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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.


Now Open: Siptea

Recently moved to Montana Ave. from its former Downtown LA home, Siptea is sure to make a refreshing summer splash in every Santa Monica tea drinker’s life. Your source for hand selected organic teas, Siptea not only sells an impressive array of loose leaf tea but also offers a clean, funky space in which to enjoy them – hot, iced, or poured into a cocktail.

View Cocktail Recipes

Founded by Laura Stewart with the intent to uphold an environmentally responsible and community-building business, Siptea seems a perfect fit for green Santa Monica. In Laura’s own words, “Siptea is a modern organic tea line.  We have hand-picked the best organic teas, striving to get as many fair trade as possible.  We have a passion for tea and try to instill that passion through education and exposure to the world of tea.”

Siptea’s carefully sourced products, eco-friendly teapots, and dedication to quality make it an interesting alternative to the normal coffee grind.

Stop by Siptea during Montana Avenue’s Artwalk, Thursday, July 21st when they’ll be hosting LA painter Ed Moses.

Early Feedback

“What a fantastic selection of organic teas! Friendly service and very well informed staff.  Love the Earl Grey.” – Amy A (Yelp)

Mon.-Sat. 10:00am-5:00pm
Sun. 12:00pm-5:00pm

(310) 395-2626
1627 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Now Open: The Hungry Cat

Seafood lovers rejoice! The Hungry Cat recently opened its 3rd location to a packed house just across the street from Will Rogers State Beach in Santa Monica Canyon. The restaurant is now next to Giorgio Baldi in a tucked-away location previously occupied by The Brass Cap.

The menu at the Hungry Cat is exclusively seafood (save the pug burger) but inventive and varied enough that there should be something to please almost anyone. The entrees range in price from ~$15 to ~$30 and the restaurant just expanded its hours to serve brunch. The raw bar and cocktails are available all day Saturday and Sunday.

See the Full Menu

The view of the ocean is great and the only real negative to report is the noise level which can be overwhelming at times. Valet parking is available, $6 and like reservations, necessary.

Early Feedback

“I came here the first week it opened and was expecting opening week kinks, but we had a fantastic experience.” – Erica L (Yelp)

“2 hungry hungry cats walked in and left satiated, drunk, fat and happy.” – Grace W (Yelp)

Mon-Thurs 5:30pm-10:30pm
Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11:30pm
Sat-Sun 10:00am-3pm (brunch)
Sun 5:00pm-10:30pm

The Hungry Cat Santa Monica
(310) 459-3337
100 West Channel Road / PCH
Santa Monica, CA 90402