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Jul 21, 2008 11:08 AM

Weekend getaway between San Diego and LA - Where?

I'd like to do a quick weekend trip from San Diego to someplace an easy drive up the coast. I'm looking for a walkable area, with good food/drink accessible without having to get back in the car.

Any suggestions - for both the spot, and where to eat - would be very appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. Not very far from S.D. but far enough to feel that you've been someplace is the Rios Historic District of San Juan Capistrano, a stone's throw from the mission itself. It has a very laidback, almost Southern, rural one-street-town feel. What brought me there on all past occasions is the Ramos House Cafe, where their fixe prix brunch on weekends is always a big draw.

    It's definitely not your usual dining setup. The "cafe" is situated in the chef's residence on Rios Street, where most tables are simply situated in the back/side yard. The best tables, 2 of them, are on the front porch.

    The house itself is one of the oldest residences on the street, and this on the oldest surviving residential street in California.

    They grow their own veg and herbs right there on the property, and make a point to hand churn their own ice cream.

    Note that the Rios district itself is more suited to the "type B's" and not the "type A's", those that can justify spending an hour or so leisurely walking and exploring without requiring a lot of "high intensity" stimuli. The same goes for the RH Cafe - the best way to enjoy it is to take it slow and just simply unwind...

    Honestly the food there at times can be hit or miss, all depending on how critical one is, and the various reviews on RHC are equally mercurial. I think a lot of that is due to what they are trying to achieve - upgraded comfort food, with allusions to the culinary preferences of the South. I don't mind as for me it's only a part of the larger Los Rios experience that gives me an opportunity to slow down, decompress, and get away for awhile.

    Ramos House Cafe
    31752 Los Rios St, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

    1 Reply
    1. re: cgfan

      Tea House on Los Rios is very good too. We just had a baby shower there and it was a beautiful setting with good food.

      I've never been to Ramos House but have heard their best meal is breakfast.

    2. Surf and Sand in Laguna Beach..lovely hotel oceanfront but might be sold out for the weekend..
      Friends who live in Avalon in the summer say that it is pretty quiet and maybe you can get a good deal at the BW or Metropole and take the Catalina Express up from Dana..nothing like snorkeling at Lover's Beach, drinking buffalo milks at Descanso and having burgers at Eric's on the pier.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Beach Chick

        As we used to say in the Hot Rod business,

        "Speed Cost Money, How Fast Do You Want To Go?"

        Given free rein of budget, I'd go straight up the 5 for 20 minutes to the Grand at Del Mar. Possibly the best getaway weekend I've had. Might as well have been on the other side of the world- it's that kind of escape. With no driving, no airports, no security, no baggage mishaps, etc.

        Second, and only slightly second in price, would be Montage at Laguna Beach. I'd stay on-site in both places for chow, although I'd probably skip Addison at the Grand- their Amaya was just as good, only slightly down-market in their selections, and significantly lower cost.

        At Montage, James Boyce has Studio. Order the chef's tasting menu, then loosely and quickly fasten your seatbelts- it's a great ride.

        Here's an image of room-service breakfast at the Grand:


      2. These are exactly the kind of responses I was looking for. Thanks!

        3 Replies
        1. re: menuinprogress

          Have you looked at the St. Regis at Monarch Beach. They have Michael Mina's Socal outpost, Stonehill Tavern. Also they have a private beach with a beach club, where you can have some apps and a cocktail, while watching the sunset. Yeah the place is pricey buuut.....

          1. re: littlestevie

            We love Ramos House in SJC for a day trip - take the Amtrak up for brunch or lunch and stroll around, then hop on the train and come back. I think you could combine the Coaster and MetroLink and do it even cheaper. Of course, we live close to the train station. However you get there though Ramos House is worth the trip.

            Ditto the rec of Montage in Laguna. Jimmy Boyce is the Man

            1. re: sandshark

              sandshark: That's actually a wonderful suggestion, to take the Amtrak up to Ramos House. You see, Ramos House's kitchen window sits just opposite the station platform, so you can hardly get any closer.

              What a nice way to really get away from it all, when you don't even have to drive!

        2. we went up to San Clemente last summer for a weekend and loved it. The beach is real nice, you can get a small hotel room right across the street from the water. There are several restaurants right there including some seafood, a crepe place, and a little diner/pizzeria. Not much for bars at the water, although there is a nice pier you can sit on and get drinks.

          If you are beer-inclined and can pay for a taxi be sure to check out the Pizza Port San Clemente (not walking distance).

          You can get to San Clemente by taking the Metrolink too, it stops right at the pier.
          It is only an hour 1/2 drive.