Designed by 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples, San Juan Oaks Golf Club showcases an 18-hole course that arches across 7,133 yards of San Juan Valley terrain. On the front nine, golfers test their mettle at one of Freddy's favorite holes, the 204-yard, par-3 sixth hole, where tee shots must speed through swirling winds and trees wielding catchers’ mitts to land on a green guarded by oak and eucalyptus trees. The back nine rolls through the valley’s foothills, regaling golfers with frequent elevation changes and back-to-back tees—at 16 and 17—that offer stunning views of the surrounding area. The course frequently draws top-flight golfers and is a Stage-One site of the PGA Tour's Qualifying School.
Before taking to the first tee, golfers can warm up at the club’s practice facilities, which include a 15-acre, all-grass driving range, a 10,000-square-foot putting green, and an area for chipping and bunker shots. Elegant, high-beamed ceilings and a wood-burning fireplace await golfers and underfed 9-irons at the restaurant, which serves breakfast and lunch.
Course at a Glance:
In 1982, Alfonso Castaneda opened Dona Esther Restaurant, which he named after his grandmother in honor of her life and love of cooking. Popular dishes include carne asada made with rib-eye steak and the Dona Esther Special, a combination platter that hides its plate beneath a piping-hot chicken enchilada, taco, and burrito and bed of rice and beans. Customers looking for something more comforting than a mariachi band that lulls them to sleep can always order a steaming, fragrant bowl of menudo—a traditional Mexican soup seasoned with onion, cilantro, and crushed red pepper. But if music's your thing, live musicians fill the room on Saturday nights and during the Sunday brunch buffet. The traditional tunes add to an atmosphere epitomized by rustic carvings and paintings, as well as lush greenery that spills out of pots in search of salsa.
Bertha Campbell Cole stepped back and let out a satisfied sigh after making the final pink brushstrokes on the wooden siding of the 1856 hotel. She had traveled throughout Southeast Asia with her husband for years, but was now firmly planted back in her childhood territory on Northern California soil. The year was 1935, and Bertha's new stationary lifestyle meant that she could finally realize her dream of opening a teahouse. In forthcoming decades, the intimate space would sate the appetites of celebrities such as Alfred Hitchcock and Beverly Sills, as well as many noncelebrities who simply liked ornately papered walls. Today, owner Charlie Shockey continues La Casa Rosa Restaurant's tradition by serving luncheons fashioned from Mexican-inspired recipes, local herbs and produce, and seasonally changing red and white wines. Chefs bake corn, beef, and cheeses into california casseroles, following an original recipe given to Bertha's aunts by a local Mexican commandant. Chicken and seafood soufflés sail past antique dolls, pictures, and a gramophone to tables in the main dining room, or on their way to an outdoor courtyard among flowering shrubs and giraffes. Wines such as Ash Blonde—a French-Italian blended aperitif—chill glasses alongside domestic and imported beers, and a baby grand piano holds a row of sample jams and chutneys off to one side of the dining room. After tastings, visitors can order the local preserves, which staff members then pack into decorative pink boxes.
Basque Country in northern Spain may not be well known, but it does have a well-deserved reputation for culinary excellence, according to Food & Wine. The chefs there rely on the region’s bountiful surroundings, using local seafood and farm-fresh produce along with more rarefied ingredients such as forest mushrooms and wild boar. The result is a unique cuisine that is not commonly found outside of Basque Country, and is the singular specialty at Basque Matxain Etxea Restaurant, which has been serving Basque-style cuisine for more than a decade. Head chef Guillermo Matxain learned the craft organically during his childhood in San Sebastian, a major city in the Basque region, and years spent in the kitchen at the family restaurant.
Today, Chef Matxain cooks elaborate and authentic Basque dishes, such as shrimp, mussels, and seafood paella according to family recipes that have been passed down and absentmindedly folded into paper airplanes over several generations. He crafts small tapas for diners to share, including baby calamari in garlic, oil, and paprika, and woody mushrooms sautéed with parsley. His rich traditional Basque dishes include Cazuela Easo, a mixed seafood dish cooked in a secret family recipe creamy cheese sauce.
Mission Café’s impression of a retro diner is spot on; it has red-and-chrome bar stools, a red-and-white checkered floor, and an array of breakfast, lunch, and dinner food from the griddle and grill. The cooks crack eggs for omelets, toss house-made corned beef for the reuben sandwich, and flip an array of burgers, including the chili burger, the double burger, and the vegetarian Garden City burger. Frothy milkshakes and steamy coffee complement the all-American food, just as George Washington once dictated.
When it came time for the team at Johnny Carino’s to come up with some new recipes, they began rifling through their personal cooking histories. Executive chef Chris Peitersen took his first kitchen job at a barbecue joint when he was 14, so he was primed to create italian baby back ribs. By infusing brown sugar barbecue sauce with balsamic vinegar imported from Modena, he’s given the marinade a more acidic bite than typical barbecue sauces. As the ribs slowly roast and char on an oak grill, he bastes on his creation before finishing the dish with a dusting of parmesan.
The ribs are one of Carino’s many menu items that follow the restaurants’ approach of classic Italian preparations modified by forward-thinking flavor combinations. Diners will find a Black Angus burger capped with mozzarella and fried pepperoni, or sautéed tilapia spiced with garlic and jalapeño. Other signature dishes include the 16-layer lasagna, Skilletinis that sizzle with spaghetti and a choice of meat, and tiramisu made from scratch.