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The Best Restaurants In Ventura, 2021

Ten exemplary places to grab a well-deserved bite.

By The Smoking Chair Editors  |  Sep 27, 2021

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Ventura is perfectly located on the beautiful coast of Southern California. Book your stay with a beautiful view of the California sunset and enjoy some of the best culinary treats in Southern California. Here are some of our favorites.
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Ventura

XIELO ARTISAN DESSERTS

$Creperies, Bakeries, Cafes

I can’t believe I haven’t left a review for Xielo yet, I guess I’m too busy anticipating my order and then enjoying the crepe-induced euphoria and afterglow. Somewhere in my dessert haze I thought I wrote one. Well, here it goes.

My favorite item is the Cajeta fruit crepe, I love the cajeta and sweet cream filling & perfectly spongey crepe. I am always blown away by how delicious the fruit is I think I ask out loud each time- how do they always get the sweetest strawberries?! I don’t know, but they do.

The iced cafe de olla with cream is the perfect drink to go along with it.

I’ve also had a couple of other pastries and I’m always happy with them. Definitely give them a try but don’t go on a Monday or else you’re be like me, shaking your fist at the sky in anger that they are closed and that you didn’t check that they were open before you drove out there.

Happy eating!

— Review by Adela C.

Ventura

PACIFIC COAST GRILL AND CAFÉ

$Burgers, Sandwiches, Salad

Nice small, very clean place with friendly service, very good food. The signs and menu are hand written in almost an artsy way.

Per the reviews, I had the Metro Club sandwich with a side salad with cilantro dressing. The side salad went beyond most in size and ingredients including jicama that gave it crunch. The sandwich was delicious – lots of flavor and texture. As someone who does not eat salt at home I really notice it eating out – probably was the very crispy, thick bacon on the sandwich.

I almost ordered the brisket Reuben and fries instead – that may be for next time. This is the kind of place where I’m tempted to try everything on the menu!

Since we’re still dealing with the COVID Delta variant, social distancing is in place and masks are encouraged. There are a couple of small tables placed outside as well as several 4 tops inside.

— Review by Jen B.

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Ventura

BARREL 33

$$Wine Bars, Pizza, Mediterranean

We walked by and saw this place one day so came back on another day to try it out. So good! The food (only tried vegetarian stuff since neither of us eat meat) was really fresh and unique. Pizza is sort of “thin crust” and usually I don’t love thin crust but this one was delicious.

The owner is friendly and welcoming and makes you feel like you’re back in a cafe in the south of France 🙂

Would come back especially in warm weather

— Review by Day K.

Ventura

IMMIGRANT SON CAFFE

$$American (New), Breakfast & Brunch, Italian

Holy deliciousness! We went up to Ventura to cool off and escape the valley inferno, we were planning on eating somewhere else but after walking around decided to check out Immigrant Son. Sooo glad we did. They were about to close at 2 pm but the girl behind the counter was super sweet and said the’d serve us.  You order your food, pay then sit down and they’ll bring it to you. We ordered the breakfast lasagne, and carbonara pasta, a cappuccino and strawberry pastry.

Lets put it this way… it was lasagne-love at first bite!  Before our 2nd bite that we were savoring, we had already made plans to come back next weekend, but this time we’d each get our own lasagna instead of share both dishes. With Italian food it’s all about the sauce, which was outstanding, but with each bite, it got better, and when you think that can’t happen anymore, you cut into the egg yolk and oozes out into each bite…pure heaven.

The carbonara was ok, buttery, cheesy, garlicky goodness. I liked it a lot but wasn’t in love, felt like something was missing. Or maybe to be fair I was all about the lasagne I didn’t give it a fair chance. But I accidentally dropped a rigatoni in the lasagna plate and ended up enjoying it more that way with the sauce.

The staff were all super duper attentive and sweet and just as we’re feeling the love, the manager/maybe owner? Walked around and handed us and other customers chocolate chip cookies!

If you’re in the area I’d recommend stopping in for the breakfast lasagne. Soo soo good.

— Review by N.D.

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Ventura

CARNITAS EL REY

$Mexican

“Sigo Siendo El Rey”
Tacos here are a Journey, an experience like no other you will have anywhere else. Tender meat of your choice will Rock your taste buds; great family environment impeccable service. El Rey you take the Crown!!

— Review by Dayton H.

Ventura

BAGELICIOUS CAFÉ VENTURA

$ • Bagels, Breakfast & Brunch, Coffee & Tea

Such a great place!  Got the chicken club on an everything bagel and a 1 meat-egg and pastrami breakfast sandwich.  Both were exactly what this place is named…Bagelicious!!  I also ordered a hot matcha latte with coconut milk.  The flavors are so good and the bagels are so fresh and soft!!  I ordered pick up and it was ready when I got there.  Seeing the other pastries got me to buy additional bagels and muffins too!   This place is small and located in the back next to the 99 cent store.  Park in the back because you won’t be able to enter on street.

— Review by Wendy V.

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Ventura

BRIO CAFE

$ • Cafes

Hands down my favorite place. I probably go once a week to grab a sandwich and take it to the beach. Get the chicken mozerella, Tuscano, or caprese.  Super fresh ingredients, amazing bread, amazing service. Never disappoints.

— Review by Annie S.

Ventura

PARADISE PANTRY

$ • Wine Bars, American (Traditional)

Delicious, fresh, texture, flavor, beauty all the must haves when it comes to good food!  I am sad to say,  this is my first time, and visiting AFTER I moved away…ack!!!
Farm to table quality and flavor, such a variety of menu options for any food preference (gluten free, for example).  Reasonable prices, friendly staff.

The cheese monger is a MUST interaction,  we had the best time planning a charcuterie board for a simple party, she is knowledgeable, funny and entertaining.  I had the best time hearing about how to put a board together, why those choices, and the variety of milks, the region…really fascinating.
I do visit Ventura at least once a year, so this has been added to my must returns.

— Review by Staci B.

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Ventura

LC IMPORTS

$ • Pizzas, Sandwiches, Italian

I’m editing my review to five stars as LC Imports makes delicious and fresh food our friends always enjoy when we place a takeout order on a Friday night. We previously had some trouble with availability of their bread.

The hot sandwiches hold up well with the bread, sides and sauces. My husband likes the tuna melt and my son likes their meatballs.

I recommend them to anyone looking for a good and fast, fresh sandwich on the downtown area. They are a great choice and we are never disappointed.

— Review by Lisa C.

Ventura

THE JOLLY OYSTER

$$ • Seafood

This place has it all–really tasty, fresh food and a wonderfully hands-on experience!

The general establishment includes a shack and a food truck:
1. The shack- purchase clams and oysters in the shell; oysters were about $18/dozen. There’s three varieties of oysters to choose from. The smaller oysters are sweeter but much harder to shuck. All of the oyster varieties are delicious and so fresh! If you didn’t bring a shucking knife, you might need to buy one for about $6-15. However, pro tip: there are plenty of regulars around, and many are happy to let you borrow a knife.
2. The food truck- for shellfish on the half-shell (already shucked) or pre-prepared dishes. We got the fried oysters, some clam steamers and the sea urchin ceviche. They were all top notch.

The shucking:
The actual shucking was much more difficult than I expected. We had to spend a couple of minutes trying to pry open the more stubborn oysters, especially the smaller ones. It was frustrating but so satisfying when they finally opened! If that kind of difficult task isn’t your thing and you just want to eat, you should probably just buy from the food truck. But if you’re looking for a really fun and unique (if arduous) experience, give it a try! Definitely not saying this is the “definitive” way to do it, but here’s a step-by-step guide that might be helpful based on my limited experience:
1. Stick the knife tip in the hinge of the shell at the pointy end
2. Push straight in between the halves as deep as you can get. This may take a while and quite a bit of force. Some wiggling might help. It will feel like nothing is happening, but don’t give up!
3. When the knife is deep enough, start pushing vertically to pry the halves apart. If you didn’t push in deep enough, you’ll just break off bits of shell and destroy the indentation, and it’ll be much harder to gain leverage the next time around.
4. Once the two halves separate, the shells still won’t come apart completely. Run your blade flat along the top of the inside of the shell to break the connection. Try not to spill out too much of the oyster juice inside while doing so.
5. When the top half comes off, carefully detach the “foot” of the oyster off of the bottom half of the shell. It’s tender and tasty, so try not to destroy it too much.
6. The oyster should come apart! Eat everything inside, including the juices. Add some sauce if you’ve like.

The seating:
Everything is outdoors, and there are picnic tables with umbrellas to eat. Some of these tables have grills. There are outdoor bathrooms, sinks and water fountains nearby. There are plenty of tables, so seating shouldn’t be an issue. The whole thing has a very friendly, family-friendly vibe. Also, check out the enormous mounds of oyster shells and the oyster mascot.

Parking:
It’s a bit annoying, but we had to pay the $10 to use the beach parking. You may be able to get around that by parking in the street right outside of the beach parking lot and then walking to the restaurant. There may be other methods as well; check out some other reviews.

Overall, this place is a blast! Would definitely bring friends back again for a fun experience and some delicious, fresh food. It’s also located right next to the beach, so you can relax by the waves afterwards. My friends and I had a fantastic time!

— Review by Lillian T.

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