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Jul 26, 2011 08:44 AM

Places to eat in Dana Point?

We are flying into LAX and driving south to Dana POint for a long weekend. We are looking for something different along with a few favorites. We need places for soup dumplings, fish tacos, and breakfast/brunch. Also anything that is different but can't be missed while in CA.

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  1. About 10 minutes from Dana Point in San Juan Capistrano is the best place for breakfast...the Ramos House Cafe. You sit outside in an neighborhood built in the 1770s (adobe houses) under a huge tree. The egg scrambles are to die for. The bloody mary's are excellent and wait til they serve the freshly made biscuits. Everything there is fresh and delicous.

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

    1. Little far south for soup dumplings, you need to get up around Irvine or over into Garden Grove/Westminster for the best. There is A & J Restaurant in Irvine, it is tiny, but pretty authentic.

      In Garden Grove you have Myung In Dumplings and Peking Restaurant in Westminster, they are hole-in-the-wall joints.

      We like Las Golondrinas for fish tacos and their tamales.

      Breakfast, Harbor House No. 2 is a place we head a lot after surfing, Mollie's in SJC and we like the Mollie's on La Paz in Laguna Niguel even better.

      If you don't mind traveling a bit, Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills is a truly unique breakfast place and I think worth the trip.

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

      A & J Restaurant
      14805 Jeffrey Rd, Irvine, CA 92618

      Myung In Dumplings
      8911 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

      1. Also in SJC, Sol Del Sur Bistro has a very unique menu for Orange County. Definitely worth a try. They do dinner.

        Sol Del Sur Bistro
        31115 Rancho Viejo Rd, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

        10 Replies
        1. re: Surfindaave

          Second, and you MUST reserve—they don't accept walk-ins.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            "Second, and you MUST reserve—they don't accept walk-ins."

            That is pure urban myth. The absolutely accept walk-ins. The rub being, it's a small space and, of course, it's popular. So the odds are you may well find "no room at the Inn" if you just drop by - but if they have a table free they will seat you without a problem (or a reservation).

            1. re: Servorg

              Ever since the dueling reviews—the Register and the Weekly reviewed them the same day—they've had signs up from time to time declining walk-ins. I've got pictures somewhere of one of the sign.

              Still, how bloody hard is it to make a two-minute phone call?

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                "Still, how bloody hard is it to make a two-minute phone call?"

                If that is aimed at me I'll just say "I don't know because I emailed them" and the answer I received is pasted in below.

                So, if you have "pictures" of the sign "somewhere" you might show them to Dave so he can correct them (if you can find them)...

                Thanks for the question!

                No that is not true. Fiction. People drop in all the time of course, and that is fine.

                We are however a very small place serving unique food that is the opposite of pre-made fast food. We have had nights where we have been very full, and some groups (without reservations) have been unhappy to hear that there would be a significant wait for a table. I think that happens at a lot of restaurants, though.

                Its always nice if people can let us know they're coming. Seems like an advantage to everyone!

                So, give us a call, or just drop by, either way we will work hard to make your dining experience something to remember!

                Dave Emery
                Sol Del Sur Bistro

                Sol Del Sur Bistro
                31115 Rancho Viejo Rd, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

                1. re: Servorg

                  It was a rhetorical question. I'll try and post the picture tonight.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    One would have thought that the reviewer at one of the OC papers would have mentioned that "no walk ins" policy if it were the real deal. I took a look at the OC Weekly review found here: and they didn't bring it up. Maybe the other one did? I didn't see that one in my quick Google search.

                    I have to take the owner/chef at his word. When he says that (folks who talked about that) no walk ins being a restaurant "policy" was fiction it makes me pretty sure that somehow the myth got started and it took on a life of its own (as Internet myths are wont to do).

                    1. re: Servorg

                      I'm perfectly willing to concede the point, Servorg. There were signs, but perhaps he was just flooded post-review. In any case, given that it's a small restaurant, can we agree to state that a reservation would be a nice courtesy so the man knows how much he's likely to be cooking?

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        As I explained to BubblyOne below I can't tell the restaurant in question (whichever that might be) a time, as I don't know how long the delivery and installation of whatever my wife has created for her client will take. I can, and do call, when I get "on my way" towards the restaurant we've chosen to dine at. We take these "out of town" opportunities to try places we would most probably never get to otherwise.

                        As to why I posted my original comment has to do with trying to keep the information on this board as accurate as any of us can make it, not only for all of us hounds sake, but for the sake of the restaurants we are talking about as well.

                  2. re: Servorg

                    How did you like it and what did you order Servorg?

                    1. re: BubblyOne

                      Haven't been yet, but looking forward to going. We get deliveries and installations for my wife's business down that way every now and again, and the last time we had one I emailed the restaurant to find out about "walking in" as we are never sure how long any installation may end up taking (hence it's impossible to make "firm" dinner reservations for a certain time).

          2. Nothing "food" notable in Dana Point. . View Restaurants overlooking and around the harbor are best used for cocktails and snacks only – average food otherwise. . . The area is best for Mexican food, - take a look at nearby Olemende’s in Capo Beach, or Ricardo’s in Capistrano.

            For a good California feel, but again best for beach cocktail atmosphere only, consider The Fisherman, located on the nearby San Clemente Pier.

            Nearby Laguna Beach is best for evening walks through art galleries, and visitors there like Las Brisas (again - Mexican). – but if very good ethnic Asian is a must - head for Arbor Center Plaza in Irvine (near Jeffery and Walnut), or try the “Little Saigon” area in Garden Grove / Westminster – home to a very large Vietnamese / Korean population.

            Don't be fooled into thinking of seafood just because your near the ocean. Most seafood sold in Calif is not local, but is imported from Seattle or Mexico (although local Swordfish is now in high season if available). .. . . Remember - for restaurant reviews when traveling away from home, is your friend.

            10 Replies
            1. re: jbermo

              The Fisherman has 2 sides, a standard (and pricey) seafood side and a bar with a limited menu. I recommend the bar. The food is serviceable and if you are there in the evening, you get the western exposure, so you can actually see the sunset.

              1. re: jbermo

                I think you mean Olemendi's Mexican Restaurant and they have a few locations besides Capo Beach. Laguna Beach is one I can think of off the top of my head. Is El Patio still Capo? Still decent?

                As to Las Brisas.... we do eat there as locals because we love the setting and know what to expect. And what do you expect at Las Brisas? Long waits, even if you have a reservation, food that fluctuates between good and average and service that also fluctuates between good and average.

                Kismet can be achieved, you could walk in, be seated right away have a great meal with great service, but if that happened I would immediately run to the nearest 7-11 and buy a lotto ticket while your luck is running hot.

                1. re: scottca075

                  Las Brisas is best for apps and drinks on the patio and move on elsewhere for dinner.

                  There is also a nice Olemendi's, run by the owner's son at Monarch Bay Plaza, PCH and Crown Valley.
                  Mollie's in Laguna Niguel does not get enough love!

                  1. re: BubblyOne

                    Mollie's Country Kitchen on La Paz can get love from me all day. It is my father's favorite Mexican breakfast in south OC.

                    1. re: scottca075

                      Mine too! I could eat one of their breakfast burritos every day:)

                      1. re: BubblyOne

                        Found a website that included full menu's with prices (scanned in) and added them to the website. Here is the link this time around: Yes it is dated since it's from 2007. But at least it covers the food and gives some idea of the prices

                        Will try to get here the next time I'm down that way in the AM for breakfast.

                        Mollies Country Kitchen
                        27932 La Paz Rd Ste M, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

                        1. re: Servorg

                          I've been to Mollies Famous Cafe in SJC maybe a dozen times for breakfast over the years and have never been disappointed in their food. I would love to have them in my neighborhood.

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

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Went to Mollies Famous Cafe in SJC for breakfast once. I had requested an omelet Greek style, with feta cheese and spinach. “Oh we don’t have feta cheese here at Mollies” the waitress had replied. Coincidentally, I then spied the owner, sitting at the counter, eating a Greek salad complete with tomatoes, olives, and FETA cheese. I queried her on my waitress’s reply, and the owner then said. “The feta here is just for me as I don’t stock it in my restaurant, mainly because my cooks wouldn’t know what to do with it”.

                            No joke, that incident soured me on the SJC Mollies!

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

                  2. re: scottca075

                    "El Patio still Capo? Still decent?"

                    Like many, I’ve been eating at the El Patio Café since the mid sixties. Their good quality seems to be pretty much the same, but the value certainly has changed. To me, the El Patio Café (Lucie’s) is now overly expensive then when compared (inflation adjusted) to their former glory days. Their wait lines don’t seem to be as long as they used to be either, possibly reflecting this!

                  3. I have never been steered wrong off Yelp, but then, I understand what I am getting with the reviews. The best restaurant in OC is definitely not an In-and-Out. Club 33 is not one of the best French Restaurants in OC. But if you actually read what is written in the reviews, it is easy to come away with a good take on a restaurant, especially when Chowhound is not as active in an area.

                  4. I like the Harbor Grill at the harbor (duh!) in DP. I think their entrees are very good, nice light ambiance and always good service.

                    Harbor Grill Restaurant
                    34499 Street of the Golden Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92675

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Honeyman

                      +1 Hands down the best restaurant in the Harbor.

                      Also.............. The St. Regis and Ritz Carlton Hotels are both in Dana Point as well.