This was our first time eating at this restaurant, but our second time visiting. A few weeks ago we drove for over an hour just to find that the restaurant was closed. The reviews were good enough that we decided to come back and try again.
We showed up on a Sunday morning about 40 minutes before their opening time of 11am. While we awaited their opening we went to plug the car in for about 15 minutes at the Tesla superchargers just outside of downtown Ojai and then returned to the restaurant and walked to the front of the building to check out a store on the corner.
It is one of those typical artsy stores you find in California small towns with lots of interesting and unique items to browse, photograph, and purchase is you’re so inclined. I was content with just a few pictures as we only had a few minutes before the restaurant, La Bodega, opened.
We walked towards the back where the patio at La Bodega is located and saw the screens inside were tuned to soccer games, but no sign of any employees. Just a few minutes past the hour and a young man came to open up the tapas bar and sat us on a table in the Patio. The menu was sampling of typical Spanish tapas and a few wine options.
From the top left corner and continuing clockwise, we ordered:
- Pescaditos fritos – These little fried fish were our second favorite dish. The seafood/ocean taste was strong but not overpowering and the coarse ground sea salt was just right. The smell and taste reminded me to times I’ve had very fresh seafood alongside the shore. I would definitely order this dish again. I even try making this myself and buying the small fish from one of the many Asian or Mexican supermarket chains in Los Angeles.
- Bombas – These were balls of potato, meet, and some veggies coated in a batter and fried and served with a spicy sauce that tasted a bit of vinegar. I found the sauce similar in taste to Cholula or Tabasco, but without being as spicy as those sauces. These were good, but I probably would not order these again in favor of trying something new.
- Tortilla Española – This was quite delicious but not the best example I’ve had. The Spanish tortilla doesn’t have to be freshly made, but it is so delicious when it is. This tasted like it was made ahead of time (I’m not faulting them on that at all). It’s quite a simple dish and very common in Spain so my primary impetus for ordering this was pure nostalgia. You can’t go wrong if you order this, but next time I would also replace this with something else on the menu that I haven’t tried.
- Pulpo – This octopus dish was the best dish we had. The octopus was very fresh, the texture was tender, and the flavor absolutely delicious. It was perfectly salted and seasons with a dusting of paprika and served on a bed of potato slices that seamed to have been baked in the oven. I would highly recommend this dish and will probably order it in every future trip to this restaurant.
Now with the food out of the way, we really enjoyed our time at this restaurant. The outdoor patio was very quiet on a small town street, the weather was pleasant, and the luckily we were the only patrons. This being a tapas bar, I imagine it is far busier during evenings and especially while sporting events are being televised. Although being the only patrons is ideal for us and will certainly be looking to coming around the same time of day again.
We then went to Downtown Ojai to walk off the meal. I love the artsy feel of this town with the mission style architecture of the buildings in the downtown area. We explored a few shops looking for that one piece that just has to come home with us. We walked past a store with many Tiffany style lamps but we figures we’d wait until we find one of those Turkish lamps. A couple of storefronts down and lo and behold we find ourselves looking into a store with Turkish lamps and rugs. We ended up walking out with a beautiful blue swan neck Turkish lamp.
I don’t have an in depth description of the town or places to see as we were only briefly there before we had to head back home and do some work before the end of the weekend.