing, it’s a giant burger with two types of cheese served on a brioche bun. It comes with Chez Jay’s seasoned fries or salad with their homemade dressings. Chef Tony De Arcos has been serving up the good stuff for Mike Anderson, the man behind Chez Jay’s, for over a decade and it’s easy to see why they make such a great team. The food is amazing and the atmosphere is enjoyable. There was music playing, but not in that annoying, overly loud, obnoxious manner that is common these days and designed to drive you out of the restaurant.
My guess is the back area seats about 50-80 people, and I can see spending lots of time hanging there reading and listening to some soft jazz and blues. This is no super loud beach bar, this is a place to take a date and enjoy their company, or settle in with a good book, and have a solid meal. It’s open Thursday to Sunday for Lunch from 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
If you’re headed to the Twilight Summer Concert Series on Thursdays you might want to drop in to Jay’s Patio for dinner beforehand to get you in the headspace of fun and revelry. The patio menu is Chez Jay’s take on burgers, burritos and salads, but I’ve been told if you say the magic words you might be able to order from the main restaurant food menu. There’s no alcohol on the back patio.
I spoke with Mike Anderson and suggested that he bring in a jazz quartet on Sundays and I’m hoping he takes my advice. He did share with me that for the month of August he’ll be running a Sunday dinner special on the back patio of Chez Jay’s: a rack of Tony’s Famous Pork Ribs for $14.95. For those in the know, Tony’s Ribs have been a local treat on Tuesdays in the front of the house with regulars coming in just for them.
There’s no real dress code for either Chez Jay’s or Jay’s Patio. What do you expect from a place that once had an elephant at the bar? But I’d suggest that if you come out at night, bring a light jacket, even though there are heaters, the evenings can get chilly and breezy.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra