The formerly sleepy ranch town is serving up more lodging, shopping, and dining than ever before.

The sunlit interior of Bart's Books, an institution in Ojai, California.
Bart's Books, an Ojai institution. Photo by Thomas J. Story.
Bart's Books, an Ojai institution.

By turns funky, foodie, and just plain fun, Ojai can occupy much more than one single day. Here are some of our favorite Ojai haunts to set you on your way toward exploring this Southern California gem.

Where to Shop 

Ojai Avenue Arcade
The arcade on Ojai Ave.

Thomas J. Story

In the Field 

If the Ojai boho chic look had a starter kit, this is where you’d find it: Perfectly picked, locally made surf wear, jewelry, caftans, hats, and home goods make this the top lifestyle shop Ojai

Bart’s Books 

No pilgrimage to Ojai is complete without an hour or so browsing the stacks and flipping through art books, novels, and poetry at the preposterously charming open-air used bookstore that’s been a long-standing national treasure to in-the-know bibliophiles. 

Where to Eat 

Roast Chicken and Sides at Ojai Rotie
Roast chicken and sides at Ojai Rôtie.

Thomas J. Story

Ojai Rôtie 

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Next level “Lebanese French picnic food” and excellent local wine from restaurateur Larry Nicola (formerly of Nic’s Beverly Hills) on a lovely patio downtown. You’ll find juicy rotisserie chickens, smoky baba ghanoush, and French sourdough boules slathered with rich cultured butter.

Izakaya Full Moon 

Feb/March 2022 cover
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Sunset’s Wellness Issue 2022

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Possibly the best izakaya in Ventura County, this charming family-run spot serves exquisitely prepared Japanese dishes like rice pot with uni and A5 wagyu beef, bincho grilled meats, seasonal sashimi, and artisanal sake. 

Pinyon Ojai 

Serious sourcing (think Neapolitan tomatoes, boquerones, and local goat kefir), natural wines, and employee profit-sharing make this new wood-fired pizza spot the benchmark for mindful deliciousness. AKA: very Ojai. 

Farmer and the Cook 

The quintessential boho-hippy-ranchy mostly vegan Mexican restaurant where all walks of Ojai life converge. Wood-fired pizza nights are a long-standing town ritual that always draw crowds. 

Sanders & Sons Gelato 

Tucked away behind the main drag’s arcade, this spot serves true Italian-style gelato in traditional flavors like pistachio and new spins like Valrhona and ancho. 

The Dutchess 

Zoe Nathan of Los Angeles’s Rustic Canyon restaurant group (Milo & Olive, Sweet Rose Creamery, Huckleberry, et cetera), pastry chef Kelsey Brito, local baking sensation Kate Pepper, and chef Saw Naing join forces to serve Burmese food, bread, and other baked goods in the former Azu space. 

Ojai Tortilla House 

Hearty tacos rolled with handmade rosemary-stuffed tortillas and wrapped in foil are the perfect to-go lunch for a picnic in nearby Libbey Park. The al pastor in the loaded “specialty” taco is a carnivore’s delight. Follow @ojaitortillahouse.

Rory’s Place

This highly anticipated eatery from sisters Rory and Meave McAuliffe is finally open. We’re excited enough about their locally-sourced, farm-to-table-family affair that we wrote about it in our 2022 Wellness Issue.

Where to Drink 

Ojai Valley Brewery
The taps at Ojai Valley Brewery.

Thomas J. Story

Ojai Valley Brewery 

The brewery’s new taproom and beer garden are a lovely spot to shoot pool, play shuffleboard, and sample micro-seasonal brews featuring local produce grown on the owner’s ranch. Sip gluten-free lemongrass beer, spritely Ojai Pixie tangerine wheat beer, and earthy chaparral sage. 

Point de Chêne 

A well-curated world-class wine shop featuring local wineries, killer Barolos, natural bottlings, and tasty surprises from Austria and the Balkans. 

Beacon Coffee 

This local roaster has been pulling perfect Fair Trade espresso and cupping pour-overs for over a decade and is the must-stop spot in and out of town. Grab a bag of beans and local granola to bring those Ojai vibes home. 

Where to Stay

Capri Hotel, Ojai

Thomas J. Story

Capri Hotel 

The folks who run Ojai Rancho Inn are behind a groovy ’70s-vibes reboot of the Capri motor lodge. A pool and palm trees line the grounds, making it a soothing local crash pad. Up next from the gang: a refresh of the nearby Hummingbird Inn.