July 9, 2016 … after the boat ride, we didn’t stick around Newport Landing, mostly because the rocking waves had made me really really seasick. I didn’t much want to go driving down the coast, either, but there was little choice. Passing signs for San Juan Capistrano – and the legendary Swallows of Capistrano depicted artistically on screens along the road, we decided that had to be the place to stop for lunch.
First, we made the error of following a car because the driver “looked like she knew where she was going.” She did …. she was picking up her kids from their horse-back riding lesson in a very large stable, and we spent some time in the pickup line watching students still riding until we figured out how to get back on the road.
Tom loves Mexican food, so when we saw this sign, we stopped.
It was a very pictoresque and elegant restaurant …
… and a historic one as well! About 200 years old now, part of it was originally a courthouse and jail, as described below. It was opened as a restaurant in 1948, right after World War II, with the wedding and reception party of General Fagan, the First Commandant of nearby Marine Camp Pendleton. The old jail cell (a dungeon) is now the wine cellar.
We didn’t notice at first, that our chairs were padded, and a different style from those in the rest of the restaurant. It turns out that these chairs were the very chairs on which President and Mrs. Nixon sat when they visited the restaurant. I was sitting in the President’s chair. Does that make Tom the First Lady?
El Adobe de Capistrano was one of President Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon’s favorite Mexican restaurants.
These two chairs below were the actual chairs used by the President and First Lady
(The original wheels have been removed for safety reasons).
“The President’s Choice” listed on our menu reflects the favorite items the President would order.
Please visit our lobby to view the photos of one of the President’s visits to El Adobe de Capistrano.
Actually, as the waiter explained to us, this was not really a Mexican restaurant at that time, but President Nixon ordered Mexican food anyhow, which they made for him, and he talked them into changing their cuisine from Continental to Mexican.
After lunch, we continued down the coast, past sprawling military installations. We saw no signs with the name, but the map says this is the Marine Camp Pendleton area.