The Best Restaurants in Ojai, California
Ojai, California, like Malibu wine country, is both a foodie destination, and the perfect place to get away from it all. I’ve come to Ojai for numerous day trips from Los Angeles, spent many weekends, and I’ve stayed for a 2 week stretch, and have loved it every single time. We stay close to downtown as most of the best restaurants Ojai has to offer are then in walking distance.
With the backdrop of the Topa Topa mountains, no matter what activity you fancy, you can count on picture-perfect scenery. Dining on delicious food, peeking in at the art galleries, hiking, wine tasting, strolling through downtown Ojai, indulging in a spa day, listening to music at a brewery, or doing nothing at all except soaking in the surroundings is what visiting Ojai is all about. There’s truly something for everyone and the same goes for the best restaurants in Ojai.
The Best Restaurants in Ojai, California
The Ojai food scene is bustling. Although the downtown area is primarily one main street that runs a few blocks, Ojai restaurants are plentiful. On our list of best Ojai restaurants, we have something for every palate and budget from fine-dining restaurants to casual eateries. So, if you’re wondering where to eat in Ojai, don’t google “food near me” or even “restaurants near me,” just read on for the best places to eat in Ojai, California!
Ojai Rotie: Best Casual Ojai Restaurant
As a chef and a foodie, I love everything about this casual Ojai restaurant that self-describes its cuisine as “Lebanese French Picnic.” I recommend ordering family style from the limited but tasty menu. The simple yet complex flavors of the signature Rotie Chicken with a couple of sides (cauliflower and slaw are my favs) and grilled Lebanese flatbread makes me happy every time. I wouldn’t leave without a loaf of bread of some kind. The sourdough boule is my top pick, but the olive loaf and baguette are quite yummy too.
In addition to the food, the ambiance is very inviting both day and night with a large tree-studded patio, picnic tables, and views of the Topa Topas. The chef team behind Ojai Rotie, Claud Mann and Larry (Lorenzo) Nicola, are true artisans and very hands on. You will find them going from table to table ensuring the highest quality of food and service. Definitely a contributing factor to why Roti is one of the places to eat in Ojai. Once we were there during a neighborhood blackout and they impressed me with how well they handled the situation and kept their cool.
Location: 469 E Ojai Ave
Azu Restaurant & Bar: Best Small Plates in Ojai
Next door to Ojai Roti, Azu has been serving tasty Spanish Mexican dishes for over 20 years. The entrance area by the bar has comfy chairs and wood tables which I find very welcoming. Although the dining room is quite charming too, I like to sit by the front window and watch the Topa Topa mountains turn pink as you can do in certain downtown Ojai restaurants.
What about the food? It’s excellent! It’s on this Ojai best restaurants list after all!
My husband and I are sharers, so we usually order a few of their small plates and eat them tapas style. We often order the Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Ahi Ceviche, Gambas al Aliollo, and Arugula & Dried Fig Salad. Keeping in the Spanish theme, they offer a vegetarian Paella as well as a seafood Paella reminiscent of the traditional Valencian dish.
Location: 457 E Ojai Ave
The Oak at the Ojai Valley Inn: Best Fine Dining in Ojai
No list of best Ojai restaurants would be complete without one of the restaurants at the Ojai Valley Inn, and my pick is The Oak. Although the resort has an even fancier restaurant, this restaurant exudes fine dining and I consider it a splurge. If you want something a little less expensive go for lunch.
The lovely outdoor patio overlooks the expansive rolling greens of the golf course on the property dotted with huge oak trees. This is also another wonderful location to view “the pink moment” of the Topa Topas. Yes, this really is a thing.
The menu changes seasonally. I’ve never been disappointed with their scallops (seafood is always fresh), pork chop, or filet mignon. Reservations recommended.
Location: 905 Country Club Rd
Osteria Monte Grappa: Best Italian Restaurant in Ojai
As you may have read in my recipe post for Marinara Sauce, I usually don’t go out for Italian food. Growing up with homemade traditional Italian dishes, I am easily disappointed by the typical American-Italian restaurant. So, while it may seem odd to go to Ojai, California for Italian food, Osteria Monte Grappa’s house made pappardelle, ravioli, and agnolotti are worth a trip.
I have the hardest time deciding between melt in your mouth agnolotti with braised beef, the green herb ravioli, and all the pappardelle dishes! Luckily, as I’ve said, my husband will always share!
Location: 242 East Ojai Avenue
Agave Maria’s: Best Mexican Restaurant in Ojai
If you have a hankering for a margarita and a giant burrito, head to Agave Maria’s, the best Mexican restaurant in Ojai. And I mean a really big, I cannot eat the whole thing burrito.
A little off the main drag, the atmosphere feels relaxed yet festive. I like to sit by the fountain outside which usually provides some good people watching of the passers by.
Location: 106 S. Montgomery St
Boccali’s Pizza: Best Pizza in Ojai
With all these wonderful Ojai restaurants, the only celebrity siting I’ve had here occurred at Boccali’s. And I find that especially funny because this places serves mainly locals since it’s a few blocks past the tourist part of town.
Choose your own toppings to build the best Ojai pizza. Toppings range from eggplant and artichokes to meatballs and prosciutto to crab and shrimp. The dough is thicker than NY style, but certainly nothing like Chicago deep-dish pizza.
Don’t expect fancy California pizza; this is a family joint. Grab a picnic table outside, and enjoy the best pizza in Ojai with a pitcher of beer while you watch the sunset behind the beautiful field across the street.
Location: 3277 E. Ojai Avenue
Topa Topa Brewery/Little Sama: Best Ojai Food and Beer
Loved by locals as well as tourists, Topa Topa Brewery feels like the neighborhood hangout. You can come to the for a quick beer and find your self still there a couple hours later listening to music, playing backgammon, and eating a braised pork belly sandwich.
The Southeast Asian-inspired food is provided by Little Sama Ojai, and the beer by Top Top Brewing Co. Between their seasonal beers and core beers everyone should be able to satisfy their palette. And if beer’s not your thing, try the hard seltzer of the day.
Location: 345 E Ojai Ave
Questions About Our Best Ojai Restaurants List
You may be wondering about a couple of things discussed in this article:
What is the “pink moment” in Ojai?
The magical pink moment occurs just before sunset in the Ojai Valley. At this time, the The Topa Topa mountain walls that line the valley become washed with a pink hue few just a few minutes. You can view the pink moment phenomenon from just about anywhere you get a view of the Topa Topa which can be walking down Ojai Ave, or at many of the restaurants on our list.
Who was the celebrity sighting at Boccali’s?
We spotted the British actor, Malcolm McDowell, pulling in to park at Boccali’s. He was kind enough to let this stranger get into his car and take a photo with him. If you can’t place him, he was the older conductor in Mozart in the Jungle and numerous other TV series that I myself have never seen.