A frequent finalist for Best Comedy Club according to Ventura County Reporter's readers, Ventura Improv Company offers the only improv comedy in Ventura and has been eliciting chortles and guffaws with family-friendly farce for the past 21 years. The VIC's veteran comedic combatants perform unscripted comedy through scenes, games, and music created on the spot. The VIC performs shows such as Spontaneous Broadway, a full-length musical whose plot is conceived through audience suggestions, and TheatreSports Team Match, a two-team battle where competitors perform a challenge set by the host.
From their perch on a dining table, Blu Orkid’s eponymous flowers watch over the restaurant’s hustle and bustle, which begins as bakers knead fresh bread in the early morning and ends once dinner plates are rounded up after midnight. Breakfasts of frittatas and brioche french toast pique appetites for lunches and dinners of tuna-almondine sandwiches, pears poached in port and topped with bleu cheese, and salmon flavored with miso and meyer lemons. In the bakery, chefs torch sugar atop crème brûulée and serve chocolate lava cake. They dish out their gourmet treats at sunny patio tables or indoors amid palm fronds, blue mood lighting, and chandeliers that wish they could feel love.
From the ivy-covered outside in, Barrel 33 cultivates a cozy bar atmosphere conducive to long conversations and savored sips of wine. Their wine cellar, kept at a constant 56 degrees, hosts dozens of domestic and international red and white wines by the bottle. Reds include a hefty selection of cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir from Sonoma and Santa Barbara. French champagne, sparkling wine, and chardonnay from Napa and the Russian River valley, on the other hand, dominate the selection of whites. To accompany the wine, Barrel 33’s kitchen assembles plates of olives, duck pate, brie with Grand Marnier strawberry sauce, or crisp thin-crust pizzas.
Red walls stretch around the interior of the wine bar, complementing both the stone-topped bar and the dappled tulip lights hanging over it. Tall chairs with carved arms and plush crimson cushions sit at attention at the counter. Outside in the enclosed wine garden, palm fronds reach up to the strings of fairy lights stretched across the patio. A wood fire crackles in a fireplace made from the same chunky boulders as the building’s exterior, sending light flickering over wicker chairs and the glass tables’ ornate legs, which were donated by the late glass man, who lived in a glass house but never threw stones.
Ventura Harbor Comedy Club is owned by two professional comedians who use their comedic chops to book an eclectic cast of the country’s top-touring chuckle manufacturers. Comedy-cravers can check the schedule to select the ideal show for their comedic preferences, with options like stand-up jokester John DiCrosta on December 17–19 and Latino comedy nights on every first and third Thursday of the month. With this deal, holiday gift-searchers can give the gift of laughter to anyone who hasn't giggled since Jimmy Carter's spandex-laden foray into wrestling.
At Java Joe's, guests sip freshly made coffee drinks and graze baked goods, rummage through a collection of eclectic clothing and merchandise, and tap toes to live tunes. Baristas blend aromatic shots of espresso with frothy milk riddled with chocolaty notes to create a 16- or 20-ounce café mocha ($3.85–$4.25). Utilitarian cups of joe ($1.95 for 16 oz.; $2.25 for 20 oz.) fill mugs for on-the-go sippers and bulk beans ($13.95/lb.) allow customers to bring robust flavors and caffeine-jolts home. Pluck a pastry from a bakery filled with treats, such as scones ($2.45), chocolate-filled croissants ($2.95), and cheesecakes ($3.75) that quench food cravings and hush grumbling tummies like a swallowed Paul Simon 8-track.