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Are there no good eats in Ventura County?

  • t

I am looking for anything West of Thousand Oaks - Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura. There are slim postings on the site...come on ChowHounders post your recommendations!

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  1. So am I, I hope we get some responses, although in the past I got the impression people there don't have computers :)

    9 Replies
    1. re: malibumike

      hey, i gots one...;).

      Ya might try the new resto, Tierra del sur i believe, at the herzog wine cellars in oxnard. Met with the chef before moving back to LA and perused the menus-have not eaten there but looked like some good food-note its a kosher kitchen but you wouldn't notice it unless looking for it.

      Other than that, there ain't too much fine food in the area-i cooked up there for 8 or so years and know, worked, or been in most establshments in the region.

      1. re: dkd

        Guys try California Grill off Las Posas, east of the FWY in a strip mall type of shopping center. Recommended by Elmer Dills so you know it's gotta be good. Been there & I like it. They even have early bird specials for dinner, good wine list. Google it not sure if they have a web site.

        1. re: Ollie

          Ditto. Great place. I take any dates worth it and any visiting family and friends there.

        2. re: dkd

          i ate at Tierra Sur a couple of weeks ago.
          it was simply fabulous in every way.

        3. re: malibumike

          Here's my list:

          Camarillo
          Sawadee Thai. Good, but even better if you talk to the owner. She will work with you especially if she realizes you care about food.

          Yolie's. Order-at-the-counter Mexican with a good salsa bar - usually about 6 types. Not fabulous, but good enough.

          Azucar Cuban/Puerto Rican. I fear for this place's future, but in the mean time they produce some tasty, but fat-filled meals. I love the plantains. A very meat-heavy menu so I haven't tried a lot of their food.

          Oxnard
          Chai Thai. In a weird little strip mall way down on Saviers Roads. This is very good Thai food, I think the best in the county.

          Ventura
          Taqueria Tepatitlan on Ventura Ave. A really, really good Mexican sit-down family place. It gets so dang crowded but worth the wait. Low prices, authentic food, daily specials.

          Taqueria Vallarta downtown on Main Street. Order at the counter. Autentica comida Mexicana, including licuados (milky fruit shakes), a rare treat. Grungy and popular.

          J's Tapas downtown on Main across from the Mission. Only eaten there once, but everything was super tasty. Easy to drop a lot of cash on, because portions are small and when the wine and conversation starts...well...And they share a kitchen with Jonathan's Restaurant, so I suspect Jonathan's is good for a nice dinner.

          Andria's Seafood at Ventura Harbor. Mom and Dad swear by the bread-bowl chowder. The line is a mile long on weekends. People seem to like it a lot. Don't ask me - I'm a vegetarian.

          Speaking of vegetarian, the liquor store across from Community memorial hospital on Loma Vista has a vegan deli. 2 vegan soups a day, salads, sandwiches. Go figure. Only open til 4.

          Mai's Vietnamese on Main near Borchard. Also Hawaiian food. It isn't Orange County Vietnamese, but it is good when you're dying for some Pho or Banh Mi. They have vegetarian versions, too.

          And you won't believe this, but I have come to love the sort of run down old-style diner Main Street Grill on Main down by the Pacific View Mall. It is an old Loops Diner with the big red leatherette booths and about 40 seats at the counter. It is family run and pretty basic. Dessert with every meal, your choice of apple crisp, bread pudding or I think Jello.

          Shamsi Deli on Thompson and Borchard. A wacky mix of Middle Eastern, Italian and Argentinian. I didn't like their middle eastern much, but their empanadas were good and they have a good grocery selection from those 3 cuisines.

          1. re: Snackish

            I should clarify that I don't like Main St. Diner for food as much as the run-down diner ambiance.

            1. re: Snackish

              I agree with what you said about Mai's Noodles, both with regards to the quality and the vegetarian-friendliness. I've had several good meals there.

              Onzeki Noodles (soba/udon/ramen, in the huge Oxnard shopping center you see from the 101) is also recommendable.

              1. re: Snackish

                I would update my list -

                Azucar Cafe, sadly, is closed for good, and the Curry Leaf, an Indian place that replaced it isn't, IMO, very good.

                My favorite Camarillo Thai has become Charn, hands down. Sawadee's service and food are both inconsistent, while Charn is always good.

                A new entry I really like is Moqueca, in the Channel Islands Harbor area. Their food is interesting and delicious. Would be a great spot for a nice date with the view of the harbor.

                I still eat at Mai's because of its proximity, but I agree with those who say to head over to Oxnard/Port Hueneme to Pho Saigon on Ventura Road. Always busy and really tasty food.

              2. re: malibumike

                Funny you say that because I have gotten the same impression time and again when I meet anyone from north of Hollywood proper--to this very day. I don't doubt there are some good restaurants in Ventura county it's just I don't think Venturians(?) are a very net connected people, or as computer saavy as folks in other areas LA local, to make recs online. Not a putdown just an observation. I'm in SGV by the way, but people in SGV(hello kid programmers in my high school ?!? years ago and wasn't even one of the affluent neighborhoods in the SGV, and programming classes weren't offered at all then.) , Orange County and even South Bay(arguably) always seem to be more in the know about computers than Ventura county residents. To be fair though they do have more open space and fields (and relatively clear air when compared to the LA basin) though a bit ironic tech wise since overall they are just as prosperous as anyone in the OC.

                1. re: Roph

                  I'll try anything! I'm guessing central/southern american food will be readily available around Camarillo and Oxnard - pupuserias, taquerias??...how bout some good ol' breakfast joints by the beach? scandinavian cuisine would be interesting as well. something different.

                  speaking of breakfast joints...has anyone heard of Harold's House of Omelette in Thousand Oaks?

                  1. re: tenom dude

                    Harolds does a good, reliable, workmanlike American breakfast but they excel at the Mexican side of the menu. Good chilaquiles, chorizo and egg, and Mexican dinners.

                2. There is a really good Provincial French Restaurant in Thousand Oaks called Cafe Provincial. It has a great ambiance inside, and really great food. It is owner operated, and located in a really unlikely strip mall right next to that monstrosity known as "the lakes".

                  2310 E Thousand Oaks Blvd,
                  Thousand Oaks
                  805-496-7121

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MellyCooks

                    I second Provincial! Amazing food, prepared with care and local friendly proprietor. Can't beat that. They also do special set menus for holidays, tour de France, bastille day etc.

                    1. re: mellycooks

                      It is actually Cafe Provencal, in case anyone is searching for it.

                  2. Tutti's Off Main in Ventura.

                    34 N. Palm, Ventura
                    Phone: (805) 643-0880
                    Cuisine: Bakery, Italian

                    They have a good wine list, good baked goods & both indoor and outdoor seating. I have only been for dinner, but I have heard their breakfast is very good. I would be happy to have a restaurant like this near me in L.A. ...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Eastsider

                      I like this place too. Nothing earth shattering, but reliably good food and service.

                    2. We were just on vacation in that area and we had a great dinner at Suzanne's Cuisine in Ojai. Apparently she's been called the Alice Waters (Chez Panisse) of Ventura County. Food is super-fresh and service is warm but unobtrusive. Atmosphere is pleasant -- we ate inside but there's a big covered garden area that looks quite pretty.

                      Link: http://www.suzannescuisine.com/

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Wendy-san

                        Whoever called her the Alice Waters of Ventura County has either never eaten at Chez Panisse or sets a low bar for Ventura food. I've been to Suzanne's a couple of times and found poorly prepared dishes and amateur service. On one occasion, I ate only a couple of bites of my roast pork, because it was so dry and tasteless, and the waitress took away the plate without even asking why I didn't eat. I described why on the back of my check (and left a meager tip). My last visit was probably five years ago, so I guess it's possible they've improved, but I doubt it. Even back then people were raving about this dubious culinary outpost in the Ojai Valley, so something else is going on about the place. What, I have no idea.

                        1. re: Harry Nile

                          Hilarious post by Harry Nile re Suzanne's but he's right on the money, at least as of fall 2009.

                      2. Here are some places I like:

                        Ventura:
                        Capriccio, downtown on Main. Italian fare.
                        Tutti's, downtown on Palm. Had a good prosciutto sandwich, pizza.
                        Jonathan's, downtown on Main. Mediterranean fare.
                        Ozeki, eastside on Victoria. Sushi.

                        Ojai:
                        Suzanne's. Crab cakes, pasta, etc.
                        Boccalli's. Gourmet pizzas, pasta. Really good stawberry shortcake durring stawberry season.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: noodlie

                          I agree with all the Ventura restaurants....Ojai I am not familiar with.

                          1. re: noodlie

                            Clarification is necessary - Boccalli's (the Ojai location) is a very charming place, with grow their own vegetables and etc., but the food couldn't be less "real Italian" and neither the pizza or anything else there is close to gourmet. Its great for family dining as its very very very plain and basic. It is not gourmet, fine dining, authentic italian or creative italian AT ALL. Very average, but will offend few.

                          2. Blue Elephant in the strip mall at Channel Islands Blvd and Victoria in Oxnard/Port Hueneme. Best tom kha I have ever had and I eat it at every Thai restaurant I go to. Bill and Nui, the owners, brought their brother over from Japan where he was a chef at a 5 star hotel and his recipes are fabulous. Everything is very tasty, the presentation is quite nice, the service is good and the prices are reasonable. I eat there at least once a week.

                            Steve

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Steve

                              Ditto. Love Blue Elephant. Best Thai food for the price around. Closed Mondays.

                              1. re: KyleRogers

                                Just tried Blue Elephant on Sunday, and we were all impressed. The food was really good, with careful use of flavorings and spices, very fresh, and the servers were great, too.

                            2. Ventura: Andria's is real good - get whatever you get "cajun" style; last few times through the area, we ate at the brew pub on Main St., just N of California (next to a fake 50's diner) - sorry, I forget the name - good beer, memorable pulled pork sandwich etc.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: So Ho La

                                They don't have it often but if you do see it on the menu - Andria's has the best stuffed shrimp. I always get a bowl of the chowder and bring home my left overs (if there are any!) Their portions are large.

                                1. re: So Ho La

                                  The Brew Pub is called Anacapa Brewing..........better than average food and beer.

                                2. There is a great Sushi Resteraunt in Camarillo, in a strip mally kind of place.

                                  The Sushi, Sashimi and PRess boxes are really great there!

                                  Masa-Sushi
                                  (805) 987-1065
                                  63 E Daily Dr
                                  Camarillo, CA 93010

                                  1. If you are looking for a good taqueria, you must try Somis Market. I grew up in Camarillo, and its one of the few eateries I miss (now living in the Bay Area - we can't get anything like it!). Have to get my fix of their breakfast burritos when I visit my fam, but everything there is delish. Note that it is definitely a hole-in-the-wall taqueria, don't expect anything fancy. They do have tables to sit at.

                                    Somis Market
                                    3319 Somis Road (west side of street) at Bell Street
                                    in Somis (Somis is just a mile or so inland/north of Camarillo, between highways 101 and 118)

                                    Also, Money Panchos has nice sit-down authentic Mexican (albeit in a strip mall, but hey, its Camarillo) - try the huitlacoche quesadilla (huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on corn - beautiful inky, mushroomy flavor). 3661 Las Posas Rd, Camarillo.

                                    For some down-home breakfast, try Eggs and Things (92 East Daily Drive, just off Las Posas in Camarillo).

                                    Also think I can come up with a couple good+ Italian places, but will have to ask my folks for the name.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: megek

                                      Money Pancho is terrible, especially given that La Paz is only a few hundred yards away.

                                    2. I have to respectfully disagree about Money Panchos in Camarillo. I've eaten there twice with friends, and both times we just sort of felt the meal was "less-than," not to mention the faded decor inside. It looked as though they hadn't cleaned since maybe the 1970's, and that just gives the place a sort of diminished, reduced feel. Although, suprisingly, the staff was friendly and helpful, the food just isn't there in terms of taste, and there's not too much choice on the menu beyond your usual enchilada/burrito fare.

                                      Money Panchos also has a spot in Oxnard, so maybe that locale is better...

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: abrahamincpt

                                        Is there (or WAS there?) also a location at Las Virgenes Canyon just off the 101 freeway?

                                        1. re: liu

                                          Not sure...I only know the ones in Oxnard and Camarillo, but you very well may be right...

                                          1. re: abrahamincpt

                                            If so, we were there perhaps a year+ ago and it was terrible!

                                            1. re: liu

                                              OK, I looked on Yahoo!, and I found a write-up in the Thousand Oaks Acorn. According to the article, published on November 10, 2005, they opened a Money Pancho location at the corner of Las Virgenes and West Agoura Road in Calabasas.

                                              Most likely, then, you did experience the "less-than" joy of the Money Pancho.

                                              Interestingly, according to the same article, Money Pancho serves up a mean margarita, but, alas, one will need to put up with the food to experience it...

                                              1. re: abrahamincpt

                                                That place closed the only one i know of now is off las posas in camarillo :\ Sad my girlfriend lived in calabasas then and we would go there every now and then... the camarillo one is cool too... but alot smaller!

                                              2. re: liu

                                                Thanks for the A+ effort, abrahamincpt!

                                                Truly, it was at the bottom of my list with another Mexican restaurant that is on the North side of Ventura Blvd., west of Fallbrook, Carlos something. Your comment about the decor and not cleaning was "right on!"

                                                1. re: liu

                                                  I love the Money Pancho's in the Las Virgenes area (tortillas made while you wait at lunch) but the Camarillo location was horrible, a one-visit disaster, complete with bad service, boring food and ugly decor.

                                            2. re: abrahamincpt

                                              Huh. I haven't been in awhile (over a year), and my parents apparently don't go anymore. I guess its not so good anymore.

                                            3. Try Tierra Sur in Oxnard Herzog Wineries. The winery and restaurant are kosher. They close early on Fridays due to the Jewish Sabbath.
                                              Here is the link.

                                              http://www.herzogwinecellars.com/

                                              1. Akios sushi is an old-time favorite of mine. It used to be much smaller and more affordable, but Akios' specials menu has some real gems. Sit at the sushi bar!!!

                                                Located in Thousand Oaks in the Janss Mall
                                                Akio's Sushi
                                                215 N Moorpark Rd # K
                                                Thousand Oaks CA 91360 (8054967106}

                                                1. I just did a Taco tasting for the fun of it (grew up in Camarillo) but live on east coast.

                                                  Taqueria Tapatio off Arneill in Camarillo rocked, better than the famous La Superica in Santa Barbara (if you are a fan of that place).

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: v man

                                                    Taqueria Tapatio is the real deal. Tiny, tasty, cheap tacos and some great salsas and an exceptional pickled potato, carrot and jalapeno thing in the salsa bar.

                                                      1. re: dano

                                                        Yeah, it was a new one on me too, but it was extra great - spicy cool potato slices along with the chiles and carrots.

                                                      2. re: v man

                                                        I tried this place while visiting my rents this weekend. I was extremely disappointed. I have been going to La Superica for over 20 years and there is no comparison. The variety of options, the tasty salsas and the freshly made tortillas are the reason that I go to La Superica. Taqueria Tapatio's meat was not grilled, was greasy and the salsa was oily and the tortillas were not freshly made. The pickled potatoes and carrrots were the only good thing I had there and I tried three different tacos.

                                                        1. re: Sharon S.

                                                          La Super Rica it ain't. But not many places are.

                                                      3. Somebody earlier mentioned Chai's Thai over on Saviers. I ate their last night with a friend, and the experience was memorable. It's in the middle of this California Mission-themed strip mall, and doesn't look like much from the outside. Who would have thought that they have a beautiful, spacious patio.

                                                        The food is also very good; I think its the best Thai I've had in Ventura County(certainly better than the local chain Exotic Thai). The service is also excellent.

                                                        Highly Recommended!

                                                        1. Hello everyone, I'm new to this site but I just had to recommend my favorite thai restaurant, Tipps Thai on Main Street in Ventura. The food there is amazing and the perfect way to top it off is w/ a slice of their mango cheesecake :)

                                                          1. My grandparents and a pal wanted to go to Mo's today, but there was a line out the door so we wandered over to the drugstore to kill the wait. On the way we passed a cute little Puerto Rican/Mexican cafe, Azucar, mentioned above. The menu looked interesting and they had a good review in the window, so after confirming the veggie in our party was okay with the change, we went in.

                                                            We only grazed on the ala carte menu, but everything was really tasty, and the service was fantastic, courtesy of the young son of owners John and Lori Rosales. We had some excellent crispy plantains (plain, no crema and beans like the Cubans serve it), a couple of light and cripy cheese Pastelillo pastries, a plate of spiced rice with slightly crunchy pigeon peas, a rich, sweet beef tamale and a rich and very homemade tasting flan.

                                                            I was kind of blown away to find something with so much character in Camarillo, and it was sad to see the white folks lined up for what my grandparents admitted was pretty ordinary, overpriced eats at Mo's, when this gem was practically empty.

                                                            The damage for four grazing was $16, and our waiter said "I hope the bill's not too high."

                                                            They deliver with a $15 minimum and a $3 fee, too. Please patronize them, so they'll stick around and I'll have somewhere to eat when visiting the grandfolks!

                                                            AZUCAR LATIN CAFE
                                                            5253 Mission Oaks Blvd.
                                                            Camarillo, CA 93012
                                                            (805) 482-0797

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Krispy Kringle

                                                              Yes, I have such hope for Azucar, too. Their food is good ad they are super people. I wish, though, that they had some more selections that were a bit lighter (not deep fried) and/or meatless. Whenever I go there, I leave feeling like I have gained 5 pounds.

                                                              1. re: Snackish

                                                                If you don't mind travelling a little north to Carpinteria, Camomile Cafe has really wonderful food, specializing in baked goods and other comfort foods. If they still have it try the brisket sandwich with russian dressing. The sweet mint tea is also excellent. It's right in the middle of town on Linden Street, and if you are in the mood for a burger, The Spot (right down the street) is a good place to go. I would definitely spend the time in the car for this food.

                                                                1. re: seetheglobey

                                                                  Linky-linky

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Chamomile Cafe
                                                                  915 Linden Ave, Carpinteria, CA 93013

                                                                  1. re: themook

                                                                    If youre extending as far as Carpinteria, I just rediscovered one of my very favorite breakfast joints up there...I used to eat regularly at Esau's on State St in Santa Barbara...years later i went by there to discover they were gone...well, i found them on Linden St in Carpinteria and learned they have another location on ChapalaSt(i think) in downtown SB...great pancakes, eggs etc...though ambience is its biggest plus.

                                                                  2. re: Snackish

                                                                    Sadly, they are out of business, as is Yolie's. Sawadee seems to be on the way out, too. Hard to keep an interesting place open in Camarillo, I guess.

                                                                2. For Mexican, Tacos Mi Pueblo in Oxnard is fantastic! i love their sope, and they have a daily special that always tastes great.

                                                                  cross streets are oxnard blvd. and gozales rd., just north of the train tracks on oxnard blvd.

                                                                  1. I tried Azucar a few weeks ago, and I was also impressed with the quality of the food. Everything was done just right, and my Puerto Rican Tamale was delicious.

                                                                    However, there was only one server when I was there, and he appeared overwhelmed by the amount of people wanting service(there had been a write-up in the Star the day before). On the one hand, that surge of people may keep the afloat, but, on the other hand, Azucar will need to step up its service.

                                                                    They were also a hit at the Salsa Festival in Oxnard...

                                                                    1. Isn't Taqueria El Tapatio the same outfit that has a couple of locations in Oxnard and another in Moorpark?

                                                                      I tried Azucar over the weekend and although the food was good, I'm worried about them. When I asked for a printed menu to take with me, the server gave me this badly printed list on paper that had been reused... I could't even read the thing. They've been there over a year now, so they need to get it togther if they want to grow their business.

                                                                      I had the pastelles, which is the same Puerto Rican tamale mentioned by others. Delicious but a little greasy.

                                                                      Also had the 'amarillo' plantains which are only fried once, rather than the 'tostones' which are twice-fried. I was a little disappointed as they weren't as sweet as I'd like and the dipping sauce served along side was way too oily.

                                                                      I want to go back and try the jibaro sandwich, your choice of beef or pork with fried plantains for bread. But before I do, I want to pull a few pounds. :)

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: okie

                                                                        There are taqueria El Tapatios everywhere because there are so many Tapatios (people from Guadalajara) everywhere. I don't think they are all related.

                                                                      2. I'm amazed no one has mentioned my favorite restaurant in southern California ... The Ranch House in Ojai.

                                                                        I also second the recommendation of Jonathan's in downtown Ventura.

                                                                        And here's links to everything upthread ...

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Ranch House
                                                                        500 W Lomita Ave, Ojai, CA 93023

                                                                        Herzog Wine Cellars
                                                                        3201 Camino Del Sol, Oxnard, CA 93030

                                                                        California Grill
                                                                        67 E Daily Dr, Camarillo, CA 93010

                                                                        Sawadee Restaurant
                                                                        217 Arneill Rd, Camarillo, CA 93010

                                                                        Yolie's Mexican Grill
                                                                        2508 E Las Posas Rd, Camarillo, CA 93010

                                                                        Azucar [CLOSED]
                                                                        5253 Mission Oaks Blvd, Camarillo, CA 93012

                                                                        Chai's Thai Cuisine
                                                                        2148 Saviers Rd, Oxnard, CA 93033

                                                                        Taqueria Tepatitlan
                                                                        362 N Ventura Ave, Ventura, CA 93001

                                                                        Taqueria Vallarta
                                                                        278 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93001

                                                                        Andria's Seafood Restaurant
                                                                        1449 Spinnaker Dr, Ventura, CA 93001

                                                                        Mai's Noodles Vietnamese Cuisine
                                                                        219 W Gonzales Rd, Oxnard, CA 93036

                                                                        Shamsi's Deli
                                                                        2705 E Thompson Blvd, Ventura, CA 93003

                                                                        Ozeki Noodles
                                                                        Oxnard, CA, USA, Oxnard, CA

                                                                        Harold's House of Omelettes
                                                                        2440 E Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

                                                                        Cafe Provencal
                                                                        2310 E Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

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

                                                                        Suzanne's Cuisine
                                                                        502 W Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023

                                                                        Capriccio
                                                                        298 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93001

                                                                        Boccali's Restaurant
                                                                        3277 E Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023

                                                                        Blue Elephant Thai
                                                                        718 W Channel Islands Blvd, Port Hueneme, CA 93041

                                                                        Masa-Sushi
                                                                        63 E Daily Dr, Camarillo, CA 93010

                                                                        Somis Market
                                                                        3319 Somis Rd, Somis, CA 93066

                                                                        Money Pancho Mexican Restaurant
                                                                        155 E 7th St, Oxnard, CA 93030

                                                                        Eggs n Things
                                                                        92 E Daily Dr, Camarillo, CA 93010

                                                                        Akio's Sushi
                                                                        215 N Moorpark Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

                                                                        Taqueria El Tapatio
                                                                        345 Arneill Rd, Camarillo, CA 93010

                                                                        Tipps Thai Cuisine
                                                                        512 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93001

                                                                        Chamomile Cafe
                                                                        915 Linden Ave, Carpinteria, CA 93013

                                                                        Tacos Mi Pueblo
                                                                        189 E Gonzales Rd, Oxnard, CA 93036

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

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: maxzook

                                                                          Mai's Noodles has moved to Ventura on Main near 5 points. Now they also have Hawaiian food and a fun tiki bar.

                                                                        2. ok...here are some new entries....

                                                                          1. Old Vienna - for Oktoberfest this is fun. A bit of an older crowd and prices went up a little recently but great German beer, food and some of the waitresses are a hoot! 3845 Telegraph Road, Ventura near the college. A nice change - authentic and seansonal dishes.......805-654.1214

                                                                          2. Cafe 126 -- small hole in the wall shopping strip mall at intersection of Hwy Rt 126 and LA Avenue near Saticoy - great breakfasts esp on weekend but very very small so bring your newspaper and be prepared to wait. People either love this place or hate it...try it on weekday first. 11033 Citrus Dr, Ventura, Phone: 805-647-2619

                                                                          3. Matteo's -off Camarillo Springs Rd exit of 101 at bottom of Canejo grade. Italian food..very very small - reservations a must. A bit pricey but very homey and great food - nice service. I heard it changed hands but last time I went it was still great in the summer 2007. 795 Camarillo Springs Rd, Camarillo Phone: 805-484-9674

                                                                          4. Charn Thai - right next to California Grill (which I think is way overrated and too pricey but shows up on every list of good restaurants in VC). Charn has great food, the owners are always there - meet Joy, she is a joy -- and prices are very reasonable. Sometimes they get too busy and you have to wait for your food a longer than usual time but except for Fri/Sat this is not always the case. Try a weekday night or lunch first. Best Thai I have had -- off Las Posas exit to 101, rt on Daily in shopping strip mall.

                                                                          regarding some other places mentioned...

                                                                          Herzog Wine celler.....food is ok but way way overpriced - great wine /gift shop and nice self tour.

                                                                          Shamsi's deli - best unique food around esp if you cook ..... and great empanadas...I buy them frozen by the dozen (4 or 5 diff flavors - chicken, veggie, beef, lamb) and serve for parties. 65 E Daily Dr, Camarillo, Phone: 805-388-1138

                                                                          1. Thanks for bringing this thread back--and to all who have contributed. This area is too often ignored, but this thread may just be the reason behind a nice day trip from SLO.

                                                                            Thanks to you all, especially to maxzook for the places link work! This is getting printed for the glovebox!

                                                                            1. Try Maria Bonita, on Main St. in Ventura, diagonally across the street from San Buenaventura mission. Excellent riffs on regional Mexican cooking -- great moles. I've always had terrific food there, and the prices are very reasonable.

                                                                              I also like JJ Brewski's in Camarillo, not so much for the food (which is very good) but because they serve so many great California beers on draft. And their monthly beer dinners, which will start again in January, are wonderful, and an incredible bargain at $45.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: ozhead

                                                                                I second Maria Bonita! They have really interesting items on the menu and the service is great -- usually I think it's the owner who serves us, and he's extremely nice. I don't know why it isn't more popular and I worry that it might go out of business, but it's one of our favorite restaurants in Ventura -- try the brown (I think -- or yellow?) mole if you love spice!

                                                                              2. Shave It - REAL shave ice. Now, this probably does not qualify as 'eats", but it is one of the best, special things in or near Ventura

                                                                                1. There are so many good restaurants in Ventura, it's hard to even begin. Try 71 Palm, which is generally good. Tuttis is spotty IMO, as is Capriccio's. Jonathan's always delivers. I haven't been to The Riviera, but hear it's good and the new Brooks Restuarant in Ventura has received accolades. Don't forget Mary's Secret Garden, a vegan treasure off of Plaza Park. Gallo's empanadas at Cafe Bariloche are worth a trip. Old fashioned steak houses are available at the Sportsman, which is like going in the way-back machine -- complete with red leather banquettes and topless corwgirls etched in the bar mirror -- it's a hoot! and the Winchester, which also serves up a tasty steak and offers seats looking out over Main Street. Danny's Deli offers New York style delis sandwiches and as someone mentioned Olde Vienna has some of the tastiest German food around. And if you like breakfasts, Ventura is the breakfast capital of the West Coast. Pete's Breakfast house is right there at the top, but if it's full the Golden Egg serves up a tasty second-place meal. The pancakes and burgers at Art's Corner Cafe have cult followings. Alisons is good, although the service has been raggedy lately, I hear. I'm not a huge Eggs N Things fan, although it will do in a pinch. Cafe Nouveau is good when the service is good, which is hit or miss. The patio is very pet friendly. I'm leaving out a ton, I always do. And I haven't even started on Ojai, which has some really amazing restuarants too. Try this site for a complete listing of all Ventura County restaurants. http://www.ventura.com/dining/

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Fuser

                                                                                    I have to disagree about 71 Palm. Considering the price point, it was quite possibly one of the worst dining experiences of my life. Service was terrible, chef/owner was there seating AND SERVING people in a dirty, sweat-stained shirt (I'm talking pit stains almost to the bottom of the shirt, plus a wet-stained back), surly waiters complaining about the boss and other employees well within earshot of the guests, and the food? Not at all worth the price paid.

                                                                                    We had the kobe burger which was okay, but not worth the $$ paid. We also ordered pommes frites which are listed as an appetizer...we didn't get them until after the food came and they were cold, limp, greasy and there was no aioli in sight. Upon mentioning as much to the waiter, we were told that we'd likely never had 'real' french fries made from fresh potatoes. The server actually argued with my grandmother about it. We sent them back uneaten; no offer for a new batch, no comp, no apology, nothing.

                                                                                    One member of our party didn't get his food for a good 10-15 mins after the rest of us were served; he sent back his plate almost untouched (it was pretty awful) - no response from the staff.

                                                                                    Plates weren't cleared from our table until after the check was dropped and even then, we had to ask. We also had to argue to have the pommes frites (I think they were $10) removed from the check.

                                                                                    We paid close to $75 for lunch for 3 people. I won't return, ever. I've been to Tutti's a few times and much prefer the food, price and service. It won't knock your socks off, but it's solid food with cheerful service and decent prices.

                                                                                    1. re: jencounter

                                                                                      I've been hearing horror stories about 71 Palm for years. Never bothered trying it, as Jonathan's at Peirano's is practically across the street.

                                                                                    2. re: Fuser

                                                                                      I love Mary's Secret Garden. They really care about food. It is all fresh and delicious.

                                                                                      Cafe Nouveau patio is one of my favorite places for lunch. So pretty, and okay food. I am addicted to their sweet potato fries.

                                                                                      1. re: Fuser

                                                                                        We went to Cafe Bariloche last night and enjoyed it so much. All of the tables were taken so we ate at the small bar and enjoyed being close to the kitchen. We split a garden salad (small is large!), two incredible empanadas and spicy beef with veggies and rice. A nice wine list with a couple of great wine from argentina. Really lovely start to an evening.

                                                                                        1. re: scotton999

                                                                                          Love Cafe Bariloche - great empanadas & salads!

                                                                                      2. I didn't have time to read all the responses, so I don't know if anyone has yet recommended The Side Car in Ventura, on Main St., a little bit south of the center of town. A lovely place for a slightly upscale experience, live piano playing, local ingredients. Really nice.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: ruthdown

                                                                                          I went there once for a special occasion and had a really disappointing meal. it was all beautiful and made with high-quality ingredients, but the flavors just weren't there. Nothing was memorable and it was pretty expensive. I would go to Jonathan's where they know how to put a really good meal together.

                                                                                        2. Dominicks in Oxnard (on Oxnard Blvd.) It's been there for about 50 years and looks like a dive (I think it has character) but the food is outstanding. I live in Simi but when I'm passing Oxnard on the 101 I'll often stop in and get a pizza. I lived in Oxnard in the 80's and that was the one place that I thought really stood out in the area.

                                                                                          1. I've got one for you

                                                                                            Mexicano - Cabo Grill y Cantina in Oxnard. Talk about fresh, they make the guacamole at your table. Great service with smiles and attentiveness without being overbearing. A Spanish speaking staff, who can also communicate readily with English natives. Plus, the enchilada sauce is homemade and you can get a great margarita for two for the price if one! Support this dig on Saviers and Wooley!

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            Cabo Seafood Grill & Cantina
                                                                                            1041 S Oxnard Blvd, Oxnard, CA 93030

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: asuperlib

                                                                                              Agree! Cabo Grill y Cantina is fabulous. They usually have someone making homemade tortillias as well when you walk in the door.

                                                                                              1. re: MarlaPR

                                                                                                Yes yes yes Cabo Grill y Cantino, a real treasure among so much average food in Venura County. We are always the only anglos there, it is usually busy but not horrible crowded and it is absolutely fantastic; I wish I lived closer and could eat there more often. We introduced the place to friends who stay in Oxnard on the beach a few weeks each year and they threw a catered party on the beach which Cabo did and it was really delicious. Extensive menu, love the guacamole made at the table, the fish dishes are great---found out about it years ago when Triple A magazine did a review on fish tacos i think. The place and everything we have had there has been even better than the magazine reviews. Try things you've never had before, rather than the typical, you won't be sorry.

                                                                                            2. My latest find : Taqueria Cuernavaca on Ventura Avenue. Cheap, order at the counter, but good, well made food. Homemade horchata!!

                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Snackish

                                                                                                A lot of people are afraid of The Avenue, which is peppered with wonderful inexpensive Mexican food. Their loss. The Best. Chiles. Rellenos. Ever. are at Lalo's, with a light egg batter and a to-die-for chile verde sauce. Another real winner is El Taco De Mexico on Telegraph Road.

                                                                                                1. re: Snackish

                                                                                                  Taqueria Cuernavaca has become my favorite place to eat. My friends love the Tacos al Pastor, and I like the 2 styles of vegetarian tacos (potato with poblano or mushrooms and cheese). $1.50 each.

                                                                                                  On weekends, they have menudo, birria and posole. Posole comes with taquitos de requeson. Sometimes other great specials like chilaquiles or sopa de habas. Their gorditas and sopes are wonderful, too, and I like their quesadillas too.

                                                                                                  It is really fine food and so incredibly cheap. They are closed on Tuesdays. Located at Ventura Avenue and Flint on the west side of the street, next to Airway Glass.

                                                                                                  1. re: Snackish

                                                                                                    linky dink

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Taqueria Cuernavaca
                                                                                                    1117 N Ventura Ave, Ventura, CA 93001

                                                                                                    1. re: Snackish

                                                                                                      Cool! I'm going to have to try it out. I pass it each day. Did they just change ownership? I've noticed the parking lot is packed these days and before it didn't seem to do much business.

                                                                                                      1. re: Fuser

                                                                                                        I think they have owned it for a little over a year and word has been spreading. I have to hold myself back from eating there every single day.

                                                                                                      2. re: Snackish

                                                                                                        I tried Taqueria Cuernavaca and it was really good. I had al pastor tacos (they have a spit, which I was elated to see) and my gf had a chicken burrito (I know, I know). The tacos were delicious and the chicken burrito was surprisingly good. Chicken burritos are usually bland and boring and this one had much more taste than usual.
                                                                                                        I can't wait to go back.

                                                                                                      3. re: Snackish

                                                                                                        I ate there a few days back, dinner, chicken flautas, rice, beans, and a negra modelo to wash it down--very good--set me back $12. Friendly people, warm ambience, clean--a keeper. Thanks for the recommendation! I will be going back there.

                                                                                                        1. re: Snackish

                                                                                                          Snackish -- Thanks for the Taqueria Cuernavaca find!

                                                                                                          We had lunch there today and it was very tasty. I had two tacos on corn tortillas: one was al pastor while the other was their mushroom vegetarian. The vegetarian taco was recommended by our server and I was skeptical. Both tacos were really good with their different salsas and I would order the same on a return visit.

                                                                                                          Their homemade horchata was perfectly spiced...I had to have a refill! Horchata is the best accompaniment to the spicy salsas and their horchata was very satisfying without being too sweet.

                                                                                                        2. Port Hueneme:
                                                                                                          Pho Saigon - Vietnamese

                                                                                                          Oxnard:
                                                                                                          Blue Elephant - Thai
                                                                                                          Lupita's - Mexican
                                                                                                          Tierra Sur - Kosher
                                                                                                          It's In the Sauce -- BBQ
                                                                                                          Swan's Korean BBQ

                                                                                                          Camarillo:
                                                                                                          Hamayu Sushi - it's where the local Japanese eat!!
                                                                                                          California Grill
                                                                                                          Cafe India
                                                                                                          Peking Inn

                                                                                                          Ventura:
                                                                                                          Brooks
                                                                                                          It's In the Sauce
                                                                                                          Andria's -- Seafood
                                                                                                          Sidecar
                                                                                                          Cuernavaca
                                                                                                          Old Vienna

                                                                                                          Ojai:
                                                                                                          Ranch House

                                                                                                          Thousand Oaks:
                                                                                                          Mastro's Steakhouse

                                                                                                          Westlake Village:
                                                                                                          Pinkberry!! The only one that's in VC. It's on the border, so it technically counts.

                                                                                                          Don't ever go to Mai's in Ventura. The food is totally inauthentic, even the waitress (Vietnamese) told my mom and I (both Vietnamese) that we would be disappointed and we were! Go where the local Viets go...Pho Saigon!!

                                                                                                          My philosophy is that if you eat ethnic food it's best to go to a restaurant where the people that tend to eat there are of that ethnicity.

                                                                                                          Does anyone know of any good Italian food? Like real Italian, not the American Italian that's normally served.

                                                                                                          1. If you want authentic Italian food, there's finally a place in Ventura as of Sept/08.
                                                                                                            It's Spasso @ the end of Seaward (by the beach) in Ventura. I 've been to Italy many times and this is as close as I can get!
                                                                                                            Spasso
                                                                                                            1140 S. Seaward Ave
                                                                                                            Ventura CA
                                                                                                            805-643-2777

                                                                                                            1. Is Azucar closed now? Their phone number is disconnected, which doesn't bode well.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: noahbites

                                                                                                                Yes, sadly. There is a sign in the window that "The Curry Leaf" will be opening soon, and intermittent construction seems to be going on...and on.

                                                                                                              2. JUST BBQ off of Johnson Drive.

                                                                                                                Used to be called "Buster's BBQ" and was located in Somis. They moved locations after the highway 150 expansion and have been in Oxnard ever since. Been going there since the old location closed down (1991-92, I believe), but the food is as good as ever.

                                                                                                                Great Santa Maria-style BBQ.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Mangostein

                                                                                                                  The locals still call it Busters, and it is the best. One day I was there and I asked Mrs. Buster what happened with the name. She told me she and Mr. Buster got divorced and he was going to make her pay to use his name. She said she had "no intention of giving that (beeping bleep) one thin dime." I said, "I notice you also took down his picture." She said she thought it was bad for business having something that ugly on the wall and she smiled. I still smile at the name Just BBQ.

                                                                                                                2. Port Hueneme - Pho Saigon - everything on the menu is great!
                                                                                                                  Silverstrand (Oxnard beach) - Pepes - best fish tacos!! Food to go - grab your food & eat by the water.
                                                                                                                  Hollywood Beach (Oxnard beach) - Mrs. Olson's is great for breakfast.
                                                                                                                  Ventura - Cafe Nouveau on Thompson - sit on the patio.
                                                                                                                  Oxnard - Yummy Hawaiian (in a crummy strip mall on Saviers/Channel Islands) - good food, and lots of it. Nice seaweed salad. Go there for lunch.

                                                                                                                  1. We've made two stops at the Busy Bee Cafe on Ventura's Main Street, once by ourselves and once with another couple, and everyone liked everything a lot. It's just two or three blocks up from the mission on the other side of the street. Hard to tell from looking at it whether it's a tourist trap or genuinely old, and turns out to be a very pleasant combination of both. Good sound diner food at reasonable prices, including a large and excellent patty melt, and those Seeburg jukebox devices on the wall by your table actually work. Clean, smells good, friendly and prompt service, good mix of mostly locals and weekend tourists. Token-operated restroom doors to keep the non-customers out.

                                                                                                                    1. Catching up on links ...

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      Busy Bee Cafe
                                                                                                                      478 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93001

                                                                                                                      Cafe Bariloche
                                                                                                                      500 E Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001

                                                                                                                      Pho Saigon
                                                                                                                      826 N Ventura Rd, Port Hueneme, CA 93041

                                                                                                                      Pepe's Mexican Food
                                                                                                                      200 Rossmore Dr, Oxnard, CA 93035

                                                                                                                      Mrs Olson's Coffee Hut
                                                                                                                      117 Los Altos St, Oxnard, CA 93035

                                                                                                                      Cafe Nouveau
                                                                                                                      1497 E Thompson Blvd, Ventura, CA 93001

                                                                                                                      Yummy Hawaiian BBQ
                                                                                                                      2516 Saviers Rd, Oxnard, CA 93033

                                                                                                                      Buster's BBQ
                                                                                                                      2950 Johnson Dr, Ventura, CA 93003

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: maxzook

                                                                                                                        Cafe Nouveau has really fallen off. I wouldn't recommend going there. It might be because of the economy. Sigh. We used to love their food. I'd recommend La Tratorria Italian Restaurant on Main Street if it hasn't yet been mentioned. Their main courses aren't to die for but their soups, salad, wine list, and garlic bread are purrfection!! So order big on the appetizers, etc. and plan light for the main course.

                                                                                                                        1. re: kookyreeves

                                                                                                                          link-link

                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                          La Trattoria Italian Restaurant
                                                                                                                          2404 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93003

                                                                                                                      2. Thousand Oaks is not our beat but visiting relatives took us there yesterday and we stopped for a quick bite at Fit 2B Thai on Moorpark in TO - very good soup (Tom yum) but the best news is that they offer glution free choices as well as lo carb noodles. Guy in charge let us tast the green curry sauce, yellow curry and one other - very peppey but really great taste. Not much ambiance but nice people and food unexpectedly tasty.
                                                                                                                        Fit 2b Thai
                                                                                                                        593 N. Moorpark Road, TO
                                                                                                                        805-496-2501

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: ZoeZ

                                                                                                                          Thanks, ZoeZ, for posting your rather positive experience at Fit 2B Thai.
                                                                                                                          Our first and only experience there was dinner when they first opened many months ago (perhaps a year?). We, too, found the owner to be very friendly and anxious to please. However, the food was too wet for my tastes. It also tasted almost Chinese rather than Thai. I love Chinese food, but not in a Thai restaurant.

                                                                                                                          With your report in mind, we will return to try it again.

                                                                                                                        2. Andria's Seafood at Ventura Harbor. Ditto for this one. But for lunch or summer dinner since
                                                                                                                          it 's mostly open air and on the water

                                                                                                                          1. For awesome fish tacos, try Surf-n-Taco at the Ventura harbor -- the halibut ones are great -- fresh fish, cabbage, homemade corn tortillas, special sauce -- and then add a little of their great, homemade salsa verde for a mild kick. Excellent!

                                                                                                                            1. Try Brooks on Thompson St. Awesome food (great price to value), extremely well executed, and a bangin' wine list.

                                                                                                                              1. I appreciate this thread as we are about to move to Ojai.

                                                                                                                                Best sushi in the area? Where to get it?

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Enorah

                                                                                                                                  I like Sushi Marina in Ventura for fairly traditional California-style sushi. Ozeki has some interesting (and huge) rolls, but isn't as good as the others for nigiri.

                                                                                                                                  Hanami in Oxnard is also good, and I've had good, but limited experience with Yama, Sushi Asakura, and Tomodachi in Camarillo.

                                                                                                                                  Sea Fresh is about your only option in Ojai, and they do a much better Western menu than they do Japanese.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Enorah

                                                                                                                                    i would recommend ozeki on victoria, i find their sushi amazing, fresh and well prepared but you have to know which days are good to go. i like mondays and saturdays.

                                                                                                                                  2. Sidecar is pretty good. great desserts . in Ventura.
                                                                                                                                    http://www.thesidecarrestaurant.com/
                                                                                                                                    in oxnard, baron herzog windery has a kosher restaurantthat's really intersting, featuring game such as venison
                                                                                                                                    Tierra Sur
                                                                                                                                    http://www.herzogwinecellars.com/html...

                                                                                                                                    1. Brooks Restaurant on Thompson at California St, Prime on Thompson and Cafe Zack, also on Thompson are all great restaurants.

                                                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: prscms

                                                                                                                                        If you want really good and cheap Mexican, try La Gloria in Oxnard. I am just here visiting, but we went last night and to my NYC sensibilities, it was a foodie's kind of place. Tasty, fun to be in, and far far away from the bazillion fast food restaurants I see all around here in Oxnard. I loved it!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: prscms

                                                                                                                                          I saw good reviews of Brooks on Y! Local. Can anyone coroberate? What's the most romantic place to eat in Ventura (no price limit); like somewhere you would propose or celebrate a 20th anniversary?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: muktuk

                                                                                                                                            Consider it corroborated :)

                                                                                                                                            Brooks gets my vote for best restaurant in the county, and by a fair margin.

                                                                                                                                            For romance in Ventura I'd go with Watermark. Beautiful setting, great service, but haven't eaten there since the new chef(s) came in.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: muktuk

                                                                                                                                              Brooks is really, really good. Order a selection of their small plates and share. The mussels are dynamite, as are the oysters and the cinnamon roll bread pudding. Be careful: it's easy to order too much.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: muktuk

                                                                                                                                                I'm definitely going to have to try Brooks the next time I'm in the area.

                                                                                                                                                For a romantic atmosphere, I would definitely recommend the Ranch House in Ojai. It's a gorgeous indoor/outdoor setting ... I won't claim the food is world-class, but very dependable and on a level with the best I've had in the area.

                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                Ranch House
                                                                                                                                                500 W Lomita Ave, Ojai, CA 93023

                                                                                                                                                1. re: maxzook

                                                                                                                                                  Ranch House is indeed romantic, as is Bodee's up in Ojai. But if you're going to drive that far from Ventura you also have the option of any number of places up in Santa Barbara...

                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                  Ranch House
                                                                                                                                                  500 W Lomita Ave, Ojai, CA 93023

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dgasser

                                                                                                                                                    Bodee's food is fabulous!!! There staff is wonderful and the ambiance cannot be beat.

                                                                                                                                            2. Pho no1 on Saviers Rd in Oxnard part of the chain in sfv is very good.They
                                                                                                                                              also have a branch in Simi Valley. I have heard very good raves for Marcellos in TO.
                                                                                                                                              Good Luck

                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                              Good Luck Bar
                                                                                                                                              1514 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: smiling ed

                                                                                                                                                Marcello's on Hillcrest in Thousand Oaks -- sometimes the food is good, but sometimes it is served with too much attitude for my tastes. With such inconsistency, I'm not a big fan.

                                                                                                                                                Those who befriend the owner will receive much better service, but I have always felt something insincere in the air there.

                                                                                                                                              2. Brooks in Ventura

                                                                                                                                                Saffire in Camarillo

                                                                                                                                                La Superica in Santa Barbara

                                                                                                                                                They all will blow your hair back........

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Top3

                                                                                                                                                  Agreed -- but bear in mind La Super Rica is in Santa Barbara County ...

                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                  Brooks
                                                                                                                                                  545 East Thompson Boulevard, Ventura, CA 93001

                                                                                                                                                  Safire Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                  4850 Santa Rosa Rd, Camarillo, CA 93012

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: maxzook

                                                                                                                                                    Yes you are correct..... It is still close enough to consider it in the VC

                                                                                                                                                2. In Ventura:
                                                                                                                                                  Restaurants here seem to be a little inconsistent (good for awhile but can't sustain). Here are my consistent favorites/suggestions:

                                                                                                                                                  Brooks Restaurant. It's always tastey, a nice dining experience and they change up their menu on occasions

                                                                                                                                                  The Cave: the restaurant inside a wine shop, always great food. Small plates so it's easy to order everything and share with your group.

                                                                                                                                                  Sportsman: classic old school steak place.

                                                                                                                                                  Pete's: classic american breakfast spot (not the greasey diner style). Nice variety from huevos rancheros to waffles.

                                                                                                                                                  Taqueria Tepatitlan: delicious, family owned Mexican food.

                                                                                                                                                  Nature's Grill: casual, always tastey, lunch place. Plenty of vegetarian options.

                                                                                                                                                  Charline's Southern Tapas: they do have salads with blackened protein and what not but the treat is in the fried foods

                                                                                                                                                  Paradise Pantry: wine and charcuterie, has wine tastings but offers meat/cheese plates to taste or a small selection of rich comfort food

                                                                                                                                                  1. Pho Saigon. Yes, yes, yes. Chef Husband and I on road trip south from San Fran to San Diego. Traveling with our dog so we had to stay at a La Quinta in Ventura. It was a hard day, lots of arguing. Got to the motel late, hungry. Read this thread and set out for Pho Saigon. What a surprise! It was delicious, the best vermicelli noodles I've ever had, very fresh spring rolls, great pho. . . and we're speaking to each other again.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 2011 Update on some of the restaurants mentioned - and why I now cook at home - having given up on Ventura County for the most part:

                                                                                                                                                      Suzanne's In Ojai - still thriving and god knows why - except that the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa recommends it to guests after they are tired of staying at the hotel and hotel restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                      Various Restaurants at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa: inspiringly boring hotel food. . . and expensive. . .used to always eat on the patio as the view in lovely. . . gave up 4 years ago (management/chef changes) - even the holiday buffets are nothing anymore

                                                                                                                                                      Chamomile Cafe in Carpenteria - closed - sadly - the owner was really sweet -

                                                                                                                                                      Ranch House in Ojai is someone's favorite restaurant? Maybe back in the day. . . . not very inspiring cuisine - and at those prices - absurd - pretty atmosphere tho

                                                                                                                                                      Bodee's - in Ojai - they try very hard and since there is not much in Ojai, its the go to place if people come in to town - nice atmosphere - food ok, nothing to write home about

                                                                                                                                                      Barrilochi on Main Street in Ventura changed owners, raised prices and then closed - although I think there is still one elsewhere in Ventura or Oxnard or Camarillo - but I don't know if its the original people or the ones who bought it before it died on main

                                                                                                                                                      Natural Cafe on Main St Ventura is reliably good - Mount Fuji Stir Fry with Chicken - yum!

                                                                                                                                                      Tutti's in Ventura - used to always eat at Tutti's when it was in Montecito - somehow - although the patio dining and all is very nice, the food never seemed to measure up to the good old Montecito days - however, the chocolate/chocolate chip/chocolate who knows what sort of soft cookies (dont buy them if they feel hard through the plastic wrap) they sell at the counter are UNGODLY GOOD

                                                                                                                                                      Osteria Monte Grappa - Ojai - Pathetic that good Italian food, which can be so delicious, and can actually be simple to prepare - is not well represented in Ojai - this restaurant is new and has outdoor seating - and we've tried . . . its ok. . . thats the best i can say. . .

                                                                                                                                                      Knead - yes, there is a new bakery in Ojai - its the only "real" bakery - and they make little flat bread pizzas and salads for lunch and such - everything is delicious - my only grip - it is really too expensive - but frankly, the only "foodie" food in the town - despite what all the promotional magazines and etc put out by the Ojai public relations machine (translate - all publications & newspapers for their advertisers) says. I wouldn't spend money anywhere else in the town.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foodaspoetry

                                                                                                                                                        what about the side car on main st on the east side of town? have had wonderful meals there. Also, love trufflehounds for chocolates and the tierra sur restaurant at the baron herzog store in Oxnard. unusual in that it's kosher and serves "game".
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.tierrasuratherzog.com/

                                                                                                                                                        sidecar website
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.thesidecarrestaurant.com/

                                                                                                                                                        granted none of these are in Ojai.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Yes: C-Street
                                                                                                                                                        Meant to post on this place earlier, but a couple weeks ago we were staying at the Crown Plaza in Ventura (right on the beach) and were the only patrons at the hotel restaurant for dinner (midweek), called C-Street. With very low expectations, I'm happy to report that it's good! Pretty standard upscale-hotel fare (steak, chicken, etc.), with a good wine selection. Perfectly-grilled steak, homemade pasta, local greens, etc.

                                                                                                                                                        It's just the kind of place where you're wondering "why isn't this place packed?" and you kind of want to tell the chef to hang in there. Not worth a drive from L.A., but if you find yourself in Ventura for the night, definitely try it.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cant talk...eating

                                                                                                                                                          The Crowne Plaza has a great happy hour! The prices are right on and the food that I've tried all was excellent. If you can score a seat outside during happy hour you get a nice view of the ocean and they have a couple of fire pits. I think it's one of the best happy hours in Ventura, especially on nice days.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Ferraros in Ventura has the best authentic Italian food. My favorite is the lasagna. Whenever we pass through Ventura coming from South Orange County we make sure to eat there. Excellent marinara and meat sauce. There is always usually a wait for dinner on the weekends but it moves pretty quick.

                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hbgypsy

                                                                                                                                                            I'm not sure for which part of Italy you'd consider Ferraro's food "authentic."

                                                                                                                                                            For us, it seems more old-school New Jersey Italian-American, with tons of heavy red 'gravy' and cheese, not anything we've ever seen in Italy. Not bad for what it is, but not really worth going out of your way for, either.

                                                                                                                                                            Brooks continues to be an excellent choice for Ventura (both city and county).

                                                                                                                                                            The Sidecar has its moments. The chef gets great local produce and knows what to do with it, but is much more inconsistent with meats, sauces, and seasoning. The wine list is a travesty, considering how many good wineries are just North in Santa Ynez and Paso Robles.

                                                                                                                                                            Brendan's is a new Irish pub in Camarillo that has some pretty good food when the kitchen's on, but can also be maddeningly inconsistent. Great bar, though.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dgasser

                                                                                                                                                              love both the sidecar (desserts especially) and brooks. And Tierra Sur in oxnard.

                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                              Tierra Sur Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                              3201 Camino Del Sol, Oxnard, CA 93030

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dgasser

                                                                                                                                                                Well, mamma is Italian and it all "in the sauce" The marinara is the most important thing you can do.....

                                                                                                                                                            2. Try Brooks in Ventura

                                                                                                                                                              1. Feast Bistro in Ojai is nice. Good, reliable, clean, unfussy yet tasty food. Menu changes seasonally with the local produce so it's always changing.