top of page

Chez Jays

To claim anything as ‘world famous’ requires a solid story to back it up. Chez Jays says so about their peanuts. Yes, peanuts…… and I concur. One has left its red basket on the counter and been dropped into the full moon's dirt. Another has been laid to rest at the bottom of the sunken Titanic. That’s not just world famous, that's out of this world. From the first time I walked inside this loveable shack and passed the antique shipping wheel, I wanted it to be my local. The candlelit booths, fairy lights, ceiling fans, historic prints and crunching of peanut shells under my feet made me feel like I was on Fox Classics. The sight of the senior waiter trying to secretly hoover down a taco behind the bar was pretty cool too. In my past two visits to the Greater Los Angeles area I have been here four times, and can’t wait for the fifth.

Known for its steaks, seafood, stiff drinks and world famous peanuts, this old school celebrity hang out has no peer when comparing stories in Santa Monica. It’s become a famous institution. Its late founder, actor Jay Fiondella bought the space which was an old coffee shop for $1, and loosely named it after the restaurant owned by Frank Sinatra in the 1957 movie ‘Pal Joey’.

From there on, the standard was set very high. They had an elephant at their opening in 1959 which dented the bar with its trunk. The private booth was ironically reserved for The Rat Pack’s card games. Judy Garland, Jim Morrison, Fred Astaire and Dolly Parton, to name but a few, have all dined here….. The latter has been a regular for 30 years. Allen Sheppard and his astronaut buddies took a one of those world famous peanuts to the moon, and explorer Ralph B White (along with James Cameron), dropped one in the Titanic before filming. Not bad for a humble looking little place huh?

The first time I visited I sat at the still dented bar under the red and white striped flag, spoke to some locals and ate those amazing peanuts. The strong Makers and Coke I sipped reminded me of inhaling a cigarette for the first time and when I pedantically collected my peanut shells onto the napkin, the barmen looked at me and insisted…. “Please, on the floor.” Sure!

Each time I drop in I still get overwhelmed with excitement. Not only because of the tales of yesteryear, but for the food too. It’s cool to gawk at the variety of articles, autographs and posters… but it’s just more fun with fresh clams and a garlic crumbed steak. They will stay on your mind much longer than on your plate. Get them. If you’re in the mood for dessert but still feel like drinking, have a Mexican coffee. That’s Kahlua, Tequila, coffee liquor and whipped cream. What a closer! With the Santa Monica Pier only across the road, I’m not too sure if all the tourists who walk that attraction truly get what’s happening on the other side of Ocean Avenue.

Like a battle weary boxer with Sinatra’s resilience, Chez Jays keeps standing the test of time as so much continues to change around it.

Walk in and drink to that.

Chez Jays is located at 1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401, United States

Hours of Business are: Monday 2:00pm - 12:00am, Tuesday to Friday 11:30am - 2:00am, Saturday 9:00am - 2:00am and Sunday 9:00am - 12:00am

bottom of page