By Jan Siegel
Fall is such a wonderful time of the year in San Juan Capistrano. It is perfect for horseback riding, bike riding, walking tours and the many other outdoor events that we have come to enjoy.
The annual Ghosts and Legends Tour sponsored by the Historical Society just keeps getting better and better every year. The tour strolls down Los Rios Street, the oldest residential street in California, as ghosts from the past reach out from behind trees, buildings and shrubs. The two-night event on Friday, Oct. 28, and Saturday, Oct. 29, offers five different time slots each night. When you make your reservations, which are a must, you sign up for the time slot you want. Reservations are available on the Society web page at sjchistoricalsociety.com. For more information, call the Historical Society at 949.493.4056. This family event is the perfect way to start your Halloween weekend.
Another paper in Orange County, Orange County Register, recently had their “Best Of” issue. Most of the winners were in cities with populations topping 300,000. These cities included Santa Ana, Anaheim and Irvine. There were 79 categories on which to vote. And San Juan Capistrano businesses rated in 15 of the categories. Some of these were chains such as Wells Fargo Bank, School First Credit Union, 24 Hour Fitness, Costco Hearing Aid Center, Trader Joe’s, Laura’s House Resale Store, Goodwill and Chick-fil-A.
But in seven categories, San Juan Capistrano rated in one of the three top choices in all of Orange County. Our population is 37,000.
Best Golf Course: Number 1 was San Juan Hills Golf Club. “Affordable greens fees, along with some of the best greens in Orange County, have helped the golf course at San Juan Hills break to the top of the conversation of top golf choices in an always tough and competitive field.”
Best Music Venue: Number 1 was The Coach House. “A perennial winner in this category. Through the years, everyone from Los Lobos, Todd Rundgren, Huey Lewis and the News, Michael Buble, and Asia to the Bangles, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Replacements and Crowded House have graced the stage. Even Kiss, the Eagles, Heart and Duran Duran members made Capistrano a tour stop at some point.”
Best Garden Center/Nursery: Number 2 was Plant Depot. According to the contest capsule, black olive trees have been in demand at the nursery, and “their edible plant selection is impressive, stocked with 120 varieties of tomatoes and a bounty of fruit trees. Succulents range from tiny plants that can be used in decorating projects to large ones ideal for landscaping.” And Plant Depot boasts it has “the largest pottery selection in Southern California.”
Where San Juan Capistrano stood out the most was in the Food and Drink category. For a small town, four of our eating establishments made the Best Of top three list.
Best Barbecue: Heritage Barbecue was rated Number 2. “Heritage was the first restaurant in California to use analog offset smokers as used in Texas. Brad Johnson named it his Restaurant of the Year for 2022. (Chef-turned-pitmaster Daniel Castillo says,), ‘We are a true live fire cooking restaurant and offer the traditional Texas trinity of brisket, ribs and housemade sausage, but we are also known for pushing the boundaries of traditional barbecue, more like SoCal craft barbecue.’”
Best Brunch: Ramos House Cafe was Number 3 on the list. “Ramos House has gained attention for its literally home-cooked, two-course brunch menu. The flavor offerings are diverse, and chances are you may find something new or an interesting twist on a classic.”
Best Outdoor Dining: Rancho Capistrano Winery was Number 3. “Although the Winery has three locations, the San Juan Capistrano location is extra special, with its big, blazing fireplace on a 3,000 square-foot patio that is dog-friendly. (Winery owner Kyle Franson said,) ‘It’s a closed patio in old downtown San Juan Capistrano in a historic building. People can see the Mission nearby. We’re at the train station, so people can take the train and walk across to us.’”
Best Sushi: Oeeshi Japanese Grill was Number 3. “For an accessible and affordable introduction into sushi and sashimi, the Oeeshi Japanese Grill is an excellent choice. The restaurant has ample selections featuring tuna, snapper, albacore and salmon in combinations. Oeeshi also serves a variety of tempura and teriyaki combo plates, as well as udon, ramen and fried rice meals and bowls.”
Spend a “Moment in Time” this season and enjoy all that our town has to offer.
Jan Siegel was a 33-year resident of San Juan Capistrano and now resides in the neighboring town of Rancho Mission Viejo. She served on the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission for 13 years, has been a volunteer guide for the San Juan Capistrano Friends of the Library’s architectural walking tour for 26 years and is currently the museum curator for the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society. She was named Woman of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in 2005, Volunteer of the Year in 2011 and was inducted into the city’s Wall of Recognition in 2007.