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9 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. 

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!):

9 Best San Juan Capistrano Restaurants

Cedar Creek Inn

26860 Ortega Highway // (949) 240-2229

Located in the heart of San Juan Capistrano with unparalleled views of the historic Mission ruins, this is one of our favorite eateries among all San Juan Capistrano restaurants.

We love dining on the picturesque patio under a trellised roof with flowing fountains and an outdoor fireplace.

Known for their American classics and creative cocktails, both lunch and dinner share the same menu. Sunday brunch is also served.

Seafood lovers will delight in Cedar Creek’s Seafood Salad with shrimp, crab, scallops, asparagus, marinated cucumber, artichoke hearts, chopped egg, and tomato, over iceberg and romaine lettuce, topped with 1,000 Island dressing. What’s impressive is not only the freshness but the bountiful amount of seafood that’s included.

Seafood Salad

Having a tough time deciding on a sandwich (there are so many good ones), my hubby asked the server’s recommendation.

His Reuben with sliced corn beef on rye with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing was superb. Served with a savory Cole slaw and onion rings, it was mouthwateringly delicious.

Reuben with sliced corn beef on rye with sauerkraut

Other standouts we’ve had here are the Monte Cristo and Curried Chicken Croissant.

If you are looking for a beautiful atmosphere for classic American food, this is one of the best San Juan Capistrano restaurants for you.

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.

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 nine best San Juan Capistrano restaurants should be a great place for you to start.

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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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.

Ryan Pam

Wednesday 16th of February 2022

Ysidora at the inn at the mission san juan capistrano , autograph collection hotel

Noreen Kompanik

Thursday 4th of August 2022

@Ryan Pam, thanks for that suggestion!

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