Summer vacation. For some it means the yearly surf trip to Hawaii, for others the annual camp out in Yosemite. Some may drive cross country to a family reunion, and others may fly across the ocean for some European history. But for many of us living here in San Clemente every day is like a vacation. After all, we live in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. We’re lucky enough to have fabulous weather, beautiful beaches, plenty of outdoor activities, and abundant shopping. Why leave for a vacation somewhere halfway around the world when you can make every day a vacation right here in your own backyard? Not only is it beautiful, but you can easily enjoy a week around town without breaking the bank.
Start the week out right with a true San Clemente tradition, Happy Hour at the Fisherman’s Restaurant on the San Clemente pier. Located literally above the breaking waves, there can be no better place in town to experience that vacation feeling than at this restaurant. Each week night the Fisherman’s bar offers a different Happy Hour drink and dinner special from 4 to 7pm, and Monday night is one of the best. For just $3 you get a heaping plate of Italian Sausage cooked with peppers, a side of delicious pasta salad and a slice of focaccia bread. Drink specials include a choice of Budweiser beer, Chablis or White Zinfandel wine or a glass of champagne also only $3. Get there early to ensure that you get one of the tables that sit out over the water. Sit back and watch the surf, enjoy the sunset and pretend that you’re on an exotic Mediterranean Island. Ahhhh … you’re on vacation!
Another classic San Clemente tradition takes place every Tuesday night at the local favorite La Siesta. For as little as $1.50, starting at 4pm, Taco Tuesday has guests lining up out-the-door for an authentic taste of Mexico. Choose from beef, chicken, carnitas, carne asada or potato tacos, just like the ones from your favorite Mexican taco stand. Top those off with some of La Siesta’s salsa, always a favorite at the San Clemente Fiesta Salsa Challenge, and you’ll save yourself a flight to Cancun.
After you’ve had your fill of tacos, head over to San Clemente’s newest dance hall for some “Boot Scootin’ Boogien’”. The OC Tavern offers a live country band, professional dance lessons and some of the best two-steppin’ this side of the Rio Grande. Why waste your gas driving to Austin when you can “Tush Push” the night away right here in San Clemente. Yee Haw!
Wednesday night, class it up a bit with a visit to the beautiful White Horses Restaurant, across from the San Clemente pier. An evening in this casual fine dining restaurant, adorned with local art, etched glass and a sea water aquarium, will make you feel like you’ve splurged on that expensive European trip. Take advantage of their “Early Bird” special and enjoy a gourmet meal at an amazingly affordable price. Just arrive sometime between 4:30 and 6:30pm and treat yourself to what the Orange County Weekly recently named the best restaurant in the entire county. For only $15 per person you can choose from among five dishes inspired by the Mediterranean, with just a hint of Spain, and some service that will equals the finest establishment in Paris. Bon Appetite!
On Thursday night make it an Asian theme night at the sushi bar in Taka-O Restaurant. Located at Palizada and coast Highway, this San Clemente favorite has been serving the freshest, best tasting sushi in town for over 25 years. Look for owner/sushi chef Roger Sugano and ask him to make you one of his special Tataki hand rolls. You couldn’t do better if you were to fly to Tokyo. If Roger is not available, you might luck out and get his protégé, son Ryan, the next best thing to dear old dad. After feasting on sushi, make your way over to the Karaoke bar, where you’ll find a huge selection of over 10,000 songs with which to make a fool of yourself in front of all of your friends. Choose from a diverse selection from Johnny Cash to AC/DC and let your inner crooner free. Don’t worry, no one will laugh, I promise!
On Friday escape to your own island paradise at the BeachFire on Avenida Del Mar. Share the Aloha in the lounge by dressing island-style and enjoying happy hour food and drink prices starting 11:30am until closing. The menu includes Coconut shrimp, sticky ribs, Bali rolls, cheeseburgers, chowder and salads. Drink specials include Coors Light drafts, bottles and premium drafts, Chardonnay, Merlot & Cabernet and premium standard well drinks for just $5. With the Beachfire’s unique vibe you can’t help but feel that you’ve escaped somewhere out of the ordinary. The bar is made from driftwood, and the room features recycled picnic tables from the San Clemente State Park Campground and the Rancho Mission Viejo barn – with original carvings intact. The recycled corrugated metal and wood from an old chicken ranch in Orange County finish off the look. The fireplaces are artistic masterpieces built from beach rock and boast burning driftwood logs. Every inch of the walls is covered with over 400 pieces of original art by local artists. Relax with a drink in one hand and a coconut shrimp in the other and live the dream!
Saturday night is a great night for live music in San Clemente. You’ll have a couple of options and if you have the time you should try and hit more than one. Start in the Gordon James Grill & Bar on El Camino Real. Treat yourself to one of their specialty martinis while you snack on their absolutely delicious fried green beans with creamy garlic chipotle dipping sauce. Gordon James boasts live music on Friday and Saturday nights, featuring mostly blues and acoustic rock. Don’t be surprised if you recognize the talent, as Gordon James frequently features local artists. When you finish your martini make your way up the street to Iva Lee’s and finish your evening with some live blues. The quality of the musicians Iva Lee’s manages to book never fails to amaze, and you just can’t come closer to experiencing that “good ole’ southern hospitality” without taking an actual trip to the Big Easy.
Sunday is the day of rest and there can be no better place to rest than right on the sand at your favorite local beach. Whether you consider yourself a local at “Old Mans”, a “Rivierat” or one of the T-street regulars, there is no better way to spend one of your vacation days then “chillin’ ” at the beach. Before you head down the trail to your favorite beach stop by Billy’s Meats on Avenida Del Mar and pick up all the fixin’s for a picnic lunch. Choose from one of their enormous custom-made sandwiches, pick a homemade side salad, a bag of chips and a soda, and you’ll be ready for a day full of sun and fun. Just don’t forget the sun screen!
As your week long vacation in sunny San Clemente comes to end, take a moment to think about all those unfortunate souls who have not been blessed with a San Clemente address. Aren’t you glad you’re not one of them? b