Looking for a great restaurant in San Juan Capistrano? Have you explored the quaint Los Rios Historic District? If you live in central or north Orange County, it is such a quick jaunt down the 5 freeway, or for a real treat, take the train a few stops from the Tustin or Irvine station, since it will drop you right in the heart of this town.
So here is our favorite weekend itinerary: take the kids to Zoomars in the morning, Zoomars is the sweet little petting zoo filled with furry guinea pigs for them to pet and feed, goats to groom, and horses/ponies and a mini train to ride. We have been taking them to Zoomars for years, and we even threw a birthday party for my son there, but it is still one of their favorite outings, even for my eleven-year-old! For a successful family outing, we always try to have something for the kids, then also something for the adults. Specifically, I like to end a kid’s activity with a good meal and a glass of wine. Everyone is happy!
There are so many great food options in the area, but hands down one of my favorite restaurants is The Ramos House, open for breakfast and lunch. The Ramos House was originally built in 1881 and sits on one of the oldest residential streets in California. It was a long time residence for the Ramos family, and in 1994, chef/owner John Q. Humphreys transformed his home into a cafe/residence by putting in a commercial kitchen and adding on a patio. I have been coming here for years, and I love bringing my family here. The cafe’s patio is cozy and whimsical.
Ramos House’s menu changes a bit because they focus on seasonal, fresh ingredients. Food is pure modern comfort food – so everything is hearty and delicious. I always start with both the Buttermilk Biscuit with Apple Butter and the Cinnamon Apple Beignets.
But everything on the Little Plates menu looks so good – the winter menu offers a Huckleberry Cake with Lemon Curd and Almond Streusel or the Tiny Winter Fruit Salad with Burrata & Mint that I can’t wait to try next time. The menu can vary a bit depending on the season. I have had many of their egg dishes over the years and have loved them all. One of my favorite egg dishes is Chilaquiles, so look for that on the menu. It is hearty without the heaviness because of the freshness with the added avocado, onions, chili, cilantro, and lime. Really, all the dishes here are solid!
Kids Corner: Ramos House is kids approved! My kids love this place! There is an intimate patio, no indoor seating. But when it’s cold out, they run under-the-table heaters so your legs stay nice and toasty – definitely adds to the cozy feeling. My daughter loves the thick, richness of the Beef Stew with Blue Cheese Mash and uses the crostini to dip. The Blue Cheese Mash may be fine for kids that like blue cheese, but it’s a bit strong for her so I just scoop it out. Fair warning: they do not allow substitutions or altering of the items. I’m totally fine with that. I prefer for my kids to pick out things they really don’t like, rather than changing the order. I have found that over time, they pick out less and less things from their food as their palettes develop, giving them every opportunity to actually grow into their palettes. My boy likes the Clam Chowder, rich and creamy with big chunks of clams.
Great for families, but the tables are close together so not a lot of room to maneuver strollers or kids with ants in their pants. They have 2 high chairs, so keep this in mind if you have several littles in your group. And expect a wait on the weekends. There is plenty of room on the little dirt road in front to run around, or just walk a few steps to the little play area with a nice play structure by the parking lot.
Sip: Good selection of beer and wine. The juices are fresh squeezed and the orange is perfect straight up or in a mimosa. Hot chocolate is perfect for the kids.
Address: 31752 Los Rios Street, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Phone: (949) 443-1342
Open Daily: 8:30 am – 3:00 pm, closed on Wednesdays