From the Mission to the Capistrano Depot, San Juan Capistrano is popular for its many tourist sites and activities. However, San Juan Capistrano is especially known for its picturesque Rios District. Lined with shops, cafes, and perfect photo-op spots, the Rios District never fails to please the tourist nor the local.
Although the Rios District claims many of my top restaurants and eateries, my favorite has got to be Ramos House Cafe. Having gone there since before I could remember, Ramos House has always been the restaurant we go to after Mass, for celebrations, and special occasions. I suppose you can say that only wonderful memories are tied to the quaint little restaurant.
Ramos House is known for its artisinal, southern-style dishes and platters. Focusing mainly on breakfast, Ramos House cafe offers seasonal dishes and platters that change practically every single day. However, their weekend brunch options stay fairly constant throughout the seasons. All of their ingredients are grown in-house so you’re assured only the best quality ingredients and platters.
Ramos House Cafe offers a small plate and a large plate along with several different sweet dishes to cap off your meal. The brunch is $35/person (child, senior, etc.) and comes with a small and large plate for each person. A separate drink menu is available that never fails to please, no matter which drink you order.
As it stands, Ramos House Cafe is the home of chef and owner John Q. Humphreys. With this in mind, Ramos House Cafe has a unique set of rules when it comes to distractions, animals, and children - no dogs, no ill-tempered children, and no phones at the tables. To be quite honest, I very much approve of these requests; they manage to bring back the essence of what a true restaurant should be - a place to come together and talk and enjoy the people around you and the food right in front of you.
** On this particular occasion, I went to Ramos House for brunch but have also been to weekday breakfast. Both are equally delicious with plenty of dish options. Weekend brunches are generally more crowded; it is first come, first serve so be sure to arrive slightly earlier in order to get a table.
** Catering and reservation details are available on the Ramos House website here.
Ramos House offers 8 different small plates prior to one’s entree. From streusels to eggs to fruit salad, there is a small plate option to suite even the pickiest of eaters. On this particular occasion (and basically every time I visit Ramos House), their Cinammon-Apple Beignets are my go-to option for my small plate.
Each small plate comes with three beignets, similar in size to a profiterole. The outside has a delicate, frail crunch while the inside is perfectly fluffy and soft. Each beignet has a small serving of a cinammon-apple mixture that is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. The beignets are topped with a condensed milk sauce and powdered sugar - a simple flourish on the incredibly-flavored dish. I do find myself leaning a bit more on the sweet side of the spectrum rather than the savory, however, I generally can only have two of the beignets as having all three is simply an overload of sweetness.
The Buttermilk Biscuit with Apple Butter is also another small plate on the menu. However, it is served alongside the large and small plate during weekend brunch, so you won’t be missing out in any regards. The biscuit is incredibly delicate and crumbly; it’s best to just eat it with a fork. The small jar of apple butter is not overly sweet but still manages to bring a rather tangy, bittersweet flavor near the end. The apple butter pairs perfectly with the butter biscuit although, in my books, doesn’t necesarrily categorize as a dessert/sweet tooth dish.
The Small Basil Cured Lox small plate is also a favorite of mine that one should definitely try out if they lean more on the savory side of life.
On the daily, Ramos House features around 11 different large plate options. Each one is made in-house with locally grown ingredients and spices. Each one is very simply plated, allowing for the dish to speak for itself.
My go-to order is the Winter Vegetable Hash with a Fried Poached Egg. The plate is just the right size so as to satisfy just about the hungriest person to come in and even the one who just wants a small meal. The hash is made with a medley of vegetables including potatos, cauliflower, asparagus, pearl onions, and microgreens. They are then topped with a fried poached egg that is thinly coated in bread crumbs to add an extra texture to the overall dish. It is then brought together with a sweet Kabocha squash sauce and a horseradish foam, adding the slightest bit of an intense, aromatic flavor to the platter.
Although the dish itself uses very simple ingredients, the manner in which they are cooked and presented is ingenious. The dish is very well thought out and extremely well-executed to produce a dish that one can order time and time again and will always be satisfied.
Ramos House Cafe is one of my top spots in Southern California, especially in San Juan Capistrano. The simple, homely decor of the restaurant perfectly embodies the excellent dishes offered within. Next time you’re in a rut and can’t seem to find a good restaurant option, just go to Ramos House - I promise you won’t be disappointed.