4100 Telegraph Road, Ventura
Just about any restaurant that opens on Ventura’s east side will open with much fanfare. The oft-neglected residential enclave lacks a restaurant scene as varied as that of downtown, but it looks as though Rincon Brewery is seeking to change that with its new compound-sized restaurant and bar near Ventura College.
Yes, I described the brewery as a compound — because it could possibly have its own zip code. The building is grand in size with space enough for a dining area that begins indoors and ends on the wide patio, where a family looking to dine can send the kids off to play in the deluxe sandbox, which probably has more square footage than my own living room.
The long bar resembles a hall fit for a king’s feast with banquet-sized tables in the center and two-tops and four-tops following the wall. This restaurant space is ginormous, to say the least, and could have fallen victim to the appearance of being less than populated. Instead, even with all of the open space, the place was busy at noon on a Saturday and had the feel of a dinner rush.
Rincon Brewery Ventura is the second iteration of the restaurant, the first being in Carpinteria. The brewery/restaurant offers its own beer as well as plenty of guest taps alongside your standard pub fare. Think a slew of burgers, salads and tacos/burritos. We were promptly seated at the far end of the restaurant, overlooking the scenic corn hole pitch.
The first thing on my mind was beer, and Rincon delivers the goods. On tap were over a dozen house beers varying in style from your light lager to the darkest of stouts. Being a Saturday afternoon, something light and hoppy seemed right, and so my partner ordered the Warrior Pride, an American red ale, and I, the Resilience IPA. Resilience is an interesting concept launched by Sierra Nevada Brewing following the devastating Camp Fire. Breweries across the country brew the same recipe, with all proceeds from its sales being directly donated to those impacted by the fire.
So, having left home without a desire to help anyone, I inadvertently donated $6 to a good cause while enjoying a delicious beverage.
To accompany our beer we ordered the onion strings ($7) while we perused the rest of the menu. As a vegetarian, the pickings were few but respectable. Aside from most of the salads, Rincon offers veggie tacos with zucchini, beer-braised onions, bell pepper, cabbage and avocado with queso fresco and pico de gallo and a similarly filled burrito (both $11). Any one of the hamburgers can be substituted for a veggie patty, which was exciting because I freakin’ love burgers, though part of me wished they were offering the Impossible Burger as a substitute, which is seemingly everywhere these days (more on that later).
I ended up choosing the Black and Bleu burger, subbing the veggie patty for the beef. The burger is topped with “Cajun” grilled onions, bleu cheese, lettuce, tomato and garlic aioli ($13.25) and served with a side of chips or salad. My wife chose the Southwest Taco Salad, an edible taco-shell bowl filled with roasted corn and black bean relish, roasted pepper, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce and cilantro ($13).
As I watched a young man in a Philadelphia Eagles NFL sweatshirt tossing the corn hole beanbag around, missing every shot, I consumed my beer steadily and considered the meaning of El Rincon – the corner. As much as I despised the boy for his attire, I appreciated that he and his family found a place to hang out, a corner to call their own, grab food and a beverage and be together on a Saturday afternoon.
Our food arrived promptly. I found the burger to be fine but not spectacular. The patty was flavorful for a veggie patty and when I mentioned to our waitress that perhaps they should consider procuring the Impossible Burger, I was told that they do in fact have it. A shame that it wasn’t noted on the menu! The “Cajun” spiced onion was lightly seasoned and the cheese was melty and funky, though, so I enjoyed my meal as did my partner, who consumed her taco bowl like a hungry gerbil.
The bill was just under $50 before tip and we left feeling satiated. The beer was fine, the food was fine. Having just opened, I imagine that Rincon Brewery’s Ventura locale will work out the kinks and find their groove. After all, they have plenty of space to work in and they certainly aren’t going anywhere, judging by the very happy midday weekend crowd. Welcome to the neighborhood, Rincon Brewery — a worthy addition.