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Parents meeting parents in Oxnard/Ventura

Hi everyone. My fiancee and I will be flying into town at the end of April to introduce our parents to each other. My folks live in Westlake Village, hers are in Santa Barbara, so I'm looking for a nice restaurant somewhere in the Oxnard/Ventura area (approximately halfway between the two) to take them for dinner. I've searched through the site and found a few possibilities (Jonathons, The Sidecar, 71 Palms, Brooks), mainly culled from these posts:


What we're looking for is somewhere elegant yet not too stuffy, a type of food that everyone is sure to like (such as New American, Italian or seafood), and something with a good wine list—both my father and especially hers are wine fanatics. Do those restaurants fit the bill? Are there others that you would recommend? Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. what day/night of the week are you anticipating going?

    the herzog wine cellars in oxnard has and absolutely terrific restaurant, but since the restaurant observes the sabath and serves kosher food, it has strange houre.
    here are their hours:
    Sun - Thurs Lunch 11:30 – 3:00 Dinner 5 – 9

    Lunch only 11:30-3:00 (summer hours)

    Lunch only 11:30-2:00 (winter hours)

    Saturday Closed

    here is the link to their website:

    1 Reply
    1. re: westsidegal

      Yeah, unfortunately we're planning on a Saturday night dinner, but otherwise this place sounds perfect. Thanks for the tip!

      1. sorry I'm new to this place and I edited My previous response and somehow it erased everything.

        Fiore is elegant, not stuck up and has good food. It's in ventura. Nice place Italian food/ seafood. My first choice.

        The other is in Westlake (my hometown) and it's pretty good too. It's in the same center as jack's (if you're familiar with Westlake Village) Good food Nice environment. american fusion cuisine pretty much

        1. Mimi's Off Main in Ventura. Really good food and a nice ambience. If it is pleasant weather i highly recommend the patio.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Hughlipton

            I know Tutti's Off Main -- reincarnation of the old Tutti's in Montecito -- what is Mimi's Off Main?

            1. re: sbritchky

              Is it the same people as the old Montecito Tutti's and the same meno?

              1. re: Burger Boy

                The ownership is the same, apparently, but I don't know how many of the staff migrated to Ventura. I've been there only once -- last year -- after some hesitation, because of the uneven reviews I found on the Web, mostly about service. We had a fine time, however, in this non-stuffy and attractive place and no service problems on a rather quiet weeknight.

                I went to the Montecito Tutti's primarily for excellent breakfasts -- loved those cherry pancakes often on special -- and don't recall the dinner menu there. The new Tutti's Off Main emphasizes mezze, pizzas, and Italian-style entrees, somewhat like a local version of the (IMHO) underrated Piatti chain up and down the coast. They "also specialize in local wines." My one meal was no more than pleasant and satisfying, but I may well have missed something exciting and delicious, because the menu is promising.

                I don't have much reason to go to Tutti's, because in that area I'm generally heading to Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, or Guadalupe. In other words, I already have a superior destination for dinner. I haven't tried their weekend brunch, but if they were open every day for old-Tutti-style breakfast, I'd catch them coming and going and maybe in-between. I really did love those pancakes with preserved cherries and that one tragically cute waitress.

                Tutti's Off Main
                34 N Palm St, Ventura, CA 93001

              2. re: sbritchky

                Whoop's!! Was posting tooearly in the morning and had not gotten brain completely in gear. It is Tutti's. Apolgies.

                1. re: sbritchky

                  It is Tutti's, across the street from 71 Palm in the old Cafe Voltaire space. If I wasn't such a fan of Jonathan's I'd've tried it already ... next time I'm up there I will for sure.


                  1. re: maxzook

                    It sounds as though Jonathan's is a real favorite of everyone here. Does anyone have any intel on how it compares to Brooks, which seems to be pretty well reviewed by the LA Times and others?


                    Again, thanks!

              3. Here is a start

                This is for Mrs. Olsens Coffee Hut, it looks good!

                Maria Bonita in Ventura
                256 E. Main St, Ventura
                Phone: (805) 652-0247


                1 Reply
                1. re: Burger Boy

                  Wow, Moqueca sounds awesome. My only fear is that Brazilian food may be too daring for this crowd. Thanks for the tip, though!

                2. My favorite downtown Ventura spot is Jonathan's, dependable Cal-Med menu with one of the best paellas I've had in southern California (available in individual portions to boot.) Avoid 71 Palm at all costs, it has had some of the worst write-ups I've ever seen on Chowhound (and that's saying a lot), for example:


                  But my #1 recommendation in the area is the Ranch House in Ojai, fifteen miles inland from Ventura. Wonderful food in a gorgeous setting ... I recommend the wild mushroom strudel appetizer and the New Orleans delight for dessert. Reservations are a must, esp. on weekends when they're often closed for private parties. And be sure to take a map, it can be a little hard to find if you don’t know the area.

                  Ranch House
                  500 W Lomita Ave, Ojai, CA 93023

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: maxzook

                    Thanks! Yes, I went to a wedding at the Ranch House a few years ago and thought it was fantastic. Jonathan's seems to have a pretty solid following amongst Chowhounders, always a good sign.

                    1. re: maxzook

                      ditto for the Ranch House. Have you been recently is it still as good as I remember? It would be the perfect place for the parents to meet.

                      1. re: Baron

                        I go there an average of once a year, and I've seen no decline in quality. Agreed that it would be the perfect venue for the OP, unless the distance from the 101 corridor is a factor.

                        1. re: maxzook

                          I especially like the Ranch House for lunch or brunch. The venue is amazing and the food is excellent. I now switch my vote to a choice between Tutti's or the Ranch House. If the weather is really lovely I most likely would lean more to the Ranch House.

                    2. I went once tothe sidecar restaurant on main. Wonderful little place - good food, decent bar.

                      a nice treat - be sure to stop at Trufflehounds before and get a little box of chocolates for each set of parents. They are GREAT.

                      at least I think so.

                      trufflehounds is on main but right downtown. sidecar is east of downtown.

                      1. ScienceMike -
                        If you don't mind a couple knotches into casual - Brophy Bros (of S.B.) opened up at the Ventura Marina. It's upstairs and they have an psuedo-outdoor sitting area overlooking the harbor. (next to Andrias). And off Sanjon there's the restaurant inside the famed Pierpont Inn. Tutti's is ok - service is the pits tho! KQ

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Kitchen Queen

                          I've noticed several times on this board about the poor service a Tutti's. In the three times I have been there for Saturday or Sunday brunch I have had very good service. I think the service was worse in Santa Barbara. (Montecito).

                        2. I agree that Jonathan's is a good option but please make a reservation as it is very popular with locals. Great atmosphere.
                          One place I've never tried but looks like it could be good is Watermark On Main.
                          Good luck!

                          Watermark Restaurant
                          598 Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: megs8

                            A place I consider a hidden gem is Dominicks in Oxnard. I wouldn't call it elegant but the food is outstanding and it has a certain charm to it.

                            1. re: megs8

                              Oh definitely, a reservation will be a must. I don't want to leave a thing to chance here.