Category Archives: Pico

Now Open: Next Door by Josie

The newly opened Next Door by Josie is the younger sister restaurant to the popular upscale, veteran eatery Josie in Santa Monica. While both venues are ventures of chef and owner Josie Le Balch, Next Door provides an opportunity for her and her Chef de Cuisine, Mai Khanh Le to shake things up and “play” a little bit. Opening up a second restaurant in Santa Monica is something Chef Josie had been thinking about doing for a long while (saving up 10 years worth of wine corks from Josie’s patrons) and the opportunity finally presented itself. Connected at the kitchen to Josie’s, Next Door caters to a more youthful crowd as the sleek design and ambiance is that of an upscale sports bar with a cozy bistro feel. It’s affordable, neighborhood friendly and is the perfect gals night out or second date kind of place.

Describing her food style as “progressive American with French and Italian influences” Chef Josie tries to refrain from boxing her style of food into any specific category. Instead, it’s a “melting pot” of the stuff she likes to eat. Her diverse menu at Next Door is a prime example of this. The menu is comprised of a good variety of small snacks, appetizers, soups, sandwiches and bigger entrées. Don’t expect traditional “bar food” here, the bigger plates feature items like the Tarragon-Roasted Half Chicken, Steamed Mussels and Farmer’s Market Vegetable Pot Pie. There’s an American Charcuterie and Cheese bar, which is a perfect grown-up accompaniment to enjoy with something from the bar. Make sure you try the farmer’s market orange blossom honey with the meat – just sayin’.

Chef Mai is a Southern California native who spent some time cooking in New York. She has a broad span of knowledge from different culinary cuisines and the plates that come out of the kitchen reflect this. Chef Mai calls her menu, “eclectic.” In addition, I would add that it’s sophisticated, yet fun. Next Door has nearly been open a week and favorites are already surfacing. Looking around to neighboring tables as I ate, the Beer & Bacon Caramel Corn and the Duck Confit Bánh Mí seemed to be the popular orders of the night. I tried both and each was delicious. The Bánh Mí is a little bit spicy and extremely tasty. And I must say, after trying the Beer and Bacon Caramel Corn, I am so glad I started eating bacon earlier this year!

Also, some delicious and notable small plates are the Wild Game Chili appetizer and Heirloom Tomatoes. The chili meat was tender and mild while the tomatoes were simple and elegant.

My favorite dish of the evening was actually the Natural Beef Hot Dog (go figure)! It was a simple but sophisticated, upscale dog. Complete with a generous heap of fennel kraut and a light layer of ballpark mustard, this is exactly how you dress up a dog! It lay on a delicious, toasted house made bun that makes me never want to go back to a regular bun again. The dog is a must get.

The uncomplicated yet very delicious, Chocolate Walnut Brownie Torte was straightforward in presentation with nuts and a whipped cream topping, but don’t let that deceive you. The flavors and texture are anything but simple. It was the perfect ending to a deliciously satisfying evening.

See the Menu

Chef Josie’s cuisine is adventurous without being pretentious, elegant without being frou-frou. While many restaurants these days try to impress their food savvy customers with super weird concoctions or rich and heavy sauces, Next Door instead focuses on quality ingredients and freshness. Chef Josie, also known as “the chicken lady” (because she raises her own chickens!) is a big supporter of buying locally and much of their produce is acquired from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. She strongly believes that restaurants should co-exist with the markets – getting to know the farmers and where their food comes from.

Next Door by Josie also offers an extensive beer and wine list and along with the stylish décor around the dining room tables, there are comfortable stools at the bar to relax and watch a game. Chef Josie’s sense of humor is evident in the (anti)-artisan cocktail menu with drink names like “something strong” and “mmmm, breakfast”. They also proudly feature coffees and espressos from Groundworks Coffee as well.

Next Door is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday 6pm until close and 5:30pm until close on Sundays.  They are hoping to expand to be open for lunch and possibly a happy hour soon. Stay tuned!

View More Pictures

Next Door by Josie
(310) 581-9888
2420 Pico Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90404

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About the author
Amy T. Shuster is an actress, writer, singer and food enthusiast. Her blog is,, which focuses on creating positive content to help generate awareness of local independent foodie “gems” in the Los Angeles area. Amy lives and dines in Los Angeles, CA.

All pictures taken by Buy Local Market photographer, Da Xu.


dineLA 2011 Santa Monica Restaurants

dineLA Restaurant Week 2011 – Santa Monica Edition
Saturday, October 2-7 and October 9-14
Visit Site | Book a Table

dineLA Restaurant Week is a 2 week dining event established to introduce diners to the vast array of restaurants in neighborhoods throughout LA and to highlight the diversity of culinary experiences available. Local foodies and visitors to LA will have the opportunity to enjoy a selection of specially priced three-course meals from some of LA’s best restaurants during this dining event.

Santa Monica is lucky to have almost 50 restaurants taking part in this year’s dineLA event.
See the list below.

Participating Santa Monica Restaurants

For a full list of restaurants in LA county, please visit the dineLA website.


Participating restaurants opt into one of three dining categories and present a specially priced three-course meal for lunch and/or dinner. Diners choose from three choices for each course including appetizer, entrée and dessert. Prices and meal periods vary by restaurant and meal period and exclude beverages, tax and gratuity.


Diners may make a reservation online at, or they may contact the restaurant directly. Due to the popularity of this event, advance reservations are strongly encouraged, but walk-ins are appreciated. There is no guarantee that walk-in guests will be accommodated.

Now Open: Good Body Pilates

Pilates might just change your life. It sure has changed Emilie Bernstein’s, owner of Santa Monica’s new Good Body Pilates.  Emilie has been a Pilates enthusiast for over 14 years, but it wasn’t until recently that she realized it was her calling to be an instructor. After phenomenal results before, during, and after her two pregnancies, Emilie was inspired to further her training, and open her own Pilates studio right here in Santa Monica.

What makes Pilates so excitingly beneficial is that it works every part of your body. Its precision will have your muscles singing with joy, while the stretching elements will keep your physique long and lean. Not only that, but according to a recent study conducted by Appalachian State University, Pilates increases body awareness and relaxation that, in turn, promotes sounder sleep at night—something we could all use a little more of.

Exclusive offer: 46% off a Private Pilates Session at Good Body Pilates

Many people aren’t privy to how Pilates differs from yoga, so I asked Emilie to lay it out for us. “They are both mindful practices,” she explains, “however, the most obvious difference is that Pilates utilizes these amazing and original machines designed by Joseph Pilates that use springs and ropes to create resistance. None of the work done on the Reformers or other equipment is reminiscent of yoga. Some of it can be connected to weight training, some of it to dance, and some movements are wholly original to Pilates.”

Pilates began in the 20s when Joseph Pilates realized that it was extremely effective in body rehabilitation—first for soldiers, then dancers, and then the rest of humanity. Joseph was a strong believer in the mind/body connection. Therefore, his technique is comprised of a series of core-strengthening exercises, paired with complementary breathing designed to optimize this connection.

Emilie’s passion for Pilates is unmistakable. Not only is her own healthy glow and fervor for life and health inspiring and contagious, but you can also tell that she really cares for her clients. The beauty of Good Body Pilates, as compared to other Pilates facilities, is that Emilie creates a personalized program, designed to fit each client’s needs. “My goal,” Emilie explains, “is that each and every one of [my clients] leaves the studio feeling taller, lighter, more energetic, and more connected.”

Emilie works with total beginners and the very advanced, and for those of you who like a power workout, worry not. According to Emilie, “[Pilates] can be a meditation in motion, or it can be an energizing and tough workout. And… it can be both these things in the space of one session.”

Making a commitment to healthifying your life has never been easier… With Emilie as your coach and cheerleader, and her state-of-the-art equipment to keep it exciting, you’re sure to feel the burn whilst also feeling a whole lot better!

See you at Good Body Pilates. (Go ahead, said it aloud, there’s a ring to it.)

Get your 1st Session at Good Body Pilates for $35!

View More Pictures

Good Body Pilates
Rates | Visit Site
(424) 625-5518
3229 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

About the Author, Annie
Annie is a recording artist/writer who delights in personal alchemy, whimsy, & quantum physics. She can often be found drinking tea, eating cake, or changing the world. She blogs about the delicacies of daily life in the city of angels at

All pictures taken by Buy Local Market photographer, Da Xu.

Pico Festival 2011

Photo Credit: Dave Sizer

6th Annual Pico Festival and Car Show

Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011
11am – 4pm
Virgina Avenue Park, Santa Monica
Free and Open to the Public
Visit Site

Join us for a day at the park full of Art, Music, Food, Classic Cars and Fun for the whole family! Free to the public.

Virginia Ave. Park

This year, the 2011 Pico Festival will be held entirely at Virginia Avenue Park, including the Car Show. There will be an exciting collection of booths and artist pavilions displaying and selling an assortment of art, photography, fashion, food, and services. Kids can participate in a bundle of activities and crafts in the Kids Zone. Raffles and giveaways all day long.

Our musical line-up includes an appreciation of youth ensembles from our local schools, and a sizzling return of last year’s Latin-Ska favorites, Upground. (Listen below.) The Car Show will display a fine collection of Classic Cars from across Southern California. All proceeds from the Car Show will benefit the Samohi Football Program and the Cody Williams Recovery Fund.

Returning Musical Guests, Upground

Businesses – Apply for a Booth

If you are interested in having a booth or displaying your art in one of our pavilions, please fill out the Booth Application. (No Fee for Pico Businesses).

Enter the Car Show

To enter the Car Show, register online or at Engler Bros Auto Parts (3026 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica 90405). For more Car Show info, please contact Andrew Gomez  at Car Show Application.

Pico Festival | Virginia Park