What's the deal with Ventura? [Moved from California board]
Why don't I ever see any questions or topics related to Ventura? I used to live there and thought it had great places for lunch and b-fast...dinner was a different story....
I'd like to hear your comments....
Hi! I live next to Ventura. We finally have some good choices, even for dinner. Zach's Cafe is excellent on Thompson. Jonathan's across from the Mission is very good. Westside Wine Cellars next door has over 30 cheeses to choose from as well as very fine food. If you have a party of 6-10 you might get the private room. New sushi bar in Victoria Plaza. There are more...
Lately I have been eating at Antojo's on Ventura Avenue (across the street from the bigger Red Barn Market) a lot. Mexico City-style snack foods. My only gripe is sometimes the food isn't hot enough, but it is certainly cheap and tasty. My fave is the huarache con hongos.
I like Cafe Noveau for breakfast/lunch especially on the patio on a nice sunny day.
Agree with Cafe Zack and Jonathans, both very nice. The biggest disappointment of last year was Sidecar Cafe, which has a lovely menu, freshest ingredients, and pretty much tasteless food. Very sad.
I also like Taqueria Tepatitlan on Vta Avenue for good, cheap, Mexican cafe food. It is so warm and homey and the owners are just lovely.
Tony's for pizza.
That's about all I have to report lately.
Lived here 8 years- my favorites:
1095 E. Thompson Blvd., midtown Ventura, 805.643.9445
204 E. Main St., downtown Ventura, 805.648.4853
1497 E. Thompson Blvd.Ventura, 805.648. 1422
Nona’s Courtyard Café
67 S. California St., downtown Ventura, 805.641.2783
Café Bariloche (South American tapas)
500 Main St., downtown Ventura, 805.641.2005
Sushi: In my opinion, we have only 4 really good sushi houses; here are two
120 S. California St., downtown Ventura, 805.643.5200
1437 S. Victoria Ave Ventura, 805.477.9897
And if you haven't visited Ojai for the food you're missing:
The Ranch House (incredible spot- eat in the bamboo forest, great wine list, excellent food- maybe special occasion etc.)
Boccali’s (homemade food, best pizza I've ever had)
11675 Ojai Santa Paula Rd. Ojai, 805.646.6116
We drive down to Ventura frequently (from SB), and I've never thought to ask here about food, even though we have a hard time finding places to eat. We're vegetarians, which makes things a little more complicated.
Mary's Secret Garden is a vegan place that used to operate out of a liquor store! They now have a lovely location at 100 N. Fir St., with some really tasty and satisfying items on the menu.
Any other ideas on places with veggie options? Doesn't have to be all veggie, just have something on the menu besides a "vegetable plate."
Actually, the new owners kept the old menu & just added new items. They have been voted "Best Vegetarian Items" in Ventura County for the last two years by the Ventura County Star Reader's Poll. They've got a killer tofu burger, it's not on the menu though, you have to ask for it. If the server doesn't know about it, ask for one of the owners, they'll take care of you!!
Nature's Grill on Main Street (near Franky's) has great veggie options. You must try the tahini ginger sauce that they offer with the veggies. If you can figure out how to make the sauce let me know!!!
In Ojai (Meiner's Oaks actually) there is a place called "the Farmer and the cook": All organic vegetarian kitchen.
I have not been there yet but the owner used to own another restaurant that had been in VTA for years "City Bakery and Cafe"-she had a great sandwich and salad place along with wonderful baked goods. If you go to the farmer and the cook--let me know what you think......
I like Mary's a lot.
Don't bother with the Natural Cafe - they seem to come from that "natural food as a kind of tasteless punishment" school. They may have some good menu items but I'm not going to bother to go back and sort through to try and find them.
I'm a veg and never worry about it. I find veg things to eat everywhere I go, except in the rarest of circumstances. For instance, I checked out the Aloha Steakhouse menu and there isn't a single veg item on it.
Thanks for the Farmer and the Cook link, Displaced. I think I might have heard of it, but never checked it out.
Snackish, we have a Natural Cafe here, too, and it's got a couple of things that are fun, like the Zog Dog - chili dog. But yes, it's pretty "old school" in terms of lack of spice and flavor.
I find veg food everywhere I go, too, but that doesn't mean it's GOOD veg food! I just get tired of some of the mainstream options out there, like the overly vinegary grilled portabello mushrooms everyone serves. Ya know?
I grew up in Ventura and lived there until I was 18.
After living in Los Angeles and travelling a bit, in other words, expanding my culinary horizons, I have to say Ventura is one of the worst cities food-wise. There's a small handful places I'll eat: Taj Indian, Cholada Thai, and Farmer and the Cook. I'll make exceptions after hanging with the boys back home and smoking a joint of course. I would avoid Cafe Noveau, I've had two very bad experiences there. Hashbrowns were deepfried in old oil. Toast was ice cold and came late. Food just not good quality. Fake atmosphere. Last time I went, there was one server for the whole restaurant. I sympathized with her and tipped well, but it shows horrible ownership.
Nona's isn't good. Wasn't good when "Wonderboy" Chris Watson was there. Isn't good now. Food never fresh, never cooked properly. Beautiful setting though.
No sushi that compares to anything in SB or LA. Best would be I Love Sushi and last trip there sushi chef was incredibly rude and quality was decent, though mushy.
Mary's is good. Agree to go there instead of Nature's Grill, which as one friend who used to work there informed me, isn't really organic and they cut a lot of corners.
I like Tepatitlan, am friendly with the owners, but it definitely falls under the category of gloppy Mex food. Go for tacos and the homemade chorizo and a 32 of Tecate, safest bet.
Cafe Zack is decent, but for the price and menu items I'd rather just cook at home. 71 Palm is overpriced hack french food and the chef/owner treats his employees like crap.
Jonathans is home of fusion whatever Med food. Nothing real or authentic about it. Been here twice and both times wished I hadn't. Can say the same about Westside cellar. These places aren't bad, per se, just not worth going out to.
Farmer and the Cook is gold. 100% organic. You can literally feel the love in the food. Very very high quality ingredients. Feel great afterwards. Love this place.
I've heard great things about L'Auberge in Ojai. Avoid Feast Bistro. Gourmet Tamales in the same mall as Jersey Mike's subs is a very chowish hole in the wall with decent to very good Mexican food. Ruben's burritos are good. Emporium cafe is very decent, great service, nice outdoor eating. Ojai Pizza is good small down Americanized pizza, good beers on tap.
I wish I didn't sound so down about Ventura, but seriously, Ojai has a population of around 8k I think, SB has under 70k. Ventura has like 120k I think and has no excuse for the crap food scene. Every time I visit there's more sprawl and is turning more and more into another Bakersfield or Valencia. More chains, more crap, more sameness and mediocrity.
I had one of the worst Indian food experiences of my life at Taj Cafe. It was filthy and the food was tasteless. Yasmeen's has been on the Health Dept list for shutdowns, so I haven't been there.
Cholada Thai was also horribly disappointing. We got a totally inedible dish of Pad See-Ew. When the server saw it was pretty much intact, she asked if we would like a box. We said, no, it wasn't good. No comment. It was left on the bill. A friend had the same experience the same week.
Yeah, Tepatitlan is gloppy Mexican food but tasty and the spirit of the place keeps drawing me back.
Sorry your experience at Taj was so bad. I will say that it can be very inconsistent. I've had Indian there that's as good as any place in WLA (if that's even saying anything) and had also very disappointing Indian there.
Cholada varies depending on what you get. By Ventura standards, I find it leaps and bounds above Tipps and Thai/Peruvian place. And that chain, Exotic Thai Cafe or whatever. Yasmeen's...sigh, I owe my Indian virginity to Yasmeens and was also friendly with the family that owns it (had a meal prepared at their house which is still the best Indian meal I've ever had) but I must concur that it's just not that great.
I can ask my friend about the tahini dressing next time I see her
Have to disagree with some of the above. Agree that Ventura should have more good restaurants. Most of us who live here welcome the downtown upgrades that are occurring, happy to see a few thrift stores and hot dog stands go. Bakersfield or Valencia, I think not- not at all.
We eat at Cafe Noveau every two weeks, has been consistent and very good. Initial server issues, seem solved now.
Close to Ventura (true, not actually in): excellent new sushi bar in Ralph's center on Channel Islands Blvd. in Pt. Hueneme. Don't know why one would go to Ojai Pizza when Bocalli's is up the road- they serve ingredients (basil pesto, etc.) from their own garden and even sell their fruits and veggies outside. Bodee's, recently reopened, is in a spectacular setting in Ojai and has great food.
I didn't mean to say that it's Bakersfield or Valencia now, but that every time I go back it's becoming more and more like it. Downtown has always been a revolving door of independently owned businesses due to the difficulty the city of Ventura makes it on people, (I've talked to various business owners and it sounds like "permit and fine" water torture)
Believe me, noone wants to see Ventura turn into a great town more than I do. Most of my friends and familty still live there.
The pizza is fine at Boccalis, but everything else I've had there (sandwiches and pasta) has been horrible. Love the setting though.
I'm amazed nobody has mentioned Maria Bonita, 265 E. Main St. just south of (and on the other side of the street from) the Mission. I've eaten there a number of times -- indeed, any time I'm in Ventura -- and have had nothing but terrific food there. The food is, essentially, riffs on regional Mexican cooking -- terrific moles and seafood, everything fresh and delicious, and relatively inexpensive. Here are some reviews, from another source: http://www.ventura.com/dining/review_....
I am from Ventura! Lived there for years.
Still haven't found the Cocoa Puff cookie recipe we're both looking for. Tried one I found online for a drop sugar cookie; it was terrible.
Suzanne is delicious. We have been there several times and the food is consistently delicious and full of taste.
Bodee's restaurant is awful. Bland food, soggy bread and any lack of flavor the chef covers up uncreatively with butter. Don't even think about having an event there such as a retirement, birthday, bridal, or baby shower. They have been reported as having discriminatory pricing practices for the unexpected couples or hostsl
Went to the Sidecar info
3029 E Main St
Ventura, CA 93003
Liked it very much. Excellent service - dinner menu looked more promising than the lunch - but it was fine. Very accomodating (we had a 12 year old kid with us who had a food desire which was met pleasantly by the kitchen).
Would go back in a second.
Also curious about a santa maria style bbq place i passed by on e main at I believe catalina.
and of course, trufflehounds chocolatier rules.
full disclosure - i live in la and don't know ventura all that well.
My latest favorite spot is Cuernavaca Taqueria on Ventura Avenue by Airway Glass (which has a distinctive neon sign as a landmark). They have great little tacos - my friends rave about the al pastor - and I like the veggie tacos (poblano and potato and cheese or mushroom and cheese) or the quesadillas. Their salsa is really good, all pretty hot.
Tutti's has an interesting menu and most of it is good; however, service is spotty and the owner seems to have an "I don't care what you think" attitude. Best to go when it's slow for better service.
Cafe Fiore on California does a very solid job on Italian, service is great, prices are fair, and the portions are generous. I always recommend it.
New to Ventura is Watermark. I've heard good things about it. The chef is a former sous from Water Grill in downtown LA. Also, there are some great deals on the wine list.