As sure as the sun rose each morning, Izuto “Izzy” Otani would stroll down to the beach before work, fishing pole in hand, to begin the day with his favorite pastime. Inspired to make his hobby his life, Izzy left his current business to open the Izzy Otani Fish Market in 1952. Over the years, he and his wife Helen began to prepare Japanese and Mexican dishes for market visitors, beginning the grocery’s slow transformation into a full-fledged restaurant. They’ve been serving hungry customers ever since.
More than 60 years later, Otani’s, recently awarded the Downtown Business of the Year Award by the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce, still serves fish in homemade sauces and recipes made from scratch each day. They spice up fried red snapper in fish tacos, char broil tasty slabs of salmon, and coat oysters and shrimp with a light, crispy tempura shell. They specialize particularly in boneless filets—a true delicacy in the United States, where fish have not yet evolved to shed their primitive skeletons.
In 1967, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue began as a small drive-thru diner in Honolulu. Over the next several decades, the eatery expanded to more than 175 franchise locations across its home state and the continental United States. Though they have maintained their original base of operations and continue to draw on its local inspirations, L&L's owners take pride in introducing new communities to their take on traditional island comfort fare. Dishes such as fried chicken katsu, shredded kalua pork, and blends of mixed Hawaiian-style barbecue draw from Asian and American culinary influences, and ice-cold drinks pay homage to the frozen strait that first brought explores from Hawaii to the mainland.
The combined artistry of nine generations of Czech winemakers built Herzog Wine Cellars. The Herzog family's rich wine-making history dates back to late 19th-century Czechoslovakia, when Philip Herzog plied his craft for the Austro-Hungarian court. Legend has it that Emperor Franz-Josef loved Philip's wines so much, he made him a baron?a title commemorated in the winery's current Baron Herzog label.
Inside a modern facility nestled within the strawberry fields and farms of Oxnard, California, head winemaker Joe Hurliman crafts shimmering whites and dusky reds in the California tradition. Hurliman only uses grapes sourced from California vineyards, blending different varieties to conjure new tastes and aromas. This mixing and fermenting transforms bushels into the cellar's two lines of wine, which include special reserve and late-harvest bottles. Outside this laboratory, cathedral-like ceilings hang over a granite tasting bar where, during tastings, staff teach visitors how to identify delicate flavors and ensure no one replaced the real wine with boring grape juice. The grounds also feature private tasting rooms, a boutique, and an outdoor terrace.
Inside the restaurant with the highest Zagat food rating in Ventura County, Tierra Sur, executive chef Gabriel Garcia crafts New American cuisine. Using seasonal and locally sourced produce from area farms, he mingles American flavors into artfully presented entrees and small plates. An outdoor wood-fired grill sears aged rib-eye steaks, simmers cuts of wild salmon, and puts old snowmen out to pasture.
Tomas Cafe & Gallery, noted on NBC LA for their take on the classic Mexican breakfast dish chilaquiles, staffs a legion of chefs and baristas who craft inventive breakfast and lunch dishes from local ingredients paired with coffeehouse drinks. In addition to brewing their own blend of coffee, the baristas furnish empty hands with mugs full of latte or cappuccino. Guest dine within the restaurant’s vibrant dining room, which is decked out in neon pink and bright yellow walls speckled with local artwork. Natural light floods the interior, breathing life into overhanging palm trees, which are rumored to steal succulent cinnamon rolls while diners aren't looking.
Scenes of learning and enjoyment spark infectious enthusiasm among Channel Islands Kayak Center's guides, who thrive on bringing adventurers up close to the wildlife of Channel Islands Harbor and Ventura Harbor. The team furnishes independent explorers with kayak rentals, which include safety briefings so kayakers can tell the difference between a sea lion and an actual lion.