LOCAL HAPPENINGS AND MORE IN THE SOUTH ORANGE COUNTY CITY OF SAN CLEMENTE

Category: Dining

Helping Dana Point’s Youth

Dana Point Youth

Dana Point Restaurant Gives Back to Local Youth

Salt Creek Grille is hoping to make a difference in the lives of local youths

The Dana Point restaurant began its relationship with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley in 2009 to help raise awareness and money for the club through fundraisers, restaurant promotions and more. In May, owners Tim McCune and Pete Truxaw gave the club $3,000 in proceeds from a menu entree promotion. For each Stuffed Jidori Chicken ordered, the restaurant donated $1 to the club.

Most recently, Salt Creek Grille has begun dishing up “Pasta Fridays” for the kids in San Juan Capistrano. Every Friday, as a free gesture, General Manager Marcos Costas brings tons of freshly prepared noodles and sauce, which comes with garlic bread — enough to feed up to 75 kids — to the club off Via Positiva. The meal which is prepared by Chef Scott Green, is meant to nourish the kids and provide them with delectable fare in a fun, social setting.

Giving back to the community has long been a hallmark of Salt Creek Grille’s agenda. For years, McCune and Truxaw have hosted fundraisers, dinners and other events to benefit all types of charities at all five of their restaurants, which also include El Segundo and Princeton and Rumson in New Jersey.

“As a local business owner and long-time resident of Laguna Niguel, I believe it is critical for us to support those in need within our community in any way possible,” McCune said.  “We are blessed with a unique opportunity to serve a good meal once a week to the kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Capistrano Valley.”

The Dana Point-based Salt Creek Grille is at 32802 Pacific Coast Highway (at Crown Valley Parkway). For more information about Salt Creek Grille, visit www.saltcreekgrille.com or call 949-661-7799.

Salt Creek Grille

Salt Creek Grille

Marcos Costas

Salt Creek Grille

Drop by the 
Salt Creek Grille on any given night and you’re bound to see a dark-haired debonair man greeting guests and charming visitors like only George Clooney could do.

This venerated general manager is a movie star in his own right. A 20-plus year industry veteran who worked at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Marcos Costas is leading the ship at this award-winning Dana Point establishment. He spent the last two years as general manager at the highly acclaimed Andrea Restaurant, The Resort at Pelican Hill’s world-class signature restaurant. Costas was recently recognized as the “top” restaurant general manager by the Irvine Company for 2009. A fixture in the South County fine-dining scene, Costas has successfully managed operations at French 75 Champagne Bar & Bistro and Ti Amo Ristorante in Laguna Beach and Savannah Steak and Chop House in Laguna Niguel. In his free time, the San Clemente resident is a longtime wrestling coach at San Clemente High School.

His recent arrival to Salt Creek Grille comes as the 13-year-old establishment continues to thrive. Named the 2009 Business of the Year by the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce, the restaurant recently rolled out a new menu, just remodeled its two banquet rooms, and launched its successful “345 Cabana Patio” promotion in April.

Costas recently took a break in the day to chat about the industry with South Coast.

Q: What do you think patrons look for in dining today?

A. I think they want to see where the value lies in the experience. People can see value in many different areas­—portion sizes, atmosphere, price point, presentation, type of service etc., but if they are looking closer at where they are potentially going to spend their “dollar votes,” they have to see some sort of value attached to that decision. We strive to provide “constants” that continue to add to that value during the time our guests spend with us­—cleanliness, fresh products, and knowledgeable and pleasant staff members who understand that is what the guests are coming in for.

Q. How has that changed from past years?

A. In stronger economies where people were eating out more frequently, their choices could encompass several different dining venues or the same restaurant more frequently. The past couple of years, although people may not be eating out as frequently, they still want an experience that encapsulates all those different venues during their meals out. Many restaurants had to take a hard look at themselves and decide how they were going to capture the patrons looking for that experience at a price point guests could justify. The old saying that “the most expensive thing in a restaurant is an empty table,” has held true in these past few years where the goal has been to keep guests coming in but to offer pricing so that we would see them more than once.

Q. What new things can diners look forward to?

A. Once again we have our hugely popular Cabana Nights Patio promotion that features $3 drinks, $4 appetizers, and $5 martini’s starting at 4 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. It created such a vibrant, outdoorsy feel yet with the casual elegance that is so special about living in Orange County. Our private dining areas were just beautifully remodeled, so this summer we will do events in the Mason Library room and Monarch Room. Our bar will continue to offer live entertainment five nights a week along with the same Cabana Nights specials from 4 to 6:30 p.m.

Q. What do you like to do in your free time?

A. I love to jog. I’ve participated in a handful of marathons and shorter races. I do my best thinking while I’m jogging, as it has always tied together my mind and body in a very peaceful way. I love to travel, some of my recent trips have been to Thailand and Cuba. I enjoy submerging myself into different cultures. I don’t always do the touristy things but get to know the people who live in the countries I visit. Restaurants have that similar aspect to me: No shift is the same, and every night is a different mix of people and personalities I get to meet and build relationships with. Lastly, I do like to go out to eat, mostly because I never have any food at home, but I truly enjoy the marriage of good food and good wine.

949.661.7799
 | www.saltcreekgrille.com

32802 Pacific Coast Highway, 
Dana Point, California

Jacobi’s Burger Joint

Jacobi's in the Alley

New American Cuisine

Jacobi’s on the Alley

Written by Anna Curtis

Welcome to Jacobi’s on the Alley, where you’ll find a new type of American cuisine and a great burger joint. “We’re going through a food revolution in this country,” owner Mark Jacobi says. “Californian cuisine was the precursor to all of this change. Burgers are in, American cuisine is back. These foods arent simple–they can be complex and fun at the same time.”

His passion is food, but what he loves most about owning a restaurant is the fact that he gets to make people happy. “I also like the comradery with other people in this industry.” You can find him mingling with the chefs from Vine and the employees from Hapa J’s on any given night. “We’ll have a glass of wine and taste great food for fun. We’ve all become friends and have a good time.”

According to Jacobi, “New American Cuisine” is a lot like California cuisine, but with various ideas from different regions of the U.S., some of them new and some of them old. Only the freshest ingredients from local purveyors are plucked up for his entrees, but he’ll ship in all-natural beef from the Midwest, and make sure his dishes delight the palate with hints of Asian, Mexican and European twists.

With a history in food that stretches across the counter from the age of 15, Jacobi started a catering company that was so well-received it simply had to evolve into future restaurants in Laguna Beach and San Juan Capistrano. His latest venture, Jacobi’s on the Alley, opened this April and has already received high accolades from a broad spectrum of patrons.

What inspires his passion for food? “I think it’s the whole dining experience,” he says. Looking around at the upbeat, contemporary decor of his new place, a happy vibe does start to sink in. “I really enjoy that food makes people smile, and I like that food can be entertainment as well as sustenance.”

Stopping in for lunch? Try the pulled-pork tenderloin on fresh-baked ciabatta bread, laced with melted jack cheese. Feeling like a burger for dinner? The Napa burger is to die for, with a 1/2 pound of all-natural beef nestled between tasty cabernet red onions, cornichons, gorgonzola and dreamy French dijon aioli.

For now, you can bring your own bottle of wine to dinner with no corkage fee. In the future, Jacobi will offer an amazing beer and wine list, boasting over 30 beers (nine of them on tap) and a minimum of 50 wines with 25 by the glass. “Our menu is so reasonably priced, I think our customers will be here more than once a week,” he says.

It’s obvious he’ll have no trouble attracting a value-oriented patronship along with a younger, more hip fanbase. “My food has big tastes and therefore goes great with big bold wines,” he says. “There is nothing better than a big red and a rack of lamb.”

Looks like Jacobi is on his way to winning the palates of most everyone in San Clemente. Don’t pass this place up!

Grilled Boneless Leg of Lamb

Marinated in plain yogurt, red wine and garlic.
  • Leg of lamb (3-4 lbs, boneless and butterflied)
  • 4 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Rub leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary. Mix together olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce and red wine in large bowl. Place the lamb in mixture. Marinate, covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator, overnight. If lamb was kept in the refrigerator, remove and bring to room temperature before cooking. Rub the lamb with salt and pepper and then coat with yogurt. Preheat barbecue, and grill the lamb about 18 minutes per side. Place on shallow dish and cover with clean towel. Let rest about 15 minutes before serving. *Garnish with mint jelly.

949.280.2729 | JacobisOnTheAlley.com

102 Avenida Cabrillo, San Clemente

Wingstop

Wingstop has landed in San Clemente!

The Wingstop menu features crispy, classic and boneless wings with 10 intense flavors including Original Hot, Cajun, Atomic, Mild, Teriyaki, Lemon Pepper, Hawaiian, Garlic Parmesan, Hickory Smoked BBQ and Louisiana Rub. Wings are always cooked fresh, sauced and hand-tossed to order and served with a variety of house-made sides including fresh-cut seasoned fries. Wingstop opened last November and fans quickly embraced the concept, said owner Danny Sonenshine. “The San Clemente community has some of the biggest Wingstop fans around. We keep the focus on our bold flavors, and wings are always made fresh and cooked-to-order. Guests really appreciate that commitment to a quality product.” As a proud member of the San Clemente community, Wingstop regularly sponsors benefits and fundraisers for local organizations and schools. Wingstop of San Clemente is located at 800 Avenida Pico, across from San Clemente High School and open daily until midnight. For more on Wingstop’s outreach efforts, catering, events, and call-ahead orders, contact (949) 492-9463 or visit Facebook.com/WingstopSoCal.

For more on Wingstop’s outreach efforts, catering, events, and call-ahead orders, contact (949) 492-9463 or visit Facebook.com/WingstopSoCal.

Wingstop