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 Dana Point, California? And SNA?

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rumaki

  • Total Posts: 967
  • Joined: 3/1/2008
  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
Dana Point, California? And SNA? Tue, 02/5/13 4:17 PM (permalink)
I'm going to California later this week for a conference which is being held at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point.   All of my meals from Thursday evening through Saturday breakfast will be served at the resort and are included in the conference registration.  However, on Saturday, friends from the Los Angeles area are driving down to fetch me. We plan to lunch in the Dana Point area and then make our way back to L.A. for dinner in Santa Monica.  Reservations have already been made for that.
 
What I'm looking for is a lunch option in Dana Point (or environs) or en route back to L.A.  I don't know what driving route we are taking. I have no particular food preferences or prohibitions; we're eating at a seafood place (or at least, a place that has sand dabs, one of my faves) on Saturday night at dinner.  I did some online searching and found a few places that looked like possibilities:  The Shwack Beach Grill; the Harbor Grill, or Wind & Sea, all in Dana Point.  But I have no idea whether they are any good or not.
 
I'm flying in to John Wayne/Orange County airport on Thursday, arriving around lunchtime, and I expect I'll be hungry. Any good options at the airport or nearby?  I am not renting a car, but I wouldn't be averse to a short cab ride, as I'll have time to kill because I can't check into the hotel until about 4 p.m.
 
Thanks for any suggestions! 
 
 
#1
    mar52

    • Total Posts: 7597
    • Joined: 4/17/2005
    • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
    Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Tue, 02/5/13 4:56 PM (permalink)
    I'll have to check proximities when I get home as this IPad is limiting.

    Walt's Wharf in Seal Beach has good seafood. Might be too far.

    San Juan Capistrano isn't too far from Dana Point. I always eat at El Adobe de Capistrano when in that area. I love the history as much as the offerings.

    Harbor Grill in Dana Point is excellent.
     
    #2
      rumaki

      • Total Posts: 967
      • Joined: 3/1/2008
      • Location: Minneapolis, MN
      Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Tue, 02/5/13 5:12 PM (permalink)
      Thank you very much!
       
      #3
        MetroplexJim

        • Total Posts: 3705
        • Joined: 6/24/2007
        • Location: McKinney, TX
        Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Tue, 02/5/13 6:10 PM (permalink)
        You can't beat the Harbor House Cafe - open 24/7/365.  Check their menu:  http://www.harborhousecafe.com/menu.htm .  Their breakfast is OUTSTANDING!
         
        #4
          EdSails

          • Total Posts: 3562
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          • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
          Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Tue, 02/5/13 7:04 PM (permalink)
          My first choice for your Saturday lunch is about a 10 minute drive from Dana Point. It is the Fisherman's Restaurant in
          San Clemente. 
          http://www.thefishermansrestaurant.com
          It is a great location, on the San Clemente Pier. Make sure to sit outside, you can watch the surfers and see the waves coming in and out through the floor beams. Lots of fresh seafood. If you like oysters, they actually have locally farmed oysters. It is an excellent place, with not only a view but some of the best seafood I have had in CA.
          There are several good options around SNA. Are you looking for anything special? There are especially a wealth of Asian restaurants around there, but let me know what you are looking for and I'll suggest something. I live 15 minutes from SNA, so I know the area well.
           
           
          #5
            EdSails

            • Total Posts: 3562
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            • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
            Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Tue, 02/5/13 7:09 PM (permalink)
            BTW, if you are loooking for sand dabs, check out my review of R & J in Downey. It's on the way to Santa Monica and has sand dabs-----one of my faves too!
             
            http://www.roadfood.com/R...j-southern-homecooking
             
             
             
            #6
              mar52

              • Total Posts: 7597
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              • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
              Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Tue, 02/5/13 7:20 PM (permalink)
              Bijou Cafe in Santa Monica is my favorite place for sand dabs. Thanks for the reminder, Ed.
               
              #7
                EdSails

                • Total Posts: 3562
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                • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
                Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Wed, 02/6/13 12:35 AM (permalink)
                One place I would highly recommend if you like Asian food is a 10 minute taxi ride from SNA. It is literally the next freeway exit after the airport. The plaza is called the Diamond Jamboree. It is an outdoor mall, primarily Asian in character.
                 
                http://www.diamond-jamboree.com
                 
                Choices of food include my favorite Chinese place, Capital Seafood. At lunch time they do Hong Kong style dim sum (from the carts). Seafood is live in the tanks on the rear wall. They also have Capital Seafood Express next door for takeout dim sum and a few outdoor tables to snack on them. Bon Epi is one of two Asian bakeries there. Sandwiches are available and lots of good pastries. The French macarons are to die for and a must after any meal in the plaza. Ajisen Ramen is an outpost of a Japanese chain with good, reasonably priced ramen dishes. Close by, BCD Tofu House has Korean tofu soups available, served with a multitude of banchan (side dishes). Across the drive is the Guppy House, another Korean place I have never gone to because the line of people waiting to get in is always long. I take that as a good sign. A revolving sushi bar, Thai food, curry house, pho, banh mi and others are there. Just opened is the Kickin' Crab, a place I wrote about here a month ago and a dynamite place for Cajun seafood.
                 
                http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=726560
                 
                There are many more places on the link I included to the plaza's website. Finally, there is H-Mart, a large Korean grocer, with a food court that includes Korean hot pot, sushi and other food stalls. I think it might be a perfect place to go and walk around and try various types of foods. Unfortunately, the only thing I haven't noticed in any of the places is rumaki!
                <message edited by EdSails on Wed, 02/6/13 12:36 AM>
                 
                #8
                  rumaki

                  • Total Posts: 967
                  • Joined: 3/1/2008
                  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
                  Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Wed, 02/6/13 10:29 AM (permalink)
                  Thanks to everyone for these great suggestions!  I will report back.
                   
                  #9
                    mar52

                    • Total Posts: 7597
                    • Joined: 4/17/2005
                    • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
                    Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Wed, 02/6/13 12:31 PM (permalink)
                    Have a great trip.
                     
                     
                     
                    #10
                      1bbqboy

                      • Total Posts: 4542
                      • Joined: 11/20/2000
                      • Location: Rogue Valley
                      Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Wed, 02/6/13 2:21 PM (permalink)
                      What's SNA?
                       
                      #11
                        rumaki

                        • Total Posts: 967
                        • Joined: 3/1/2008
                        • Location: Minneapolis, MN
                        Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Wed, 02/6/13 2:26 PM (permalink)
                        John Wayne/Orange County airport code.
                         
                        #12
                          1bbqboy

                          • Total Posts: 4542
                          • Joined: 11/20/2000
                          • Location: Rogue Valley
                          Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Wed, 02/6/13 3:08 PM (permalink)
                          Ah Ha!
                           
                          #13
                            mar52

                            • Total Posts: 7597
                            • Joined: 4/17/2005
                            • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
                            Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Wed, 02/6/13 10:30 PM (permalink)
                            Thank you for asking and answering that.  I was puzzled as well.
                             
                            #14
                              EdSails

                              • Total Posts: 3562
                              • Joined: 5/9/2003
                              • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
                              Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Thu, 02/7/13 3:50 AM (permalink)
                              Used to Be Santa Ana Airport, hence SNA. Well, it's better than Pensacola's call sign!
                               
                              #15
                                rumaki

                                • Total Posts: 967
                                • Joined: 3/1/2008
                                • Location: Minneapolis, MN
                                Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Mon, 02/11/13 2:12 PM (permalink)
                                Dear everyone:
                                 
                                Just a quick update -- and thanks again for your suggestions.
                                 
                                As it turned out, I didn't eat near SNA after all.  A friend of mine asked me to meet her in Dana Point for a late lunch, so we went to the Harbor House Cafe, recommended by Metroplex Jim.  The place itself is a great old 1939 diner, in a red-painted frame building.  Inside, you have a choice of tables, booths or the counter.  We chose a booth.  The diner has dozens of old movies posters and lobby cards on the walls and ceiling (we were sitting right under the poster for "Five Easy Pieces").
                                 
                                The service was outstanding -- attentive and prompt.  I arrived before my friend, and was greeted right away, invited to sit wherever I chose, and my beverage order was taken immediately.  I had Coke, which was refilled multiple times during our visit.  It was a good fountain Coke, too. My friend tried to order a glass of white wine, but they were out of her choice, so she stuck with water.
                                 
                                Both my friend and I had the fried chicken dinner plate. We were too early for "dinner," which includes multiple sides, but we each chose a small side salad and onion rings (which looked great from a distance).  The salad with fine, though nothing extraordinary.  The chicken was freshly prepared and good, though not world-class. The onion rings were a big disappointment -- doughy, and just not very tasty.  Nevertheless, I had enough to eat that I didn't have room for dessert -- and the pies did look good. 
                                 
                                On the plus side, we weren't rushed at all -- far from it -- though I think the odd time we ate (2:30) may have had something to do with that.  Perhaps we should have followed Metroplex Jim's advice and had breakfast instead of lunch.  That said, I would definitely go back, and I would have breakfast, or at least, pie.   But it was worth it for the history, decor and the fine service.

                                 
                                On Saturday, my friends picked me up and we went to EdSails' suggestion, Fisherman's Restaurant in San Clemente.  It was a nice day (after a rainy one), plus a Saturday, so it was busy.  We couldn't get in to the main restaurant without a long wait, so we had to settle for the oyster bar across the way.  We did get to eat outside.  The oyster bar has a limited menu. My friends each had chowder, with one adding an ahi sandwich. I had the fish tacos.  Everything was fresh and tasty, and the portions were certainly adequate for lunchtime.  I normally eat oysters, but I had eaten something earlier that had disagreed with me a bit, so I skipped them, but I'd certainly opt for them next time.
                                 
                                For dinner that night we went to Chez Jay's in Santa Monica, which says it specializes in sand dabs. http://www.chezjays.com/dinner.htm   It's a small, quirky, funky place, and I loved it.  We arrived for our 6:30 reservation, and certainly needed it, as the place filled up very quickly, apparently mostly with regulars, who ran the gamut in terms of age (which I always think is a good thing) and were very nice and welcoming.  It's dark and wood-paneled, with small Christmas lights festooning the ceiling, old celebrity photos, and some nautical touches (like a ship's wheel ).
                                 
                                Service was warm and attentive. We all had sand dabs, which were very good, served with (in my case) a good baked (not foil-wrapped) potato, and al dente green beans which I skipped. There was also a choice of soup (sausage vegetable that day) or salad. My companions had the soup and really enjoyed it, saying it was neither too sausage-y or vegetable-y -- nice balance. They chose other potato options, which I frankly forget, but I think they enjoyed them.
                                 
                                I had the salad with their special sherry dressing  (the waiter insisted on bringing it on the side, "in case you don't like it").  It was a little unusual, but I enjoyed it very much. We also had a basket of hot garlic bread which they refilled as often as we wanted, and a small relish tray.
                                 
                                I really liked this place.  I don't know what kind of reputation it has or whether it is considered a tourist trap, but it was most enjoyable. They may not have the BEST EVER sand dabs, but they were certainly good ones.
                                 
                                So, that's it. Thanks again to everyone for your great suggestions!
                                 
                                 
                                 
                                 
                                <message edited by rumaki on Mon, 02/11/13 2:19 PM>
                                 
                                #16
                                  Michael Hoffman

                                  • Total Posts: 17817
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                                  • Location: Gahanna, OH
                                  Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Mon, 02/11/13 3:30 PM (permalink)
                                  EdSails
                                   

                                  Well, it's better than Pensacola's call sign!

                                  Why? Everybody has one. Well, not exactly everybody.

                                   
                                  #17
                                    EdSails

                                    • Total Posts: 3562
                                    • Joined: 5/9/2003
                                    • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
                                    Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Mon, 02/11/13 7:05 PM (permalink)
                                    rumaki,
                                    Glad you enjoyed the Fisherman in San Clemente. A little surprised there was that long of a wait, but on the other hand my son said their fish tacos were the best he's had. AT least if there is that kind of wait you know it's usually good. Sorry you missed the oysters. They are farmed for them by the Carlsbad Oyster Company about 40 miles down the coast. Next time you come out, let me know and I'd be happy to meet you there. Hope you got to at least watch some surfers!
                                     
                                    #18
                                      Foodbme

                                      • Total Posts: 9548
                                      • Joined: 9/1/2006
                                      • Location: Gilbert, AZ
                                      Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Tue, 02/12/13 12:32 AM (permalink)
                                      EdSails

                                      Used to Be Santa Ana Airport, hence SNA. Well, it's better than Pensacola's call sign!

                                      What's wrong with PNS???
                                      It's now Pensacola INTERNATIONAL Airport!
                                       
                                      #19
                                        Fishbilly

                                        • Total Posts: 11
                                        • Joined: 10/24/2007
                                        • Location: Aurora, IL
                                        Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Wed, 02/13/13 6:47 AM (permalink)
                                        I always hit Jon's Fish Market when I'm in Dana Point. Right down at the Harbor.
                                         
                                        #20
                                          mayor al

                                          • Total Posts: 15062
                                          • Joined: 8/20/2002
                                          • Location: Louisville area, Southern Indiana
                                          • Roadfood Insider
                                          Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Wed, 02/13/13 9:34 AM (permalink)
                                          I really like to read reports from members who find that the suggestions they received here on RF actually turned out to be good ones.  This is the best evidence that the site is 'working' for you.
                                           
                                          #21
                                            EdSails

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                                            • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
                                            Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Fri, 03/15/13 2:52 AM (permalink)
                                            Foodbme

                                            What's wrong with PNS???
                                            It's now Pensacola INTERNATIONAL Airport!

                                             
                                            Just hard to avoid laughing every time I fly into there. Sometimes it's hard to take the child out of the man!
                                             
                                            #22
                                              JRPfeff

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                                              • Location: Pewaukee, WI & Fuquay-Varina, NC
                                              Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Fri, 03/15/13 2:56 PM (permalink)
                                              It was at least 15 years after I left working near San Clemente that I finally learned how Dana Point got its name.  Wikipedia doesn't do it justice, the real story is in Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast. The book gives a great description of California while still a Mexican province.
                                               
                                              #23
                                                EdSails

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                                                • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
                                                Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Fri, 03/15/13 4:27 PM (permalink)
                                                JRPfeff


                                                It was at least 15 years after I left working near San Clemente that I finally learned how Dana Point got its name.  Wikipedia doesn't do it justice, the real story is in Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast. The book gives a great description of California while still a Mexican province.

                                                As you know by my name, EdSails, I love to sail. Two Years Before the mast is pretty much required reading for any sailor. The descriptions Dana gave of the California coast can easily be visualized after sailing up and down it. And yes, I've sailed to Dana Point several times from Ventura and Catalina Island, as well as sailing out of Dana Point harbor for daysails and fishing many times. Every time I do, I can see Dana, hauling lines and climbing the mast. He described that area and era perfectly.

                                                Fishing from Dana Point last week
                                                 
                                                #24
                                                  kland01s

                                                  • Total Posts: 2835
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                                                  • Location: Fox River Valley, IL
                                                  Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Fri, 03/15/13 4:42 PM (permalink)
                                                  Beautiful!
                                                   
                                                  #25
                                                    JRPfeff

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                                                    Re:Dana Point, California? And SNA? Fri, 03/15/13 4:51 PM (permalink)
                                                    Thanks Ed. I am glad to learn that Mr. Dana's words live on in the hearts of sailors.
                                                     
                                                    Your photo is something I've wanted to see since reading the book.  I think it is great that the exact spot where Dana climbed to retrieve the stuck hides nearly 180 years ago is so readily identifiable.
                                                     
                                                    Jim
                                                    <message edited by JRPfeff on Fri, 03/15/13 8:07 PM>
                                                     
                                                    #26
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