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A tuneup for jazz festival's district

September 09, 2008|Christine N. Ziemba | Special to The Times

SLEEPY Old Town Camarillo has had a tough time drawing visitors from the more fashionable Premium Outlets just a few exits down the 101 Freeway. But now with a concerted effort, Old Town -- which stretches along a few blocks of Ventura Boulevard between Carmen Drive and Lewis Road -- is trying to become nouveau again with a wine, restaurant and spa scene. The reinvention continues when the third annual Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival ( takes over from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. There are other diversions for visitors in between jazz sets:

Lucy and Ethel not included

Squashed Grapes, on the eastern edge of Old Town, isn't a wine bar but a store that turns customers into vintners. The owners import grape juice and, yes, squashed grapes with skins from around the world. They'll work with wannabe winemakers to create a batch of wine, over several weeks, with specialized kits. For the under-21 or non-drinking set, Squashed Grapes can also help create colas, ginger ale and other sodas in one visit. 2475 E. Ventura Blvd., (805) 384-9721,

Speaking of wine

For oenophiles who'd rather just drink than make wine, Enoteca Toscana is a rustic wine bistro on the opposite end of Old Town. The bar has an extensive wine list with selections both close to home, like a Zaca Mesa Syrah from Santa Barbara, and farther away (Finca Antigua Tempranillo from Spain). It also specializes in tapas and cheese plates. 2088 Ventura Blvd., (805) 445-1433,

Fruits and veggies

The Saturday certified farmers' market draws the crowds into the heart of Old Town, from 8 a.m. to noon.


Luminous Skincare (2193 E. Ventura Blvd., [805] 987-2922) specializes in pampering the face: spa facials, chemical peels, micro-dermabrasion, and waxing and threading. The Holly Baker Salon and Day Spa (2280 E. Ventura Blvd., [805] 987-1275, offers massage and other indulgences.

Eats on the cheap(er)

J.J. Brewsky's (2433 Ventura Blvd., [805] 482-5249, specializes in all things local. The food, when possible, is from local purveyors and farmers; the beer menu offers numerous microbrews from Southern California; and it's housed in the oldest commercial building in Camarillo. Dorothy's Chuck Wagon (2344 Ventura Blvd., [805] 987-2167) is a cross between a small diner and grandma's kitchen, with the staff slinging breakfast and lunch for the regulars.

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