Joannafinas Mexican Café

1127 S. Seaward Ave.

Sorry, but Joannafina's has closed it's doors, a big loss for Ventura.

As any foodie knows there’s no better way into local culture than by tasting the regional cuisine! Since 1988, Joannafina’s Mexican Café has been serving up authentic Mexican dishes in one of Southern California’s most authentic beach communities. Owner’s Delfin and Joanne (you get the restaurant’s name now), cooked up their idea to open this restaurant after visiting Delfin’s sister in Guadalajara. Located in coastal midtown, where “Seward meets the sea,” Joannafina’s is best known for their Mexico City styled tamales.

The tamal has been part of Mexican culture since 5000 BC (Aztec and Incan warriors relied on them for their nutrition and portability). Today, there are many delicious ways to enjoy your tamale.

Joannafina’s creates their potato size tamales by placing chicken, beef or carnitas in a bed of corn masa and topping with a spicy salsa. They then wrap it in corn husk, tie both ends to keep the contents inside, and serve it to you like a present on a plate.

Vegetarian tamales are also available and filled with green chiles, corn and vegetarian sauce. My favorite is most popular each December! This sweet tamale is a fusion of brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon and topped with a fruity apricot and pineapple sauce.

Near Christmas time, Joannafina’s invites all to a tamale fiesta. Here you get to see how the experts make these yummy dishes while you enjoy a margarita from their cantina. Last year, Joannafina sold nearly 10,000 tamales. Locals like this place for their laid back atmosphere and good food. Then again, so do out-of-towners. Los Angeleno’s have been known to take the hour drive just to enjoy these tamales.

Prices are average and reservations are rarely needed except maybe for the Sunday Brunch. There is indoor and patio seating, which is heated to guard you from the sometimes cool ocean breeze. On a side note: I’m also impressed by their wide variety of vegetarian choices. For a full menu – click here .

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