That Sports Bar Next Door

Why you should watch the game in Santa Monica

The dudes in suits, the ladies who lunch, and the bottles of Burgundy lining the walls might make you think otherwise, but believe this: Next Door by Josie, the two-month-old Santa Monica restaurant run by Josie Le Balch, is a sports bar.

We present, as Exhibit A, the two flat-screen televisions set high over the full bar, the tables set in such a way that nearly every seat has a good view.

Exhibit B: The menu, which includes such dishes as homemade BBQ potato chips, wild-game chili, and hot dogs with kraut and "ballpark mustard."

The deviled eggs ($6) are a good example of how Le Balch can enliven a thankless bar snack: Resting on a pile of pickled beets cut into neatly shaped batons and scattered with duck-skin cracklings, it's a rich, biting dish that begs for a beer.

You won't care who's winning if you happen to be eating the roasted pork sandwich (pictured; $14). Soft slices of meat and piquant aged Provolone are complemented by rapini that, in an inspired touch, has been deep-fried to a crisp. The greens' crunch is a welcome texture in a soft sandwich that is indeed, as the menu states, "sloppy."

Next Door by Josie, 2420 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; 310-581-4201 or nextdoorbyjosie.com