Ojai’s historic Deer Lodge started in 1932 as a grocery store/gas station for locals and wayward travelers and over the decades morphed into the iconic restaurant it is today. The new young owners, Sophia Miles and Sydney Malkin, have preserved the restaurant’s rich flavor of a bygone era, while Chef Kaanan Tupper creates new farm to table flavors for “today.” Tupper was rewarded in 2016 when the Deer Lodge won lst Place for food preparation and lst Place for food pairing at the Ventura County Fair.
Sophia and Sydney bring their diverse backgrounds to the Deer Lodge table: Sophia’s previous experience working in hospitality at the Deer Lodge and other establishments makes her perfectly suited to handle the “front of the house,” while Sydney’s background as a real estate broker and owner of a property management firm suits perfectly to the business side of the Lodge.
The restaurant is known for such popular dishes as fried chicken and the buffalo burger and you must try Chef Tupper’s bacon jam made with onions and bacon, reduced in chicken stock with a blend of secret spices. It’s the perfect complement to any of the burger or steak selections. Among his new seasonal farm to table choices, he’s whipping up delicious market salads from local farmers and fresh fish fare from Ojai’s very own Ideal Seafood.
The Deer Lodge also features more than twenty local craft beers and highlights local spirits such as a California vodka made from strawberries. Try its Strawberry Fields Forever made with this unique vodka, muddled strawberries and mint, and lemonade. The restaurant’s fine wines primarily come from the Santa Ynez region, keeping its environmental footprint in baby shoes.
Come for dinner or just for a beverage and stay to listen to the live music featured most nights, or let loose your inner rock star with a turn on open mic night.
And don’t forget to grab a bite or two from the Deer Lodge table at Taste of Ojai. You won’t lodge a single complaint.
By: Ilona Saari
2261 Maricopa Highway
Ojai, Calif. 93023