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.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.