Barrel House 101 is the exact kind of homey, fun-filled, hit-the-spot spot you’d hope to find in the not-so-sleepy beach town of Ventura. Exit the 101 and you’ve officially escaped from LA. Then enter through Barrel House 101’s doors—right between the beach and Downtown Ventura’s Main Street—and you’re in one of the area’s prized food and drink hotspots. Humble in its approach but pristine in its execution, this brewpub knows how to strut its stuff the right way.
First off, Barrel House 101 stays true to its name in impressive fashion. Yes, 101 taps that rotate regularly. Stouts, porters, IPA’s, whites, ambers and an impressive fruits and seasonal selection [four pumpkin beers in October]. The ‘#drinklocal’ campaign brings in nearby favorites such as Topa Topa’s nitro milk stout and Island avocado honey ale, while imports include everything from Timmerman’s Framboise to Wells and Young banana bread. Add on ciders, wine and even a kombucha. A few three-pour flights should offset the inevitable decision paralysis guests will face.
The food is every bit as impressive as the drink selection, with incredible attention to detail and novelties throughout the menu. The fresh-baked German pretzel with creamy cheese sauce is a force to be reckoned with, as are specialties like the Argentinian steak sandwich and a smattering of tacos [the ahi are a crowd favorite]. A strong salad selection and lighter items like the portabella Panini allow Barrel House 101 to appeal to a broad crowd.
Barrel House 101 takes their burgers seriously. The Avenue, a house signature, features a 50/50 blend of chorizo and beef, capramelized onions, fried egg, guacamole, cheddar and three-pepper sauce that will wake you right up even if you’re a few beer flights in. The blue cheese burger is excellent with crispy onions, chipotle aioli and a small mountain of blue cheese crumbles. Pair any burger with the garlic truffle fries…they’re not to be missed.
On a similar note, save room for dessert, or even with your meal, get one of Barrel House 101’s ridiculously good beer shakes. The P.Beeruptin is a heavenly compilation of vanilla ice cream, peanut butter and the perfect touch of belching beaver PB stout, with a peanut-butter and Reeses Pieces-garnished rim. You’ll thank yourself many times over with the first sip.
Barrel House 101’s price point is right in line with a place laden with TV’s broadcasting every sports match you’d want to watch, adding even more appeal to guests who are sick and tired of LA’s gastropubs that charge much more for an inferior product. This place has set the bar high for six years running, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Barrel House 101 is located at 545 E. Thompson Blvd, Ventura, CA 93001. Open 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sun – Thur, 11:30 a.m. – midnight Fri/Sat. Avg. out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$44/person. For more information call (805) 643-0906 or visit Barrel House 101 online.
The 7th annual Winter Wine Classic is set to take place in Downtown Santa Barbara on Saturday, January 27. The grand tasting will run from 7 – 9:30 p.m., with VIP entrance beginning at 6 p.m. If it’s anything like last year’s Winter Wine Classic, expect excellent tastes.
Held in the Grand Ballroom at the Fess Parker Hotel, steps from the beach, the Winter Wine Classic looks to feature nearly 100 California wines from a myriad of regional purveyors. Local restaurants and food retailers will hold up the event’s culinary side, and live music should round out a festive winter experience.
Tickets are now on sale. Interested guests should hurry…enter code CLASSIC18 before midnight on Sunday, November 6 to get $15 off per ticket.
Pink’s is to LA as Old Faithful is to Yellowstone, or more appropriately, as hot dogs are to baseball. Quintessential components so iconic that if removed, the larger body may be left unrecognizable. But it’s not just hot dogs that have led Pink’s to nearly 80 years of success and visits from nearly every A-list celebrity in the galaxy. The food is but one part of a simple, yet soulful experience that every Angelino, and non-Angelino, for that matter, must indulge in.
Pink’s has the privilege of membership in an elite circle reserved only for the finest of casual dining institutions, where customers see waiting in line as a badge of honor. Showing up to the humble restaurant without a slew of people standing between you and your decadent selection would be akin to entering a clear 10 freeway at 5pm. Treasure that day if it happens, but if it doesn’t, the light at the end of the tunnel is divine and well-worth it.
You might need that waiting time to decide on your order. There’s around 40 types of hot dogs to choose from, many of which stretch the hot dog concept to the deeper reaches of the imagination. The Giada de Laurentis dog, for example, features a 9-inch ‘stretch’ dog, sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms, chopped tomato and shredded mozzarella cheese…crafted by the celeb herself! Pink’s line of burrito dogs wrap various compilations in tortillas instead of a bun. And then there’s a good ol’ fashioned bacon chili cheese dog or a 12-inch jalapeno dog, where mustard doubles as an art medium.
The menu spans far beyond hot dogs, however. No meal is complete without an order of hot fries or fresh onion rings, each of which hold that ideal balance of rich and crispy. The burgers at Pink’s are nothing short of superb—Bacon chili cheeseburger…yes please! Wash it all down with a Crush or Dr. Browns, because it always tastes better in a glass bottle.
Seating is surprisingly vast for such an intimate space. There’s a modest indoor seating area but several patios allow guests to stretch their legs, relatively speaking. And be on the lookout, because you never know who you’re going to run into. The walls are plastered with celebrities who have crossed Pink’s off their bucket list—Jimmy Fallon, Ray Romano, Betty White, Bobby Flay and Katy Perry are just a drop in the bucket. Feel free to kick your legs up and enjoy your stay…you may need a nap after a meal like this.
Pink’s flagship location is at 709 N. La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Open 9:30 a.m. – 2 a.m. Sun – Thurs, 9:30 a.m. – 3 a.m. Fri/Sat. Avg out-the-door price for specialty hot dog, side and a drink is ~$12/person. For more information call (323) 931-4223 or visit Pink’s online.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.