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13 Must-Try San Juan Capistrano Restaurants | Where to Eat in San Juan Capistrano CA

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One of the most charming cities in Southern California, San Juan Capistrano can also take pride in being the birthplace of Orange County. The town, renowned for its famous mission, oozes history through its pores.

Visitors still arrive and depart from its iconic train station. The swallows miraculously return to the Mission every March to nest. And its Los Rios historic district has to be one of the quaintest and best preserved in Southern California.

What also makes San Juan Capistrano a standout is its amazing foodie scene, with so many choices, flavors, and outstanding eateries. Most are family-owned and operated, making them incredibly unique and special.

This may be a small town, but you will not suffer from a lack of San Juan Capistrano restaurants. But we’re going to share our top favorite restaurants in San Juan Capistrano, and tell you why we love them so!

Not in the mood to go out to eat tonight? Click here to have Grubhub deliver directly from the best restaurants in town to your doorstep. 

13 Best San Juan Capistrano Restaurants

L’Hirondelle Restaurant

31631 Camino Capistrano // (949) 661-0425

Ambience. Romantic. Alluring.

These are only a few words that describe outdoor dining on a beautifully lit patio of San Juan Capistrano’s magnificent French and Belgian-inspired restaurant. 

Providing unparalleled food and stellar service, L’Hirondelle is our top recommendation for dining with that special someone.

For the quality of the food, prices here are surprisingly reasonable. And for those who find that ordering a whole portion is too much, let me recommend the Petite Plates. These are just smaller offerings of the full dinner entrees.

A shared bottle of California Pinot Noir was the perfect accompaniment to our Mushroom Maison caps baked in garlic butter. My Petite Filet, cooked to perfection, was topped with a Bearnaise Sauce and served with artichoke hearts and roasted potatoes.

Duck Breast with a cherry sauce

A total fan of duck, my hubby went with the seared Duck Breast with a cherry sauce that was to die for. Save room for dessert, as crème Brulee here is the finishing touch to an unforgettable meal. This restaurant will give you a taste of the continent while experiencing fine dining in San Juan Capistrano.

 crème brulee

The Ramos House Café

31752 Los Rios St. // (949) 443-1342

There’s always a line waiting to get into this charming eatery.

Situated in the heart of the Los Rios Historical District, the restaurant dates back to 1794 when adobe structures were built to house soldiers and workers overseeing the construction of the Mission.

Weekday menus are breakfast la carte, while weekends feature a two-course brunch.

Though the menu isn’t extensive, it’s well-planned and anyone who’s ever dined here will agree that the food and surroundings are absolutely delightful.

We loved tasting creative food combinations we’ve never had before like Roasted Pumpkin Mac N Cheese with Duck Confit and Orange Gremolata. Their Crab Hash with Smoked Bacon Scrambled Eggs, Vinegar Tomatoes, and Sweet Potato Crispies is truly a breakfast gem. 

 Roasted Pumpkin Mac N Cheese with Duck Confit and Orange Gremolata

For breakfast in San Juan Capistrano, you can’t go wrong with this historic restaurant; it’s definitely where to eat in town and one of the best San Juan Capistrano restaurants.

Ellie’s Table

31892 Camino Capistrano // (949) 558-5310

Located in the historic 1883 Egan House, the only Renaissance-Revival structure in the town, Ellie’s Table is named after Eleanor Mastroianni, a well-known Orange County culinary genius and top caterer.

While the cuisine here is tantalizing, the biggest draw is the eatery’s impressive eye-candy bakery. 

From Ellie’s famous cinnamon rolls, croissants, blueberry scones, fresh fruit danish, and coffee cakes, it’s not easy to choose. Then there’s the signature Kouign Amann (pronounced queen-a-mahn), an irresistible round, multi-layered pastry filled with layers of butter and sugar, and a whole lot of love!

Cinnamon Roll

Menu items also include an impressive array of breakfast burritos, salads, sandwiches, and soups. Ellie’s also features their famous carrot cake, along with other cookies, cakes, and crostatas.

You’ll need to add in a 5-K run after dining at this San Juan Capistrano restaurant. But it’s so worth it. 

Trevor’s at the Tracks

26701 Verdugo Street // (949) 493-9593

Literally located right next to the 1894 train depot, this trackside eatery is known for its internationally-inspired cuisine while working with local sustainable farmers and food vendors.

Trevor, the owner, opened his restaurant in 2017, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Dining on the relaxed outdoor patio near a soothing fountain is so pleasant, especially with the sounds of live music seven days a week.

Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant’s menu features arrivals (starters), soups, salads, grilled flatbreads, sandwiches, and main events. 

Sandwich
Panini grilled sandwich with ham and cheese

What’s good here? Everything.

I love the Fall into Spinach salad with champagne poached pears, drunken cranberries, spiced and candied pistachios, crispy shallots, goat cheese crumbles, and a shallot vinaigrette.

The flavors and textures work so well with this combination.

Fig & Fungi flatbread

Fig & Fungi flatbread is quite tantalizing with its fig tamponade, goat cheese, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and topped with a balsamic glaze.

For eclectic dining with a unique flair, this is one of the best San Juan Capistrano restaurants.

Heritage Barbeque

31721 Camino Capistrano // No phone number (they want it that way)

You’ll smell the meats slow-roasting in smoke from a mile away at this Central Texas-inspired barbeque joint in the heart of the historic district.

Meats are butchered and smoked in-house, making for some amazingly popular barbeque and sausages.

Their Jidori Farms pasture-raised half chicken is tender and succulent, and the Prime Beef Brisket is one of the best we’ve outside of Texas. 

Sides of Potato Mac Salad and Brisket Beans are perfect accompaniments.

But save room for Heritage’s Classic Bread Pudding for two. It’s so good!

Operating hours are Wednesday through Sunday until 5 pm (or until their meats are sold out). Diners are seated on a first-come, first-served basis. Stroll on over to Heritage for the best barbecue out of all San Juan Capistrano restaurants.

The Tea House on Los Rios

31731 Los Rios St // (949) 443-3914

You’ll see ladies with fashionable hats, happy friends, multi-gen families, and even couples at this enchanting tea house in the Los Rios historic district.

Their motto is “Building relationships, one cup at a time.”

Open Wednesday through Sunday, this lovely eatery offers a variety of tea services as well as lunch and brunch entrees and light bites.

Guests may dine al fresco under a 150-old sycamore tree, or in one of the charming inside cottage rooms. 

I have to recommend going with the Los Rios tea service that includes a freshly baked currant scone with homemade raspberry preserves and California cream, assorted finger sandwiches, fresh fruit, and a selection of premium loose-leaf tea.

Traditional English entrees include Shepherd’s Pie, Bombay Chicken Curry, and English Pasti, a handmade crust filled with prime rib and root vegetables. 

Variety of Pastries

This place is such a delight! While the menu is specialized and not overly extensive, you will still find this one of San Juan Capistrano best restaurants.

El Adobe de Capistrano

31891 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675, United States // +19494931163

El Adobe de Capistrano is a fantastic restaurant with delicious Mexican food, a lovely interior setting, and excellent service. Because of the site’s historical significance, the front is deceivingly bare, yet the interior is inviting!

Their cuisine is filling and flavorful but not overly spicy or salty. Their menu includes a variety of meats, including chicken and pork, steak tacos, carnitas tacos, and fish tacos.

They also serve specialty drinks like coffee, horchata, and manzanilla sherry. The black bean soup was delicious, but the potato soup was fantastic – creamy and tasty!

I highly recommend the blackened fish tacos, which were fresh and not at all greasy, as is often the case at other places.

The chicken enchiladas suizas, which were served with a green (tomatillo) sauce, were also quite good. We were tempted to come back the following day because the food was so good, but we’ll go back on our next trip for sure!

Our waiter was attentive, service quick and professional. Adobe is a rare restaurant that realizes that frequent visitors come back because of great service! Give it a try; you will not regret it!

Sundried Tomato Bistro

31781 Camino Capistrano // (949) 661-1167

This lovely bistro’s name originated from a sundried tomato marinade used as the base for their Signature Creamy Sundried Tomato soup.

One taste and you’ll understand why the restaurant was so-named, and why we came here in the first place.

All-day menu items include soups, salads, bowls, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, and large plates. For those fortunate to be there on a Monday night, the Chef’s two-course dinners include a soup or salad followed by a choice of a main entrée.

Mary’s Natural Half Chicken is a  favorite, marinated with preserved lemons, garlic and rosemary beurre blanc.

Creamy Sundried Tomato Soup

With a spacious patio complete with a cozy fireplace and expansive views, this eatery is captivating, especially in the evening; a great choice for romantic dining in San Juan Capistrano.

Five Vines Wine Bar

31761 Camino Capistrano, Suite 11 // (949) 800-9145 

Rated one of the Top 25 Wine Bars in the U.S. by Travel and Leisure in 2018, Five Vines features over 65 boutique wines from generations of winemakers all around the world. Hops lovers will appreciate their 15 on-tap craft beers and ciders.

Foodie choices here include bites, salads, flatbreads, gourmet sausage and charcuterie boards, and a variety of truffles — all perfect accompaniments for wine and beer tasting. As an added treat, the chef creates three new seasonal dishes every two weeks with wine pairings.

Cheese and Charcuterie

We loved the Cheese and Charcuterie board with 3 kinds of cheese (Camppo de Montaban, Beemster, and Capricho de Cabra), 3 types of meat (Toscano, Chorizo, and Smoked Prosciutto), house-pickled red onion and carrots, fig marmalade, pepper jam, mustard, and fresh strawberries, served with warm baguettes and crackers.

There’s no better way to enjoy your wine.

If your plans call for a few days of history and fine restaurants, this guide to the ten best San Juan Capistrano restaurants should be a great place for you to start.

Ricardo’s Place

32082 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675, United States // +19494934941

Colorful, hacienda-style space for classic Mexican platters, party trays, a kids menu, beer & many more. You can find a cozy atmosphere, friendly staff, and fair prices at Ricardo’s Place.

The chips were freshly made, the guacamole was delicious, and the shrimp cocktail was so fresh! Our waitress took the time to describe the dishes to us and allowed us to have some of the most authentic and flavorful food they had. The portions were huge, and the fish tacos were exceptional. 

From everything, my personal favorite is the Surfer Burrito which is one huge rolled flour tortilla filled with a choice of Beef or Chicken, beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, and cheese. 

They have a lot more on the menu, such as enchiladas, soups, salads, and meat, and whatever you order, you will not go wrong. 

Ricardo's Place: Burrito

Crivello’s Italian Bistro

31882 Del Obispo St, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675, United States // +19494430423

Appealing from the outside as well as on the inside, this Italian bistro will win your heart!

Gnocchi Pesto with fresh basil, garlic & pine nuts with a touch of cream, and the Gnocchi Gorgonzola is freshly made and extremely delicious. The Siciliana entree with eggplant, onion, and roasted pepper with a touch of marinara sauce is perfect to start your meal. 

The best by far is their pasta! They have the biggest choice of pasta in town, such as Eggplant fettuccine, Frutti di mare linguine, Alfredo pasta, Penne al Pesto, Spaghetti Bolognese with meatballs or bolognese sauce, and many, many more. Their pasta is homemade and always fresh. 

Besides the classic lasagna, you must try their unique eggplant lasagna. 

Crivello's Italian Bistro: Eggplant Lasagna

Ciao Pasta Trattoria

31661 Camino Capistrano #205, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675, United States // +19494965002

Trattoria with high wood-beamed ceilings and spacious patio turning out Southern Italian classics. Absolutely phenomenal food. The Ciao Pasta is a serendipity for your taste buds. Simply Italian dishes, hearty, fresh, and light, with phenomenal taste! 

There was an outdoor patio with romantic Lighting, but we chose to sit inside, which was wonderful and made it simply perfect for your date night. 

I’m not sure if the pasta is handmade, but it sure tastes like it. Your meal will start with focaccia, with olive oil and minced olives. After that, you can’t go wrong with any pasta dishes, short rib with orecchiette, baking sheets with ham, béchamel and vodka sauce, and ravioli. And their lightly battered and crisp calamari is also a hit.

Ciao Pasta Trattoria: Pasta Plates

Pizza Amore Cafe

31888 Plaza Dr C-3, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675, United States // +19492340071

Chill, informal setting supplying Italian and Mediterranean fare like pizza, pasta, gyros, and many more. The interior design is charming, making you feel like you are at someone’s house with all the books around and posters of famous paintings.

You can build your own pizza with Pepperoni, Italian Beef Salami, Italian Beef Sausage, Beef bologna (Ham), Beef Bacon, Meatballs, Grilled Chicken Breast, Anchovies, Pineapple, and many more kinds of cheese and veggies. 

Besides pizza, there is also fantastic pasta, juicy and cheesy lasagna, all kinds of salads, sandwiches, and many more on the menu. 

Pizza Amore Cafe: Lasagna

The gyro wrap sandwich with Romaine lettuce, Red onion & tomatoes, mix with, with their amazing in-house tzatziki sauce, is perfect, and so is the Amore Beef Pastrami with grilled onion & bell pepper made to perfection and melted with mozzarella.

FAQ

What are the most popular restaurants in San Juan Capistrano?

  • Ramos House Cafe
  • Cedar Creek Inn
  • El Adobe de Capistrano

What are the best restaurants in San Juan Capistrano that provide takeout?
Some of the most popular restaurants in San Juan Capistrano that provide takeout are:

  • Cedar Creek Inn
  • El Adobe de Capistrano
  • Sundried Tomato

Visiting other destinations in California? Check out our other delicious guides:

While in San Juan Capistrano, don’t miss out on activities that will help immerse yourself with the city (hurry while they’re hot!):

Which of these San Juan Capistrano restaurants do you most want to try? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Kerry Ferguson

Wednesday 19th of October 2022

All are excellent, but you missed several actually loved by locals: Ricardo's, Crivello's and Ciao Pasta, but ssshhh, don't let the gastro tourists know...

Noreen Kompanik

Wednesday 19th of October 2022

@Kerry Ferguson, love that you shared these with us! Will try these on my next visit there.

Bob R

Saturday 15th of October 2022

You had to leave something out - that’s the way lists work! But it seems to me that Ciao Pasta Trattoria should have been on the list. It is one of my favorites in town. Also, I’m very glad to see the positive review and comments about El Adobe. I stopped eating there quite a while ago because the quality wasn’t there. It seems I should have tried it again!

Noreen Kompanik

Wednesday 26th of October 2022

@Bob R, It's good to keep in mind that restaurants are indeed a moving target, Some close, new ones open and quality does change. Thanks for mentioning Ciao Pasta Trattoria. However, it's one I wasn't impressed with during my visits here. But yep, things change!

Melanee

Saturday 15th of October 2022

I’ve dined at six of the nine restaurants listed in the article and don’t recall a bad experience at any. Although I’ve only eaten there once, Ciao Pasta should have made the list. We had a wonderful dining experience there a couple years ago. Their food was mouth watering and the ambiance incredible. The one restaurant on the list that we haven’t experienced but know we need to is L’Hirondelle. I’ll make it a priority to get there. Cedar Creek was the location of our wedding rehearsal dinner 25 years ago and a place we enjoy dining frequently. We had our wedding reception at the El Adobe and have been to numerous receptions and gala’s there for decades. It was my grandmothers favorite Mexican restaurant. She especially enjoyed their chili relleno plate, so I make it a point to order it in her honor when dining there. We’ve attempted to eat at Heritage but the line of people waiting to order was just too long to wait it out. We’ve been wanting to try Trevor’s on the Tracks, but on the three occasions we attempted to try it the wait time for a table exceeded an hour so we went elsewhere. I wish they would take reservations. Definitely enjoyed Sarducci’s when it was located where Trevor’s on the attacks is now and their old location where Hennessy’s is now. I miss Sarducci’s and hope to enjoy Trevor’s on the Tracks one day. I feel the desire to give a shout out to Pizza Amore Cafe. It is a small and quaint cafe located in the strip mall where Rite Aid recently closed down. Their food is fresh and tasty and their staff is exceptionally friendly and accommodating. Their eagerness to please their guests is exceptional and our experiences there have been delightful, whether we dine in or take out.

Noreen Kompanik

Wednesday 26th of October 2022

@Melanee, loved hearing your foodie experiences in San Juan Capistrano! Thanks for reading and commenting~

Alejandra

Wednesday 24th of August 2022

Dear Nathan, Thank you so much for your helpful and insightful list of places where to eat in San Juan Capistrano. Out of the 9 places you listed, hubby and I tried 4 and we would like to add 1 more to your list, if you don't mind. We truly enjoyed a romantic dinner at L'Hirrondelle - their french onion soup was "tres delicieux". The next place we loved was Ellie's Table...breakfast was amazing!!! It's a beautiful quaint place packed with lots of comfort food choices. Cedar Creek Inn was our least favorite place, but their Peruvian Chicken was cooked to perfection! For our last day of our magical weekend get-away, we tried El Adobe de Capistrano (not listed)...and being Mexicana, I had to try their enchiladas so I ordered the two cheese enchiladas salad plate with toasted pepitas and cilantro dressing...and my taste buds were dancing along with the mariachi playing in the background - YUM!!!! Finally, since hubby is a wine and beer enthusiast, we had to try Five Vines Bar and we decided to try their crafted bites of dark chocolate clove and lavender with an oaky bold cabernet. Needless to say, we left San Juan Capistrano well fed and happy...THANK YOU!

Noreen Kompanik

Friday 26th of August 2022

@Alejandra, so happy you were able to use the guide and enjoy some of these restaurants. And thanks for telling us about your experience at El Adobe de Capistrano. Always good to get feedback from our readers!

Jefferson

Wednesday 3rd of August 2022

I will never eat in this restaurant again. I’ve live in San Juan Capistrano for over 50 years and have never been treated so rudely in my life. Their prices are expensive and for what you get it’s pitiful. They wanted to charge me premium for a glass of wine that less than a taster anywhere else.$13. Total rip off. Nw owner is an ass and doesn’t know to treat good customers. I e eaten here several times and have brought my family and friends and never complained about anything until last Sunday. Went to the Rooftop.

Nathan

Thursday 4th of August 2022

Which restaurant? I listed 9 in this article.

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