OC Review: The Ramos House Cafe, San Juan Capistrano

The Ramos House Cafe (Photos by Brad A. Johnson)

Time stands still on Los Rios Street. Just around the corner, I hear a rooster crow and a sheep bleat. Seldom does a car drive by.

Visitors of all ages meander down the middle of the road, gawking at California history, admiring the daisies and bougainvillea, pointing at the hummingbirds. Most who loll up and down this street are just killing time. They’ve already put their name on the list at The Ramos House Cafe, and they’re just waiting for their table. Meanwhile, pop! There goes another Champagne cork.

The Ramos House is a wooden, prairie-style cabin that dates to 1881. The kitchen is indoors, where the chef/owner lives. The dining room exists outside on the covered side patio and front porch, where tables are draped with burlap and the silverware is rolled up with old-fashioned dish towels. Tables are adorned with fresh pink tulips and potted herbs. The exterior walls of the house are paneled with distressed lumber, the sort of time-washed, salvage-chic style that has become so trendy these days – except this is the real deal.

A table nearby erupts with giggles and oohs and ahhs. I turn to look. Their first round of bloody marys has arrived. Made with soju instead of vodka, the cocktails are stuffed like something out of a Pixar flick, with green beans and celery stalks and even whole crab claws protruding from the glass. The table goes suddenly quiet as everyone takes their first sip. Then more giggles ensue.

No matter the time of year, brunch always feels like a celebration. And at The Ramos House Cafe, it’s always brunchtime…

As I glance around the room, it’s clear that the most popular dishes are the scrambled eggs. I’m most intrigued by the fried chicken scramble, which our waitress affectionately describes. Chicken breasts are battered and fried, then chopped and folded into scrambled eggs. I’m dining with someone who doesn’t eat pork, for religious reasons, so we zero in on this one instead of the scramble made with bacon.

And when the scramble arrives, it is an eye-catching tower of fluffy eggs mounded atop golden potatoes and crowned with two pointy shards of cornbread. I’m still focused on another dish when my devoutly religious friend digs into the eggs and appears to be loving every bite. And then I take a bite of my own, and I taste a wonderful, smoky … “Stop eating that!” I say, pulling it toward me protectively. “It’s filled with bacon.” …

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

This is merely a synopsis. To read my full review and view an extensive slide show by photographer Mark Rightmire, check out this week’s OC Register. Note: As of April 1, subscriptions will be required to access the OC Register online. We don’t work for free. Anyone can receive one week of free trial access, but after that you’ll need to be a subscriber to read the paper’s content. 

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