Conejo Valley straddles Los Angeles and Ventura counties and is surrounded by Simi Hills and Santa Monica Mountains. The suburban area, which includes such cities as Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Newbury Park, and some portions of Calabasas, at first glance features mostly larger chain restaurants. But look deeper and find smaller independent restaurants fueled by the proximity to local farms and the Santa Monica farmer’s market, as well as drawing culinary talents who are moving away from the LA hustle. From family-run eateries serving international cuisines to a saloon in an old west building, these are the restaurants to try around Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, and beyond. Restaurants are presented in geographical order from north to south.Read More
Where to Eat Around Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village
The sprawling Conejo Valley is filled with celebrities, suburban landscapes, and lots of hidden gems
Dong Ting Spring
A good Chinese restaurant can be hard to find this far west of San Gabriel Valley, but Dong Ting Spring brings authentic Hunanese food to the area — the second location of Dong Ting Chun in San Gabriel. The large menu may be difficult to navigate at first, but it’s best to stick to the Hunanese section with dishes like braised pork belly with preserved vegetables, the lamb in golden soup, and for those more adventurous, the mashed eggplant with century egg.
This newcomer coffee shop brings much needed single origin coffee to Oak Park. Cafe Sapientia serves paninis and avocado toasts for the neighborhood lunch, but the main attraction is the snow creme. Cafe Sapientia serves the best (if not the only) shave snow in Conejo Valley and the soft texture is on par with what you’d find in LA, and many of the flavor options use housemade ingredients from the mango puree to the whipped cream.
Moqueca Brazilian Restaurant
One of the best Brazilian restaurants in Southern California is Moqueca, and thankfully they’ve expanded from their original Oxnard location into Thousand Oaks. While most Brazilian spots in LA tend to be churrascarias, Moqueca specializes in its namesake seafood stew from the Bahia region, cooked in a claypot with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and urucum. A side order of farofa to sprinkle on top is highly recommended, as is a round of caipirinhas.
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eLoong’s handmade dumplings can stand their own in many LA neighborhoods, but they are particularly welcome in Conejo Valley, where options are sparse. eLoong is the spot to go for those craving xiao long bao or wontons in chili oil. Dumplings aside, there is also a menu of noodles, rice cakes, and buns. The menu is similar to that of a particular international XLB chain, but it certainly will satisfy without the long drive.
This intimate strip mall sushi spot may well be the most popular Conejo Valley restaurant, drawing long waits since 1996 and gaining viral status when Kimye was photographed waiting for a table on a bench outside. Sure, some people come here for the fist-sized hand rolls and the stuffed squid, but they have a strong nigiri game including daily specials that may include the hard-to-prepare hagashi toro.
There are plenty of Italian restaurants in Conejo Valley, but Nonna’s handmade pastas stand out among the rest, including strozzapreti in sausage ragu and paccheri with roasted eggplants, as well as gluten free options. Owner Jacopo Falleni is a seasoned veteran in the restaurant industry and it shows in the food, service, and the details of Nonna’s rustic chic dining room. Both the owner and current chef hail from Tuscany, but the menu also spans classics from other regions.
Maru Kitchen brings much needed Korean food to the area, and in an attempt to appeal to the western palate landed some ingenious combinations like the lightly spicy kimchi gumbo served with purple rice. Chewy ddeok takes the place of gnocchi in a creamy sauce and ragu. The rest of the menu spans from traditional Korean food like galbi tang and ssam platter, to a donkatsu curry with cheese-stuffed pork cutlet.
Collin Crannell worked at various fine dining restaurants in the LA area from Patina to Water Grill before opening his own neighborhood restaurant in the middle of a shopping center in Westlake Village. One of the earlier proponents of farm-to-table cooking in Conejo Valley, Moody Rooster offers a small, seasonal menu using sustainable ingredients. The menu is ever-changing, but some favorite mainstays include crispy gnocchi and harissa carrots.
Coin & Candor
Coin and Candor at the Four Seasons in Westlake Village is not your typical hotel restaurant, from their inviting outdoor patio overlooking the cascading man-made waterfall to the care put into the food. Chef Jesus Medina infuses the menu with Mexican heritage with dishes like Baja red snapper with adobo and a corn stew inspired by elote. With pastry chef Patrick Fahy’s experience that includes stints at The French Laundry, the bread and desserts here are worth ordering, including the pretzel bread with mustard butter.
E+ Mon was opened just before the end of 2020 by Hidetoshi Teddy Seike who previously operated Samurai in Mammoth Lakes, and he’s working with Chef Koji Miyamoto who helmed Hinomaru Ramen in Astoria. E+ Mon brings more high quality sushi options to the area and the best way to experience it for the first time is the premium nigiri sampler, which usually includes seared toro topped with caviar along with the day’s freshest cuts like nodoguro and kinmedai. Tempura and appetizers like aged miso eggplant and takoyaki round out the menu.
This small, New American restaurant is the kind of neighborhood restaurant that is better than it needs to be. Freshly baked sourdough is topped with feta mousse and heirloom tomatoes, pork chop is brined and marinated for 24 hours, and most ingredients are sourced from local farms. In addition to food, Decker Kitchen’s bar is stocked with all manners of infused spirits and syrup using produce that bartender Paul Jones gets from his weekly farmer’s market runs, making this the best place to drink cocktails in the area.
Tifa Chocolate & Gelato
Tifa might have expanded across state lines, but this chocolate and gelato franchise started in Agoura Hills. They may have started off the business by selling a curated selection from other chocolatiers, but soon started making their own truffles and gelato. The creamy whisky gelato is a notable favorite, but for an especially indulgent treat, get their version of affogato, where the gelato is drenched not in espresso, but in hot drinking chocolate.
FurnSaj Restaurant & Bakery
This Lebanese bakery and restaurant hailed from neighboring San Fernando Valley but recently opened a location in Calabasas, which serves the same items that gained the original location a loyal following: heaping plates of some of the best beef or chicken shawarma in the LA area, freshly baked boat-shaped bread saroukh filled with cheese, onion, and parsley, and more.
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Dining at Old Place feels like you are far away from the city. A saloon and steakhouse set in a building that was formerly a general store in the 1800s, Old Place transports you to the old wild west. Bring a big group to enjoy the oak-grilled steaks, noodle and cheese bake, chicken pot pie and other dishes baked in a cast iron skillet (note that currently Old Place is operating via a takeout window with outdoor seating, so the skillet items are not available). For lunch, there are steak sandwiches and if you come early enough, you may get your hands on some cinnamon rolls.
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Cuckoos Nest BBQ
This backyard BBQ pop-up started only a few months ago but it’s already drawing crowds up its one-way street off of Mulholland Drive. Every Saturday they smoke tri-tip, brisket, ribs, housemade sausages and more using oak sustainably sourced from fallen live oak trees from the area. All the meats are worth the drive, though the tri-tip is particularly noteworthy.