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Welcome to Go.See.Do Summer has returned to South Orange County, bringing with it endless possibilities for fun, excitement and adventure. Whether you’re just looking to enjoy the cold of the ocean sweeping across your feet in the sand or hoping to explore the night life in the tri-city area, this biannual guide is here to help you make the most of your summer experience. In this year’s summer edition of Go.See.Do., we’ll show where to catch some of the best fish and chips in South County and how to spend date night in style. We’ve also highlighted several day-time activities for you to explore, including which trails to stomp, helping you stay in shape and active. And no summer is ever complete without a memorable 4th of July celebration. That’s why we’ve compiled a short list of the most epic Independence Day traditions in Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. Don’t waste away during these long summer days. Make the most of the season and enjoy all that South Orange County has to offer.

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For a date night with ambience, Trevor’s at the Tracks in San Juan Capistrano offers romantic lighting, locally sourced, high-end dining and delicious, designer cocktails. Set in a historic train station built in the 1800s, the trackside patio bar, restaurant and banquet facility provide a unique backdrop for guests’ dining experience. Subtle, live music is performed nightly, and all day and night over the weekends, allowing guests to listen to good tunes but still have a conversation.



This music venue has hosted both aspiring artists and legendary performers since 1980. The most notable shows at The Coach House to date included musicians B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Tori Amos and Chris Isaak. The Coach House offers up-close seating near the stage for an intimate experience with the band. Guests also have the option of making dinner reservations for priority seating. The menu includes traditional bar appetizers, as well as entrees such as filet mignon and the catch of the day. Visit to see the full concert schedule.

With an ideal location in the Dana Point Harbor and much to be explored, Ocean Institute is the perfect spot for a date with the family. Go and learn all about Moon Jellies, encounter live animals in the Discovery Pool touch-tank, join in animal feedings, and even conduct squid dissections. If you, your date and children are up for more adventure, set sail aboard the schooner Spirit of Dana Point. Join the crew to help raise the sail, handle lines and steer the ship, or you can sit back, relax and enjoy the company of your date and the majesty of sailing the seas aboard a tallship.




The great

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Fish and chips is a dish with a long tradition and interesting history. A staple meal of British culture, fish and chips as we know it today was established in the 1860s, with the first shops opening in several spots in England. These shops were essentially the start of the fast food industry.


ish and chips was one of the few foods not rationed by the British government during either World War, as it had become a staple of the working and middle class. Today, fish and chips is served all over the world, with some of the freshest options in our tri-city area in South Orange County. Where should you get yours? We tried some of the best to figure that out.



1. Jon’s Fish Market

3. Cedar Creek Inn

DANA POINT ($15.40)


It’s impossible to deny the freshness of fish and chips when you’re buying it straight from a market in the local harbor. Jon’s Fish Market received the highest score of the bunch, because it was the best prepared and constructed fish of the four stops. The battered outside is incredibly crispy and tasty but not overbearing. The fish itself is light and has just enough of that ocean taste pushing through. The construction of it might also be the most important part, as the fish does not crumble apart upon eating. The fish could be eaten completely in hand, like you would a chicken tender, and the batter isn’t overwhelming. The taste of the batter can only be described as golden. The fries are good. Above baseline in their preparation, but also still a typical American fry. Jon’s fish and chips is the perfect summer lunch. They also offered a halibut fish and chips—in addition to the standard cod—advertised on their chalkboard for $19.95.

Another unique location and an especially good spot for lunch on the patio, underneath the trees with the Mission San Juan Capistrano in view across the street. On the menu, Cedar Creek Inn describes its fish and chips as “our friend Ann Dreyer’s light and crispy fish.” Indeed, the batter is the calling card of this fish and quite crispy, but I didn’t find it as light as described. The batter is definitely crunchy, but on my three-piece serving at least, I found there to simply be too much of it. Quality fish, to be sure, but the batter overwhelmed the fish. The fries were in line with what I expect to be presented with fish and chips. Not so much in the thicker British way, but they are your typical American fries. I’d call these the baseline for a serving of fries. Another unique feature for Cedar Creek Inn’s presentation is the side of jalapeno tartar sauce.



2. Turk’s

4. The Fisherman’s Restaurant

DANA POINT (FULL $13.75, HALF $9.25)


Who else would you trust with your fish but the stop at the end of the fishing docks of Dana Point Harbor? Turk’s fish has that perfect fried batter. The bites have the crunch, but it’s not an empty crunch. There is taste throughout. The fish is well-prepared, with just enough of the fish taste pushing though to keep it interesting. The one small demerit on the fish is, while nice and flaky, that it doesn’t hold together as well as the others. Once the crispy outside is broken through, the fork will make it a little tough to gather. Turk’s is also the winner on the “chips” part of fish and chips. Thicker fries that are just as well-fried as the fish, and they are a seasoned fry. Some may prefer without seasoning, but it hit the spot for me. Turk’s could also be called the value spot on this list, with the lowest price on a full four-piece order; a half-order also is available.

In the venues we sampled fish and chips, San Clemente pier mainstay Fisherman’s had the best views and some of the freshest ingredients. The freshness of the four pieces of fish comes through. The fish is expertly fried and well-prepared. The first bite has the exact crunch you’re looking for in the batter, but after that initial breakthrough, it left me a little wanting. Unlike our other entries, the fried outside doesn’t have that fried taste. The fish itself doesn’t have overly fishy taste, but it doesn’t have much taste at all. Now, of course, this is easily remedied with salt, a squirt of lemon and malt vinegar, ketchup or tartar sauces. For these reviews, we went as plain as possible to grade it without our own additions. Finally, the chips are much more potato wedge than French fry. When it comes to fish and chips, I’m looking for more traditional fries on the side.






Summer Event Highlights San Clemente Ocean Festival The 43rd annual San Clemente Ocean Festival is set to kick off a weekend of ocean-based athletic competitions and family-friendly events on Saturday, July 20. Competitive events for California lifeguards and ocean athletes will be held throughout the first day Saturday, including lifeguard rescue and paddleboard rescue relays, surf races and paddleboard sprints. On Sunday, several beach events will be held, such as the 5k Beach Run/Walk, a biathlon and a one-mile ocean swim. There will also be surf contests for kids and an annual Dolphin Dash for children aged 12 and under. Ocean Fest is also including two new events this year: The Pier Bowl Surf Classic on Saturday and the Tandem Boogie Bodyboarding Contest on Sunday. More information about the festival, how to participate and volunteer can be found at


Ohana Music Festival

a diverse lineup of more than 30 bands and artists such as Incubus, Tash Sultana, Mudhoney and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. A portion of Ohana’s proceeds this year will go to nonprofit group San Onofre Parks Foundation, which aims to preserve and enhance the state’s coastal parks while working alongside the California State Parks. Head to for more information about tickets.

What better way to close out the summer in South County than with a three-day music festival featuring some of the biggest names in music? From Friday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Sept. 29, the Ohana Festival will be rocking in Dana Point at Doheny State Beach. Headliners for this year’s festival include The Strokes, Eddie Vedder and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The festival will also feature


WAYS TO CELEBRATE the 4 of July Celebration & Carnival

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The annual 4th of July Celebration & Carnival returns to the San Juan Capistrano Sports Park, where the community can enjoy rides, games and live entertainment. The event, which is scheduled to kick off at noon, will feature 20 full-scale mechanical thrill rides, as well as games of chance. The night will be capped off with a fireworks display, scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Ride tickets will be sold at the carnival for $1.25 apiece or sheets of 20 tickets for $20. Pre-sale discounted ticket sheets of 20 can purchased at the Community Center for $15 until 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3. Kids will also get to enjoy the carnival’s petting zoo and a mechanical race ride, as well as free games next to the stage beginning at 4 p.m. At 5 p.m., local band Counter Conformity will take the stage, followed by funk and soul band Family Style at 6:30 p.m. Parking can be found at the Sports Park and on the street near the venue. The city’s Summer Trolley service will also run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. that day, offering a drop-off and pickup location at the Sports Park. Additional information on the trolley can be found at No personal fireworks, pets or barbecues are permitted at the event.


Office Chair Downhill Derby

The brave and the bold come out every year to participate in the annual Office Chair Downhill Derby near downtown San Clemente on July 4. The race course, aptly named Half Mile of Horror, runs down Avenida Rosa. It starts at the crest of the hill on the lower half of the street, known as the “Knoll,” and ends at the five-way intersection with Calle Seville and Avenida Santa Barbara. Competitors will encounter obstacles on the way down to the finish line, including a 45-degree hard left turn and coming across potential traffic at “Trench,” where the road connects with Avenida Victoria and a drainage dip is located that has been known to tear apart some office chairs. This event is not for the faint of heart. Races run throughout the day, starting when there’s enough racers to run a race and ending when racers have had enough. Parking is limited around the area, but public parking can be found along Avenida Del Mar, Avenida Cabrillo, Avenida Granada and El Camino Real. During the day, attendees can enjoy hotdogs and popcorn, as well as water balloon fights in between races. For more information, visit




Trolley Services DANA POINT


Mission Fest 2019


The country music and wine festival Mission Fest returns to San Juan Capistrano’s Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park on July 13. This year’s headliner is famed country music star Jamey Johnson, who will be accompanied by other country music acts including Eric Paslay, Annie Bosko and Karly Moreno. Also scheduled to perform this year is Dennis Quaid and The Sharks. The event is restricted to those 21 and older and will also feature wine tastings and eats from some of San Juan’s finest restaurants and unique vendors. Tickets are currently on sale and can be found at


iHeartYoga SUP Yoga

Now that it’s summer, it’s the perfect time to try out iHeartYoga’s monthly SUP Yoga workshop. This 90-minute class combines yoga with paddleboarding, as participants paddle out into the Dana Point Harbor and then engage in typical yoga instruction while balancing on the board. Combining paddleboarding with yoga allows the body to engage muscles that wouldn’t normally be used, iHeartYoga notes. And no worries about falling in the water; it just means you’ll get a refreshing dip. The SUP class is offered on the second Saturday of every month from 8-9:30 a.m. To learn more, visit

Dana Point’s Trolley operates daily with pick-ups and stops running on a 15-minute loop. Commuters can hop on the trolley from several locations throughout the city from noon to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, noon to 10 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays. During holidays such as Independence Day on July 4 and Labor Day on Sept. 2, the trolley will run between 10 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. A round-trip loop on the trolley is approximately one hour and 10 minutes. The Dana Point Trolley also connects commuters to trolleys in the neighboring cities of Laguna Beach, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. The Laguna Beach connection is located on Ritz Carlton Drive and Pacific Coast Highway. The San Clemente connection is set to be located at Camino Capistrano and Camino De Estrella. The connection for San Juan is located at Del Obispo Street and Stonehill Drive.

San Clemente’s trolley services run daily on a 15-minute loop all summer. The services start at noon and end at 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Sundays. Additional holiday hours will also be offered on the 4th of July from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sept. 2, Labor Day, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The city’s original Red Line Downtown Trolley Route is in full swing, and commuters can expect the new Blue Line North S.C. Trolley Route, which will connect to the Dana Point Trolley system, to begin soon, according to the city. SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

San Juan Capistrano’s free weekend trolley service runs on a 20-minute loop throughout the downtown district, covering the stretch from La Zanja and Camino Capistrano to Stonehill Drive and Del Obispo Street, where commuters can connect with the Dana Point Trolley. The SJC trolley runs Fridays from 5-9 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The program also includes holiday services for Independence Day on July 4 and Labor Day on Sept. 2, which will mark the end of this year’s program. The service will also be offered from 4-9 p.m. during the San Juan Summer Nites Concert Series at HTC Park on certain Wednesdays this summer.

There’s no better place than South Orange County to celebrate our country’s independence. Beach, sun, sand and surf abound, creating the perfect recipe for an epic 4th of July holiday. In the tri-city area, families have quite a few options on how to spend Independence Day. Here are just a few that are sure bring out everyone’s inner adventurous side.


Dana Point Water Wars

Every 4th of July, dozens of canoes, dinghies, small boats and even inflatables descend upon the Dana Point Harbor, turning it into a battle zone where seafaring crews blast and splash each other with water guns and buckets of water. The Dana Point Water Wars has been an annual Independence Day tradition for the local community, as both adults and children can get in on the action centered near the Dana Point Harbor island bridge. There’s no official start time, but the battle typically picks up around noon. Before participants head out to do battle, however, there are three important rules everyone must follow: 1. No water balloons can be used, as the rubber pollutes the water and can harm the sea life. 2. Those operating the crafts must not go over the speed limit in the harbor. 3. Each boat should have enough life jackets inside for everyone—both kids and adults. Those 13-and-under are required to wear a life jacket while out on the water. To also make sure the holiday antics remain safe, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol is onsite to monitor the festivities. Visit for more information.


Concert on the Green

The Irvine Police Association will host its 35th annual Concert on the Green at the Irvine High School Stadium this 4th of July. The event will feature live music by the Derek Bordeaux Group, as well as field games and activities with professional field entertainers. Families can enjoy bounce houses, raffle-prize giveaways and eats from gourmet food trucks. Topping the day’s festivities, the Pyro Spectaculars will put on the Pyro Musical Sky Concert & Fireworks Extravaganza. The gates will open at 3 p.m., with the fireworks show set to kick off at 9 p.m. Bleacher seating will be available, and guests are also encouraged to bring blankets and lawnchairs to sit on the football field. Pets, barbecues, bikes and personal fireworks are not allowed at the event. Adult ticket prices are $15; $10 for seniors and children. Tickets can be purchased at irvinepa. org/events/Packages. Irvine City Hall will also be selling tickets through Wednesday, July 3, in the Community Services office located on the second floor between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 949.724.0488 or email

GO.SEE.DO | SUMMER 2019 Go.See.Do

Brussels Bistro Honors Belgian Food, Beer & Spirit BY CARI HACHMANN


wo Belgians grew up together and followed their dream in opening not one, but two restaurants in the beachside communities of San Clemente and Laguna Beach. Nicolas Servais and Thomas Crijns, both 42 years old, opened the doors this February to their second location of Brussels Bistro on Avenida Del Mar. Servais manages and runs the front of the house, while Crijns is the chef and creator of Brussels’ eclectic Belgian-inspired menu. Both studied at Belgium’s Ecole Hotelière de la Province de Namur, specializing in the restaurant business. Servais said their new restaurant brings the Belgian experience to San Clemente. “We want people to travel when they come to Brussels Bistro— through the menu and the beer, but also we wanted the atmosphere,” Servais said, in an interview with the San Clemente Times. The friends spent two years searching up and down the southern California coast before they found the perfect space for their restaurant on Del Mar, a spot formerly occupied by Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria. The location reminded Servais of the kind of bustling, pedestrianfriendly streets back home in Belgium. “The pedestrian area of Del Mar is just perfect for us. People are just walking down the street. That was important for us,” he said. The Belgians made some changes to the former pizzeria, with its structural design completed by their friend and fellow Belgian, Delphine Mauroit, a New York-based interior designer. In one corner, there is the “Fritkot” or “fry shack,” which are little houses that fries are served out of and can be seen everywhere in his home country, according to Servais. Then, near the restaurant’s entrance, there is the notable statuette of a little boy peeing into a fountain, called “Mannekan Pis.” For the story behind it, you will have to make your way down to the restaurant and read the menu. Most importantly, Servais said, is the very long and spacious bar, which holds a special place in Belgian culture: the beer. “It is super important. . . . We only sell Belgian beer,” he said. Brussels offers 40 different Belgian beers and “every single beer has its own glass,” Servais said. He clarified that Belgians pour beer

differently than the American way, “because we pour it with foam,” he said, and for various reasons related to flavor and protecting the beer from overexposure to oxygen. The restaurant owners have spent a lot of time training their employees to bridge the gap between the two cultures, and relaying it to new clientele who often have questions about the way they do things. “We try to offer something different,” said Servais. “This is a very special thing.” On the Brussels Bistro menu, customers will find all authentic Belgian recipes, with some tailoring to the

Nicolas Servais

Thomas Crijns

American way. “If you eat it here, you will eat it the exact same way in Belgium,” Servais said. Mussels and fries are a popular dish in his home country. Brussels Bistro gets theirs fresh from a farm in Washington, where they are delivered several times a week and offered at the bistro in eight different flavored broths that come in small- or large-size pots. In Belgium, mussels typically come from the North Sea. A separate dessert menu offers Belgian chocolate decadence, crepes, waffles and delicious pastries. Servais moved to the area just more than three years ago and lives with his wife and two kids in Laguna Niguel. Crijns, who has been in the United States for close to 13 years, lives locally in San Clemente. They chose the area for the good climate and quality of life. “It’s a nice community, a nice city. We love it. We love the atmosphere,” said Servais. When his family first arrived, his Belgian-born kids didn’t speak a word of English, but they were dropped off at school, anyway. Servais admits the first couple weeks were a little rough, but everyone is adjusting, and their English, like his, is improving. The kids also love to visit their dad at the restaurant. Servais and Crijns are originally from Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, a city located in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant, about a 45-minute drive from Brussels. The two have known each other since birth. The goal for their restaurants, Servais said, is to build long-lasting relationships with their guests and share a little piece of themselves and their culture. “We built this restaurant for the people living in San Clemente, so we want it to feel like if it were home. It is really important to us,” said Servais. The two entrepreneurs have talked about opening a third restaurant, but that’s talk for a later date. The Brussels Bistro locations include 218 Avenida Del Mar, San Clemente and 222 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach. Brussels Bistro is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 10 pm. Sunday brunch is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Happy hour is every day from 4-6 p.m. with selected $5 drinks and menu items. Everyone is welcome.


Hit the Trails Get outside this summer and enjoy these three local hikes BY LILLIAN BOYD

Patriot Trail, San Juan Capistrano

PATRIOT TRAIL ••••• The trailhead for this trek is nestled in a suburban residential area in San Juan Capistrano, bordering Capistrano Beach. Patriot Trail spans about 3.6 miles and is considered a moderate-level hike. Parts of the path include paved walkway, which allow for strollers to some extent. But once the trail leads to the ridgeline of the hills, there is a dirt path. Patriot Trail is dog-friendly, but be sure to clean up after your pooches and keep them on a leash. Patriot Trail leads to Flag Hill, where an American flag flies atop rolling hills in San Juan Capistrano. The flag was placed in honor of September 11. There are several subtrails that lead to Flag Hill, so be sure to stay on Patriot Trail if you’re unfamiliar with the area. To get to the trailhead, take Interstate 5 heading south towards San Juan Capistrano. Exit the freeway at the offramp for Pacific Coast Highway/Camino Las Ramblas. Make a left turn onto Camino Las Ramblas and drive until it ends. The trailhead begins when Camino Las Ramblas dead-ends. There is plenty of free parking at the trailhead. The elevation is about 400 feet, and it takes about one to two hours to complete. When you reach the peak (where the flagpole is), you’ll be rewarded with a 360-degree view of South Orange County.

Sunset Hike Begins at Outlets at San Clemente


RANCHO SAN CLEMENTE RIDGELINE TRAIL ••••• For beautiful, panoramic views of hillsides, coastal features of San Clemente and Dana Point, as well as the Pacific horizon, be sure to hike Rancho San Clemente Ridgeline Trail. Don’t let the suburban entrance points fool you; this hike provides visual access to San Clemente’s inland hills, valleys and mountainsides. From the residential entrance, the trail takes you to Knob Hill. This trail is mostly asphalt and stretches about 3 ½ miles to Knob Hill and back, so it’s suitable for pedestrians, strollers, bicycles and dogs on leashes. Rancho San Clemente Ridgeline Trail is a perfect go-to hike throughout the year, but if you choose to go during summer months, be sure to pack water and go earlier in the day. There is little to no shade offered on the trail and higher temperatures call for more preparation and planning. To find this trail from Interstate 5, take the exit for Avenida Pico and head east toward Avenida Presidio and turn right. Go up the hill and turn left onto Avenida Salvador, then left onto Calle Ameno. The trail entrance is on the left; park on the street in the residential neighborhood. The trail can be a little tricky to find from the driver’s seat.

If you’re hoping to meet new people while getting some exercise and exploring local trails, then the Sunset Hike is for you. The Sunrise to Sunset Hikers will meet on Sunday, June 30 at 5 p.m. at Outlets at San Clemente. The hiking group will proceed down the Sea Summit Trail, which offers serene views of the Pacific Ocean to

DANA POINT HEADLANDS ••••• This trail system stretches three miles throughout the Dana Point Headlands, overlooking Salt Creek Beach, Strands, Dana Point Harbor, San Clemente—and, on a clear day, you can enjoy views of Catalina Island. The trail offers several overlooks of the Pacific Ocean with beautiful flora as a backdrop, with a mixture of natural surface walkways as well as mixed-use paved trail. It’s recommended to hit this trail during the Tall Ships & Ocean Festival, Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 5-8. Although the trail is surrounded by developments, the trail feels isolated, providing an intimate view of the ocean. You can even hear sea lions barking from buoys off the coastline. The Nature Interpretive Center provides the chance for children of all ages to learn about the local environment and endangered species within the Headlands Conservation Area. The Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and the trail is open from 7 a.m. to sunset. Dogs are not allowed along the dirt hiking trails in order to protect the endangered bird and mammal species. Parking for the Dana Point Headlands Trail is available at Strand Vista Park on Selva Road in Dana Point. There is also limited parking at the Nature Interpretative Center parking lot.

the beach. The hike is timed to enjoy the sunset on the boardwalk of the San Clemente Pier. The end of the hike is a loop back up the Sea Summit trail to the Outlets for an optional post-hike get-together. This is an approximate four-mile, two-hour hike with 300 feet of elevation changes. The mostly dirt trail is well maintained with some stairs.

You can stay for an optional dinner on the Outlets at San Clemente patio, with several dining choices that include Ruby’s Diner, U-Swirl for yogurt, and Slapfish for seafood and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Outlets at San Clemente is home to more than 55 stores and more than 10 dining opportunities.

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Go.See.Do - Summer 2019  

San Clemente Times

Go.See.Do - Summer 2019  

San Clemente Times