This must be the place
GETAWAYS • Ojai
Last week, Rory’s Place, the anchor restaurant of Ojai’s recent culinary resurgence, teased an exciting bit of news in an email newsletter. “We’ll be opening ‘Rory’s Other Place’ next door this (late) spring!!!” it read, promising an espresso program, breakfast and lunch, buffalo milk soft serve, gourmet market items, and wine. I let out a little yelp.
I’ve frequented Rory’s Place for delicious Californian cuisine served in cozy-hip environs ever since sisters Meave and Rory McAuliffe opened the doors in early 2022. Inside, the faces of Ojai locals and escapist Angelenos glow pink from the reflection of a neon oyster sign, conjuring the valley town’s famous salmon-colored sunsets. A sheer patterned tapestry, colorful abstract paintings, and exposed wood beams make for a contemporary California feel that follows in the footsteps of NorCal forebearers Chez Panisse and Zuni Café.
On the table, the stellar seafood tower is stacked with plump Channel Islands’ finds. Many of the menu’s meats and vegetables are wood-fired, like a roasted half chicken over escarole. And the single pasta, which changes seasonally, rarely disappoints. To drink, the Hello Satan — mezcal and tequila with passion fruit, serrano, lime, and cilantro-infused Ojai pixie olive oil — which tastes like Ojai in a glass, punchy and pacifying.
Only an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles, Rory’s is an accessible up-and-back getaway. But given the peaceful enclave’s burgeoning food scene, an overnight stay is in order. –Emily Wilson