Cafe Verde: Great setting but not worth the price
At Spa Ojai, the spa at the Ojai Valley Inn, they have their own pool (for people 16 and over and those receiving spa treatments) and adjacent to that, they have Café Verde, the equivalent of a spa café. It serves quote- unquote “spa food” – like wraps, smoothies, pressed juices, and the like. I went to the Spa Pool on Saturday afternoon and it was absolutely lovely. Waiters and servers frequent the pool, getting people alcoholic drinks and offerings from Café Verde. I got Pelligrino and what they call the “Pink Moment” smoothie – it’s just bananas, raspberries, strawberries, and ice (no yogurt or dairy). While it was refreshing, it was most definitely not worth the $9 dollars they are charging for it. On the other hand, many of the patrons seemed to be really enjoying the Raspberry mojitos, so for those who like to drink poolside, this could be a great spot for you. In keeping with the spa vibe, there are no kids, no cell phones, no pets, and no smoking… all of which I love (Rudy was taking a nap in the room). I would def recommend this pool to those who don’t have kids or want a quiet relaxing time – and it’s not just for women – there were actually mostly kid-less couples at the pool.
Oak Grill: Outstanding Breakfast, Great View, Dogs on Patio!
I had both dinner and breakfast at the Oak Grill at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Breakfast was way better than dinner, though dinner was not bad, just not as good as I hoped it would be given the setting/price. I think I was also influenced by the live music at dinner – I am rarely a live music fan during meals, and the guy was singing every overplayed song from Hotel California to Baby I Love Your Way to Brown Eyed Girl, so it totally turned me off. The setting, however, was beautiful – I ate on the patio both times so Rudy could join me, and they could not have been nicer about him joining me and were incredibly accommodating, but I wrote more about there here:
I’m always trying to watch what I eat, so I had the Sable Fish entreee with the porcini mushrooms, spinach, and fingerling potatoes side to start. The side was delicious, as were the bread that came with dinner. All of the pastries I’ve had on the property have been insanely good. As for the entrée, the fish itself was good and properly cooked, but I was not in love with the white bean and broccoli rabe underneath – I rarely don’t clean my plate and I left all of it. From the other patrons I spoke to (they all wanted to say hi to Rudy), it seems that the burgers (particularly the Oak Burger and the Spa Black Bean Burger) are really popular – that is what the majority of people seemed to be having around me. Dinner came out to about $40 dollar w/ no booze – pretty standard for SoCal, but not nearly good enough to validate spending that much.
On the other hand, the breakfast I had was delicious and worth every penny. They were very accommodating – they had almond milk for the latte (which was so good I had 2 of them), and when I requested to not have meat or potatoes with my eggs, but instead avocado and sliced tomatoes, they switched it out with no extra charge. When the waitress brought it out and saw the kitchen had given me potatoes, she offered to have them redo it, but I didn’t care that much – but the entire thing was delicious. The coffee came with some sort of biscotti that was YUMMY, and I also got a croissant which was perfect. I saw a lot of people getting the house made granola and the bacon – both of which also looked delicious. This breakfast came out to about $30 dollars, but unlike dinner, I was happy to pay for it and would definitely come again.
Favorite Dish: The Almond Milk Latte and the 2 Egg breakfast were both delicious!
The Farmer and the Cook: Organic and Dog Friendly!
A college friend recommended this restaurant to me and I’m so glad he did – I would never have found it on my own, and it was the perfect afternoon snack after a hike with Rudy!
I quickly realized that although the hotel I was staying at was LOVELY, the prices and the food did not match up AT ALL, especially when it is like a 3 minute drive down the road to the center of town. The Farmer and the Cook is actually not on the Ojai main drag, it is off Route 33 (the small highway you take from Ventura to get to Ojai) about 2 miles up the road from Ojai, in a small neighborhood called Meiners Oaks.
The Farmer and the Cook is a very organic grocery store/ market/ restaurant, and I always love those places. It was a lil too authentic for me – very grassroots and the salad bar looked like it needed more attention paid to cleaning around it – but I got the salad bar nevertheless and it was AMAZING. I also got the chips and guac – the chips were house made and very authentic, obviously from corn tortillas of some kind – and though they were decent, I kind of prefer the Chipotle chips (I know, I’m bad). However, the guac was perfect and super fresh and just what my sunburn and soul needed after a few too many hours at the pool.
Since I’m not super into organic eating or vegan, I think it shows just how tasty the food is that I still liked it, got full from it, and would recommend it to others! Their organic tomato balsamic vinigrette (which I got on my salad, but that they also sell their in bottles) was so delicious! Also, I loved the outside décor, and they had a fab lil patio – where again, I could eat outside with Rudypup at my side!
Suzanne's Cuisine: Worth the time!
This wonderful restaurant is run by a mother and daughter team. The daughter manages it and the mother is the chef. My best friend made the suggestion we stopped it here for lunch on the way to Santa Barbara. It was suggested by her sister. The decor is charming and comfortable. We sat outside on the patio area with a beautiful garden filled with lovely blooms with a beautiful fountain that is the centerpiece. What is nice about the garden is they provided walking stones so you can enjoy a little stroll around it. We really enjoyed our food and the service was wonderful. This place is worth your time if your ever in Ojai.
We are open daily (except Tuesdays) for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Favorite Dish: Grilled Portabella Mushroom Sandwich, Asiago Cheese, Arugula, Tomato And Dijon On Pain Rustique.
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
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The Ranch House: Gourmet garden dining
The Ranch House is one of my Grandma and dad's favorite restaurants, I remember coming here on one of my first visits to California after we moved to the midwest and being enchanted by the grounds, again one visit with my husband and Grandma and the most recent time with Grandma and dad.
The Ranch House was opened in the 1950s by Alan Hooker, the Hooker cookbook was a mainstay in the kitchen when I was growing up (before I knew what a hooker was!). The restaurant is known for it's use of herbs, at least some of which are grown right on the grounds.
It's a very romantic spot to dine, many of the tables are in private nooks nestled in the gardens or near the fish ponds. We had a table overlooking the herb garden and I took a stroll through the gardens while waiting for our meal.
I don't know that I would drive here from Los Angeles if it were not for Grandma and dad but if you find yourself in Ojai for a special occasion this is a good option.
Favorite Dish: I ordered off the special menu, a New York strip steak in a herb cream sauce with came with a baked potato flavored with herbs. For dessert I had the creme brulee, the portion size was a bit small but it had an interesting flavor, one with lavender, another with ginger.
Dad enjoyed another duck special with Grandma with her smaller appetite ordered pate and then lime cheesecake which she thoroughly enjoyed.
Ojai Ice Cream & Fudge: Summertime Relief
This is a mandatory stop for us every time we visit Ojai, and on a hot summer day it's the source of all the heaping, melting conefuls you'll see being accompanied down the main drag. Everybody stops in Ojai Ice Cream in August.
The ice-cream selection is good, with everything from bubblegum to black walnut, down to your more standard chocolates and sorbets. Portions are generous. Have a look at the the community bulletin board by the door before you head back out into the heat - it holds some entertaining local tidbits.
Favorite Dish: Why, ice cream. Oh yes, and if you like fudge, they've got it and in several varieties. It's very good stuff.
Bonnie Lu's Country Cafe: Fill 'er Up!
This is Ojai Central - where you can get a good glimpse of the town and its people (those Ojai folk are early birds so don't sleep through breakfast!). It opens at 7am, and from what we saw on a recent Sunday, lots of locals start their day in here, with kids and/or newspaper. The portions here are Big American-style with country potatoes and the works. The staff are down-to-earth, a tad quirky and very friendly. It's a place with real character.
Favorite Dish: I had the eggs benedict with ham. It was good, but it was so much food that I certainly couldn't finish it. Johnny had a combo breakfast with hald a waffle, eggs and bacon, and he kept going on and on about how good the bacon was. This is the kind of place where you fuel-up for the day.
Feast Bistro: New-ish Ojai Bistro
The bad news is that there used to be a really cool little bookstore in this space, and, well, it's no longer here. But that's not this restaurant's fault. The good news is that Feast Bistro just about made me forget about that cool little bookstore.
The bistro has a vibrant yet cozy interior with colorful pillows against part of the wall, and at night a smooth dim lighting. We sampled the food at lunch, though, and it being such a perfect (warm and ever-so-slightly breezy) Ojai day, we sat on the small patio out back. It was quiet and casually relaxed.
Favorite Dish: I tried the frittata special ($10), which included white cheddar, tomato, spinach and red onion. It was simple and light and came with a side of salad greens. Johnny had the pulled-pork sandwich; the pork was slow-roasted to perfection (I stole a few bites), though his bread was a tad soggy. We were both happy with our meals - nothing too decadent but both satisfying. We topped things off with an olive-oil citrus cake. The "olive oil" bit of that equation might sound a little odd to you, but it worked very well. It wasn't at all oily - it's just that olive oil being used instead of butter, the cake was not in the least bit heavy. No post-lunch coma induced!
Suzanne's Cuissine: Fine California Cuisine
Ojai may be a hopping tourist town, but when it comes down to fine dining in the valley, options are fairly limited. The Ranch House, Azu and Bodee's are all very good, but when it comes down to class, atmosphere and very fine food, only Suzanne's will do. Suzanne's is a family owned and managed restaurant in the downtown area, long known for it's innovative blends of California and European cuisine. One of the first things a customer will notice is how well they are tended to. The service really is incredible, as the staff works collaboratively; throughout your meal you could have 3 people serving you. You're pretty well nannied. The atmosphere is perfect for celebrating an anniversary or any other special occasion. Candlelight bounces off the beige walls and mahogony bar while tasteful jazz plays in the back ground. Also, there are fresh flowers at every table. An outside patio area is cheapened by plastic chairs, but the granite tables, a lavendar garden and large fireplace make it cozy.
Favorite Dish: The food is what you really come to Suzanne's for. The menu consists of roughly 15 entrees that come with creative side dishes like smoked corn, nopales, and a great southwest chicken salad. My absolute favorite entree is the spencer steak. It is a special, so ask to see if they have it. It is seasoned with roasted chimichurris and comes with the aforementioned nopales. You'll be drooling the second the fumes hit your nose. On the regular menu, the rosemary rack of lamb is a highlight along with the New York steak covered with mushrooms and bleu cheese. The appetizers are amazing; my favorites are the crab cakes and the duck liver pate. The wine list is amazing, and alcoholic drinks are strong and well made. The lack of draft beer is a bummer though. Overall, anything you eat in Suzanne's is pretty amazing. It comes at a price though, a typical couple that drinks wine and gets 3 courses can expect to pay around $100.
O-Hi Frosty: Greasy Spoon Tradition
Burger Stand at the beginning of Ojai. I know this place has been there at least since in 1974, when I first ate there as a child. Plastic and aluminum chairs, tables and umbrellas make this place a real treat. Preferable to take out, but eating at the tables on Ojai Ave. is an expereince.
Favorite Dish: Oily string fries and large burgers with american cheese. Everything is very tasty and made to order. Their
root beer floats are also really good.
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Tottenham Court: Much more than afternoon tea
Tottenham Court is a little english cafe serving tea, sandwiches, and desserts. Wonderful shaddy courtyard seeting in back in the plaza arcade. Patio is very cute with green market umbrellas.
Favorite Dish: They offer a variety of sandwiches, salads, and complete tea lunches. The menu includes soup and quiche of the day, and numerous sweets such tradional British Bread Pudding, Fruit Cobbler, Chocolate Cake, and "Brownie" in a cloud amoung others. Also Hot fudge Sundaes. A great variety of teas and blended iced coffees. Wine, beer, ale and sherry are also available. They also have children' tea.
You can eat lunch for under $10.
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
Sea Fresh Restaurant: Fresh Seafood, hence the name
Casual and cozy place. Patio and inside seeting.
Favorite Dish: There fish is very fresh. The cajun seafood pasta is excellent. I've never been dissapointed. Staff is friendly. Locals also come here for sushi. The shrimp and scallop dishes are also very good. Good garlic mashed potatoes.
- Food and Dining
Boccali's Restaurant: Wonderful Italian Food
Very cozy Italian traditional restaurant. Outdoor dining on Sundays on pinic tables under lights. Celebrities frequent Baccali's on the weekend, so keep your eyes peeled.
Traditional decor with red and white checkered table cloths.
Favorite Dish: Everything is fantastic. Truly one of the best Italian restaurants. I love their eggplant parmagiano with meat sauce, just delicious.
- Road Trip
- Food and Dining
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Rainbow Bridge: Local Hangout and Health Food Store & Deli
Extensive Health Food store and deli. Good selection of all sorts of healthy items. Deli is very good with curried tofu, vegetarian salads, along with grilled chicken sandwiches made fresh. Lots of fruit juices and desserts as well. The store is quite large, it's a health food super market. I always have lunch at the deli. It's filled with locals reading poetry, or just hanging out with their dogs at the tables in front. Quite laid back with a hippie vibe.
Favorite Dish: I love their curried chicken salad with raisins. The cookies are good too. Everything I've had has been tasty. Lunch will run you about $6-$7.
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Westridge Market: BBQ Tri Tip on Rt 33
MMMM good... we stopped in a had a tri tip sandwich for lunch... good stuff. They have an outdoor BBQ pit on the weekends. YOu can get Chicken Ribs or Tri Tip. In the picture, the BBQ pit is under the green umbrella
Who doesn't love a BBQ sammy?
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