The 16 Best San Clemente Restaurants In 2022


With the almost endless amount of San Clemente restaurants that show up when you search for something to eat in the area, it can feel like an overwhelming task to find the right restaurant to satisfy your cravings. But have no fear, we are going to make your life a little bit easier. Our local guide has handpicked the 16 best restaurants that San Clemente has to offer.

The Best San Clemente Restaurants:

Nick’s San Clemente

Nick's San Clemente

If you’re looking for one of the best restaurants in San Clemente for incredible food and drinks, Nick’s should be at the top of your list.

Nestled in the heart of Downtown San Clemente, Nick’s is serving up their delicious takes on classic American dishes from short rib sliders and beef dipped sandwiches to buttermilk fried chicken to cioppino.

Whatever you choose, pair it with one of their craft cocktails, you can’t go wrong with their black and blue mojito. Don’t forget to save some room for dessert, because you are definitely ordering the butter cake, which will blow your socks off and will be the chef’s kiss on an amazing meal.

213 Avenida Del Mar San Clemente, CA 92672

Pho Thanh Binh

You don’t have to travel all the way to Little Saigon to get authentic Vietnamese flavors, Pho Thanh Binh is serving up the best Vietnamese food in San Clemente and maybe all of South Orange County.

The pho is authentic as can be and the broth is rich and deep and nourishes the soul.

Besides pho, they have all the Vietnamese classics that you’ve come to love. They have banh mi, rice dishes, vermicelli, egg rolls, spring rolls, crepes and a whole lot more.

My favorite things to order here is the Pho Dac Biet, which is the pho that comes with everything, tendon, tripe and all. The eggrolls are fantastic and the pork chop rice dish is a must order.

Pho Thanh Binh easily places on our list of best San Clemente Restaurants.

107 Via Pico Plz San Clemente, CA 92672

Board & Brew

board and brew

Board and Brew is one of the best places to grab a sandwich and a beer in San Clemente.

There is no wrong way to order here, all their sandwiches are fantastic. My favorite is the Turkado sandwich, which is a turkey sandwich that is loaded with avocado and layered with jack cheese, mayo and onion and stuffed between sourdough bread. Dip it in their special sauce and you are in for a treat!

107 Via Pico Plz San Clemente, CA 92672

Kawamata Seafood

kawamata seafood - San Clemente Restaurants

Kawamata Seafood serves up the best authentic poke bowl in San Clemente and possibly all of southern Orange County.

Unlike other poke places that depend on the topping to carry the bowl and mask the flavors of their subpar protein, Kawamata is all about the quality and freshness of their fish.

Ordering is a 4-step process that involves choosing a size (regular or large), choosing your base (white rice, brown rice, or cabbage salad), choosing the flavor (original blend, spicy mayo or shoyu wasabi) and finally choosing a type of fish.

While you can add extra toppings, it really doesn’t need it. The bowl is perfect after the 4th step.

Parking is limited but there is plenty of street parking and you can expect a line during peak dining hours.

26881 Camino De Estrella Dana Point, CA 92624

The Lobster Shack

The Lobster Shack

If you are looking for some quality seafood in a fast-casual setting, look no further than The Lobster Shack.

They have lobster rolls, crab rolls, shrimp rolls, clam chowder, lobster bisque, crab cakes, deviled eggs and a whole lot more.

When I come here, I’m all about the lobster roll! They take an artisan brioche bun, butter it up nicely and then pile it high with fresh, delicious chunks of lobster meat. Each bite just melts in your mouth and is oh so heavenly.

Each roll comes with two sides: blue cheese coleslaw, New England baked beans or Cape Cod Kettle Chips.

111 W Avenida Palizada Ste 104 San Clemente, CA 92672

The Shwack Cantina

shwack cantina - San Clemente Restaurants

Just a 10 minute walk from the beach, The Shwack Cantina is the perfect place to fuel up before going to the beach or to replenish yourself after a long day at the beach.

They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and they have an extensive menu which has something for everybody, even the pickiest eaters.

All the food here is great and I’ve yet to order anything that I disliked. Time and time again, I always seem to gravitate towards the breakfast burrito, the fish tacos or their Shwack burger.

If you are looking for a fast casual restaurant with great food, great drinks, great service and a fun atmosphere, look no further than The Shwack Cantina.

1527 N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672

Hot N Chili

It’s not hard to argue that Hot N Chili is the best Indian restaurant in San Clemente.

Located in old town San Clemente, Hot N Chili is serving up authentic Northern Indian food that is extremely rich in flavor.

Order their Chicken Tikka Masala and a side of their garlic naan. Dip the garlic naan in the Tikka Masla and tell me that isn’t one of the most heavenly things you ever put in your mouth.

All their meat-free dishes are excellent as well. The Aloo Ghobi is fantastic, the vegetable korma is super tasty and the Palak Paneer is amazing.

On Sundays, they have a really nice lunch buffet, where you can try all the tasty items they have to offer!

The servers are also super nice and attentive too. What more could you ask for from a restaurant?

111 W Avenida Palizada, San Clemente, CA 92672

Pierside Kitchen & Bar

If you are looking for a restaurant with good food, good drinks and spectacular views of the beach and the San Clemente pier, look no further than Pierside Kitchen & Bar.

The menu is seafood inspired and has dishes like crispy calamari, ahi poke nachos, ceviche, beer battered fish and chips, lobster grille cheese, New England seafood chowder. They also serve burgers and steaks if you aren’t in the mood for seafood.

Drink-wise, they have classic cocktails, craft cocktails, and a slew of bottled beers, wines and champagne.

And to top if off they have live music on Fridays and Saturday nights. Feel the fresh ocean breeze, while you dine on great food and drinks and listen to some lovely music.

610 Avenida Victoria San Clemente, CA 92672

Pizza Port

pizza port - San Clemente Restaurants

Good pizza and good beer is a simple recipe for a great dining experience and Pizza Port has really mastered both.

I’ve tried many of their pizzas and there hasn’t been one that I’ve disliked so far. If you are having a hard time choosing, try the Meet Extreme, a meat lovers dream come true. The pizza comes loaded with pepperoni, meatballs, Canadian bacon, salami and sausage. Wash it down with one of their craft beers (my favorite is the Abbey Mae IPA) and will hit all the spots!

If you have a gluten allergy, Pizza Port has a very generous gluten free menu with many options available.

301 N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672

The Riders Club Cafe

The Riders Club

Located a mere 10 minute walk away from the beach, The Riders Club is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before or after the beach.

The menu is simple and straightforward. You have burgers, fries, sodas and beer. The simplicity of the menu allows the restaurant to be hyper-focused on crafting awesome old fashion burgers.

The burgers are ground in-house and served with homemade condiments and their house pickles.

Once you sink your teeth in to their juicy burgers and relish in the flavor explosion, you will see why it’s been often voted as the best burger in San Clemente and is in contention for best burger in all of Orange County.

1701 N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672

Hapa J’s

Hapa J's - San Clemente Restaurants

Hapa J’s is one of my favorite San Clemente restaurants and is the passion project of a few individuals who wanted to spread the authentic taste of the Islands to the mainland.

On their very extensive menu, you will find everything from Hawaiian classics like loco moco, poke and kalua pig to more modern fare like coconut shrimp po’boy and bulgogi cheesesteak.

When I come here, I always gravitate towards food-coma inducing, Da Biggest Mixed Plate, which comes with a little bit of everything: shoyu chicken, kalbi short ribs, chicken katsu, teriyaki beef, Portuguese sausage, Kalua pig, macaroni salad and a scoop of rice. You’ll need to schedule in a nap after eating that.

They also have awesome happy hour and taco Tuesday deals.

2016 S El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672

MRK Public

Opened it 2016, MRK Public quickly made a name for itself as one of the best places to eat in San Clemente.

At heart, MRK is a gastropub that serves up classic and elevated pub fare. If you’re in the mood for a hearty meal, start with the Tuscan Toast, then move on to the Braised Short-rib Sandwich and finish off with the Lemon Ricotta Beignets.

They have an awesome rotating selection of craft beers from some of the best breweries in Orange County and from around the country. The wine and champagne selection is impressive as well.

If you are looking for a San Clemente restaurant that you can consistently rely on for great food and drinks, look no further than MRK Public.

1402 S El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672

Flights & Irons Urban Kitchen

Flights & Irons Urban Kitchen

Flights and Iron has only been around since 2018 and has already cemented itself as one of the best restaurants in San Clemente with its rustic style cooking.

Everything is cooked on cast iron skillets and kettles and on an open fire, which results in some really memorable tasting food.

Start with the bourbon meatballs. They come out piping hot and are extremely juicy and full of flavor and come with a huge slab of bacon on top. The chili and cornbread can’t be slept on. When you dip that cornbread into the chili and pop that thing in your mouth, the myriad of flavors will enchant you. When you are ready for the main course, the double cut pork chop is hard to pass up. It hits all the right notes of texture and flavor and is seriously amazing!

If you have somehow manage room for dessert, the smores is insane!

376 Camino De Estrella, San Clemente, CA 92672

Asada Cantina + Kitchen

Asada Cantina + Kitchen

Located inside the San Clemente Outlets, Asada Cantina + Kitchen is serving up some of the best upscale Mexican food in town and is easily one of the best restaurants in San Clemente.

Their menu focuses on fusing old Mexican traditions with more modern ones. Popular items includes their Signature Carne Asada Plate, which comes perfectly cooked carne asada, bacon wrapped jalapenos, buttered rice, black beans, guacamole and hand made tortillas. You can’t go wrong with the Crispy Carnitas plate either. Every bite is just an explosion of flavor in your mouth.

If you’ve got room afterwards, take a look at their dessert menu and give the tres leches cake a try. They are to die for. 

225 W Avenida Vista Hermosa Suite G, San Clemente, CA 92672

South of Nick’s – San Clemente

South of Nicks

South of Nick’s is the sister restaurant of Nick’s and offers upscale Mexican fare in a casual dining environment.

We recommend their Seafood Chile Relleno, a green chile pepper that is stuffed with Maine lobster, shrimp, jack cheese, white rice, refried beans and ranchera sauce. It such a treat for the taste buds and is worthy of writing home for.

There’s no wrong order here. Everything is quite delicious and it’s easy to see why it is one of the best -rated restaurants in San Clemente.

Along with the stellar food, they offer a full bar with sipping tequilas, margaritas, cocktails, beer and wine and more.

110 N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672

Vine Restaurant & Bar

You don’t have to travel all the way to wine country to get the Napa Valley experience. Vine is a wine-focused restaurant that provides Californian-Mediterranean influenced fare in a casual fine dining atmosphere.

The menu has an excellent array of soups, salads, meat and seafood dishes and more. There are also a number of small plates that are perfect for sharing.

And of course their wine selection is second to none and they also have an nice assortment of craft cocktails and craft beer.

This is one San Clemente restaurant that you don’t want to miss!

211 N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672

 

Map of San Clemente Restaurants

 

Mariska Lee

Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit. She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.

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