Skip to main content

San Clemente Journal

Fresca Chillin’ – A Resort in Our Own Backyard?

Mar 17, 2020 11:08AM ● By Donia Moore
by Donia Moore

The sheltering palapa covers the sophisticated central circular bar. Unforgettable sunsets riot in the skies over the tiled open-air patio and peak through the wall of windows surrounding the light airy dining room. Sounds of the ocean are steps away. Friendly servers and staff see to every dining need in a professional and helpful manner. 

No, it’s not Baja or Cancun. It’s OC Fresca in our own North Beach, San Clemente. But you can be forgiven for thinking you took a wrong turn on the freeway and ended up in a charming resort in Mexico, especially when you taste the decidedly fresh dishes served there. The lobster quesadilla and the Guaymas Shrimp tacos hit my taste buds where they live. Add to that a Piña fresca and the three-flight guacamole and I can’t imagine a more perfect union of food and stomach. The Horchata beverage is also outstanding with the rich notes of cinnamon dancing in your mouth.

The ingredients used are the finest – Guaymas shrimp, seafood, fresh produce, specifically ripened fruit, savory meats, But especially the frescas. Freshly squeezed juice of ripe mango, sweet pineapple, blended berries and more join with Agua Fria and a choice of  liquors, or not, to create a refreshing beverage. The drinks may include agaves or sugarcane with no artificial flavor or coloring. They highlight the fresh, light Mexican-Latin fusion menu selections. Complete your meal with a paleta - a popsicle made of fresh juice and fruit  that simply slips down your throat in a cooling burst of flavor. 


Regional Tastes
OC Fresca is unlike any other restaurant in the OC. That’s partly because Pedro Robles may be unlike any other restaurant General Manager. Pedro started on his career path as a professional photographer for Zuma, a professional international agency. His assignments took him globe trotting and helped him to develop a taste for the cultures and foods of the world. He has brought that home to his OC Fresca Restaurant in San Clemente. 


Pedro makes use of local produce and fresh food wherever he can. Many of his vendors are in Orange or San Diego Counties. His staff produces two giant batches of fresh fruit juice every day and his blends of fruit are very specifically formulated. If a blend calls for a particular number of pieces of a fruit, that’s what it will have in it. There is nothing haphazard about the ways his frescas are made. He thinks nothing of waiting until a fruit is fully ripened to use it for its juice. In addition to mango, pineapple and berry frescas, you will also find grapefruit (pomello) and spicy Pina frescas. His most popular margaritas are La Pomello -based on grapefruit juice, and Spicy Pina, which boasts a mix of pineapple, mezcal, and jalapeño.

Starting in January, patrons will be able to purchase the fruit juices in carafes to take home and mix with their own choices of alcoholic beverages.
Another new addition in January will be a Happy Hour from 4 to 6pm Monday through Friday, and a Taco Tuesday.


A Taste For Travel
Born in Jalisco, Mexico 34 years ago, Pedro began his culinary journey by enjoying the regional cooking flavors of the area. Photographic assignments took him to Morocco, North Africa, Europe, and South and Central America for extended stays. He delighted in sampling the rich food and culture of each area in which he found himself. A favorite place was in the south of France, specifically in Nice, where he learned to enjoy the French passion for fresh food and wine. “San Clemente reminds me of that mix of Mediterranean and Mexican,” he comments. As well as doing his photography, he often joined the staff of fine hotels and restaurants to learn more about local tastes.

Pedro was just 20-years-old when he first joined his father in the US in 2005 to pursue his photography career. A natural in the field, he produced several documentaries on children living in South America. A documentary on life in Morocco followed. His ear for languages quickly adapted to the Portuguese spoken by a colony of ex-pat Brazilians in the area and he soon became a local friend to the group. (He also adpoted the French and Italian languages.

Cultural Mores
Pedro loves to read, His favorite book is The Little Prince because he realizes that the book is much more than a children’s bedtime story. “Some children’s books are actually meant for the adults reading them, rather than the kids,” he said. He also loves Ernest Hemmingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

Boxing is a favorite form of exercise and he participates in a local gym in San Clemente.
In fact, Pedro wants very much to be a part of the community because he believes that a successful community will help their businesses to thrive. He believes in giving back to the community. He leads his staff by building confidence and trust with his employees.
He does not put himself above any of them when it comes to performing a job, whether it is serving, cleaning or caring for customers himself, He sees himself as a leader, not a boss, and so does his staff. 

Chief Chef
Chef  Keene-Vasquez came to OC Fresca from Habana, a highly respected Latin restaurant in South Coast Plaza. As sous chef there, he was second in command only to the head chef, controlling the quality and consistency of the kitchen preparations. He attended Culinary School in Los Angeles where he spent up to 10 hours a day perfecting his craft. The most important take away from time spent in that environment was the necessity of making connections. He learned from the best at El Charro, Tucson, the oldest and arguably best Mexican restaurant in the country. 

Taco Tuesdays, Happy Hours, or Delivery to your door - once you’ve sampled OC Fresca’s delightful menu, you’ll agree that this new hot spot is headed for a similar reputation here in Orange County. 1814 North El Camino Real (949)503-2692 Free delivery.
Current Issue Online





Upcoming Events Near You

No Events in the next 21 days.

Facebook Page