Ojai (Oxnard, Ventura, Thousand Oaks)??
We're going to Ojai from LA this weekend - Any places there (or on the way) I should check out? I am thinking about Suzanne's for Saturday dinner. Any suggestions for lunch, snacks, breakfast, or better dinner options...
I've preached in the past about Farmer and the Cook. Keep in mind, this is a 100% organic salad bar that sells sandwiches, soups, and one cooked meal daily. The quality of the produce is top notch. I ate here today, got the curry special with a chai (awesome chai here) and a strawberry bar and ate in the sunshine with a good book...heaven. Google it and you'll find the website. This is quintessential Ojai in my book. Plenty of oddballs, hippies, left wingers, Buddhists, and genuinely friendly people hanging out here. Owners are very nice.
I can recommend Boccali's for pizza only. Pastas and sandwiches I've had there have been very subpar. There's a mexican place in the corner of Fitzgerald plaza (across from the only Chevron in town) called Gourmet tamales. There are several specials that change daily but in the past I've had very good authentic mexican there like pozole verde, braised pork in mole negro, fish soup (very rustic, there was vertebrae with large chunks of fatty, oily flesh attached, all in a fiery red broth) Last time I went there it wasn't the greatest though, had chicken mole poblano. Flavors were solid, just wasn't hot enough and rice and beans were a little beat up.
Azu is decent to good. Nice interior and good service, good selection of wines. Would recommend for a group.
L'Auberge Ojai is supposed to be very good.
There's no *great* breakfast in Ojai, but my favorite would be Cafe Emporium.
I've heard the sushi at Seafresh is surprisingly good, but I've never been myself so I can't guarantee this.
Biggest splurge in town would be to head to Maravilla at the Ojai Valley Inn. They'll do a tasting menu if requested with very good wine pairings. There are some very talented chefs there right now.
Oh, and this is a real chowish find, there's a little booth, it's basically an atm booth as you're passing through Oak View, you'll pass a cafe called Stir Crazy on your right hand side, shortly thereafter there's a sign for some bank atm and in the same kiosk is a little bakery, called Oaktree bakery if I recall. The owner is a lunatic but he makes top notch pastry. Used to be pastry chef at Ojai Valley Inn several pastry chefs ago. He's got weird hours but check it out just in case, be polite and maybe even a little sycophantic, and ask him what's fresh. He definitely falls into the soup nazi category but I think his stuff is a diamond in the rough. Good coffee too.
Sorry for lack of links, but it's late at night and I'm tired....
ETA: For my own reasons, I would avoid Los Caporales, Bodees, and Feast Bistro. If you're into dive bars make sure to check out Hilltop in Oak View (on your right side as you drive in) The Hub which is right in the middle of Ojai, and The Hut, a hidden locals-only place. If you're interested I'll leave it up to you to find it... Crowd has never been rough anytime I've been there, but I can see how it might be. Don't walk in with a turtleneck and/or tweed jacket.
We finally got out to The Farmer and the Cook last weekend. REALLY funky place with all kinds of kooky people hanging out. We loved it. Not only are the salad bar and deli 100% organic, but the entire store is 100% organic. We saw organic products we've never seen before and my husband is in the business! We enjoyed our veggie burgers. :-)
You should stop by in Gorikee's in Woodland Hills if you like garlic. However, it's not too garlicky for me. You can do a search for it. They have really good-priced lunches for under $10 and dinner for under $20 per entree. Their food is excellent.
I had a very nice dinner at Auberge (the restaurant has a long history, with a similar name, but for the past couple of years it has been run by Christian Shaffer of the late Chloe and of Avenue.) The menu changes monthly. And though you wouldn't guess it from the outside, the view from the balcony was very nice as the sun set. It's a lovely setting. They also do a Sunday brunch there, which I haven't tried.