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Jul 10, 2008 04:31 PM

Staying one night in Oxnard, CA

My wife and I are going to be in Oxnard for one night this month. We're staying at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach. We're open to any recommendations on somewhere to eat on a Thursday night in Oxnard. Only limitation is no chains. Local independent please! We will have a car and our trusty GPS with us. Thanks and we'll be happy to return the favor if you ever get out to Nashville!

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  1. You are staying in a very lovely property. Be sure to walk the beach, and the grounds of the hotel. For a happy hour I would go the Whale's Tail, (second floor). This is very close to your hotel. Great Bloody Marys, wine, beer, crab legs, chowder. Grab a table outside over the water.

    For dinner I would go to Main Street in Ventura. Either Jonathan's, located west of Seaward, or The SideCar, located east of Seaward.

    There are also laid back hole-in-the-wall but good Mexican, and casual beach-type
    eateries, if that is what you are looking for.

    3 Replies
    1. re: orangecat

      Thanks orangecat for the advice and response!

      1. re: orangecat

        Even though you are a ways away in Mandalay Beach, I second going into Old Town Ventura off Main Street - nice lively buzz, lots of small restaurants. This was a very successful redo of a tacky old street and part of town and really a showcase for urban renewal. It has charmed us all and does not feel "new" or artificial. It feels like a real little lively dining/entertainment area.

        1. re: glbtrtr

          Actually, he won't be terribly far at all from Main Street Ventura (do you know the hotel? It is on the cusp of Oxnard/Ventura)- it is an easy drive up Harbor (the coast) to Main Street.

          I would encourage him not to follow Mapquest directions, which put you on the freeway. No need.

          Also, I really would suggest Jonathan's over SideCar (and I love SideCar) for the downtown walking fun. I would try to get there at least an hour early (or more) just to walk downtown Ventura.

          Here is what I would do:

          Harbor to Seaward (near the Pier)
          Right on Seaward to Main
          Left on Main to California
          RIGHT on California (for free parking in the lot behind the bank) Park.

          Walk down to Main Street. Walk to the end, and Jonathan's
          will be on the South side, far end across from the Mission.

          Make certain to walk and enjoy both sides of the street
          before dinner. It is only a few blocks.

          I could suggest some nice restaurants in downtown Oxnard,
          but the driving is bumper to bumper side streets with lights.
          Small downtown area, not as nice as Ventura.

          To get to Main Street Ventura and park can be done in an easy 15 minutes (or less) not meandering any side streets.

          I realize that the Mandalay has happy hour and full breakfasts, but if he wanted to sneak away for a great breakfast/lunch near the beach he
          can check out Mrs. Olson's. I love Mrs. Olson's. A true beach dive with
          great food.

      2. We live in Ventura, and while the restaurants suggested are OK, when we want a 99% chance or having an excellent meal we go to Cafe Zack at 1095 Thompson Blvd, a few blocks East of California Street, telephone 805-643-9445. It's not inexpensive, especially the wine list, but it has been turning out above average meals for longer than any of the restaurants list above. A real sleeper is Hozy's Grill in Santa Paula. 1760 E. Lemonwood Drive, 805-525-1068, It located in an industrial park that is just off the end of the Santa Paula Freeway in a factory building. Excellent food, both seafood and meat, and an innovative and fairly priced wine list. Coming from where you are staying, it's probably only 10' further than Cafe Zack. Both restaurants will cost approximately $60 plus wine for two. We eat at Cafe Zack four times a year, usually special occasions, and at Hozy's every other week.

        1 Reply
        1. re: piero

          He, I know Hozy's as well and have reviewed it here before though technically it is in Los Angeles - it is a totally unexpected place to find in Santa Paula, which in itself is a totally unexpected small town community to find in Southern California. Nothing is prettier than a drive across Highway 126 and visit all the fresh fruit and vegetable stands in what they call the Heritage Valley now, and Santa Paula is the Critus Capitol of the World. Who would have guessed?

        2. Thanks to everyone that posted. We toured through Santa Barbara and Ventura before checking in at the Embassy Mandalay Beach. The happy hour was a mad crush of people so we decided to go out. We ended up going to downtown Oxnard and walked into a little local place called Capriccio's. The food was excellent and the service was superb. Michelin star in their future probably not . . but our server was the owner's daughter and the two guys running the open kitchen were putting out solid honest food. The place was full of locals and everybody looked pleased. We enjoyed our meal and at least on our one visit felt it would be a place we would put on our regular dining rounds if we lived there.

          We weren't as impressed with the Embassy . . . we've stayed at better Hilton properties. However, the beach location was perfect and we got in a nice long beach walk early Friday morning. Again, the breakfast was a mad crush of people, so we grabbed a couple of yogurts and headed south down the PCH for sightseeing and food later. My wife grew up in SoCal and we revisited some spots she was fond of when she grew up. Ended up at the Reel Inn for an early lunch and wandered into Santa Monica for some sighseeing and shopping.

          Thanks to all of you for your input and advice. You live in a lovely part of the country!