Los Angeles has a knack for cultivating dive bars that combine affordable drinking with upscale restaurant fare without sacrificing the look and feel of a true dive. Chez Jay in Santa Monica is one such example, opened in 1959 by original owner Jay Fiondella. Structurally, Chez Jay comes across as a beach shack dive bar, this one established as a Santa Monica Historic Landmark in 2012.
Spiritually, part of the allure is the dive bar’s celebrity-rich history, including its renown status as dive bar hideout for JFK and Marilyn Monroe. Peanuts on the floor mark one of Chez Jay’s trademarks, a connection so strong that astronaut Alan Shepard brought a Chez Jay peanut with him into space. Today, little has changed since 1959 outside of the creation of The Backyard, a more modern outdoor patio extension opened in 2019. Feel free to grab a picture of the scenic spot outside, but keep the phone stowed inside as indoor pictures are banned.