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Jan 7, 2002 03:35 PM

Dana point, San Juan Capistrano

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We are visiting San Juan Capistrano to see a concert at the Coach House (should we eat before???) In addition to restaurants already posted- an thoughts on places to stay- how are the marriott laguna cliffs or Doubletree suites (can't afford St. Regis- but wondering if it's worth eating dinner there) we only have 2 nights (the first 2 since our daughter was born 5 years ago!!!) and don't want to waste even 1 meal on a nightmare restaurant or a night in a disappointing hotel- Any suggestions would be SO greatly appreciated!!!

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    michael (mea culpa)

    Not far away is a good hotel on the beach called The Inn at Laguna Beach. There's a pretty fair restaurant across the street as I remember. Or, if you want to spend more and enjoy a great view, there's a good restaurant atop the tower at the nearby Surf N Sand Hotel. They also have a restaurant on the beach called Splashes. If you want Asian fusion, try Five Feet, also in Laguna. A good casual place for lunch is the Crab Cooker in Newport. If you want really good albeit expensive food, there's Aubergine in Newport, Pinot Provence in Costa Mesa or Gustav Anders in Santa Ana.

    1 Reply
    1. re: michael (mea culpa)
      torta basilica

      I would stay at the Surf & Sand Hotel - on it's own beach as opposed to big, zoo-y Main Beach. Vey romantic - we spend a lot of anniversaries there. Splashes Restaurant there is spectacular - right over the sand & surf, but I much prefer the lunch to dinner or breakfast. The tower restaurant has been closed for awhile. Ti Amo in S Laguna is very romantic Italian.

      I second the Ramos House & 5 Feet in Laguna - excellent & also suggest Cafe Zoolu - very intimate locals only (well, pretty much) wonderful food - esp. baseball cut swordfish. Don't know if I'd recommend Aubergine on a weekend, if that's when you are going to be here. Have heard wonderful reviews of the restaurant in the St.Regis, but haven't dined there yet & imagine a good dinner would be almost as much as a room! Have you checked the rates - they may have specials going on that make them affordable, but I still like the Surf & Sand Hotel for romance. For any of the above, make resvs well in advance.

      There is a very cute little French/Belgian (I think?) country restaurant in San Juan Capistrano - we ate there before a show at the Coach House, but, of course, I can't remember the name - anyone?

      Cedar Creek Inns are ok, but a chain & becoming more upscale coffee shops than when they first opened.

    2. If romance is part of the equation, try Luciana's in Dana Point on southbound Del Prado right at the split. Pretty damned good upscale Italian in warm, homelike setting. Only downside is tables that are a bit crowded together. Lovely, lovely & friendly spot otherwise. I think they only serve dinner.

      The Blue Lantern Inn is a pricey, but again lovely alternative to the pricey Marriott Laguna Cliffs with its spectacular views. The highest cost rooms at the Blue Lantern also have spectacular views.

      1. I have been to the Coach House a number of times in the last year and we usually eat at the Cedar Creek Inn, they are 1.5 miles away from the Coach House, directly across the street from the San Juan Capistrano Mission. The patio is very nice, especially if the weather is good. We've had very good service, friendly staff.

        I've had the seabass and the halibut and both were good, great pot roast! heavier than what I'd usually order but good.

        Cedar Creek Inn
        26860 Ortega Hwy
        San Juan Capistrano, CA
        (949) 240-2229

        If you're staying overnight... The Ramos House Cafe is OUSTANDING, not something to miss, they serve breakfast and lunch only. Apple beignets to die for!! Dungenss crab hash... menu changes with what's available fresh. Known for the best Bloody Mary in Orange County, filled with chopped veggies, homemade pickled green beans and a crab claw.

        Ramos House Cafe
        31752 Los Rios St
        San Juan Capistrano, CA
        (949) 443-1342,141...

        If you're needing a late afternoon pick up after going through all the antique stores the Tea House is good.

        Tea House On Los Rios
        31731 Los Rios St
        San Juan Capistrano, CA
        (949) 443-3914