Joan McNamara is no ordinary woman. She is a hardworking entrepreneur, tastemaker, chef, curator, trendsetter, and the culinary matriarch of Joan’s on Third on West Third Street, LA. Her down-to-earth, family founded and run business has remained exactly what it was originally established as: a family. And it certainly feels like family when you walk through the door. Instead of feeling like you’re in a restaurant, it’s as if you’ve come back from being away from home for too long to be welcomed by a holiday feast among the best kind of company.
As the daughter of Czech immigrants Joan grew up appreciating a life which steadily revolved around the kitchen. She moved to Manhattan in her early 20’s and after successfully launching her own cooking school and opening “The Egg Basket,” an omelet restaurant in NYC, she moved to Los Angeles with a her family of her own.
Joan opened Joan’s on Third in 1995 before the district of West Third Street was a cultural mecca of fine dining institutions- and before the Beverly Center/The Grove had begun their reign as tourist sirens of mid-city Los Angeles. Her two daughters, Carol and Susie have helped run Joan’s on Third since they graduated from college. Carol runs the catering operation and Susie is oversees the marketplace.
Today Joan and her family (both biological and symbolically adopted) offer locations on both Third Street and in Studio City, with the original catering company on Third having officially grown into an emporium of food lover’s chaos.
Classic must-try items include the Chinese chicken salad and the gourmet meatloaf sandwiches (reportedly Alexander Skarsgard’s favorite) and as with any high-profile, this LA institution is a hotbed for celebrity sightings (among the thousands of other customers who stride through its doors every single day).
Just as its diverse menu, the cafe has been hand-decorated with a touch of everything, from everywhere. From authentic Italian pasta to chandeliers from London and shelves from upstate New York it’s a truly unique space. But it’s not just a restaurant…
The beauty of Joan’s on Third is that it’s a fabulous perfect combination of bakery, gelato bar, deli, cheese counter and olive bar, with a kitchen for making hot breakfast/ lunch items (did someone say PRIME LA BURNCH SPOT? Cause it is…). There are a selection of curated gourmet grocery items including fresh meat and dairy products or freshly baked breads and pastries you can take home with you to enjoy after your feast.
If you’ve followed my writing before, you know that I have a dangerously strong sweet tooth. Therefore, when my friends and I visited Joan’s on Third for brunch I had to try the enormous slice of sour cream coffee cake with a side of rose macaron. Needless to say, paired with my almond milk latte (yes, I live in Los Angeles and I love me a good almond milk latte.) they were both delightful.
But don’t just take my word for it. Come check Joan’s on Third out for yourself. You might even catch a glimpse of a Hollywood starlet while you’re there- the most prominent of course, being Joan McNamara herself.
Joan’s on Third (Third Street) is located at 8350 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. Hours are Monday – Saturday 8am – 8pm and Sunday 8am – 7pm.
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