Fruit, Vegetable and Other Food, Beer and Wine Festivals In and Around Ventura County

According to the California Department of Food & Agriculture, California has over 80,000 farms and ranches and in 2010 accounted for over 16% of the nation's national receipts for crops. The state produces nearly half of U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables! Top commodities in the state include produce and nuts such as grapes, almonds, berries, lettuce, pistachios, tomatoes, walnuts, oranges, broccoli, carrots, avocados and celery.

Ventura County ranked 26th out of 58 California counties in geographic size but in 2010 ranked 7th overall in terms of agricultural output, producing over $1.5 billion worth of strawberries, celery, lemons, raspberries, avocados and other commodities.

All that produce grown in Ventura County (as well as Santa Barbara County) and the hard work that goes into it must explain why we have so many nearby food related festivals and celebrations year-round! Specific dates each year are posted in the Local Events and Events Calendar sections of the site but here's a compilation for you to, ahem, digest. We also opted to include beer, wine and other long-standing festivals for your imbibing pleasure.

The Rotary Club of Thousand Oaks Chili Cook-Off is in the late April to early May time frame each year. It is a charitable fundraiser that has taken place since 1977.

The California Strawberry Festival takes place in Oxnard on the 3rd weekend of May each year. This wildly popular event has been taking place since 1984.

The Soroptimist International of the Conejo hosts an annual "Margarita Mixoff" event in Thousand Oaks in the May time frame. 2018 was the 17th annual event. 

The Ojai Wine Festival takes place in the June time frame at Lake Casitas has been around since 1987. They say over 5,000 people attend the event! The 34th annual event takes place in June 2020.

The Knights of Columbus of Simi Valley has been hosting an Annual Chili Cook-Off since about 1988. The event currently takes place in the June time frame.

The Casa Pacifica Angels Wine & Food Festival benefits Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families and has been running since 1994. Currently takes place in early June.

The Conejo Food & Wine Fest premiered in 2010 and takes place in Thousand Oaks in the June time frame.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has hosted the Santa Barbara Wine Festival in the June time frame each year since 1988.

The Oxnard Salsa Festival has taken place each summer (currently July) since 1994. The festival currently is free of charge.

Since 1988, the Meadowlark Service League has been hosting A Taste of Camarillo Wine & Food Festival. The event currently takes place in late July.

The California Wine Festival in Santa Barbara in July marks 2004 as its first year.

The Port of Hueneme Banana Festival took place for the first time in 2012 and its 8th annual event is planned for the last Saturday of September 2018.

The Calabasas Pumpkin Festival takes place in October. There is a small admission charge.

The California Avocado Festival in Carpinteria goes back to 1987 and claims to be the largest free festival on the west coast. It currently occurs in October.

The Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival originated in 2001 and offers live lobster, crab, prawns, BBQ albacore, clam chowder, fish tacos, seafood gumbo and other prepared dishes in the October time frame.

The Santa Barbara Beer Festival takes place generally in the October time frame.

The California Lemon Festival also takes place in October in Goleta. Free admission. This one has been around since 1992.

The Oxnard Tamale Festival takes place in the early December time frame each year. It began in 2008.

The 805 Wine & Brew Festival is an annual event hosted by the Conejo Simi Moorpark Association of Realtors and takes place each May in Thousand Oaks.

List obviously subject to change! Contact us for additions. The list is meant to include recurring, annual events, not one-time events, that focus primarily on food and/or drinks.

Would You Like Slides with That? Fast Food Places in Ventura County with Play Areas!

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Sometimes it's fun to take the kids out where you know they'll be able to burn off some steam after their chicken nuggets and fries. Mind you, my kids much prefer going to a park to play, but sometimes it’s nice to eat and play at these (mostly) indoor play areas.

Here are places to eat that have play areas.  Know of other places?  Well then, give me the scoop (the news, not the fries).

McDonalds Locations with Play Areas

Carl's Jr Locations with Play Areas

Chick-fil-A Locations with Play Areas

Other Places with Play Areas

Cookie, Candy and Sugary Snack Food Based Cereals Seem to Be Trending

In a recent visit to the local Walmart Neighborhood Market, I walked down the cereal aisle and noticed what appears to be a new trend…numerous cereals based on other products…cookies, candy and other snack foods. While we generally don’t buy sugary cereals, the sighting of these cereals kind of brought me back to my youth and my days of Cocoa Pebbles.

And speaking of Cocoa Pebbles, I Wikipedia’d (I’m assuming Wikipedia can be used as a verb, like Google) it and learned that Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles, introduced in 1971 and based on The Flintstones, is the oldest surviving cereal based on characters from a TV series or movie. And there you have it.

Oreo O’s were originally launched in 1997 and discontinued in 2007. They were re-launched by Post Cereals in June 2017.

Oreo O’s were originally launched in 1997 and discontinued in 2007. They were re-launched by Post Cereals in June 2017.

Nilla Cereal is based on Nilla Waters, with the flavor of banana pudding. This was launched in 2018, along with Golden Oreo O’s Cereal.

Nilla Cereal is based on Nilla Waters, with the flavor of banana pudding. This was launched in 2018, along with Golden Oreo O’s Cereal.

The iconic Chips Ahoy cookies were brought to market in 1963.. Chips Ahoy Cookie Cereal came to Walmart in early 2018, along with Nutter Butter Cereal.

The iconic Chips Ahoy cookies were brought to market in 1963.. Chips Ahoy Cookie Cereal came to Walmart in early 2018, along with Nutter Butter Cereal.

And here is an example of another icon product turned cereal. Walmart started exclusively carrying both Frosted Strawberry and Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts Cereal in January 2019, fully 55 years after Pop Tarts toaster pastries were launched.

And here is an example of another icon product turned cereal. Walmart started exclusively carrying both Frosted Strawberry and Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts Cereal in January 2019, fully 55 years after Pop Tarts toaster pastries were launched.

Reese’s Puffs Cereal is made with “real Reese’s peanut butter” it says on the box. These have been around awhile though, having launched in 1994.

Reese’s Puffs Cereal is made with “real Reese’s peanut butter” it says on the box. These have been around awhile though, having launched in 1994.

Here’s a family size box of Dippin’ Dots Cereal. Launched in 2018, 30 years, if you can believe it, after Dippin’ Dots was invented.

Here’s a family size box of Dippin’ Dots Cereal. Launched in 2018, 30 years, if you can believe it, after Dippin’ Dots was invented.

And last but note least for this compilation is Hostess Donettes Cereal. Why one would prefer donut shaped cereal to an actual donut with milk is beyond me, but to each his own. Hostess Donettes Cereal as well as Hostess Honey Bun Cereal were launched in late 2018.

And last but note least for this compilation is Hostess Donettes Cereal. Why one would prefer donut shaped cereal to an actual donut with milk is beyond me, but to each his own. Hostess Donettes Cereal as well as Hostess Honey Bun Cereal were launched in late 2018.


Farmers' Markets and Farm Fresh Produce Around Ventura County

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Looking for fresh produce in Ventura County? "Lettuce" help you! There are over a dozen farmers' markets in and around Ventura County each week, not to mention another dozen or so stores and Community Supported Agriculture programs that sell organic produce.

Times, dates and places subject to change. Let us know of any updates!

FARMERS' MARKETS (In "day of the week" order)

VENTURA: Wednesdays 9 am to 1 pm at Pacific View Mall in front of Red Robin. Call 805.529.6266. vccfarmersmarkets.com/ventura

OXNARD: Thursdays 9 am to 2 pm at Plaza Park, 5th and C Streets. Call 805.247.0197. www.oxnardfarmersmarket.com

THOUSAND OAKS: Thursdays NOON to 5 pm (previously 1:30-6PM) at the The Oaks Mall east parking lot. Produce, flowers, food and more! vccfarmersmarkets.com/thousand-oaks 

VENTURA: Thursdays 3 pm to 7 pm at Ventura Community Park, 901 South Kimball Road Visit www.facebook.com/EastandWestVenturaFarmersMarket for more information. Open rain or shine.

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SIMI VALLEY: Fridays 11 am to 3:30 pm at Simi Valley Civic Center Plaza, 2757 Tapo Canyon Rd., next to TGI Friday's. www.coastalpacific.info/simi_valley.php or 805.643.6458 

VENTURA: Saturdays 8:30 am to noon at corner of Palm and Santa Clara Streets. Call 805.529.6266 or visit vccfarmersmarkets.com/ventura

CAMARILLO: Saturdays 8 am to noon 2220 Ventura Boulevard camarillofarmersmarket.com. Proceeds benefit Camarillo Hospice. Call 805.386.3584.

CALABASAS: Saturdays 8 am to 1 pm in Old Town Calabasas on Calabasas Road west of El Canon Avenue (across from Sagebrush Cantina). Call 818.591.8161.

VENTURA: Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 3 pm at Ventura College, 4667 Telegraph Road is the Ventura College Foundation Marketplace. Fresh produce, nursery plants, flowers and more offered. www.venturacollege.edu/departments/administrative/foundation/marketplace

WESTLAKE VILLAGE: Sundays 10 am to 2 pm at 2797 Agoura Road (Village Glen). Call 818.591.8161. www.facebook.com/WestlakeVillageFM

OJAI: Sundays 9 am to 1 pm at 300 E. Matilija Street year-round, rain or shine. Produce, flowers and gourmet food. Call 805.698.5555. www.ojaicertifiedfarmersmarket.com.

OXNARD/CHANNEL ISLANDS HARBORSundays 10 am to 2 pm at 2805 South Harbor Boulevard year-round. Call 805.643.6458.

MALIBU: Sundays 10 am to 3 pm at Malibu Library Parking Lot, 23555 Civic Center Way. www.malibufarmersmarket.net

LOCAL STORES WITH FRESH PRODUCE:

Underwood Family Farms Market at 3370 Sunset Valley Road, Moorpark has farm fresh produce, pickled items, honey, nuts, juices, dried beans, farm fresh eggs and fresh cut flowers. Moorpark location is usually closed from late December through February. Open 9am to 6pm March to November and weekends in December (5pm after DST). Call 805.529.3690.

Underwood Family Farms Market at 5696 E. Los Angeles Avenue in Somis is open every day year-round 9am to 6pm (5pm after DST) with the exception of some holidays. Call 805.386.4660.

Underwood Family Farms Market in Moorpark.

Underwood Family Farms Market in Moorpark.

McGrath Family Farm at 505 North Wood Road, Camarillo is open March through December 9am to pm and offers organic fruits, flowers and vegetables.  Freeway convenient off the Central Avenue offramp of the 101. Call 805.983.0333.

Lassen's Natural Foods, with locations in Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, Camarillo, Ventura and Simi Valley, has offered fresh produce since 1971.

Sprouts Farmers Market sells local farm fresh produce as well as a full range of other grocery items, with local area locations at:

Whole Foods Market organic fresh produce and a full range of grocery items, with local locations in Thousand Oaks (740 N. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks) 805.777.4730 and Oxnard at The Collection (650 Town Center Drive) 805.751.4300

Green Acres Farm Market (2918 Los Angeles Avenue, Simi Valley) opened in 1968 and offers farm fresh produce, meat, fine wines and gourmet groceries. Call 805.526.1312.

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Rodela Produce and Flowers (formerly A & F Country Market) is at 4550 Olivas Park Drive in Ventura (at Telephone Road). From Thousand Oaks, take Victoria offramp from 101 south to Olivas Park and make a right. Store is on your left. Nice stop on your way to/from the Olivas Adobe and Ventura Harbor Village. 805.644.5470.

Santiago’s Produce is located on the northwest corner of Olivas Park Drive and Telephone Road at 4551 Olivas Park Drive.

The Berry Best stand at 3030 Dodge Road (at Pleasant Valley Road, just east of Rice Avenue) is strawberry, fruit and vegetable stand. Call 805.271.4490.

Francisco's Fruits is located at 1782 E. Telegraph Road in Fillmore. Fruits, nuts, snacks, and more. Great place to buy citrus! www.facebook.com/FranciscosFruit 805.524.4616

Lil Red Barn is located at 100 S. Victoria Avenue in Oxnard, with seasonable produce like strawberries, avocados, vegetables and more. 805.382.0799

CSA (COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE) AND LOCAL DELIVERY PROGRAMS

Local Harvest Delivery is based in Santa Barbara and delivers harvest boxes to homes as far as Ventura and Ojai.

Hello Harvest local delivery service has been serving Ventura County since 2010. Visit their site or call 805.551.3454 for more information.

The Abundant Table CSA offers pickup locations and home delivery throughout the area. csa.farmigo.com/join/jointhefarm

The Camarillo Health Care District has partnered with Food Share to distribute a variety of free produce items on the 2nd Thursday of each month from 11am to 1pm. Supplies are limited.

Farmers' Market Websites:

Farm Bureau of Ventura County: www.farmbureauvc.com/consumers.html

California-Grown Certified Farmers Markets: www.cafarmersmarkets.com

Ventura County Certified Farmers Markets: www.vccfarmersmarkets.com

Coastal Pacific Farmers Markets: coastalpacificfm.com

Retired Farmers' Markets:

NEWBURY PARK: Fridays 2pm to 7pm (The Village at Dos Vientos Ranch). www.facebook.com/goldenstatecertifiedfm Announced on 12/9/13 that market is closed.

SIMI VALLEY: The Simi Valley Town Center Market was discontinued effective 11/26/14 after running for a year and a half.

AGOURA HILLS: Sundays 9 am to 2 pm at 5835 Kanan Road (Agoura's Famous Deli parking lot) closed 6/28/15.

CAMARILLO: Wednesdays 3-7pm Pleasant Valley Certified Farmers' Market at the Camarillo Community Center parking lot closed 9/30/15.

NEWBURY PARK: Saturdays 9 am to 2 pm at the Newbury Park Library parking lot (Borchard Road and Michael Drive)  www.facebook.com/newburyparkfarmersmarket is closed Feb 2017

OXNARD: Thursdays 4 pm to 8 pm at The Collection at RiverPark thecollectionrp.com/connect/news/detail/133/farmers-market-thursdays

Somis Nut House Has Been a Ventura County Tradition Since 1959

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The Somis Nut House has served the cravings of Ventura County residents since 1959. Originally it was a walnut processing plant that processed locally grown walnuts in the area. Today it serves up a wide selection of nuts, interesting snacks, trail mixes, seeds, candies, dried fruits, other edibles and gift baskets.

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What I really like about this place is that it is a throwback to another era. The inside of the Somis Nut House looks as if it has never changed. Although the original founder of the store passed away in 2009, his family continues to operate the Nut House.

Front of the store from the 118 (Los Angeles Ave) east of Bradley Road.

Front of the store from the 118 (Los Angeles Ave) east of Bradley Road.

One might ask, why would I want to drive from, say, Thousand Oaks, to buy nuts at the Somis Nut House? We can go to Trader Joes, Sprouts, Lassens, Whole Foods, etc. Well, I'll tell you that none of those places have the same retro ambiance and great selection of the Somis Nut House! And the freshness of the items here is outstanding.

The Somis Nut House is located at 4475 E. Los Angeles Avenue in Somis. From Thousand Oaks, take the Santa Rosa Road exit off the 101 and turn right. Take a left on Adolfo to Lewis Road, where you'll turn right (north) until you reach Los Angeles Avenue. Turn left and your destination will in a mile on the right.

More information at www.somisnuthouse.com or call 805.386.1211.

And for those of you who have wondered what Somis is...Somis is an unincorporated city of about 3,000 residents in Ventura County that was established in 1892. The name Somis means “water of the scrub oak” in the Chumash language, indicating the presence of water.

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Rolling Pin Donuts in Camarillo Captured in Oil Painting by Local Artist

Rolling Pin Donuts in Camarillo (Artist: Linda Dark)

Rolling Pin Donuts in Camarillo (Artist: Linda Dark)

Long-time Camarillo resident and artist Linda Dark enjoys capturing local scenes in oil paint. Rolling Pin Donuts has operated at 2153 Las Posas Road since 1992 and has quite a loyal following at this stand-alone location. Dark has lived in Camarillo since 1978 and recalls it was previously called Donna Lee Donuts.

Have a donut craving? Rolling Pin is open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. You'll want to stop by for sure after checking out their creations at www.facebook.com/RollingPinCamarillo.

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Rolling Pin Donuts on Rainy Day (Artist: Linda Dark)

Rolling Pin Donuts on Rainy Day (Artist: Linda Dark)

Conejo Valley Guide Facebook Followers Share Their Favorite Desserts at Local Eateries

As part of a one day ticket drawing on the Conejo Valley Guide Facebook Page, we asked folks to tell us their favorite desserts at any restaurant in the Conejo Valley and surrounding areas. Boy oh boy did we get the best compilation of great sounding desserts EVER! 

We are going to share these comments with you but be sure to keep in mind, eat desserts only after finishing your dinner. To quote a Pink Floyd lyric "If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?!" ("Another Brick in the Wall" 1979)

And here they are, in no particular order:

  • Pastries from Champagne Bakery
  • Strawberry Shortcake at Boccali's in Ojai
  • Butter cake at Mastro's Steakhouse Thousand Oaks (mentioned 27 times)
  • Pizookie at BJ's Restaurant in Thousand Oaks (mentioned 44 times)
  • Cinnamon Puffs from Pizza Nosh in Agoura Hills
  • Creme Brulee at Aroha Restaurant in Westlake Village
  • Richie's Magic Bar at Pearl District (mentioned 2 times)
  • Warm peach cobbler at Lazy Dog Restaurant
  • Cheesecake Factory (mentioned 42 times - banana, Oreo, strawberry, chocolate fudge, key lime, tiramisu, Limoncello, banana cream, red velvet, Snickers, peanut butter, White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Linda's Fudge Cake, Dulce de Leche Caramel, Godiva, Peanut Butter)
  • Apple fritters at Best Donuts
  • Chocolate cake at Bandits' BBQ
  • Banana cream pudding in Mason jar at Public School 805
  • Carrot cake at Boney Mountain Tavern (mentioned 2 times)
  • White chocolate pretzel cheesecake at Lazy Dog Restaurant
  • Creme brulee or cobbler at Blue Stove in The Oaks Mall (mentioned 2 times)
  • Donuts and cupcakes at Karma Baker (mentioned 3 times)
  • Carmelized almond bowl with white chocolate laced chantilly cream and fresh berries at Mediterraneo in Westlake Village
  • Creme brulee at Lazy Dog Restaurant (mentioned 2 times)
  • Cheesecake with blueberries at Stonefire Grill 
  • Creme brulee or pecan pie at Mastro's
  • Cannoli at Roma Deli in Newbury Park (mentioned 2 times)
  • Blackberry crumble at Lure Fish House
  • Salted chocolate chip cookie at Urbane Cafe
  • Banana cream pie at Paul Martin's (mentioned 3 times)
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes (mentioned 4 times)
  • Fudge brownie sundae at Bandits BBQ
  • Key lime pie at Mastro's
  • Green tea ice cream at Kabuki
  • The Wonderbar at Pearl District (mentioned 2 times)
  • Apple strudel at Jeanette's Edelweiss in Newbury Park (mentioned 2 times)
  • Mountain High Mud Pie at Red Robin
  • Chocolate fondue at The Melting Pot (mentioned 7 times)
  • Ice cream sundae at Stacked
  • S'Mores at Holdren's in Newbury Park
  • Menchies Frozen Yogurt
  • Kona Pie at Islands
  • Butter cake with vanilla ice cream at California Pizza Kitchen (mentioned 3 times)
  • Fried cheesecake at Sutter's Mill in Simi Valley
  • Tiramisu at Marcello Ristorante in Thousand Oaks
  • Brownie ice cream sundae at Pickles Deli in Newbury Park
  • Brownie at Stonefire Grill (mentioned 3 times)
  • Bread pudding at Twenty88 in Camarillo
  • Donuts at Dunkin' Donuts
  • Deep fried ice cream at Cisco's
  • Chocolate Dome at PF Chang's
  • Caramel apples from Newberry Candies in Thousand Oaks
  • The gooey center of a Cinnabon
  • Black and white cookie at Brent's Deli (mentioned 2 times)
  • Chocolatine French Cafe
  • Salted caramel cheesecake at Blue Stove
  • The Melting Pot - any dessert
  • Sweet quinoa cake from Grabbagreen in Thousand Oaks
  • Cinnamon chips at Snapper Jack's Taco Shack in Camarillo
  • Ice cream at Lure Fish House
  • Dessert sampler at Holdren's in Newbury Park
  • Chocolate cake at Brent's Deli (mentioned 2 times)
  • Apple pie at Stella's in Newbury Park
  • Banana spring rolls at PF Chang's
  • Baklava at Mama's Hummus
  • Spotted dick at Crown and Anchor in Thousand Oaks
  • Pavlova at Aroha Cuisine
  • Shave It (mentioned 4 times)
  • Gelato at Urban Pizza
  • Banana pudding bread at Cafe Firenze in Moorpark
  • Carrot cake at Stonefire Grill (mentioned 6 times)
  • Shakes at In-N-Out Burger
  • Apple fritters at Rolling Pin Donuts in Camarillo
  • Little Calf Creamery in Thousand Oaks (mentioned 26 times)
  • McDonald's strawberry and cream pies
  • Molten chocolate cake at Lure Fish House
  • Lava cake at Chili's in Newbury Park (mentioned 2 times)
  • Macaroons from Lemonade
  • Ice cream at Rite Aid (mentioned 2 times)
  • Creme Brulee at Tuscany in Westlake Village (mentioned 2 times)
  • Cotton candy at Zin Bistro in Westlake Village
  • Fried ice cream at Yolanda's in Camarillo (mentioned 2 times)
  • Molten Chocolate Cake at Marmalade Cafe in Westlake Village
  • Salted caramel pudding from California Pizza Kitchen
  • Fruit cobbler at Lazy Dog Cafe
  • Chocolate mousse cake at Blue Stove (mentioned 2 times)
  • Eclairs at Brent's Deli
  • Carrot cake at Old New York Deli in Newbury Park
  • Mud Pie at Holdren's
  • Ice cream sandwiches at Stacked
  • Raised chocolate donut at Foster's Donuts
  • Nutella and Biscotti Semifreddo at Cafe Firenze
  • Frozen yogurt at Tutti Frutti
  • Nutella cheesecake at Lemonade in Westlake Village
  • Chocolate chip brownie sundae at Lazy Dog Cafe (mentioned 2 times)
  • Chocolate cake at Paul Martin's
  • Chocolate souffle at Mastro's
  • Berry cobbler at Lure Fish House
  • Chocolate lasagna at Olive Garden
  • Brownie sundae from Sunset Terrace
  • Florentine art dessert at Mediterraneo
  • Churros (Nutella filled) at Sabor (mentioned 2 times)
  • Baskin Robbins (mentioned 10 times)
  • Cannoli at Italia Deli & Bakery
  • Baklava at Baba's Kitchen
  • Nothing Bundt Cakes (mentioned 14 times)
  • Black Forest Cake at Paul Martin's
  • Strawberry cake at Jeannette's Edelweiss
  • Sticky rice at Sawadee Thai in Camarillo
  • Neapolitan Shake from In N Out Burger
  • Pastries and tiramisu at Al Mulino Eataliano
  • Hot fudge sundae at McDonald's
  • Sticky coconut rice and mango at Bangkok Avenue
  • Strawberry shortcake at Country Harvest in Newbury Park
  • Pizza cookie at Topper's Pizza
  • Peruvian cookies at Mouthful Eatery
  • Baklava at Mediterranean Pita Grill
  • Flan at Don Cucos
  • Fruit tart at Viktor Benes
  • Butter cake at Lazy Dog Cafe
  • Ras Malai and Gulab Jamun at Anarbagh in Westlake Village
  • Cold Stone Creamery (mentioned 3 times)
  • Wild Cherry Yogurt
  • Carrera's Bakery (mentioned 15 times for items like triolgia, fritelle, gelato, cannoli)
  • Tifa Gelato (mentioned 6 times)
  • Sweet Arlene's (mentioned 6 times)