Ask most Californians what comes to mind when they think of Oxnard, and you might hear about the magnificent, fresh, local strawberries; the gorgeous Channel Islands; or even the wonderful organic and kosher wines. However, Oxnard is now becoming a significant southern California destination with a burgeoning food scene, world-class chefs, and live music.
Oxnard has become a true omni-season agricultural travel destination centered on avocados, citrus, grapes, and strawberries, and showcased by some of the nation’s most up-and-coming farm-to-fork chefs.
Many of these chefs come from generations of Oxnard-area agricultural families that bring knowledge and appreciation to the table for families like ours who love to try new delights.
Incredible Eats in Oxnard, California
One such example is chef Eric Cancino at the new Waterside Restaurant and Wine Bar, who creates his Sunday brunch by visiting the farmer’s market and implementing what’s fresh and fabulous, like his grilled cheese with sage derby smoked cheddar or winter pork roulade with pistachios, cranberries and tarragon.
Another chef, Tim Hulbert of Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort, makes white chocolate bark infused with local strawberries. It’s become a favorite with the guests at the beachfront property.
Heritage Square is a unique complex of old ranch-style homes that would have been destroyed but thankfully have been preserved for generations to enjoy. In fact, 17 families are represented with the Petit House as the crowning glory. This is a great place for families to enjoy live music, plays, shopping, and wine tasting for Mom and Dad, and great food.
La Dolce Vita in Heritage Square cooks up fun for all ages at classes offered once a month. Mediterranean fusion is how they like to describe the delicious time-honored recipes they share. We made crepes with orange liquor syrup during our fun outdoor class. The owner is from Sicily and has a cookbook you will have to peruse.
Stout Brownies with Chef Stroh at the Kitchen were a fun and casual treat where we sampled other from-scratch delicacies.
Another family-run and super family-friendly dining venue is Moqueca Brazilian Restaurant. Each of us had different types of bowls of Brazilian goodness. Everything was fabulous and had tantalizing flavors and combinations we loved discovering.
Cultural Discoveries Around Oxnard
““We have Latino influence at all levels,” Abel Magana of the Oxnard Downtown Management District said as he escorted us to the Mullin Automotive Museum, which has $30 million cars. This is a strictly “no-touch” museum, where no purses or back packs are allowed; once you visit, you will appreciate why.
The Maritime Museum was another family highlight of our visit where we were mesmerized by docent Robert Little’s expertise in creating “Ships in Bottles.” Robert is originally from Sioux City, Iowa, and is a member of the Ships and Bottle Association of America, and he teaches the ship-in-a-bottle classes, which I found fascinating.
Every visit to Oxnard uncovers new treasures and this most recent visit was no different. Plan several days to fully experience this fabulous coastal destination next time your wanderlust finds you in southern California.
Oxnard as a whole is a very dog-friendly beach town. You will find most all lodging and eateries are exceptionally dog friendly, although most museums are not.