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Are there no good eats in Ventura County?

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.

May 11, 2011
dgasser in Los Angeles Area

Lunch in Ventura

We like Wood Ranch just fine for a local chain and their version of tri-tip is fairly tasty, but not at all representative of California-style tri-tip. They do theirs more Texas-style, roasting it to medium-well and using a heavy tomato-based sauce, two things any real Santa Maria BBQ joint would never do.

Oct 15, 2010
dgasser in Los Angeles Area

Best Winery Tour/Tasting around two hours from LA?

The 16 year old will be out of luck -- that's just state law.

As above, your best options are in the Santa Ynez valley, which might be pushing your 2 hour limit. The Paso Robles area is definitely much more than 2 hours. There are a few wineries in Ventura County (and even a couple in Malibu & the Santa Monica mountains), but I wouldn't recommend any of them based on what you're looking for.

I'm not sure what you're looking for as far as a tour -- most wineries just have a tasting room where they'll give you all the info you want about the wines and how they're made, but getting into the vineyards or such usually requires special arrangements.

My choice for wineries that give the best 'feel' for the area:

Alma Rosa
Melville (and that puts your right near Dierberg for a nice two-fer...)

Apr 23, 2010
dgasser in California

Woodland Hills & Vicinity Eats

Hmm. I haven't been to Ladyface since soon after they opened, but I don't recall them having a patio, and the food was...not good, but they do serve Fosselman's ice cream and are a Belgian-themed brewery, so that's probably the place.

Apr 22, 2010
dgasser in Los Angeles Area

Downtown Santa Barbara food/beer/wine ideas for an early Saturday night before Bowl show

The Brew House sounds like a good choice for what you're looking for, and it's a short cab ride from the Bowl area.

Brew House
229 W Montecito St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Apr 09, 2010
dgasser in California

Are there no good eats in Ventura County?

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

Apr 09, 2010
dgasser in Los Angeles Area

Are there no good eats in Ventura County?

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.

Apr 08, 2010
dgasser in Los Angeles Area

Meat markets Oxnard/Ventura

There's not a ton of options around here, to be honest. Watkins is decent, but they only offer a few cuts of frozen beef. There's also a local buffalo ranch that shows up at the Ojai FM sometimes.

Lassen's market in Ventura is the only market in the area I know of that might fit your bill, and their selection is limited and usually frozen, too. Beyond that there's Bristol Farms up in Westlake.

The drive from Ojai to Carpinteria/Santa Barbara is beautiful and fun, though, so you should check out some of the better selection you can get up that direction.

Apr 08, 2010
dgasser in Los Angeles Area

Birthday Dinner in Santa Barbara/Buellton/Los Olivos?

American Flatbread is in Los Alamos. Haven't been there yet, but it looks interesting. I'm not sure it's a special occasion place along the lines of Root 246, Brothers Tavern, or the Ballard Inn, though.

Jan 16, 2010
dgasser in California

Gems in Oxnard and/or Ventura

Brooks in Ventura is easily the class of the town for foodies. Gets a bit loud and service can be a bit uneven, but the food is always first-rate, and by far the most interesting and creative in town.

The Watermark is a restaurant and lounge in a beautifully restored art deco building. The food in the restaurant downstairs is fairly good, if not terribly creative, and on the pricey side for the area. The small plates menu in the 3rd floor lounge tends to be much more interesting and a much better value, but can get very crowded on weekends.

We've found The Sidecar to be a bit hit or miss, but when the kitchen is on the food is very good, and at a fairly reasonable price.

Jonathon's, J's Tapas, and Capriccio are all fairly good, but in that price range we much prefer any of the above three restaurants.

It's In The Sauce is a great little BBQ shack on Main just East of Old Town Ventura.

Maria Bonita and Taqueria Tepatitlan are good Mexican in or near Old Town.

Taqueria Tepatitlan
362 N Ventura Ave, Ventura, CA 93001

Maria Bonita
256 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93001

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

A Restaurant
24075 Lake Dr, Crestline, CA 92325

Old Town Cafe
1055 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106

Oct 28, 2009
dgasser in Los Angeles Area

I am looking to visit Santa Barbara Wine country in Dec (my B-day) ....

Firestone was bought by Bill Foley, not Richard Sanford. Richard and his wife own and run Alma Rosa. (And to confuse things further, Sanford Winery is owned and run by the Terlato mob now.)

Most local winemakers don't seem to agree with the horticulturist above, although some are starting to hedge their bets into more Italian and Spanish varietals ahead of potential climate changes.

Oct 19, 2009
dgasser in California

Wynn Restaurant suggestions?

You might consider Stratta instead of the buffet when you hit town -- they're open late and do very approachable casual Italian, but with Alex Stratta's attention to detail.

We had a great lunch at Table 10 at Palazzo last time we were over there, and love the little noodle bar off the casino in Venetian. Bouchon brunch is another highly-rated option. (As others have mentioned, the lunch options are much better across the street than at the Wynn properties.)

Jun 12, 2009
dgasser in Las Vegas

Help! Too many great Vegas spots, too litte time

While others have had mixed experiences with Olives, it's one of our favorite places for lunch. The pizzas/flatbreads are the equal of anything I've had in Italy, and every other item we've tried has been very well executed. Service, likewise, has always been spot-on for us.

I don't know of anyone that's had a bad meal at Mesa Grill. I just prefer not to donate to the Bobby Flay cause.

The MAG menu has never impressed me -- I think there's several much better bistro-style places in Vegas that I prefer (and you're already hitting my favorite in Bouchon).

Jun 04, 2009
dgasser in Las Vegas

recession deals in las vegas

MGM has updated their specials for Summer:

Jun 03, 2009
dgasser in Las Vegas

Wynn/Encore food crawl...Okada/Wing Lei/Sinatra

I wouldn't disagree with this, although I'd put in the disclaimer that there's a *very* large step down between #10 and #11 on the list.

We haven't tried any of the new Encore places yet, but out of the Wynn eateries mentioned the only one we wouldn't return to is Red 8.

As others have mentioned, Wing Lei is probably a bit overpriced, but we've found the food and service to both be very good. We also really liked Stratta and thought it was very good value for the money last time we were there. Does it compare to Alex? Hell, no, but at 1/4 the price you shouldn't expect it to.

Tableau has one of the best breakfasts in Vegas. Haven't tried them for lunch or dinner.

Jun 01, 2009
dgasser in Las Vegas

Eating Adventures in Ojai and Beyond

I think you're doomed to a drive to Ventura or Santa Barbara for any of those, unfortunately.

Santa Barbara has plenty of good options for all 3 -- a quick search on the California board should give you a long list of ideas.

Ventura has Taqueria Tepatitlan on Ventura Avenue for Mexican, Sushi Marina downtown, and Sawasdee Thai on Johnson.

May 13, 2009
dgasser in Los Angeles Area

Are there no good eats in Ventura County?

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.

Apr 22, 2009
dgasser in Los Angeles Area

Carpinteria, Ventura, & Ojai


Bodee's: Fancy home-style food in gorgeous location with generally great service.

Boccali: Decent family-style Italian.

Manny's Oak Pit: Tasty hybrid Texas-California BBQ. Service was real rocky at opening, not sure if they've fixed since.

The Robin Hood: pseudo-English pub. Decent food, live music, fun atmosphere.

Ojai also has a very good farmer's market.

Ventura (sneaking it in here since you asked and it *really* doesn't belong lumped in with all of L.A.):

Brooks - Most innovative and interesting local place by far. Great food, nice locals specials.

The Watermark/W2O - Good, although occasionally over-trendy and/or uninspired food in a stunningly refurbished art deco building. Awesome staff and front-of-house operation. Upstairs lounge has a small plates menu that's very good value.

Taqueria Tepatitlan - Good authentic Mexican

Apr 03, 2009
dgasser in California

Downey or Bouchon in Santa Barbara

Good choices all around. Personally, I think Bouchon is a better value and more reflective of local cuisine and ingredients, but it's hard to say anything bad about Downey's. They're both very good choices.

Haven't done the Biltmore brunch in years, but it used to be fantastic, even at those prices.

Apr 03, 2009
dgasser in California

fun restaurants in Santa Barbara for girls weekend (30 something girls!)

Second on the recommendations for Montecito Cafe and The Brew House for good casual fare. Cava in Montecito has always been a good lunch spot, although I haven't been there recently.

For a water view and seafood, try Brophy Brothers or Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. The food isn't as top-notch as some of the downtown joints, but the atmosphere is good and the setting is great.

Opal, Bouchon, or Ca Dario would be good choices for a nice dinner that won't destroy budgets. Not much in the way of views at any of them, but they're all right on or near State downtown, and you can always grab cocktails on the beach beforehand :)

Feb 11, 2009
dgasser in California

Santa Barbara wine country wineries?

It's a she (Kris Curran), but yeah, I'd say they're fairly similar in style. More refined and European tasting than the big, brassy Pinots typical for this area. She's also branched out into some newer grapes for the region. I think her Tempranillo and Gewurztraminer are both phenomenal.

Jan 09, 2009
dgasser in California

Eating in the Central Coast

You really are talking about a huge amount of road to cover with several very distinct local food styles. There's tons of good restaurants in Santa Barbara that serve local ingredients and wine, so search the many threads for that city here for details. That being said, here's my short list of places that I'd say capture local flavors and ingredients well.

La Super Rica, Santa Barbara (taco stand, not a fancy restaurant. No wine.)
Brooks, Ventura (a little south of your specified area, but hey, if you're willing to drive all the way to Big Sur for food...)
Brothers Restaurant/Mattei's Tavern, Los Olivos
The Hitching Post, Casmalia (better) or Buelton (more convenient)
Jocko's, Nipomo
Far Western Tavern, Guadelupe

Jan 09, 2009
dgasser in California

Santa Barbara wine country wineries?

Was just up that way last weekend, and will second recommendations for Alma Rosa, Foxen, Melville, Zaca Mesa and Andrew Murray.

Additionally, Dierberg/Star Lane is right near Melville and worth a stop. If you're doing the Los Olivos swing, Blackjack Ranch is a good stop if you haven't been there (ignore all the Sideways hoopla at the tasting room -- the people and wines are worth it).

The new-ish Trio tasting room in Solvang covers Badge, diBruno (former winemaker at Sanford), and Curran (former winemaker for Sea Smoke), 3 interesting lesser-known labels from the area. Very friendly, knowledgeable, and unpretentious staff, too.

There's also a few by-appointment-only wineries that produce some nice wines if you want to take the extra effort -- Cold Heaven, Ken Brown, and Flying Goat.

Jan 09, 2009
dgasser in California

Santa Ynez/Solvang Winery recs

I highly recommend Blackjack Ranch, Foxen, and Zaca Mesa for a good cross-section of the local wines. There are a couple of combined tasting rooms in Los Olivos where samples of some of the smaller, more interesting wines from the area are available, too.

And I'll second the recs for Alma Rosa, Lincourt, and Mattei's.

Jan 14, 2008
dgasser in California