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Highway I5 from Newport to San Diego

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My family will be vacationing in Southern California for 7 days in late August . We are staying in Newport Coast and plan on visiting a few of the theme parks in San Diego. I need to find a few Chow worthy restaurants for dinner inbetween the two cities, just of I5. I am looking for places that are family freindly but also have great food. Any help is appreciated.

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  1. Folks, please keep your recommendations on this thread focused on the Orange County leg of elizabean's trip. If you have any favorites in San Diego County, she has a separate thread on the San Diego board

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7231...

    1. Would you take a short detour off the direct route between the two places? If so then i recommend for breakfast, lunch or dinner to give Mollies Famous Cafe in San Juan Capistrano a try. Very family friendly.

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      Mollies Famous Cafe
      32033 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

      1. Located in the historic Los Rios District of San Juan Capistrano, the Ramos House serves up outstanding breakfasts and brunches. Chef/Owner John Q. Humphreys sees to it that his guests enjoy the very best in food and service. Menu standouts include the potato, corn & buttermilk crab cakes, the Scotch quail eggs and the mac 'n cheese w/ smoked chicken & asparagus. Their Bloody Mary is one of the best ever. Give them a try and, afterwards, take a leisurely walk around and explore Los Rios. You may want to bring your camera.

        Ramos House
        31752 Los Rios St
        San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
        (949) 443-1342

        http://www.ramoshouse.com

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

        4 Replies
        1. re: degustateur

          Is that to say that each trip to an SD theme park will be a day trip out of Laguna? Wow, that will be a lot of driving...

          One real obvious place for a very nice brunch will be Ramos House Cafe in the Historic Los Rios District of San Juan Capistrano. It's a very unique cafe situated on California's oldest residential street. The cafe itself is situated in the covered patio of the chef's actual residence, where the best seating is the prized table on his front porch!

          Everything is made from scratch, many using herbs grown in his own garden. The only downside would be that dining here is by its very nature a leisurely affair; there's something very Southern about the pace and ambiance at Ramos. It's really not a place where you would want to rush, so it's probably best thought of as a destination restaurant.

          This could be a good choice on a day when you feel like a leisurely start where the plan might be to spend the afternoon and evening in S.D.

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

          1. re: cgfan

            Yes & Yes. It will be separate day trips to SD and it will be a lot of driving. We're in OC for seven nights, so two or three trips to SD should not be that bad (I hope). Ramos House Cafe gets a lot of press on CH. We'll make an effort to try it. Thank you.

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

            1. re: elizabean

              I hope you like Ramos House. I've never been a big fan, (mostly because for me the price to food value seems pretty out of whack) but everyone's tastes are different. It is a pretty patio, no doubt. One thing to be aware of is, if the weather continues to be cool, please make sure you have something warm to wear as it is outside dining only (even though they do have heat lamps).

              1. re: Servorg

                I'm w/servorg on this; not a big fan of Ramos House. The only thing interesting there is the bathroom/outhouse and the setting. Food is just okay.

                While Break of Dawn may be out of the way, the food is much better (think creative) there.

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

                Break of Dawn
                24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

        2. 2 posts and no mention of Break of Dawn? A board favorite and right off of the 5 at El Toro.

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          Break of Dawn
          24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

          16 Replies
          1. re: JAB

            That was a bit too far off the path of their planned route for my comfort zone to recommend. But if they want to travel up the I5 that far north it would be a great idea and worth the extra travel time.

            1. re: Servorg

              How is the 5 freeway at El Toro too far off of the path from Newport Coast to San Diego? You would have to try to avoid passing it by,

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              El Toro
              1876 Nadeau St, Los Angeles, CA 90001

              1. re: JAB

                Yeah but it seems awfully close to their starting destination. I am actually wondering where they are starting from, because if they are staying on the coast--the 5 doesn't reach the coast until Laguna

                1. re: apple7blue

                  I was envisioning them driving up the PCH from Newport Beach and getting on the 5 at Dana Point (rather than going inland again to the 405 and then merging with the 5 up by Lake Forest).

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Hi. We are staying at the Marriott Newport Coast Villas. I checked out Break of Dawn location on the map. I'm not too worried about traveling th extra few miles for a good meal. Thanks in advance for making the rec's. Also, any other dining rec's for OC are appreciated.

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                    Break of Dawn
                    24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

                    1. re: elizabean

                      In Dana Point (another location in Sunset Beach) the Harbor House Cafe is a 24/7/365 local institution with huge portions and a very broad menu. Also family friendly and a fun scene on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

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                      Harbor House Cafe
                      34157 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA 92629

                      1. re: Servorg

                        You might want to look through this recent prior thread. It has a lot of recommendations in and around the area you'll be in: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7161...

                      2. re: elizabean

                        Caffe Panini is a nice place for dinner. I would also recommend Sage. I have been to the East Bluff location, and would venture that the other branches so nearby are similar.

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                        Sage Restaurant
                        2531 Eastbluff Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660

                        Sage On the Coast
                        7872 E Coast Hwy, Newport Coast, CA 92657

                        Caffe Panini
                        2333 E Coast Hwy Ste Frnt, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

                        Sage on the Coast
                        7862 East Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, CA 92657

                        1. re: apple7blue

                          I believe that only the Eastbluff Dr., Sage Restaurant is still open. If anyone has more information please update this post (but as far as I know the Sage on the Coast is closed).

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Sage on the Coast is toast.

                        2. re: elizabean

                          It's actually really closenand not really a day trip. Take Laguna Canyon, turn right on El Toro and right on Avenida de la Varlota before the freeway. It's right behind the El Torito. I don't think they're open for dinner though

                          Also, assuming you're going to Legoland or Seaworld, the 5 is more direct
                          than the 15. Have fun!

                          -----
                          El Toro
                          1876 Nadeau St, Los Angeles, CA 90001

                          1. re: nycs

                            "Also, assuming you're going to Legoland or Seaworld, the 5 is more direct
                            than the 15"

                            She was talking about taking the (EYE FIVE) "I" 5 (or, as you call it, the 5) and not the (Fifteen) 15 Freeway (which is nowhere close to anywhere she and her family will be be coming from)....

                2. re: JAB

                  elizabean,

                  heartily agree with the comment - definitely break of dawn over ramos house. last i checked my map, bluefin would be worth a visit. if nothing else, their lunch omakase - around $40 - 5 courses can hardly be beat, unless you drive just a little bit more north to sushi shibucho...enjoy your vacation!

                  1. re: jacknhedy

                    Hi all. Thanks again for the recs. For sushi, I prefer more traditional restaurants. Jacknhedy (or anyone else), are you familiar with Kingyo Sushi? Bluefin looks like a trendy restaurant. Thoughts?

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                    Kingyo Sushi
                    21135 Newport Coast Dr, Newport Coast, CA 92657

                    Bluefin Restaurant
                    7952 E. Pacific Coastal Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92657

                    1. re: elizabean

                      I eat only traditional Sushi and have tried more than my fare share of Sushi bars, of which I keep an extremely abbreviated list of Sushi bars I can recommend. With that said I can recommend for you Shibucho in Costa Mesa (South Orange County). Shibutani-san is strictly old school, and has trained many of L.A.'s top Sushi chefs. After he sold his original shop he moved the family back to Japan to train his son and returned years later to open up the Costa Mesa shop. (I've now known him for more than 30 years as an Itamae!)

                      In SD county my strongest recommendation is for Kaito Sushi in Encinitas, just south of Carlsbad and 2 miles east of I-5. This would be a good fit for your Legoland visit They specialize in Edo Mae Sushi. Lookup their many reviews on CH and on Yelp. They are stellar, and it's my "home" Sushi bar. I only have two Sushi bars I can recommend in SD, so after Kaito that leaves Sushi Dokoro Shirahama in Kearny Mesa as my only other recommendation. (Though not in the same neighborhood, Kearny Mesa is an easy 10 minute drive from the S.D. Zoo, ...)

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                      Shibucho
                      3114 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

                      1. re: cgfan

                        2nd cgfan's recommendation of Shibucho. Not likely to be crowded during the weekday, you may want to make reservations for the weekend however.

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                        Shibucho
                        3114 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

                3. I can't believe someone mentioned Harbor House! :( While it's a good place to go @ 4am because no where else is open....I certainly wouldn't call it "chow worthy"! :O The OP is asking for dinner recs so I wouldn't suggest Ramos House or Break of Dawn as those are both better for breakfast, imo. Actually Ramos House isn't even open for dinner so that doesn't work at all. But if you do happen to drive by during brunch hours I highly suggest it! :)

                  Dinner off the I5: (and close to it)
                  Kappo Hana in Laguna Hills for Japanese
                  Javier's @ the Irvine Spectrum for upscalish Mexican

                  if you don't mind take-out (but they do have some tables to sit) http://www.ninasgrocery.net/home.asp has really delicious Indian food. They also own Natraj restaurant, which is a sit down restaurant., but the food at the grocery store is 100x better!

                  Good Lebanese food: http://www.lebanesecafe.net/ (Stick to the mezze and less kabob dishes and you can't disappoint!) Delicious hummus, fattoush, foul, kibbeh, labne, etc

                  )

                  Yummy Persian food http://www.hatamcuisine.com/

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

                  Break of Dawn
                  24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

                  Kappo Hana
                  25260 La Paz Rd A, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

                  Harbor House Cafe
                  714 N Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054

                  1. Thanks again everyone for your recommendations. Break of Dawn has a very interesting breakfast menu. We will definitely try it. How about Mexican food? I live in the suberbs of NYC. Our Mexican options are not so good. I know California has awesome Mexican food. Anything i must try? I prefer the super casual places over the fancy ones.

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                    Break of Dawn
                    24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: elizabean

                      You will be in a much better location for Mexican food when you get down to San Diego. That said you might give Los Golondrinos a try. Solid, if not spectacular food at a fair price in a very casual environment (the casual environment will be true for 99.9% of all the Mexican places you'll find down in OC or SD). A couple of very convenient locations for you are the Capistrano Beach site and the one in San Clemente.

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                      Los Golondrinos
                      400 Camino de Estrella, San Clemente, CA 92672

                      1. re: elizabean

                        I'm a HUGE fan of La Rana in Aliso Viejo. It's a small little casual shop, but with authentic Mexico City style cuisine. Not too far off the 5 on Pacific Park/Moulton.