Unlike visiting a new neighbor’s house, visiting a steakhouse comes with a virtual guarantee that you’ll be welcomed, fed, and trusted with knives. Make a hunger-halting house call with today’s Groupon: for $35, you get $70 worth of fine steaks, drinks, and more at The Vintage Steakhouse in San Juan Capistrano.
Steeped in Old-World-meets-West ambience, The Vintage Steakhouse strikes a seductive date-night pose with a warm, wood-ceilinged dining room housed in a fully restored 1927 Pullman car. The menus feature tastes suitable for a wide range of human palates. Pleasure-seeking pescatarians can relax with an appetizer of house-smoked trout with dill aioli, capers, and diced red onion ($9.95) as lip-smacking meat lovers break into the house specialty 16-ounce rib-eye steak ($32.95).
Habitual compromisers may choose a top-sirloin salad with locally sourced, organic veggies, blue cheese, and creamy, pugnacious horseradish dressing ($12.95 for lunch, $16.95 for dinner), and a gingerbread man once ordered the six-spice ahi-tuna entree ($23.95), but––driven mad by the unbelievable flavor––wandered into the desert and later returned only to order the white-chocolate mousse with blackberries ($6.95) and peanut-butter crème brûlée ($7.50). Meat traps in fear of rusting after their incisor excursion can find liquid lubrication while tipping back a Metro cocktail (vodka, cranberry juice, and crème de cassis, $5.75) or take a literal approach to wining and dining by perusing The Vintage's vintage list.
The Vintage Steakhouse is more than just a meat house—it's a meat home, a place where meats of all cuts and sizes can discover who they really are as they're char broiled to smoky perfection over a mesquite-fired grill. In addition to lunch and its prime-cut dinner, The Vintage also serves breakfast—from "just eggs" any style, to benedicts, pancakes, and meat cakes made distinctive by their coupling with a selection of breakfast cocktails.
Gayot favorably reviewed The Vintage Steakhouse, and 61 Yelpers give it an average of four stars. Eleven TripAdvisors give it an average of three owl eyes, and 72 OpenTable reviewers give it an average of 4.2 overall.
- The Vintage Steakhouse in the San Juan Capistrano train depot captures the old-school glamour of the golden age of railroad travel. Diners can board a restored 1927 Pullman Car to enjoy signature dishes like the horseradish sirloin salad, mesquite grilled rib-eye steak, and a starter of Gulf prawns sautéed with pernod, basil, garlic, tomatoes and Sauvignon Blanc. – Gayot
The Vintage Steakhouse
From inside The Vintage Steakhouse, it would be easy to pretend that a passenger on the trains passing just outside the window is engrossed in a pristine early edition of The Sun Also Rises, smoke swirling off the Chesterfield perched absentmindedly between his fingers. Without much effort, you might conjure a woman in the bar car, gratefully sipping a Southside and sending up a wordless celebration of the reversal of Prohibition.
That’s because the restaurant resides inside the historic Capistrano Depot, which, despite its 1894 build date, bears an unmistakably art-deco vibe evocative of the 1920s or ‘30s. A trio of arched windows is the focal point of the main dining room; when trains aren’t sliding past their decoratively gridded glass, diners can peek through bougainvillea and willow trees to the 200-year-old adobes planted behind them. Inside, knotted wood planks run across the 18-foot ceilings, a near match to the hardwood floors glistening beneath.
A smaller dining room sits in the adjoining Dining Car, a fully restored 1927 Pullman train car upholstered in warm reds and golds. Candlelit tables for two line each side of the car, under which couples’ intertwined feet rest softly upon the regally patterned carpet. The ambience is a bit more social in the Chef’s Alley room, an 1887 freight house with its own cocktail bar and more contemporary décor.
No matter where parties choose to dine, they’re presented with a thoughtful menu of hand-cut steaks and seafood accented with local, organic produce. The chef prepares all dishes over an open-flame mesquite grill, giving everything a juicy, so-that’s-what-fire-tastes-like flavor. A chef’s selection of veggies and the patron’s choice of potato accompany the entrees, which range from filet mignon in a cabernet demi-glace to prawns sautéed in a sauvignon-blanc sauce.
These rich sauces pair perfectly with the more than 150 varietals that populate the restaurant’s wine list. Though heavy on French and Californian selections, the temperature-controlled wine cellar also has a few Spanish, Australian, and Italian bottles tucked away. Plus, the cellar stores a few cases of bubbly for the prix-fixe Sunday brunch’s bottomless champagne special, ensuring a festive follow-up to the smooth live jazz that plays every Friday and Saturday night.