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Monday, February 09, 2009

Original Olamendi's - Review #2

Original Olamendi's
34660 Pacific Coast Hwy
Capistrano Beach, CA 92624
(949) 661-1005
(949) 661-7341 FAX

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Here's the latest review from Johnny Automatic with his perspective on Olamendi's in Capo Beach:

This is the original Olamendi's in Capistrano Beach. It has been serving up the family's Mexican favorites since 1973. Other members of the family have opened branches of the restaurants over the years but this here is the original. It sits on the thin strip of land along the coast here between cliffside and beach. As popular as it is, parking can be an issue. They have a decent enough parking lot that due to the location is forced to be one-way. So diners leaving the place may be backing out onto PCH.


10 of us visited on a Saturday in January. A number of people waited outside so we thought the wait would be long. Fortunately we had reservations and seating happened pretty quickly. Upon entering it be came apparent that a number of tables were empty. Maybe all those people were waiting for take out.


Olamendi's is famous for a couple of things. One is the way the place is decorated with art and photographs filling the place. The other thing it is famous for is being Richard Nixon's favorite Mexican restaurant. Since they only opened in 1973 this would have to have been late in Nixon's presidency or afterwards. Anyway, among the many pictures are ones of Nixon dining in the restaurant. Right near him is one of former President G.W. Bush. So the tradition continues to this day.



Things started well enough with chips and salsa arriving pretty quickly. The chips were nice and fresh and the salsa was fresh, chunky and had good heat. But after that we seem to have fallen off the staff's radar. It took an unreasonable time to even order drinks. They were delivered eventually, but the waitress vanished before we could order dinner and again waited way too long. Maybe it was break time in the kitchen as from where we sat the cigarette smoke blowing in from the employee's break area was unavoidable.

We ordered a pitcher of Cadillac margaritas which was very reasonably priced compared to the normal margs. But if these truly were Cadillac margs we couldn't tell. They tasted like any other place's normal margarita.


Apparently someone higher up noticed our plight and to their credit they brought us some complimentary guacamole. It showed up just before our meals did. It was a very good guacamole.

Albondigas soup - a good traditional rendition.


The #8 Combo - taco and cheese enchilada. My wife ordered this and liked the taco quite a lot but found the enchilada sauce too tomato-y and a little thin and light. She also gave high marks for the rice and found the beans to be average.


I ordered the carne asada Olemendi's. It was a well prepared Mexican style steak. I'm watching the carbs right now so I passed on the rice and beans. It also comes with grilled onions and peppers and guacamole.

Another one of the combos - our resident head gringo found this just to his liking - not too spicy.

A big monster chile relleno. They make them in the style where the egg batter is big and fluffy.

Mole Poblano

Camarones Enchilados Corona del Mar - shrimp enchiladas with a tequila and chile flavored white sauce.

The carnitas burrito served wet. The meat inside was cold and needed to be sent back.

Shrimp Fajitas

You can see that the menu is extensive, and in case you forgot about Richard Nixon, all his favorites are pointed out on the menu. In fact almost everything on the menu is a favorite of one of the regulars and is so noted on the menu.

As to the whole experience, obviously it was not the best experience. My fellow diners (except for the cold burrito) didn't find the food exceptionally good or bad, just about what they expected. Was it an off night for the kitchen and staff or is this an old established place that has gotten too complacent? Hard to say. The stuff they did well was worthy of their reputation, long waits and cold food offset the positives. I'll reserve giving them a Speedy rating this time.


Captain said...

I lived in Capo Beach from 1960 to 2004.

This location wasn't the original.... their first store was in San Clemente on the West side of N. El Camino Real, next to The Bird Cage bar. The location you went to was Henry's Mexican Restaurant until at least 1977. It was owned by the Serna family of Capo Beach.

I've never been impressed with Olamendi's fare. I'll leave it at that.

Johnny Automatic said...

thanks for the locals insight and clearing up my misstatement. I was going off of some false info someone told me it seems.

Captain said...

By the way, excellent review as always, JA.

V said...

Love this Olamendi's the best. My office building is actually the next building down PCH from this restaurant. Makes it all too easy to stop for a long lunch break! :) The Raquelita's enchilada suizas are great, and their flour chips (you have to order them separately) are phenomenal!

ChristianZ said...

Wow, you really are in South O.C.