Where to eat San Clemente

My trip to LA is being derailed by surfers who care more about waves than eating. :laughing: I’ve searched this site and others for places to eat around San Clemente, where we apparently will be spending a few days. The only place that comes up here is Tommy’s, which will do for one meal. Feeling desperate. Surely I can find a good taco–or good anything–while they’re bobbing on the waves???

I am sure there are serviceable taco stands in San Clemente, but it might behoove you to head up to San Juan Capistrano, which has one of the best ramen shops in Southern California:

If you are unimpressed by the San Clemente tacos, SJC also has this good taqueria:


Kawamata Seafood - very good poke bowls

San Juan Capistrano but very close to San Clemente
Heritage BBQ - the best BBQ in SoCal. Be prepared to wait 30-60 minutes depending on the day and time you arrive. There is a brewery next door to grab drinks while you wait.
Mayfield - California meets the Mediterranean sea. Good cocktails.


Used to travel to SC on business; haven’t been there for a few years, but I highly recommend El Adobe Capistrano in SJC. Really excellent food in an historical building - in fact the staff will tour you through an old jail in the basement if you ask.
There’s also a FatBurger in SC that’s great for lunch.

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In addition to Kawamata, Heritage, Ramen Shack I’ll throw in Riders Club Cafe for burgers. Biggies for a classic no frills cheeseburgers


Hapa J’s

Get the Tutu Plate (skip the Loco Moco) and the Kalua Pig Quesedillas.

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Had Hapa J’s this weekend. The Man Fries and teriyaki beef were pretty good.

I would pass on their chili (no real depth of spice and too many beans) and kalbi (thin and flaccid), though.

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This is a hard question to answer, as I have zero idea what you’re looking for. Sol Agave is great. I think Tommy’s is closed. The Vine is wonderful if your budget allows for it. Fisherman’s has a great view but everything but the fish and chips is terrible. Beachfire has surprisingly good food and a great taco tuesday menu. Riders café grinds their own beef and is known for their burgers. Nick’s is a san clemente institution but I’ve heard their food is slipping.

Dana Point Harbor is just a few miles up the coast. Harbor Grill is very good. Wind & Sea is a tradition for outdoor dining (the nachos are surprisingly good). Turks is worth a try. Jon’s is very popular for seafood. Just outside the harbor- Lupe’s tacos is really good. On the way north - I’d second Kawamata Seafood, if you’re into poke.

FWIW, IMHO Fisherman’s bar section (opposite the restaurant) is very much worth a drink and some apps, if you sit outside. The restaurant side is one of our in-laws’ favorites, but I’ve never been impressed. Also, I’ve been to El Adobe numerous times and find it nothing much. OTOH, Swallows Inn (across the street) is maybe the most eclectic dive bar anywhere. Worth a visit, but not for food.

Thanks everyone! Enjoyed some good ramen and poke while there.