Ventura...Used to be a sore subject
Living in Ventura now for about three years I am happy to say the food scene has really picked up. We now have a few restaurants that really compete with the best in LA and Santa Barbara ( and I am picky) Has anyone had similar luck with newer restaurants in Ventura?? Like the past three years?? Would love to know...it is about time we are on the foodie map!!!
Not sure if Ventura can be discussed here or if it belongs in the Los Angeles area discussion, but agree with you - Old Town Ventura has become hot! I was dazzled last week at its vibracy and buzz and what appeared to be an almost endless array of stylish boutique restaurants around Main Street.
Hats off to the city leaders who re-invested in this previously tired and derilict part of town - I knew its thrift shops and urban decay well over the past several decades.
I am starting to prefer it to Santa Barbara which is starting to move too much over the top - too expensive, too much posing, too little inspiration - too chi-chi, too little authentic caring.
Further down Main Street where it meets Thompson Avue is the newly re-opened Mai's Cafe - now serving Vietnamize and Hawaiin specialties - in an overly gaudy fake Island decor modest place - but that is part of its fun and the food remains first rate and the ever enterprising owner now runs a bingo parlor in the back.
Welcome back Mai - and I'll also be back many times. Loved the legendary fresh spring rolls with real peanut sauce and the Hawaiian beef teriaki sticks were first rate for the tenderness of the beef and subtleness of the sauce.
I'm a fan of The Taj Cafe on Main Street. While I've gone numerous times, I haven't seen the extent of their menu. Reason being that I am completely hooked on their tikka masala sauce, which I always end up eating by itself. Last Friday the guy there convinced me to try the mango chicken which, like the masala sauce, is stand-alone delicious. Excellent saag paneer as well (my other usual suspect), and if one possibly can afterwards, they have a really addictive carrot pudding dessert.
Agree with Jonathan's At Peirano's - tasty menu and exceptional service.
Thanks for starting the post, too. We needed it.
Yes, I love Mai's. I haven't been out much in downtown Ventura yet, but I had a good though pricey tapas experience at J's Tapas.
Also, head out to Ventura Avenue for some real Mexican food. There is the lovely homey Taqueria Tepatitlan for sit-down breakfast, lunch and dinner (no weekend dinners), Antojos for order-at-the-counter snack-type foods (tacos, huaraches, chilaquiles) and Super Taqueria for huge bowls of caldos and tacos in a tiny shop.
There are also 2 panaderias. I prefer Lala's but Herrera is good too.
Red Barn mini mart has barbacoa outside on weekends.
I agree that the food scene has made a vast improvement in Ventura in the last couple of years. I really like Ozekii's on Victoria for fun sushi rolls, good toro and live scallop. I also like Capriccio's for Italian and Cholada for Thai, both on Main. I didn't care for the empanadas at Bariloche (may have been biased since I tried them just after getting back from Ecuador and having authentic empanadas there), but have been meaning to go back to try their other fare. Jonathan's At Peirano's and Tutti's are also good.
My wife and I ate at Tutti's for our 12th anniversary a few weeks ago (we used to love the old Montecito location) - a really enjoyable meal, and their salads and baked goods are especially excellent.
Haven't really explored many of the other new Main Street eateries, but we'll definitely check more of them out next time we go up to Ventura (we live in Santa Monica).
The Taj Cafe has been a real hit with everybody I've spoken with. I really enjoy their vegetarian selection, and the naan they serve with the meal is fantastic. Try to get one of the seats near the front window that look out directly onto Main Street, and spend the better part of an evening people-watching with fantastic fun Indian food. Sounds great.
On the other hand, the Thai-Peru restaurant leaves much to be desired. It's more expensive than Tipps(the other Thai eatery) and the food is far less tasty. Also, the Peruvian selection isn't quite where it should be. Skip it.
For a good dinner/wine experience on Main Street, Westside Cellars offers decent meals and fantastic wine; however, I prefer to eat dinner somewhere else and then cruise over for a cheese/fruit tray with some wine. It's a great way to spend an evening.