It’s far enough from Los Angeles that it feels like you’re out of town, but close enough that you don’t spend too much of your weekend driving. I arrived on Friday night and met Jake (who was up there for a work event) at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. It was dark so I don’t have any great pictures, but take my word for it, this place is phe-nom-en-al. Expensive… yes. But, you can see why when you get there.
Olivella at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
The place is sprawling and the amenities are first class. We had dinner at “Olivella” and the food was delicious. To start we ordered the avocado bruschetta toast with balsamic reduction– so fresh and flavorful, loved every bite. For our main dish, we shared the Vegan Celery Root Cannellloni with a side of fingerling potatoes and baby market vegetables. Wowza. It was like nothing I’ve ever had before. It was light but filling and insanely flavorful. Cannelloni are a cylindrical type of pasta generally served baked with a filling and covered by a sauce in Italian cuisine and this variation was delightful– it was more a brothy (is that a word?) vs heavy creamy sauce. The pureed garbanzo bean and spinach filling was perfect, lightly wrapped in the cannelloni shell. Don’t even get me started on the potatoes. I LOVE potatoes, and these were ridiculous. Jake challenged me to remake them. Challenge accepted! (Sorry we don’t have pictures!).
Ojai Café Emporium
The next morning we had breakfast at the Ojai Cafe Emporium and were stoked to see a vegetable skillet with tofu on the menu. It was made with onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach with rose potatoes and pan cooked cubed tofu. We both ordered that since it was the path of least resistance to getting something that was going to taste great and not have to modify too much. A simple no cheese, dry toast request and we were ready to go! It was a ton of food and just what we were looking for before heading off on a hike.
Later that night, we ventured out to the Deer Lodge, which was a very unique experience overall — but the food turned out to be excellent, which was a common theme for Ojai. We had the quinoa burger, with side salad/fries and roasted brussel sprouts. I knew being so close to LA and relatively “crunchy” that Ojai would be vegan-friendly, but there’s a difference between having options for vegans and having really, really good options for vegans. Ojai was definitely the latter.
Our last stop was lunch at the Hip Vegan, a small little café with a great menu and overall very healthy offerings. I opted to go with the Reuben Sandwich and Jake got the Jackfruit Burrito, which was the special of the day. Jackfruit always amazes me. The consistency and texture is eerily close to pulled pork, I swear if I didn’t know any better I would think I was eating meat.
Here’s what was in the Jackfruit burrito:
- brown rice
- cashew sour cream
- served with a side of blue corn tortilla chips and pickled onion habanero salsa
The Reuben Sandwich:
- thinly sliced seitan
- “thousand island” dressing
- 2 slices rye bread
- served with a side salad with tahini poppy seed dressing and blue corn tortilla chips
The date shake:
- 3 dates
- 1 banana
- coconut milk
- raw cacao powder
We are all about the Hip Vegan! The decor was minimal but very fitting to the overall rustic Ojai vibe, fun little corners filled with geometric paintings, succulents and laid back communal feeling. The service was great, the staff was super nice, and most importantly the food was delicious!