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Casual dinner in San Juan Capistrano

A DC hound here heading out to LA with family for Labor Day weekend. We'll be celebrating my mother-in-law's 60th birthday by spending the day in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday. Since we'll be there all day, we'd like a laid back, casual place for dinner, but would still like it to be somewhat special. Not a dive, but a place where we might be okay with men in shorts.
I've found information on the following and am considering them:
http://www.thesundriedtomatocafe.com/
http://www.rendezvoussjc.com/
http://www.cedarcreekinn.com/sanjuan....
Would appreciate feedback on the above, or any other suggestions you might have. Thank you.

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  1. El Adobe is casual, yet nice Mexican food restaurant. I believe it is on Camino Capistrano. You may want to also consider taking a short drive down to Dana Point Harbor; an extra 5 minutes max. There are some casual restaurants where you will have a nice view. The food may not be spectacular but the view is. This includes Jolly Roger, Wind & Fire and Harpoon Henry's. Renaissance is also nice and plays live music, which can be a bit loud. There are nicer restaurants in the area, but they aren't as casual as those mentioned above.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Anita Drink

      Thanks Anita. Do you have comments on the 3 I mentioned in my OP?

      1. re: KWynn

        Rendezvous is not a good casual spot, so I would probably scratch that one. Nice, but not casual. You can definately get away with casual at Cedar Creek and have good food. I haven't eaten Sun Dried Tomato, but I hear that it is very good, and you could definately go casual.

      2. re: Anita Drink

        I 2nd El Adobe. On Saturday, they have lobster fajitas that are fantastic. Of the 3 that you mentioned, I've only been to The Sundried Tomato Cafe and while the food is good, I don't consider it that casual. Reservations would also be a must there on a Saturday night.

        1. re: JAB

          Thanks, all. We made a reservation at El Adobe and they're giving us the private wine room for dinner, which will hopefully make it special. I'll report back on how it is...

          1. re: KWynn

            El Adobe is in my regular rotation on Saturday's but, here's my El Adobe disclaimer. Stick to the seafood especially, the specials. Their standard menu is average at best. Almost every Saturday that I've been, they've had lobster fajitas but, I've also has calamari steak, red snapper and mixed seafood which is a daily special every Saturday. Enjoy!

      3. The Sun Dried Tomato in Laguna is really good, so I would imagine that one would be too. I would go for a view, though. Don't know if it has one or not.

        1 Reply
        1. re: torta basilica

          the one is SJC is I-5 adjacent and inland from the beach, so no ocean view to speak of...

        2. Like another poster said, Rendezvous is not casual. I actually think it's pretty overpriced for what it is, so I wouldn't recommend it.

          I love Sundried Tomato Cafe, but it is quite small. This would be my first choice, though if you are going to wear shorts, try to do dressy shorts. Most everyone in OC wears shorts, but people seem to get a bit more dressed up (like nice jeans) for this place.

          Cedar Creek Inn has a lovely patio and decent food. Shorts would definitely be ok here. I like this place, but Sundried Tomato is better.

          1. Cedar Creek is good with a varied menu, very nice patio and men can easily show up in shorts. Sun Dried Tomato is much smaller. Dana Point Harbor has many ok restaurants but remember it is Labor Day weekend and the beach cities are always crowded and very casual.