The Backyard at Chez Jay Now Open in Santa Monica
Los Angeles is home to a number of legendary restaurants, like Pacific Dining Car or the Tam O’Shanter, and it’s my goal to eat at them all. I figure if a restaurant has stayed in business for 50+ years it must be pretty darn great, right? Nestled across from the beach in Santa Monica is Chez Jay which has been serving customers since 1959. Small and unassuming it’s a true LA landmark that has served the famous and not so famous for 60 years. Recently, I finally paid this legendary spot a visit when I attended the opening of it’s brand new outdoor space – The Backyard at Chez Jay.
Facing the ocean Chez Jay inhabits a slice of real estate most restaurants could only dream of and creating a backyard dining area allows it to fully take advantage of its coastal setting. I visited on a typical hot summer day but when I arrived at the restaurant there was a cool breeze and I was glad I brought my sweater.
I found a cozy table, already topped with a basket of the famed Chez Jay peanuts (they’ve been to the moon!), and was ready to sample the menu.
Some think of Chez Jay as a steakhouse while others would call it a dive bar and, really, they both would be right as it’s a place where you can get a nice steak and a stiff drink. The backyard’s a bit different. As the name implies it’s a cozy spot where one can relax and enjoy good company. The menu reflects that with refreshing cocktails and casual fare like hamburgers, hot dogs and salads.
Speaking of hot dogs…I’ve never been a fan of this tubed treat. But, I have to admit, I really enjoyed the Jay Dog. The 10″ waygu dog is grilled to perfection and topped with an array of Chicago style toppings like tomatoes, pickles, onions, relish, peppers and mustard.
To wash it down I enjoyed a Hotel California made with gin, grapefruit, rosemary and lemon. Tart and refreshing it was the perfect accompaniment to the rich dog.
In addition to the sandwiches and salads there’s an array of small bites that are perfect for sharing. A standout is the Grilled Street Corn – the restaurant’s version of elote. The lime, chili, mayo and cotija cheese made for a delicious combo and I was tempted to have the server leave the entire tray on my table.
I finished my meal with a Never Old Fashioned Chez Jay’s take on the, you guessed it, Old Fashioned. It’s no secret the Old Fashioned is my favorite cocktail and, I must say, Chez Jay’s really holds up. A combination of Slow & Low rye, orange, Luxardo cherries and bitters it’s a strong drink with just the right hint of sweetness and was the perfect closer to my meal.
Dining at The Backyard at Chez Jay allowed me to cross another LA landmark off my list. It also introduced me to one of the coziest dining spots in Santa Monica and a menu filled with delicious bites and drinks. Now I know my go to spot when I’m near the beach!