Outstanding restaurants in Ventura?
Am looking for a variety of great restaurants in Ventura - preferably in the actual city of Ventura or very close by. I will need breakfast, lunch and dinner, and am open to all types of places.
I've done some research online but I can't really trust the lists I've found, as the "best of" has everything from what looks like a 5-star winner to a Starbucks. I'm looking for foodie destination restaurants, from taco stands to elegant dining. I am completely unfamiliar with Ventura so I don't really know where to start.
What are some can't-miss spots for a 3 day weekend?
I visit my mother frequently up in Ventura and have had lot's of opportunity to try different places. Tutti's has good food and some interesting dishes, but their service leaves something to be disired (I've seen the owner get indignant with customers). Aloha and Jonathan's are nice too. I'm a big fan of Cafe Fiore on California Street. It's a nice Italian restaurant that does a very nice job. Generous portions, good flavors, very fair pricing on food and drinks, great service. I've never had a bad experience there. The "new kid on the block" is Brooks on Thompson Avenue. California-Mediterranean. Chef is from L.A. area. I haven't been yet, but I hear good things.
I always enjoy Maria Bonita, on Main St. diagonally across from the mission. Very nice riffs on regional Mexican items -- some moles, some fish, etc. The flavors are clean and interesting, preparation consistently good, portions and prices reasonable.
(I should add, though, that the very best meal I ever had in Ventura was a Saturday pancake breakfast at the social hall at the mission, which Ms. Dr. Oz and I wandered into just because we happened to see a little flyer stuck to a phone pole. Good food, nice folks, and about $5 for the both of us.)
IMHO the best restaurant(s) in downtown Ventura are Jonathan's at Peirano's and the J's Tapas bar next door.
Jonathan's features a solid Mediterranean-style menu and possibly the best paella in southern California, and the tapas bar is at a similar high quality level.
Avoid 71 Palm at all costs, it's pretty universally reviled (at least by CHounds, myself definitely included).
204-208 E Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001
We've been to just one place, a diner on Main Street called the Busy Bee Cafe. It looked like a place that's been there forever, but with a little faux-retro makeover, and that's exactly what it is: 90% authentic, 10% touristy - and very clean, very friendly, and some excellent diner/soda shop food. After our delightful lunch we discovered that it's a favorite of several friends. We're going back to Ventura for a car show on the 20th, and intend to hit the Busy Bee again.
For the record, I had the patty melt, which I ordered on grilled sourdough. It was every bit as good as Pann's.