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Solo around Ventura/Oxnard for a weekend?

I'm going to be in Oxnard from the 12th through the 14th -- driving in on Friday, out on Sunday -- mostly to visit the Channel Islands National Park, but also to just explore the area. While I'll be combing the LA area board here, if there are any pointers people have to cool places, I'd be interested in hearing about them. I'll be alone, so places that are good for solo diners are appreciated, and moderately priced (anywhere from "great bargain" on up to the $20-25 range, although if there's some amazing must see expensive show-stopper place around that area, let me know!).

I tend to gravitate toward Mexican and "gourmet brewpub" type places, but I'm reasonably open-minded. I live in the SF Bay Area (San Jose), so I'm curious about the oft-mentioned difference between NorCal and SoCal Mexican styles, too.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Try Mai's Cafe in Ventura. They have live entertainment and Kamaka Brown has an open mike for wannabe comedians during the week. It's more polynesian type setting with an excellent Vietnamese American menu.

    http://www.maiscafe.com/

    1. A good Mexican place to try is Johnny's Burritos on Ventura Ave. a couple blocks north of Main St. - a dive, best for takeout but great Burritos. The best brewpub in the area is Anacapa Brewing - decent beer and much better food than the average pub place.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Toph

        I second Johnny's (city of Ventura) but if you go I would stick to the Chile Verde burrito or Chile Relleno with Pork. Last time I went I go the chile relleno burrito dry with no rice/no beans/no pork and that was a dumb idea (read: dry as heck). Cash only and limited seating but I like to take mine to go and drive a couple miles and eat on the beach. The red salsa/hot sauce that comes in the tiny plastic cups is really good. Grab at least two. Kind of hole in the wall but pretty good. I would call and check on their weekend hours. They might be closed on Sundays. Not that crazy about the mexican food in Ventura though. Keep in mind Yolanda's in mediocre, Casa De Soria has good chips and salsa but nothing standouts, Corrales used to be better but is just not that great anymore. My fav Mexican is in San Diego. Oxnard might have good mexican. Anyone? Anyone?

        http://itssite.com/Johnnys_Menu.htm
        http://traveler.sunset.com/food_and_d...

        I'm not that familiar with Oxnard cuisine but there is BJ's Brewhouse there. You have one in San Jose as well so big deal right? It's just okay although I secretly do like their "chicago style" deep dish pizza there (although it is no Zachary's of Berkeley/Oakland - yum!

        )

        My favorite Ventura eateries:

        Cafe Nouveau on Thompson for the seafood benedict and their mango mimosas.

        Cafe Bariloche on Main Street for the Bariloche salad and the chicken empanadas w/chimichurri.

        Andria's Seafood at the Harbor for the fish and chips & clam chowder (although SF does this much better. You might want to pass)

        Cafe Zack's on Thompson apparently makes a great steak. I have not had this there but my boss is a foodie and a regular there. I'm not much of a steak person.

        My favorite place to get a beer and burger is Winchester's Bar and Grill on Main Street. Killer Kobe Beef Burger but ask for it medium rare with bleu cheese and carmalized onions. So so good.

        I haven't had Jonathan's on Main St. but have heard good things about it.

        Let us know what happens! Enjoy your stay!!

        1. re: missmodular818

          Thank you for the recommendations. I'll try to check out a few. I'm willing to go somewhat far afield for food, , but Malibu is probably the limit, looking at the map. (I know that's not really in the Ventura/Oxnard area, per se, but heck, it's a road trip.)

          It looks like I already had Andria's down from previous board perusing. I do like good fish and chips -- which aren't actually that easy to come by, and prove to be the source of endless debate. :)

          I do like BJ's as well, but I'll probably be trying to avoid chains unless I'm desperate!

      2. I love my hometown, but the options are a bit slim in Ventura. For the most authentic Mexican, it's best to head as far west as possible, Ventura Ave. Maggie's on the North end is a great dive, but there's several places to choose from. It's worth just going for a drive & checking a few out. Head west on Main & make a right on Ventura Ave. There's also Casa de Soria on Thompson. It's a real old school restaurant, featuring all the great combo platter selections. Love the refried beans!

        Mai's is super campy & fun (there was a random corgi walking about the last time I ate there), but the good isn't so hot, ecspecially if you're from the SF area. It ain't no Straits Cafe or Slanted Door...

        2nd Anacapa. It's got great beer, but it's not exactly a gastropub. They actually stole a great deal of the menu (not to mention a few cooks) directly from the Cheesecake Factory. Avoid Winchester's at all costs!!!

        Also worth checking out is Cafe Bariloche on Santa Clara, also downtown. They're known for their empanadas.

        I recommend checking out the Farmer's Market on Saturday downtown. It's a lot of fun & they have a great selection to just peruse for the heck of it.

        Finally, Cafe Nouveau on Thompson for breakfast. Yummy Vanilla Bean Caramel Syrup for the pancakes!

        3 Replies
        1. re: sunnygordy

          Really? You don't like Winnie's? I've only eaten there a few times but the Kobe burger is delicious and the chicken sandwich with the sauteed mushrooms and onions is good (although I could probably make the same at home). Cafe Nouveau is a great place for breakfast and the patio is cute. Always really great service too!

          1. re: missmodular818

            I don't slight the food, I just don't dig the meat market vibe that it has at night.

          2. re: sunnygordy

            Anyone been to that pizza shop on Seaward by the beach (next to Josafina's mexican restaurant)???

          3. La Gloria Market at the Oxnard Amtrak station for Mexican food. There is also a panaderia there which makes fantastic churros.

            1. channel islands - day trip to anacapa or a longer trip to the larger islands? have fun.

              favorite food find in Ventura - trufflehounds. great chocolates.
              http://trufflehoundsfinechocolates.com/
              607 East Main Street, Suite E
              Ventura, California 93001

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jerome

                My best friend's parents own Trufflehounds! I'm such a ninny for not thinking of it! Yes, please go. They're both food scientists by trade, so they're approach to developing flavors is a little different from the norm. The chocolate dipped honeycomb? Phenomenal!

              2. Not sure how far afield you're willing to go, but you could take the quick drive up to Santa Barbara to have great Mexican food at La Super Rica. It's the best place to eat in Santa Barbara and it's also one of the cheapest. Seriously, it's some of the best Mexican food I've ever had. It's completely lacking in atmosphere, you'll wait for 15 minutes in line and for your food, but it's fantastic. Check out the California board -- it's one of the darlings of chowhounders...