Meat: it's not just for whittling edible figurines. Today's Groupon ensures you'll have meals covered by a comforting blanket of sizzling, medium-rare perfection. For $35, you get $70 worth of fine chophouse steaks, salads, soups, drinks, and more from The Vintage Steakhouse. This deal does not apply toward happy hour. Steeped in Old-World-meets-West ambience, The Vintage strikes a seductive date-night pose in San Juan Capistrano with a warm, wood-ceilinged dining room.
The Vintage 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. Charbroiled over a smoky, mesquite-fired grill; inspired by a long list of fine wines ($20–$400 a bottle) and cocktails (well starts at $5.95); or befriended by seasonal vegetables sourced locally, these meats truly become delicious.
The menu features tastes suitable for a wide range of human palates. Retired-Yakuza-hit-men-turned-surf-bums can relax with an appetizer of house-smoked trout with dill aioli, capers, and diced red onion (vintage 2003, $10) and martinis ($11). A soon-to-be-starlet-on-an-all-meat-cleanse-diet can slice into a rack of lamb with thyme-garlic demi-glaze (1986, $29) and the house specialty 16-ounce rib-eye steak ($32.95) while tipping back a Metro cocktail with vodka, cranberry juice, and crème de cassis ($5.75). An honorable-man-caught-in-the-middle-of-something-he-doesn't-understand chooses the top-sirloin salad with blue cheese, fresh tomatoes, and creamy, pugnacious horseradish dressing (2005, $15). A gingerbread man once ordered the six-spice ahi-tuna entree (1999, $24), but, driven mad by the unbelievable flavor, wandered into the desert and later returned only to order the white-chocolate mousse with blackberries ($7) and peanut-butter crème brûlée ($7.50).
In addition to lunch and its prime-cut dinner, The Vintage also serves breakfast—from "just eggs" any style (two, $6.85) to benedicts, pancakes, and meat cakes made distinctive by their coupling with a selection of breakfast cocktails based on St. Germain elderberry liqueur, such as the St. Rita with tequila blanco and fresh-squeezed lime.
- 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.
- The Vintage Steakhouse is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or to just enjoy a romantic night out in a fun setting...There's even a patio out front for open-air dining, but sitting inside one of the old Pullmans adds a certain old-time charm to dining on the perfect mesquite grilled steaks, hearty appetizers, generous soups and salads, Napa wines and rich side dishes...great desserts too, all served impeccably by the knowledgeable and helpful waiters. – OpenTable user
- The artichoke heart appetizer was delicious...I went with their staple, the Hanger Steak for my meal. I have never had such a tender melt-in-your-mouth steak before! The sweet potato fries, also, I have never had better. – Heather C., Yelp
- The ambience is beautiful and the sounds of live jazz bounces off the wood floors...My boyfriend got the bavette steak...which he thoroughly enjoyed…we went with the Peanut Butter Creme Brulee...Can we say "MMMMMM"?? - dd Y., Yelp
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.