The first time I stumbled upon this hideaway was in an issue of Los Angeles magazine. The article drummed up the romance of the rolling mountains, the small spanish revival village and the glasses of wine that are poured for patrons looking to escape LA for a weekend. It sounded to me that a weekend exploration in Ojai was in order. A few months later, some girlfriends and I were in the need of a quick weekend getaway, these magazine painted images of those rolling hills and flowing wine poured into my mind and before I knew it we were set to visit the town of Ojai one three-day weekend in August.
The small town of Ojai has been sitting in the hills of Ventura County since the 1870s, originally named after Charles Nordhoff, the travel writer, Ojai has long been a retreat for artists, hippies, and spiritual beings all looking for a paradise to express themselves. After a girls weekend getaway I am bound to say that Ojai has one foot in the future and one in the past.
Ojai is located about 70 miles north of Los Angeles a simple hour and half drive up the coast and a few miles east will drop you back in time. No franchise restaurants or grocery stores, no hotels over two stories high and only a handful of non-locals.
Suzanne’s is a mother-daughter operation specializing in extremely fresh ingredients seasoned to perfection. “Mom” travels to 3 farmers markets to find radiant ingredients and inspiration for her menu. With French-Italian origin’s the menu is adorned with delicious sandwiches, robust salads, and delightful pastas. It is a must try at least once. Pictured above is the Calamari Steak Sandwich and the special with Burrata cheese and fresh tomatoes.
Suzanne’s Cuisine, 502 West Ojai Avenue Hours: Wed – Mon; lunch 11:30pm – 2:30pm; dinner 5:30pm – close
Critically acclaimed the “World’s Greatest Outdoor Bookstore”, Bart’s Books is a unique tribute to world of publishing and the plentiful wonders books can bring to those who still cherish printed words.
Within these walls thousands of books are displayed in wooden books shelves that are just barely covered from mother nature’s elements. It’s simply a must see and must browse.
Bart’s Books, 302 West Matilija Street
One of the very few tasting rooms in Ojai, Casa Barranca specializes in handcrafted organic wines. The winery although closed to the public, allows interested parties to taste and purchase their wines at Ojai’s arcade in downtown. Offering two wine flights for $10 – $15. Hint: Our two favorites were the Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.
Casa Barranca, 208 E. Ojai Ave, Hours: M -Th 12pm – 6pm; Fri – Sat 12pm – 7pm; Sun 12pm – 6pm
A one stop shop for beer connoisseurs, wine lovers and people simply searching for the best of the best when alcohol tasting adventures. Ojai Beverage Company is a tasting-room accompanied by affordable food and a liquor store. I am under estimating the combination — honestly on first entrance into the establishment you are confronted by hundreds of wines and fridges full of craft beer from around the world, venture a little deeper and you’ll discover a rather small but accommodating bar and seating area. Tastings are plentiful and extremely affordable. Try any 4 wines for $7 and taste all 20 beers on tap for $31 (be aware these are about 6-oz tastings).
In my craft brew obsessed ways it’s a must see and a must try, just make sure you have someone or a few someones to help you accomplish the task.
Ojai Beverage Company (OBC), 655 E. Ojai Ave.
Recap on the small sleepy town of Ojai
My advice to anyone thinking of making the trip — don’t go to Ojai with the expectation of exploration instead go there with a mindset of relaxation. Plan to visit a local spa, bring a good book or a project and of course drag some good company with you. Ojai may not have been the wine mecca we girls had envisioned but for someone seeking a retreat it fits the bill.