South of Nick’s – San Clemente


My wife and I had to come back here because we enjoyed an incredible lunch on our first visit back in August. We had a very enjoyable weekend getaway in lovely Marina Del Rey straight after Thanksgiving and on Sunday it was time to head home. After our last planned stop around midday at a record store in West L.A we quickly jumped on the 405 for the almost 2 hour drive to San Clemente our planned lunch stop. While we were zooming down the freeway I got online and booked a table at South of Nick’s for 2.30pm ( an outside estimate in case the traffic was heavy ). We seemed to be having a very good run so I phoned ahead and spoke to Shay the hostess at South of Nick’s to let her know we were running early.

No problem came her reply . . we always hold a few tables back for walk-ins ( nice to know ). While still on our way my wife and I agreed that sharing the La Tablita from HOUSE SPECIALTIES ( Grilled Mexican shrimp, sliced ribeye, citrus grilled chicken, refried beans, banish rice, pico de gallo, guacamole, salsa quemada ) sounded like a great idea. After getting extremely lucky and scoring a ( 2 hour free ) street parking spot on Avenida Del Mar we walked a very short distance to the restaurant.

A couple of minutes after 2pm we arrived at the host desk in the restaurant foyer to be warmly greeted by host Chase and hostess Shay. Chase quickly sorted out a table for us and we were seated at a booth table near the bar ( next to the one we had last time ) within 2 minutes. VERY IMPRESSIVE given we were virtually 30 minutes early at a very packed out restaurant. Soon after we sat down a busser named Carlos brought out a complimentary serve of HOUSE MADE NACHOS and a Trio of Salsas ( mild, medium, hot ). Tall glasses of iced water appeared very quickly. A polite server named Glenn arrived to take care of us. I was a little disappointed their craft beer selection hadn’t improved since our last visit ( no hazy IPA’s ).

So I went with the same as last time . . ARTIFEX “Trigger Finger” IPA. Their House Made Nachos and Trio of Salsas were very addictive . . BEST EVER ! My ice cold beer arrived and tasted perfectly good. We decided to stick with our plan and order La Tablita ( for 2 to 3 people ) . . it had everything we love. And then our enormous La Tablita ( The Tablet ) arrived at our table . . great value for $65. We had to quickly rearrange everything to fit the huge tray on our table. It looked like our own PERSONAL SMORGASBORD as my wife loves chicken, I love ribeye and we both love shrimp. Throw in a stack of scrumptious HAND MADE TORTILLAS with all the other stuff and we were looking good. EVERYTHING TASTED ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS !

At some point we decided we couldn’t eat anymore gourmet tacos and still leave room for DESSERT ! Our kind server Glenn took care of boxing up our leftovers to take home. We ordered the WARM BUTTER CAKE ( signature warm butter cake, crystallized sugar crust, vanilla ice cream, garnished with berry compote ) just like last time. Our beautifully presented Warm Butter Cake came out courtesy of Glenn our server and tasted pretty wicked. It was GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS !

We had a nice chat with Ryan our server from our first visit and lovely Page ( the hostess on our first visit ) who is now a server. A very special treat not usually laid on until 4pm were STEAMING HOT HAND TOWELS to cleanse our faces and hands . . thanks again to Glenn our ever thoughtful server. I had a quiet chat with the restaurant GM Michelle Guerrero as we were leaving and said her staff were sensational. Our food and drinks were outstanding but the FRIENDLY SERVICE was even better !

Restaurant Details


110 North El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672

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About the Author

Picture of Michael Burke

Michael Burke

I'm an expat Aussie ( now a naturalized American citizen ) who moved to Southern California in 2006 with my American born wife Sherri. I like to write reviews about the most memorable restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, brew pubs and anything new that we find in our travels. I particularly look for excellent food & beverage consistency, good value for money plus friendly service.

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