Bakery

1st Place
The Royal Bakery
4726 Telephone Rd., Ventura
658-6030

2nd Place
My Florist
76 S. Oak St., Ventura
653-0003

3rd Place
Bread Basket 83 E. Daily Dr., Camarillo, 482-1337

 

Barista

1st Place
Zoe Liang
Palermo
321 E. Main St., Ventura
643-3070

2nd Place
Michelle Burke
Caffrodite Espresso Bar & Café
876 E. Main St., Ventura
648-6005

3rd Place
Jay Nerdrum
Latte 101
5722 Telephone Rd., Ventura
658-2677

 

Buffet

1st Place
Taj Café
574 E. Main St., Ventura
652-1521

2nd Place
Yolanda’s
2753 E. Main St., Ventura
643-2700

86 E. Daily Dr., Camarillo
389-9922

1601 S. Victoria Ave., Oxnard
985-1340

590 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
306-9933

3rd Place
Maharaja Cuisine of India
2437 E. Main St., Ventura
641-3644

 

Best place to eat a whole fish (eyeballs and all)

Ortiz Taco Time on the Avenue in Ventura

371 N. Ventura Ave, Ventura, 648-5003

oWorking close to the Avenue in Ventura, I’ve tried a lot of taco shops, but my hands-down favorite is Ortiz Taco Time. When it burned down in March of last year, I kicked myself for not having tried the mojarra frita, pictured above the cash register. The photo of a whole fish was intriguing and intimidating all at once, but I stuck with the tried and true tacos, gorditas and sopes that are done so well. When I heard that Ortiz was back, I made a beeline for the new spot it found just a few doors down from the old.

Bulmaro Ortiz, the owner, originally from Zacatecas, Mexico, cooked for many years at the Four Season Biltmore in Santa Barbara before he finally stepped out on his own to open Taco Time. Most of the menu is what you would expect of a typical taco shop, but there are many stand outs, particularly the seafood. The shrimp cocktail and the tostada ceviche are excellent, but you won’t find fish tacos here. What you will find is mojarra frita — a whole tilapia, seasoned, scored and fried, then served up with fresh lemon wedges, beans, rice, pico de gallo, tortilla chips, smoky salsa and four corn tortillas.

When the plate came out, I knew I was in for an eating adventure. It was staring at me, gape-mouthed, with fins poking out, and was so big it was hanging over the side of the plate. I took off my jacket, rolled up my sleeves, pulled my hair back and started plucking the chunks of fish from the bones. It was crispy on the outside, but moist, tender and mild on the inside. I filled up two tortillas, then flipped Nemo over and had at the other side. I washed it down with a pineapple Jarritos soda, plopped a 10-dollar bill on the table, and didn’t eat again until the next day!

If you are ready for an authentic foodie adventure, head on over to Ortiz Taco Time. I didn’t have the nerve to eat the eyeballs, but maybe you will!

— Lisa Snider

 

 

Burrito

1st Place
Corrales
795 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-1043

1951 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-6138

2nd Place
El Taco de Mexico
3114 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
642-9409

3rd Place
Jim & Rob’s Fresh Grill
1876 E. Main St., Ventura
653-7276

214 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai
640-1301

11420 N. Ventura Ave., Ojai
649-2222

 

Business lunch

1st Place
Fresh & Fabulous CafE & Bakery
401 S. A St., Oxnard
486-4547

2nd Place
CafE Fiore
66 S. California St., Ventura
653-1266

3rd Place
CafE Zack
1095 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-9445

Main Course California
1363 Donlon St., Suite 11, Ventura
658-8900

 

Best way to get your aphrodisiac on

Sea Fresh

3550 Harbor Blvd., Oxnard, 204-0974

“If you don’t love life, you can’t enjoy an oyster; there is a shock of freshness to it and intimations of the ages of man, some piercing intuition of the sea and all its weeds and breezes. [They] shiver you for a split second.”
— Eleanor Clark, author

Love. It always boils down to that. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite is the goddess of love and desire, forever symbolizing eroticism, fertility, lust …. Imagine swallowing Aphrodite and being briefly possessed of her powers. From this, we get the word aphrodisiac. An aphrodisiac refers to any substance that increases sexual desire, revs you up and gets you feeling that you just might be able to please your lover this time.

Some say oysters can do such a thing.

There is no scientific evidence backing aphrodisiacs, but the myth endowing sexual prowess is enough to whet the appetite. As Jonathan Swift once said, “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”

Ventura County is not an oyster hotbed. There is no oyster bar culture like those found in big coastal cities, or in small fishing towns that harvest oysters, from Northern California up to Seattle. But Sea Fresh, located in the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, makes quite the go of it.

“We like the ones from Washington or British Columbia,” said Chris Sutton, Sea Fresh owner. “A lot of people like East Coast or Gulf oysters, but here the water is cleaner, colder and gives it a clean taste.”

The oyster bar at Sea Fresh connects with the sushi bar and shucks primarily Sunset Beach oysters or Kumamoto oysters imported from South Puget Sound, Washington.

The Sunset Beach oyster has a full, plump meat with a medium brininess and sweet flavor, and the Kumomoto oyster is deep-cupped with petit meats, mild brininess and a honeydew finish, often a favorite for beginning oyster eaters.

Or buy several dozen oysters in the shell, and on the way home, pick up some white wine and a handle of vodka, which pair wonderfully with oysters. Then throw a party, shuck them for your guests, and see if these delicate treats possess magic aphrodisiac powers.

Though the oyster wasn’t powerful enough to save my last relationship, it is certainly enough to show others a good time.

— Shane Cohn

 

 

Breakfast spot

1st Place
Allison’s Country CafE
3429 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
644-9072

2nd Place
Eggs ‘n’ Things
4020 E. Main St., Ventura
642-3190

92 Daily Dr., Camarillo
987-4497

1103 Maricopa & 33 Highway, Ojai
646-5346

2955 Cochran St., Simi Valley
527-0055

1542 Moorpark Rd., Thousand Oaks
497-1711

3rd Place
Pete’s Breakfast House
2055 E. Main St., Ventura
648-1130

 

Cheap eats

1st Place
Corrales
795 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-1043

1951 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-6138

2nd Place
Spencer Makenzie’s Fish Company
806 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-8226

3rd Place
Jim & Rob’s Fresh Grill
1876 E. Main St., Ventura
653-7276

214 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai
640-1301

11420 N. Ventura Ave., Ojai
649-2222

 

Chinese

1st Place
Golden China
760 S. Seaward Ave., Ventura
652-0688

2nd Place
Mandarin House
4020 E. Main St., Ventura
654-0933

3rd Place
Peking Inn
330 N. Lantana St., Suite 31, Camarillo
987-8188

 

Coffee house

1st Place
Palermo
321 E. Main St., Ventura
643-3070

2nd Place
Simones Coffee & Tea
7818 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
659-0860

3rd Place
Caffrodite Espresso Bar & Café
1876 E. Main St., Ventura
648-6005

 

Cupcake

1st Place
Sugar Bear’s Cupcake Shack
451 E. Main St., Suite 8, Ventura
641-9944

2nd Place
Savory Café & Bakery
419 E. Main St., Ventura
652-7092

3rd Place
Fresh & Fabulous Café & Bakery
401 S. A St., Oxnard
486-4547

 

Dessert

1st Place
Bread Basket
83 E. Daily Drive, Camarillo
482-1337

2nd Place
The Royal Bakery
4726 Telephone Rd., Ventura
658-6030

3rd Place
My Florist
76 S. Oak St., Ventura
653-0003

 

Diner

1st Place
Busy Bee Cafe
478 E. Main St., Ventura
643-4864

2nd Place
Danny’s Deli & Grill
3263 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
289-9200

3rd Place
Vagabond Inn
760 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-1390

 

Donut shop

1st Place
Rolling Pin Donuts
2153 Las Posas Rd., Camarillo
482-8711

2nd Place
KD Village Donuts
3855 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
644-6778

3rd Place
Avenue Donuts
67 W. Main St., Unit D, Ventura
648-1214

 

Farmer’s market

1st Place
Downtown Ventura

2nd Place
Ojai Farmers market

3rd Place
Channel Islands Harbor

 

Fast food

1st Place
The Habit Burger Grill
1855 E. Daily Dr., Camarillo
484-2950

1025 Broadbeck Ln., Newbury Park
375-9227

2350 Vineyard Ave., Oxnard
981-9919

2906 Tapo Canyon Rd., Simi Valley
527-4500

11 E. Hillcrest Dr., Thousand Oaks
494-1124

487 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
667-2065

4732 Telephone Rd., Ventura
676-1717

2nd Place
Corrales
795 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-1043

1951 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-6138

3rd Place
Snapper Jack’s Taco Shack
5100 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
642-5111

4850 Verdugo Way, Camarillo
384-0334

 

Fine dining

1st Place
Watermark On Main
598 E. Main St., Ventura
643-6800

2nd Place
Restaurant Brooks
545 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
652-7070

3rd Place
Aloha Steakhouse
364 S. California St., Ventura
652-1799

 

Fish taco

1st Place
Spencer Makenzie’s Fish Company
806 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-8226

2nd Place
Snapper Jack’s Taco Shack
5100 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
642-5111

4850 Verdugo Way, Camarillo
384-0334

3rd Place
Pepe’s Mexican Food
200 Rossmore Dr., Oxnard
985-2880

 

Ice cream

1st Place
McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream & Yogurt
3241 E. Main St., Ventura
650-6410

2nd Place
Coastal Cone
1583 Spinnaker Dr., Suite 104, Ventura
658-2837

3rd Place
Palermo
321 E. Main St., Ventura
643-3070

 

Indian

1st Place
Taj Café
574 E. Main St., Ventura
652-1521

2nd Place
Maharaja Cuisine of India
2437 E. Main St., Ventura
641-3644

3rd Place
The Curry Leaf
5253 Mission Oaks Blvd, Camarillo
482-8880

 

Italian

1st Place
Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant
2788 E. Main St., Ventura
648-7270

2nd Place
Café Fiore
66 S. California St., Ventura
653-1266

3rd Place
Capriccio
298 E. Main St., Ventura
643-7115

 

Kid-friendly

1st Place
Duke’s Griddle n’ Grill
1124 S. Seaward Ave., Ventura
653-0707

2nd Place
Busy Bee
478 E. Main St., Ventura
643-4864

3rd Place
Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant
2788 E. Main St., Ventura
648-7270

 

Late night eats

1st Place
Jimmy’s Slice
586 E. Main St., Ventura
648-6133

2nd Place
My Florist
76 S. Oak St., Ventura
653-0003

3rd Place
El Rey Cantina
294 E. Main St., Ventura
653-1111

 

Mexican

1st Place
Yolanda’s
2753 E. Main St., Ventura
643-2700

86 E. Daily Dr., Camarillo
389-9922

1601 S. Victoria Ave., Oxnard
985-1340

590 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
306-9933

2nd Place
Casa de Soria
1961 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
648-2083

3rd Place
Corrales
795 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-1043

1951 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-6138

 

New restaurant

(Open less than 12 months)

1st Place
RICE Thai Cuisine
387 E. Main St., Ventura
641-3573

2nd Place
Café Amri 2000 Outlet Center
Dr., Suite 295, Oxnard
983-3026

3rd Place
The Italian Job Café
2810 Harbor Blvd., Oxnard
832-4945

 

Noodle House

1st Place
Mai’s Café Aloha
1967 E. Main St., Ventura
652-2061

2nd Place
Ozeki Noodle
349 W. Esplanade Dr., Oxnard
604-4485

3rd Place
Pho Oxnard Vietnamese Restaurant
722 N. Ventura Rd., Oxnard
485- 1531

 

Vegetarian restaurant

1st Place
Nature’s Grill
566 E. Main St., Ventura
643-7855

2nd Place
Mary’s Secret Garden
100 S. Fir St., Ventura
641-FOOD

3rd Place
Lassen’s
4071 E. Main St., Ventura
644-6990

2857 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks
495-2609

3471 Saviers Rd., Oxnard
486-8266

 

Romantic restaurant

1st Place
Café Fiore
66 S. California St., Ventura
653-1266

2nd Place
Watermark On Main
598 E. Main St., Ventura
643-6800

3rd Place
Café Zack
1095 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-9445

 

Sandwich

1st Place
Urbane Café
4960 Telephone Rd., Ventura
654-1619

2nd Place
Danny’s Deli
3263 Telegraph Road, Ventura
289-9200

3rd Place
Fresh & Fabulous Café & Bakery
401 S. A St., Oxnard
486-4547

 

Seafood

1st Place
Andria’s Seafood Restaurant
& Fish Market
1449 Spinnaker Dr., Suite A, Ventura
654-0546

2nd Place
Brophy Brothers
1559 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura
639-0865

3rd Place
Eric Ericsson’s on the Pier
668 Harbor Blvd, Ventura
643-4783

 

Smoothie

1st Place
Blenders in the Grass
607 E. Main St., Suite B, Ventura
641-0916

488 S. Mills Rd., Ventura
642-4557

2508 Los Posas Rd., Camarillo
482-4507

2nd Place
Mary’s Secret Garden
100 S. Fir St., Ventura
641-FOOD

3rd Place
Nature’s Grill  566 E. Main St., Ventura
643-7855

 

Sunday brunch

1st Place
Capistrano’s Restaurant & Catering 2101 Mandalay Beach Rd., Oxnard
984-4269

2nd Place
Watermark On Main
598 E. Main St., Ventura
643-6800

3rd Place
Café Nouveau
1497 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
648-1422

 

Sushi

1st Place
I Love Sushi
5722 Telephone Rd., Ventura
639-4009

2nd Place
Sushi Marina
120 S. California St., Ventura
643-5200

3rd Place
O-Sabi Restaurant
5795 Walker St., Ventura
642-6200

 

Steakhouse

1st Place
Aloha Steakhouse
364 S. California St., Ventura
652-1799

2nd Place
Wood Ranch
1101 E. Daily Dr., Camarillo
482-1202

3449 E. Main St., Ventura
620-4500

540 New Los Angeles Ave., Moorpark
523-7253

3rd Place
Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
2009 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
652-1055

 

Thai

1st Place
Tipp’s Thai
512 E. Main St., Ventura
643-3040

2nd Place
Sawasdee Thai Cuisine
2887 Johnson Dr., Ventura
642-8879

3rd Place
RICE Thai Cuisine
387 E. Main St., Ventura
641-3573

 

Outdoor dining

1st Place
Café Nouveau
1497 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
648-1422

2nd Place
Tutti’s Off Main
34 N. Palm St., Ventura
643-0880  

3rd Place
Boccali’s Pizza & Pasta
3277 Ojai Santa Paula Rd.
646-6116

 

Pizza

1st Place
Topper’s Pizza
385-4444
3940 E. Main St., Ventura

520 Arneil Rd., Camarillo

2701 Peninsula Rd., Oxnard

2100 Saviers Rd., Oxnard

111 E. Gonzales Rd., Oxnard

1416 N. Moorpark Rd., Thousand Oaks

2408 Erringer Rd., Simi Valley

2nd Place
Tony’s Pizzaria
186 E.Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-8425

3rd Place
Pizza Chief
7770 Telegraph Rd, Ventura
647-8888

1612 Main St., Ventura
648-1877

2550 E. Vineyard Ave
Suite 160, Oxnard
485-2966

 

Specialty foods

1st Place
Paradise Pantry
677 E. Main St., Ventura
641-9440

2nd Place
We Olive Ventura
294 E. Main St., Suite B, Ventura
648-6166

3rd Place
Lassen’s
4071 E. Main St., Ventura
644-6990

2857 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks
495-2609

3471 Saviers Rd., Oxnard
486-8266

Mary’s Secret Garden
100 S. Fir St., Ventura
641-FOOD

 

Wine tasting

1st Place
Paradise Pantry
677 E. Main St., Ventura
641-9440

2nd Place
The Cave at the Ventura Wine Co.
4435 McGrath St., Suite 301, Ventura
642-9449

3rd Place
The Wine Rack
14 S. California St., Ventura
653-9463