by Michele Foster
Saturday is a great day to explore the rich specialty food, wine and craft beer scene in Ventura.
1. Start early Saturday morning at the Harbor Village Fisherman’s Market to take in the amazing variety of fresh seafood brought in by local commercial fishermen. A feast for the senses, the market draws customers from Ventura and Los Angeles counties to pick up fresh product for the week to come. Watch the boats sail in from a morning catch and enjoy breakfast overlooking the harbor boats. Types of fish include but are not limited to: tuna, halibut, rockfish, sea bass, prawn, crab and sea cucumber. Admission and parking are free and fish is available on a first-come, first –serve basis. Saturday Fisherman’s Market is located in front of Andria’s Seafood Restaurant & Market, 1449 Spinnaker Drive, A.
2. Continue to Ventura’s Historic Downtown for a breakfast break at Marie Shannon Confections, enjoying a freshly made muffin or scone, or an inventive breakfast sandwich. Local pastry chef Shannon Wright designed her shop to pay tribute to the classic, comfortable stylistics of the neighborhood coffee shop. Marie Shannon Confection is located across from the historic Majestic Ventura Theater, at 27 S. Chestnut., 805-667-8043.
3. After breakfast, take a quick stroll down Santa Clara Street to enjoy a wonderful outdoor shopping experience at the Downtown Ventura Certified Farmer’s Market. This is the original Ventura County CFM, operating continuously since 1986. Over 45 California farmers and food vendors attend weekly, bringing you the freshest, vine-and-tree ripened fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh meat and fish, herbs, artisan baked goods, honey, eggs, whole and shelled nuts, cheese, olive oil, fruit juices, jams, jellies, cut flowers, and potted plants. Bring the family and have fun sampling new and exciting products. Located at the corner of Santa Clara and Palm streets, the Saturday Farmers’ Market is open year-round from 8AM to Noon, rain or shine.
4. Feeling inspired by the bounty of products at the Farmer’s Market? Take a walk up Palm Street to Main Street, stopping first at We Olive to appreciate their exceptional offering of California extra virgin olive oils, Italian balsamic vinegars, gourmet food and unique gifts. Enjoy a complimentary olive oil tasting guided by a knowledgeable staff member and sample their many gourmet food products, including tapenades, mustards and chocolates. We Olive, 294 E. Main Street, B., 805-648-6166.
5. Next, you might want to drop by Paradise Pantry Restaurant and Cheese Shop to sample from an array of small plates featuring Ventura County’s ever growing wine & cheese offerings, as well as other favorites such as old world pastrami with red dragon mustard ale cheese, specialty mac n cheese creations and unforgettable cheese plates. With a menu inspired by the artisan culture of Europe and the Mediterranean, the owners of Paradise Pantry are devoted to sharing their passion for quality and palate driven foods. Paradise Pantry 222 East Main St., 805-641-9440.
6. Time for some fun and possibly a sweet or two at Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop, a one stop shop for all of your soda pop and candy cravings. There are thousands of bottled soda pops and candies from all over America, including some from other galaxies. The gigantic selection will launch you back in time to when you were a kid. Rocket Fizz is a lot of fun and nostalgic. There are hundreds of retro and gag gifts, concert and movie posters, and tin signs too. The inventory is always expanding, just like outer-space. Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop, 315 E. Main Street, 805-641-1222.
7. After returning from the intergalactic fun of Rocket Fizz, continue up Main Street to the lovely and historic El Jardin Patio to discover Vom Fass, specializing in premium culinary oils, traditional balsamics and specialty vinegars, as well as spirits, liqueurs and a boutique selection of wines. When you enter a Vom Fass shop, you become a taste explorer, discovering the perfect ingredients to take your meals, beverages and even desserts to new heights. Vom Fass, 451 E. Main Street, 805-641-1900.
8. Not too far up the street, you will find Spicetopia with its delicious and unique flavor offerings. Spicetopia features a wide array of spices and teas, many from organic and fair trade certified suppliers, as well as specialty sugars and salts, and gourmet treasures from local and California producers. Cooking classes are regularly offered showcasing the flavorful products on offer in the store. Spicetopia, 576 E. Main Street, 805-627-3267.
10. Why not end your foodie intensive day at Rosie Lee’s, Ventura’s source for the finest selection of British imports? All your favorite foods from across the pond are here, along with a cracking good variety of teas, British chocolates and sweets. Plus Beatles memorabilia, British pop and rock culture collectibles, tea ware, pubware, and lots of other goodies. Do stop by to see what’s new. Or, simply pop ’round to say cheers and chat for a spell. You’re always welcome at Rosie Lee’s, 673 E. Main Street, 805-643-5832.
11. This might be the perfect time to stop touring, rest and reflect on the day. Depending on your taste, this could include a craft brew sampling, wine tasting or exotic cocktails, all available within the Historic Downtown area. Some may also offer menus that will entice you to linger for dinner or, afterwards, stick around to hear some live music. Here are a few choices to consider:
472 E. Main St., 805- 643-2337
The Anacapa Brewing Company is Venturaʼs only restaurant and brewery, or “Brewpub.” Located in a 115 year old brick building in the heart of historic downtown Ventura, Anacapa serves fresh, hand-crafted ales, lagers, specialty brews and a selection of pub fare. Stop by, enjoy a pizza and beer on the patio and take in the action on Main Street. www.anacapabrewing.com
Topa Topa Brewing, 104 E. Thompson Blvd. 805-628-9255
Topa Topa Brewing
104 E. Thompson Blvd. 805-628-9255
The folks at Topa Topa Brewing believe in good vibes and good beer, in thinking big and staying small. They make an extra effort to highlight and source the finest ingredients possible, crafting a range of high quality beers. www.topatopa.beer
Ventura Coast Brewing
76 S. Oak St., 805-667-8640
Ventura Coast Brewing Company is newest brewery in town, offering a line up of approachable beers in a large taproom and dog-friendly patio. Outside food is welcome and food trucks are scheduled daily.
Grapes & Hops
454 E. Main St., 805-641-0053
Opened in late 2013 in the former residence of Ventura’s first bar and former speakeasy, Grapes and Hops takes you back in time to a place where the quality is only out-shined by the elegance. With the help of local vineyards, breweries, bakers, artists and musicians, G&H has an unmatched regional flavor
607 E. Main St., 805-585-2238
Passion for classic world-class wines drives Labyrinth’s winemaking goal to craft amazing wines every vintage; wines that make your palate sing with a combination of complex flavors and body that finish wonderfully. Labyrinth wines are balanced, elegant and drink well by themselves as well as part of a meal. Such wines are best complemented by world class service. When you visit the Labyrinth tasting room you will be welcomed into a comfortable environment where service, education and the creation of a memorable tasting experience are top priorities.
VinTura Wine Tasting Room and Wine Rack
14 S. California St., 805-653-9463
VinTura is an harmonious fusion of lounge and wine bar. Located in the heart of Downtown Ventura, its ambience changes character as the day lengthens: the relaxed late afternoon wind-down setting transforms into an energized nightspot as the evening progresses. Drop in and check out their entertainment calendar for live music offerings. A modest, behind the counter kitchen produces cheese and charcuterie plates tailored to guests’ beverage selections. Craft beers and hard ciders are also offered.
Ventiki Lounge and Lanai
701 E. Main St., 805-667-8887
VenTiki is an Island Paradise located in Downtown Ventura, CA featuring the best in Traditional Cocktails, Modern Tiki Drinks, Polynesian Inspired Cuisine, and even Sushi. VenTiki is guaranteed to transport you away from your modern life to a tropical oasis right in the heart of Ventura. Step foot onto the Lanai (Patio) and you already can feel the warmth of the islands with tiki water fall, wahine muraled flower garden, Tikis and a fire pit for those chilly island nights. As you approach the lounge you hear the music of the islands, inviting you to have a seat and order your favorite drinks.