Follow us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our photos on flickr • We pay $10 per published guest review; E-mail Blogger for info.

SPECIAL TOPICS: Taco TuesdayDisneylandMenudo

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Review #1

Date of Visit: November 24, 2006
Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill
20722 Rose Canyon Rd
Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679
(949) 766-6939

Listing on Yahoo! Local

Listing on Google Maps
Yahoo! Maps
Enter starting address:

City, State and/or Zip

NOTE (November 15, 2007): Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill was not damaged in the wildfires of October 2007. They are still standing and open for business. We will have a new review of them here in about a week with pictures taken after the fires. UPDATE: Click here for the second review. Or get a 2008 update by CLICKING HERE.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

So, on the lazy day after Thanksgiving (not Black Friday for me) I called up my friends, married couple extraordinaire Chris and Kristanna, and asked if they would like to go with me to try out a Mexican restaurant in Trabuco Canyon. They said, "We were just about to go offroading in that area! We'll come pick you up."

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

So, we headed on out there winding through the 5, the 133, the 241, and more roads I can't even recall until we found ourselves deep in the country in an area that doesn't at all fit the typical Orange County suburban image. A handpainted sign indicated that Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill was just down the road and a right turn away. We knew we were about to find the spot. Unfortunately, once we found the restaurant another sign indicated that it was CLOSED:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

Turns out that on Saturdays and Sundays they open at 11am but on every other day they open at 4pm. It didn't matter that the day felt like a Saturday to us, we were still there three hours too early. We felt like Dorothy and her traveling companions finally arriving in the Land of Oz and being told by the guard at the gate that Oz was closed. Fortunately, none of the trees on our way had been throwing apples at us.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

Of course, the fact that they were closed allowed me to take many pictures of the exterior of the restaurant and the charming locale it inhabits.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

The fact that we found the cantina closed also allowed us to go offroading in Cleveland National Forest for a few hours in Chris' Dodge Dakota. We found ourselves above the cloudline, saw mountaintops peaking out from the clouds, and even saw deer a couple times that, like Batman at Super Mex, were too elusive for my camera. That's why you have to go exploring yourselves.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

When we headed back to the cantina via a different route we found a completely different sign pointing the way:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

And the sun faces on the wall outside were now not just happy but bright and happy:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

The autumn decorations were out in full force as we stepped inside before making our way through the restaurant to the heated outdoor patio seating:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

The requisite chips and salsa were served:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

The chips seemed like a peculiar combination between storebought and homemade, almost but not quite too greasy for my tastes. The salsa was unlike any I've had before, with a pungent, perhaps vinegary, component to it.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

I ordered the salmon platter, with salmon that was very tender and flaky. It was served with mango salsa with my choice of black beans (over refried beans) and Mexican rice (over Spanish rice). I was tempted to try the halibut with pineapple salsa but that will have to wait until a future visit.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Salmon Platter

Kristanna made her own three item combo consisting of a flauta, a burrito, and a soft taco:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Combo Plate

While Chris, the carnitas king of Orange County, once again ordered the carnitas platter, which he loved:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Carnitas Plate

For dessert Chris and Kristanna shared the deep-fried ice cream. I couldn't touch it due to its coconut content but that didn't stop the other two from thoroughly enjoying it.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Deep-fried Ice Cream

I ordered the flan which was cut like a slice of pie from a huge flan. As far as flans go this was the lightest and fluffiest I have ever tried.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Flan

With quality and overall intrigue of their food a little above average combined with an excellent, soul-purifying locale, Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill earns a very solid four Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

Continue the journey by clicking here.


dd said...

Love your blog....I live in Inland Empire and will have to try some of these places when I'm out in the OC area...

love your photographs...


ChristianZ said...

Thanks for your comment, Dusty. It's a fun adventure hunting down and providing all this information. Please leave more comments if you visit any of the places mentioned at this blog.

Chubbypanda said...

Seems like a really fun place. I liked your tail of woe and redemption.

- Chubbypanda

elmomonster said...

Well at least you worked up an appetite for the food when you came back. Great photos! That place looks pretty awesome.

ChristianZ said...

Yes, it really has a great location. I've also got to go back sometime and try their chile relleno.

the serrach said...

same thing happened to me the one time i tried to go there, but i was too lazy to go back. perhaps now i will.

JBT said...

Absolutely wonderful location and pretty drive. I was there last weekend for the first time since it was Senor Lico's. At that time, I decided that the location didn't make up for the mediocre food-and-drinks I'd had there a couple of times in a row.

The food seems better now; had a three-item combination for a mid-afternoon lunch (the burrito was the best). I didn't think the chili relleno was that good; I've had much better at Gabbi's (natch) and Miguels in Foothill Ranch. Wife had the spinach enchiladas, which were decent, but a little bland.

The food was good enough for me to give it another try, since I absolutely love the location. I'm hoping to find something on the menu that I really enjoy...

ChristianZ said...

Did you see our other two entries on them?

JBT said...

Actually I did, and the carnitas platter and shrimp enchiladas are on my radar. I'll probably ask the waitress to spice up the latter...

I forgot to mention in my first post that we did have the fundido as well. I'm probably not reliable for a recommendation, since I've never met a fundido I didn't like, including this one. But it wasn't a favorite. Loved the spice, the flavor was OK, but it, the texture and color had a too-eerie similarity to melted cheeze whiz.