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Ventura (the city) - looking for recs in the area

We're spending next week (yep, I waited rather late for this!) in Ventura, doing a house exchange. I know it's pretty close to the town with a distant view of the ocean. This area doesn't get a ton of coverage but I'm hoping for some recs. We tend to eat breakfast and/or lunch out and cook dinner. We're up to some wineries. Up to Santa Barbara for a day is fine. A friend used to live in Oxnard and I remember good dining in the area. Also a farmers market but couldn't begin to tell you where that was. Someone on CH posted about a particular type of shrimp that's available in the area. Probably not looking for anything more than casual and moderate price (<$20 per entree). Won't be going into LA. Any good independent groceries? LOVE good, plain breakfasts out. Does this give y'all enough to work with? I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thanks as always.

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  1. Old Town Venura on Main Street and the side streets of this nicely restored few blocks of the old historic city near the Buenaventura Mission is the place for the more interesting and independent restaurants. Also I like the tacky tiki bar funk of Mai's also on Main but a mile or so out of Old Town for Vietnamese -Hawaiian.

    Going up the highway a bit is Carpinteria which is getting quite a good reputation again for new chefs to beat the high prices in Santa Barbara - Gianfrancos on Linden is worth a special trip for his take on very creative Sicilian Italian.

    Ventura hovers between the California and the Los Angeles board so you may do better on the Los Angeles Board. Some good down home local Mexican and a great Mexican supermarket that has well-regarded take-out on the main street of Oxnard. (Highway 1)

    A great country drive is out Highway 126 to Santa Paula and all the fruit and vegetable stands in what they call the Citrus Capitol of the World - quite lovely. Hozy's (website) is the unusual find in this town back behind the gas stations and industrial park by the creek at the east end of town. Worth a half day road triip out to these little valley ag and oll towns.

    3 Replies
    1. re: glbtrtr

      Here is the link for Mai's on Main Street - with some good photos of her menu. My favorites are the spring rolls and peanut sauce and her teriyaki skewers. http://maicafealoha.com/

      Thanks for reminding me it has been too long since I have been there last, but we now always seem to make a stop at Gianfrancos in Carpinteria if we head south to dine. I also liked Capricio on Main Street in Old Town for N. Italian. And the Thai/Indian place was good too. All of these are small, casual places though there are some pretty spots here as well, but this area will provide you with the most choices in a concentrated locale.

      And the link for Hozy's, in Santa Paula which also has a very good California wine selection: http://www.hozysgrill.com/index.htm One suggestion is an early morning visit to Hozy's for their hearty breakfast - about 20 minutes away from Ventura on Highway 126 towards Santa Clarita and then some time wandering in this lush citrus tree farm land and pick up some fruit at the stands along Highway 126 to enjoy after your Mexican lunch in Oxnard and then up to Carpinteria or Old Town Ventura for dinner ( except there will be no room!). Or to Mai's if you want more small plates of something lighter.

      1. re: glbtrtr

        Wow, you kids are cooking! Had lunch at Giannfranco's Trattoria a couple of days ago. I found an online menu but it's not current so I won't give a link. Another great rec/lunch. Because I knew we were going to fix pasta for dinner, we regretfully passed up those dishes. Instead we shared their Piatto Italiano: "Italian cheese and cured salamis with green olives, pears perfumed with truffle infused honey." It also had a couple of perfectly ripe (and I'm betting local) strawberries. Everything was sliced paper thin. The pear slices were firm but cut that thin, the texture was great. We loved everything we ate. I don't know what kind of olives they were but they were bright green and firm and tart taste. Perfect. I wish I'd taken a picture cause it was pretty also. The second thing we had was their Insalata di Arucola: "Baby arugula with crispy pancetta, endive, Pecorino Romano, (more) pears perfumed with fresh lemon juice and evoo." It was the tiniest and best arugula I've ever had. On the way out I stopped to speak with the chef and he said he's always so glad when the really little stuff comes in. The pancetta were tiny little cubes. Oh, they didn't mention pine nuts which were toasted a little more than you usually find and I really liked them that way. We also had a couple of glasses of an Italian rose'.

        This was another complete winner. Next time I am definitely having pasta. Great, great spot. Thanks again.

      2. re: glbtrtr

        Had breakfast at Hozy's this morning. It definitely ranks in my top five best breakfasts ever. We shared (always) eggs and chile verde. There was probably 8oz. of not too wet chile verde with over easy eggs on top. Comes with refried beans and choice of three different kinds of potato (we got home fries). We asked for tortillas instead of toast. This meat had some heat to it which we loved. The server said that when she comes there to eat on her day off,she always gets that. Things other people were getting looked really good also. I asked to see their dinner menu and there was just one thing after another that sounded terrific. And, yes, they have a nice wine list - BTG, half bottle and whole bottle. An amusing note. I was talking to the people we're exchanging with and he asked how (on earth) we found Hozy's. Not exactly something one is going to stumble across. So I got to put ina plug for CH. Time permitting this week, we will be heading back there for a meal.

      3. Tutti's off Main for a Saturday or Sunday brunch is just ideal with a great patio. Great eggs benedict and a good mimosa. I love this place and write it up every time i get a chance. I suppose I really should try some other places but this is just wonderfull.

        Casual lunch or dinner (and I do mean casual) is a place in the Harbor call Andria's. Wonderful clam chowder or fish and chips. If they have steamed clams go for it. Their coleslaw is like you made it at home. May not be as good as Brad's in Pismo but it is one heck of a lot closer.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Hughlipton

          Just had lunch at Andria's (see link)


          And, boy, was it good! We each had a small (which isn't small) bowl of clam chowder and then shared steamers. A little clam orgy. I've had too much clam chowder that was like wallpaper paste that I only ordered this because you recommended it. It was just right. Steamers were great also. Meant to ask what seasoning they used. We didn't count the shells but I'm guessing there were close to three dozen. They have a small seafood market where I'd intended to buy some more clams and some tuna but I was so full I couldn't bear the thought of looking at more food, much less seafood :) The fish and chips looked amazing and an order is HUGE. We definitely plan to go back there before the week is over. Thanks, Hugh.

          We're thinking we'll head out to Hozy's in the morning for breakfast.

          I had to buy something in Macys and the woman who helped me is from Mexico City. When I asked, she recommended El Pescador. Said they make everything,including tortillas, from scratch. Anybody have an opinion? Thanks all.

          1. re: c oliver

            Thank you for being so nice as to report back. Now, if you ever get to Pismo go to Brad's on Dolliver and Pomeroy. Another great clam chowder. They also make outrageous grilled on red oak tri-tip sandwiches. Tears me apart trying to figure out what to order. I try to con my wife into ordering a large bowl of the clam chowder so i can steal some but I am kind enough to offer up to 1/2 of my tri-tip which I know she won't take anyway. I may be a cad but so is my convertible. Really glad you had a good time.

            1. re: c oliver

              Just checked and El Pescador is actually in Santa Paula.

          2. Thanks. These are exactly what I'm looking for. And I see it got moved to the LA board.

            1. We CHs are more than a little obsessed, aren't we? Here I am going to a perfectly lovely place with plenty of things to do and my first thought is FOOD. I do laugh at myself :)

              1 Reply
              1. re: c oliver

                Travel without local food sampling means coming home with no lasting memories. All senses are engaged and that is totally engaging.

              2. Maria Bonita, on Main St. down near the mission (cattycorner across the street) does terrific riffs on regional Mexican food and is remarkably inexpensive in light of the quality.

                Maria Bonita
                256 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93001

                Main St Cafe
                450 Main St, El Segundo, CA 90245

                1 Reply
                1. re: ozhead

                  Definitely planning an Old Town crawl. The weather yesterday was a bit wet for much strolling but I think it's starting to clear up.

                  Hey, has anyone heard of Ocean Pride Seafood? Our friends say it sells to lots of the restaurants but also to walk-in traffic. We'll be checking it out also.

                  Thanks CHs for helping me with this.

                2. Try the Watermark downtown. It is in an redone 3 story old bank building. Nice bar with a view on the top floor. Also downtown is nice place called My Florist. The have a bakery in house and decent and inexpensive wine list. Taqueria Tepatitlan is on Ventura Avenue and good for a big and good Mexican breakfast or lunch. If you want a splurge try Sly's in 20 minutes up the road in Carpinteria. Great steaks and seafood. They now have hard to find abolone on the menu. Ocean Pride is near the AutoMall off the 101. If you are here in November they should have fresh dungeneous crab. Otherwise not much to choose from and pricy. Brophy Bros from Santa Barbara opened up a place in the Ventura Harbor. Better than Adrea's across the parking lot plus they have a good patio overlooking the harbor.

                  Taqueria Tepatitlan
                  362 N Ventura Ave, Ventura, CA 93001

                  My Florist Cafe
                  76 S Oak St, Ventura, CA 93001

                  1. Had lunch today at Capriccio on Main near the Mission.


                    Had the Gloria pizza which is Italian sausage, tomato sauce, mozzarella and oregano on an almost cracker thin crust. It was terrific. I'd intended to ask if they make their own sausage but then forgot. A nice BTG wine list and we had a Chianti. Their salads must be really good because even though it was a chilly, rainy day alot of people were ordering those. I recommend it and would definitely go back.

                    Maria Bonita's menu looked really good but we're fixing Mexican food for dinner and also had it for breakfast yesterday so though that MIGHT be a tad much.

                    The Watermark building alone is reason enough to go there, isn't it? Stunning.

                    As you can tell, we're really enjoying the food here in Ventura.

                    Maria Bonita
                    256 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93001

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: c oliver

                      Aren't you gonna hate coming back to this wasteland of foodie hell that we call the DFW Metroplex?

                      I was really spoiled when I lived in CA.

                      1. re: Barbara76137

                        Ah, Barbara, you made a logical assumption that I live in the DFW area. Instead I live at Lake Tahoe which has some wasteland aspects also :)

                    2. My downtown Ventura fave has always been Jonathan's at Peirano's, a Mediterranean across the street from the Mission ... I almost always have one of the individual-serving paellas.

                      Next door (sharing a kitchen, actually, with some menu overlap) is the J.'s Tapas wine bar ... no more "authentic" than Jonathan's, but reasonably priced.

                      And eighteen miles up the road in Meiners Oaks near Ojai is the Ranch House. There are some Hounds who trash the food -- I strongly disagree but I will grant the menu has barely changed in at least thirty years. But it really is one of the most beautiful restaurants in CA that isn't on the coast, set in an outdoor oasis amongst the trees and gardens.

                      Ranch House
                      500 W Lomita Ave, Ojai, CA 93023

                      J's Tapas
                      204-208 E Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001

                      Jonathans At Peiranos
                      204-208 E Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001

                      1. Just found this post, Pete's Breakfast House on Main Street has great breakfasts.
                        Order the B-House Special even if you don't see it on the menu. It is a great egg dish with veggies and you can get avocado and bacon added. YUMYUM! Get there early on weekends!

                        Ferraro's Restaurant on Main Street has great food. The pizza is the best around and they make a fried rigoletti with broccoli that is excellent (warning tons of garlic).

                        Pete's Breakfast House Restaurant
                        2055 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93001

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LoveStreamer

                          We were doing a house exchange and both parties enjoyed themselves so hopefully we'll be back.