PICTURED: Chicken salad sandwich with lettuce, tomato and red onions on wheat bread.
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
Surfers Point Cafe
204 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
With its large patio, light-filled interior and location just a few blocks from the ocean, the Sandbox Coffeehouse in Ventura was a convenient pit stop for the surfers, bikers and strollers looking for caffeine, a quick bite and, perhaps, a beer on their way to or back from nearby Surfers Point. Plenty of bike racks and a cluster of surfboards added to the beachy-casual vibe.
Current owner Kathy Bailey clearly knows not to mess with tradition too much. But the newly opened Surfers Point Cafe feels fresh, welcoming and comfortable. Yes, it still has the bar next to the window, with a row of stools and plenty of outlets for charging your electronics. And the açai bowls — an absolute favorite from the Sandbox days — are still on the menu. But the coffee shop definitely seems to have gotten its groove back.
“Amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do,” a friend commented recently.
My husband and I popped in post-farmers market one weekend to check it out for ourselves, and found it to be both a pleasant respite from the masses wandering up and down Main Street, and a great spot for a simple but satisfying lunch. The patio is breezy and open, with umbrellas for shade. Inside, there are a few larger tables, but most of the spots are built for two, with comfy armchairs surrounding small round tabletops. Good use of the space, but not overcrowded.
You’ll find all the usual coffee drinks — drip, cappuccinos, lattes, etc., plus milk and its various substitutes — and people do rave about the quality. In addition, there are various teas and cold drinks to choose from, plus baked goods, sandwiches, salads and the aforementioned açai bowls. You can customize bowls with your own selection of fruit, granola, nuts, etc. The boxed lunches and charcuterie options are a nice touch — just the thing to take with you for a picnic on the beach.
We did not get coffee on this outing, but I was delighted with my golden turmeric latte, a caffeine-free blend of spices steamed up with milk (I ordered coconut). Lightly sweet, beautifully spiced, with an earthy hint of turmeric — it was a wonderful mid-afternoon warm-me-up.
My husband loves a mimosa, but couldn’t resist also trying the pomegranate lemonade. Surfers Point Cafe rotates through lavender, verbena and rose flavors as well, and I’m looking forward to sampling them all: The pomegranate lemonade was delicious and refreshing, with a delightful tartness. I’d take a well-crafted lemonade over a mimosa (which was perfectly lovely) any day.
We ordered two sandwiches to go with our drinks, and these were definitely of the no-frills variety. My turkey sandwich featured fresh greens, tomato, light mayo and mustard. Not a thing wrong with it . . . but basically something I could have made for myself at home. My husband’s chicken salad sandwich was similarly simple, but tasty — Bailey can whip up some respectable chicken salad. I did wish we’d gotten a bit more macaroni and potato salad on the side; both were great and those small cups were gone too soon.
So maybe not the most remarkable of dining experiences, but it hit the spot. The friendly vibe and great drinks are the real draw, and I’d happily return — definitely for a proper cup of coffee, or perhaps a glass of wine, a local-ish beer (Figueroa Mountain, Kona, Leashless and M. Special) or some tasty Anna’s Cider during happy hour (3-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday).
Whether you’re fueling up to take on C Street, resting between errands or relaxing with a cold brew after a long day, Surfers Point Cafe has exactly what you need. The perfect spot to catch your next wave, or a second wind.