I have been, and remain, a huge fan of the Ranch House -- I manage to get up there at least a couple of times a year even though it's seventy-five miles away. It was started by Krishnamurti followers in the 1950s and was a vegetarian restaurant for its first decade or so.
The food is not at a Providence/Bastide level, but it is very good, and very, very reasonable -- dinner for two without alcohol seldom sets us back over $120 including tip. And the setting is gorgeous, definitely a huge part of the overall appeal.
RSVPs are a must, as was said upthread they're frequently closed for private parties on weekends. Most of the seating is outdoors but there are four or five tables in an indoor area with huge picture windows, not unpleasant but you probably want to specify an outdoor table when you reserve. Also, take a map or use a GPS -- it can be tricky to find the first time.
Since the Ranch House is my Ojai destination of choice I've never had dinner anywhere else in town, so I'm not the one to ask for comparisons with the other local fare.
500 W Lomita Ave, Ojai, CA 93023
I have been to Suzanne. Suzanne is delicious. We have been there several times and the food is consistently creativity 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
I've been to Suzanne's a couple of times over the years and have never liked the place, although the setting is pleasant. I remember dried-out, tasteless food and amateurish service. On one occasion my roast pork was so tough and dry that I ate less than half of it. Incredibly, the waitress picked up the plate from my table and didn't even ask what the problem was. I left a courteous note for management and didn't receive a reply. But it's been a while, so perhaps I'll try the place again on some Sunday drive.
Been here several times over the many years this place has been in business, most recently last year and have exactly the same reaction: beautiful, truly unique setting IF you get outdoor seating, lousy food, indifferent staff and high prices. Take your pick what matters most. Do the least damage and enjoy the setting only for lunch or brunch.
The Ranch House is in Ojai, about 30 miles from Oxnard. The Address and no. are 500 South Lomita Avenue
Ojai, CA 93023
The setting is amazing and the food is pretty good, although it's pricey and reservations are necessary because they close a lot for private parties.
I don't think it's worth a trip by itself, especially since there are so many really good restaurants in the Ojai area. But, again the setting is gorgeous.
Suzanne's is amazing and quite the local treat. Azu and Pangea can be pretty good -- and Azu has Mexican Coke's: my husbie's favorites. If you like steaks, which are the Ranch House speciality, you'll also LOVE the Deer Lodge, farther out on Hwy 33, which has an AMAZING assortment of wild game, along with a really innovative menu. I'm leaving out a ton of Ojai restaurants, but for more casual Italian dining try Boccalis. El Giardino is OK. The main courses are good, but the salads feature -- yuk -- bottled salad dressing -- like Kraft, but not as good. Sea Fresh is great for seafood and has a dedicated boat that goes out daily looking for the best, seasonal treats. There's Mexican and Thai. Avoid the Garden Terrace. The service is TERRIBLE and the food mediocre -- although when you're being ignored by the wait staff when you want some additional Parmesan, your pasta does tend to get cold.
I haven't been to the Ojai Valley Spa restaurants, but they are supposed to be good. And Auberge is supposed to have some really good rustic cooking. Bodees is highly recommended, although they just lost their chef, who was revered locally.
The key to Ojai cuisine in the emphasis on local, fresh produce. And for that, it's always worth the trip.