Many restaurants on Ojai Avenue have come and gone — and more have come — over the years, but Azu has remained, like a loyal friend. For 13 years and counting, Laurel Moore and her daughter have stuck to their culinary mission: farm-fresh tapas and local wine and beer. Sure, they now have live acoustic reggae and bottomless mimosas (and sweet potato waffles and blueberry lemon pancakes) for Sunday brunch, but what makes Azu the place to be in Ojai Valley is one particular dessert: chocolate soufflé with fresh whipped cream and salt caramel gelato. Be sure to order it ahead of time, as it takes 20 minutes to bake. http://www.laweekly.com/restaurants/the-5-best-foods-to-eat-on-your-ojai-road-trip-7165657
“Beer is the only craft beverage that, for the most part, is still made locally with non-local ingredients — like hops from New Zealand. We hope to bring a sense of terroir to the process,” said Haffner. He is using plants foraged from the hills and ranches around Ojai in brews like White Pixie Ale, a wheat beer made with Pixie tangerine zest and blossoms.Ojai Valley Brewery is operating under the auspices of AZU, which is owned by Haffner’s mother-in-law, executive chef Laurel Moore, and managed by his wife, Elizabeth Haffner. (A trained chef himself, Haffner previously made the restaurant’s gelatos and still whips up the occasional batch of its Pixie tangerine marmalade.)http://www.vcstar.com/story/life/columnists/lisa-mckinnon/2017/01/20/cafe-society-ojai-valley-brewery-puts-local-flavors-tap/96447148/
Azu Restaurant is just down the street from Jes MaHarry’s storefront. The eclectic California tapa-style restaurant is the culinary mindset of Laurel Moore and Elizabeth Haffner—a mother, daughter duo—and has evoloved into a favorite among locals and travelers. The walls are covered in rotating art from local artists, while the restaurant’s tables are filled with Spanish-influenced farm-fresh tapas, craft cocktails and local beer and wines.Azu’s outside brick patio is the tasting room for local winemaker Ojai Alisal Vineyard. Daniel Garcia and Bruce Chernof, businessman and doctor behind the label, began growing their own grapes in the backyard of their Ojai home and started bottling the artisanal hand-crafted wines just a few years back. Ojai Alisal Vineyard is known for their French-style reds, with Bourdeaux and Grenache grapes growing in their mountainside vineyards.
You won’t go hungry for dinner, either, considering the range of restaurants Ojai has at your disposal. For tapas made from local produce to crafted cocktails you’ll wish you could make yourself, snagging a seat at Azu will satisfy more than just your appetite. With gallery walls covered in art you’ll almost feel as if you’re dining in a museum, sans the stuffy atmosphere or an authoritative silence. (If you’re a meat-eater, you’ll praise the bacon wrapped dates and if you’re not, get your fill with the vegan saffron rice paella.)
Cocktail enthusiast? Seek out Azu for its martinis crafted with Ojaicello, a house-made liqueur that blends citrus fruits picked from an organic orchard off Maricopa Highway. Local, newborn distiller Ventura Spirits is just now releasing its Wilder Gin, made with wild-harvested botanicals that include sagebrush, bay, yerba santa, purple sage, and Pixie skins. 457 E. Ojai Ave., azuojai.com; 3891 N. Ventura Ave., venturaspirits.com - See more at: http://www.orangecoast.com/features/farm-table-ojai-foodie-road-trip/#sthash.tRtqgoQl.dpuf