The Olives Branch
31105 Rancho Viejo Road, San Juan Capistrano
By Rachel Wilford
This Mediterranean gem in San Juan Capistrano offers a unique dining experience for family outings or date nights. The Olives Branch is nestled in the Marbella Plaza and has been serving delicious, homemade Lebanese cuisine for almost five years.
According to manager Tony Awad, all the ingredients and dishes at The Olives Branch are made fresh on-site daily, and owner Omar Chmait imports an assortment of spices straight from Lebanon to use when cooking the restaurant’s various menu items.
The Molokhia dish is one of the chef’s specials—a roasted Cornish game hen served over a bed of Basmati rice and a side of broth-like Molokhia (whole jute leaves, popular in Egypt) that has been simmering slowly over an open flame. The dish is topped with a light smear of red onion vinaigrette for an extra burst of flavor. Combine scoops of rice and hunks of tender chicken for a zesty, satiating bite.
The Olives Branch caters and also hosts parties and wedding receptions. In addition to the restaurant’s happy hour, which runs Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m., a D.J. and an exotic belly dancer are also featured every Saturday night beginning at 7:30 p.m.