Ojai Restaurants in 2023 – an Introduction
We’ve lived near Ojai, California for over a decade and we’re pretty knowledgeable when it comes to Ojai restaurants. Having said that, there have been a lot of changes lately, with some favorite places closing and new restaurants popping up at their locations. We’ve dined at most places in town. I’m not listing every restaurant below because that’s what TripAdvisor and Yelp are for – this is simply a list of the Ojai restaurants we frequent, and like, and recommend to others (it actually started out as a list for our houseguests).
I’m listing all of our favorites alphabetically first with a few thoughts on each. Below that I have short lists of our favorite restaurants in town for food quality, take-out, quick bites, atmosphere, ice cream, and coffee/breakfast.
If I have OG after the name, it’s a restaurant that’s been around a while. Those have more of an Ojai vibe than newer places. And isn’t the Ojai vibe why you’re visiting in the first place?
If you try one of these, please come back and comment on the post later with whether you liked it or not. That will help future readers. And if you have suggestions on a better way to organize this list, I’m happy to change things around.
If anything is incorrect below, please let me know and I’ll fix it immediately. Note: I’m purposely not including the days or hours that each restaurant is open – that information simply changes too quickly. Please check websites or call the restaurants to verify that they’re open.
And I’m not including many photos since I want this to be an easily referenced list.
Quick Reference Map
Yellow = breakfast/coffee, Blue = lunch/dinner, Red = ice cream
Our Favorite Ojai Restaurants – Alphabetically
Agave Maria’s (OG)
106 S. Montgomery Street, (805) 646-6353
Good Mexican food, very good margaritas, and a great outside patio atmosphere. Our go-to dishes are Chicken Campestre, the Asada Especiale, and the Enchiladas.
3277 East Ojai Avenue, (805) 646-6116
Pasta, pizza and strawberry shortcake in a great outdoor setting. Boccali’s has a lot of loyal customers who love the food. We’ve never loved the food, but the setting makes up for it. It also features the best pumpkin patch in town in October.
Bonnie Lu’s (OG)
328 East Ojai Avenue in the arcade, (805) 646-0207
For years we went to Bonnie Lu’s for breakfast literally every Sunday before walking over to the farmer’s market. When we have foreign visitors this is always their favorite place in town – I think for the food and the traditional diner atmosphere. Breakfasts and lunches are always good.
Deer Lodge (OG)
2261 Maricopa Hwy, (805) 646-4256
Deer Lodge is the oldest restaurant in Ojai – just a few minutes from town. I love the atmosphere and the food is generally good – think burgers, BBQ and beer, but with some interesting twists. Turns into a biker bar on the weekends.
457 East Ojai Avenue, (805) 640-7987
The Dutchess is Ojai’s new hip place to see and be seen. It’s a great setting, with a light, open front bar/cafe area, a dining room and a back patio. I’d opt for the front room or the patio if you have a choice.
The best thing about The Dutchess was the pastries from Kate’s Bread, but she left. Not sure how that will influence the quality of their breads? The sandwiches and quiches at lunch were good, and not a bad value. We haven’t been tempted to go for dinner – we’ve simply had too many people tell us that they spent several hundred dollars and left feeling hungry, typically stopping at Air Pizza in Oak View for pizza afterwards on their way back to the coast. If you’ve had a positive or negative experience with The Dutchess, please comment below!
Exotic Thai (OG)
849 East Ojai Avenue, (805) 646-6618
We get take out from Exotic Thai at least once a month. Our standard order: 2x Egg Rolls, Rama Thai with chicken, Asparagus and Snow Peas, Pad See-Ew with beef and Garlic Green Beans for four of us. There’s always enough left over for lunch the next day.
Farmer and the Cook (OG)
339 West El Roblar, (805) 640-9608
Farmer and the Cook, a cafe in nearby Meiners Oaks with an all-organic, vegetarian menu, is our spot for weekly date lunches (much easier to make happen than date dinners when you have three kids). Some people go for breakfast, coffee and/or smoothies. For lunch we always order the huarache, the goat cheese and veggie tacos, or the Swiss chard enchiladas. There’s a great outdoor patio. And in the evenings a few nights a week they make pizzas and have live music. Don’t be scared off if you’re not a vegetarian – everything is excellent.
Hakane Sushi (OG)
967 East Ojai Avenue, (805) 640-3070
We love sushi and split our time between Hakane and Sakura (below). Hakane has a better dine-in atmosphere and better options for picky kids – things like breaded chicken cutlets. Sakura is super-convenient downtown, and I like some of their rolls better. I feel like we get a little more food for the money at Hakane. You can’t go wrong.
Hip Vegan (OG)
201 North Montgomery Street, (805) 669-6363
We’ve only been to Hip Vegan once and didn’t love it, but we’re not vegan. Since vegans we know rave about Hip Vegan, I wanted to include it here in case you’re looking for a vegan option. It’s right downtown.
Jim & Rob’s Fresh Grill (OG)
214 West Ojai Avenue, (805) 640-1301
An Ojai institution, Jim & Rob’s has pretty much anything you’re looking for in the Mexican, burrito or burger realm. And they also have Lisa’s Cantina next door if you’re looking for a place to drink and watch sports. Lots of indoor and outdoor seating, but take-out is easy too.
Ojai Valley Inn, (855) 697-8780
We’ve never stayed at the Ojai Valley Inn, but we’ve gone over dozens of times, usually for dinners at Jimmy’s Pub – salads, burgers, tacos and pizzas – overlooking the resort’s golf course. It’s a perfect place to sit outside while your kids run around, and it has a great view of Ojai’s famous Pink Moment just before sunset. It’s the resort’s most casual restaurant, but it still has resort pricing.
La Fuente (OG)
423 East Ojai Avenue, (805) 646-7715
Authentic, inexpensive, good Mexican food right behind The Nest and Agave Maria’s. My daughter, in high school, says this is her favorite place in Ojai to get burritos.
401 East Ojai Avenue, (805) 798-9035
The Nest has one of the most Foodie/California menus in town, with a wide range of flavors in their limited menu. Everything is excellent. The cauliflower tacos are particularly good. Order at the window and then enjoy the patio while you wait and dine.
314 El Paseo Road, (805) 640-1648
Nocciola is one of the nicer dining experiences in Ojai – authentic Italian in a converted house, and the porch and patio are great, even on hot evenings. Plus it’s one of the only places in Ventura County to get wild boar (my favorite). I’ve never had anyone tell me they didn’t love their meals. The only negative is the price – the last time we dined there (late 2022), we had one appetizer, two entrees and two glasses of ok wine and the bill was $136 before tip.
Ojai Beverage Company (OBC) (OG)
655 East Ojai Avenue, (805) 646-1700
OBC has the best wine and liquor selection in town, and it also has its own restaurant, with (according to my son) the best hamburgers in town. A great, unconventional place to have burgers as well as BBQ, salads, tacos and (large) sandwiches.
Ojai Pizza (OG)
331 East Ojai Avenue, (805) 646-7878
Ojai Pizza has very good pizza – plus a few salads, sandwiches and pastas. Large pizzas are typically half price on Wednesdays. I should note that I like Ojai Pizza better than my wife does; she prefers Papa Lennon’s.
Osteria Monte Grappa (OMG) (OG)
242 East Ojai Avenue in the arcade, (805) 640-6767
The nicest restaurant in the center of town. Authentic Italian with a nice dining room and a great patio in the back next to a small park where your kids can run around while you’re waiting for your food.
Ojai Valley Deli Cafe
1205 Maricopa Hwy, Unit A, (805) 272-8139
An authentic Italian cafe, with panini, cold sandwiches and pasta dishes. Perfect for a to-go lunch as you’re heading out of town.
Papa Lennon’s (OG)
515 West El Roblar, (805) 640-7388
The number one place we recommend to friends when they visit. It’s a few minutes from downtown Ojai, but worth the drive. Their patio in the evenings is perfect – a great outdoor setting with bistro lights and often with live music. Very good pastas, pizzas and sandwiches.
307 E. Matilija St. Suite C, (805) 272-0028
My teenage daughter’s favorite place to go with her friends – for the kombucha and acai bowls. Trendy and Instagram-friendly.
139 E. Ojai Avenue, (805) 798-9207
The vibe isn’t particularly Ojai, and it’s expensive (two of us spent $140 for two entrees, two appetizers and one glass of wine), but Rory’s Place has legitimately good food. A little awkward: my entree arrived a good half-hour before my wife’s entree. Better for a date night than for a family with young kids.
Sakura Sushi (OG)
219 East Matilija Street, (805) 646-8777
We pick up from Sakura all the time. We love their rolls, teppan yaki and gyoza. The atmosphere is probably better at Hakane, but Sakura’s food is always excellent, and the location is perfect – just behind the arcade.
104 N Signal Street, (805) 797-8675
If you feel like burritos or street tacos for lunch, Tortilla House is perfect. I wish Ojai had more places like this – very good authentic food to-go, with a limited menu and a line out the door. Cash only.
Westridge Midtown Market (OG)
131 West Ojai Avenue, (805) 646-4082
Westridge Midtown is the best grocery store in town, and they also have a great hot food section, with eggs and breakfast burritos in the morning, pizzas from their pizza oven for lunch and dinner, sushi and a whole lot more.
The Best Ojai Restaurants – Food Quality
- Farmer and the Cook
- Papa Lennon’s
- Sakura Sushi
- Rory’s Place
The Best Ojai Restaurants – Take Out
- La Fuente
- Exotic Thai
- Ojai Pizza
- Jim & Rob’s Fresh Grill
- Westridge Midtown Market
The Best Ojai Restaurants – Quick Bites
- Tortilla House
- Ojai Valley Deli Cafe
The Best Ojai Restaurants – Dine-In Atmosphere
- Jimmy’s Pub (Ojai Valley Inn)
- Papa Lennon’s
- Osteria Monte Grappa
The Best Ojai Restaurants – Kid-Friendly Dinners
- Agave Maria’s
- Papa Lennon’s
- Ojai Pizza
- Osteria Monte Grappa
The Best Ojai Restaurants – Coffee/Breakfast
- Ojai Coffee Roasting (337 East Ojai Avenue) – Ojai’s OG coffee place, across from the arcade. My default for takeaway coffee or working with my laptop.
- Bonnie Lu’s (328 East Ojai Avenue) – Description above.
- Love Social Cafe (205 North Signal Street) – Good pastries and egg dishes, cute courtyard setting.
The Best Ojai Restaurants – Ice Cream, etc…
- Ojai Ice Cream (210 East Ojai Avenue in the arcade)
- Sander’s & Sons Gelato (334 East Ojai Avenue just east of the arcade)
- Bliss Frozen Yogurt (451 East Ojai Avenue)
I haven’t included Ojai Rotie (469 East Ojai Avenue). It’s popular, with very good chicken and a great courtyard setting, but all four times we’ve been we’ve been disappointed with undercooked vegetables. Every time. You may have better luck.