2369 S. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
Ugh! My football team is the worst! If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that my team is the Jacksonville Jaguars, or hopefully the soon to be Los Angeles Jaguars. That topic should be left to the sports blogs out there, but more relevant to our restaurant blog is the fact that we are trying to find the ultimate place to watch football on Sunday mornings. It has been increasingly difficult to get out and watch my team with their poor play, but I trudge out most Sunday mornings to help you find the ultimate football watching paradise. This Sunday's option is OC Tavern in San Clemente.
It has been well over a year since we have made it down to the most southern city in our great county. This is a shame because there are plenty of great places to try, and plenty that have been on our list for some time. Today though was all about football. The criteria for our ultimate football hangout is great food, great atmosphere, and great service. This holy trinity of standards has been met in parts by our other nine football haunts, but there is always room for improvement. Let's see if OC Tavern can meet all of these goals.
The Jaguars were playing an afternoon game on this particular Sunday. This meant that we would be arriving when almost everyone else was leaving. This is a good thing, less people to watch my crappy team. There was only one other game being played at the same times as ours, so I knew it would be a smaller than normal crowd here. We arrived at about 10 minutes until one, and had not trouble finding a seat. The door guy was very nice about making sure we would be able to see our game from our table, but of course that would be no trouble with only two NFL games going on.
OC Tavern kind of has a man cave vibe to it. There are giant TV's on every wall, along with sports and beer paraphernalia, and a laid back beach vibe. Even with this man cave atmosphere, there were plenty of families and kids eating in the room we were located. They even have a large arcade for the kids, so they will not interfere with you watching the games. Not into football but still want to bet on something? OC Tavern claims to be the only sports bar in California to offer satellite wagering on horse racing from around the country. They have dedicated a whole room, outfitted with 26 TV's and its own bar for this purpose. Of course this day was all about the pigskin, so I did not check out the betting room. Maybe on future visits. It was now time for kickoff and getting some food. Let's see how OC Tavern treated us.
It may have been one in the afternoon, but it would not be Sunday football without at least one Bloody Mary ($5.00). These were on special during football, and had a nice spice to the mix. Not enough heat so it overwhelms your taste buds, but you definitely get the little kick in it. Not the best Bloody Mary I have had, but not the worst by far. I had two of these during our stay here.
While we were waiting for our friend Riley to arrive fashionably late, both Katie and I wanted something to side track us from another turnover by the Jags, so I ordered this self proclaimed, Award Winning New England Clam Chowder ($3.50). This soup was very creamy, with big cuts of vegetables. The clam ratio could have been a little better, but the soup itself needed to be seasoned a little more for my taste. Not a bad chowder though.
The other item we got to nibble on was the Chips ($5.95). These tri-colored tortilla chips came with guacamole and a homemade salsa. The salsa was very chunky, with onion playing a prominent part in the chunk factor. It was a tad watery, but had a nice mellow flavor to it. The guacamole was very fresh, but it needed just a little more pop of something to bring it to life. The chips were pretty average.
After Riley arrived, well into the first quarter of the games, (way to support your team Riles!), we got the Nachos ($8.95) to share. Not exactly the most picturesque plate of nachos ever. They used the same tri-colored tortilla chips as they served with the salsa, then dumped black beans, cheddar and jack cheeses, pico de gallo, jalapenos, sour cream and guacamole on top of the chips. Not a bad plate of nachos, but the chips did kind of get soggy because of an excessive amount of beans. This was enough for the three of us to pick at.
The Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich ($9.95) would of course be Katie's choice for lunch. She has really become pretty predictable when going out lately. This chicken breast sandwich came with onion, tomato, mayonnaise, and Swiss cheese. Katie thought that the bread held up pretty well with this sandwich, but she would have liked the chicken grilled a little longer. Not a bad sandwich, but nothing that made a lasting impression with her.
Riley had worked up quite an appetite rooting his Jet's on, so he selected the Tavern Burger ($10.95). This half pound burger came with all the usual toppings; pickles, onions, tomato, lettuce, cheddar cheese, and bacon. Riley thought this was a pretty good burger. He liked the juiciness of the burger and the frssh porduce that came along with it. Not a burger that is going to blow you away, but a solid burger nonetheless.
I was also feeling the burger cravings, so I got the Blues at the OC Burger ($10.95). This one of course came with melted blue cheese crumbles and bacon. The burger patty was juicy, but I added some mayo to make my burger experience even more to my liking. I know most restaurants like to cross their bacon for a presentation effect, but this means about half the bites you take of a burger will not have bacon involved, which is a shame. I tore my bacon into three smaller strips, so I had maximum bacon coverage. The burger itself was pretty good, but nothing that wowed me. I did like that they grilled the bun just a tad. Very nice touch.
OC Tavern was a pretty good place to watch football. They really cater to the sports fan here. They were very prompt about getting games switched once they were over. The whole restaurant just exudes a comfortable, laid back vibe. Even though we were in the minority rooting for the Jaguars, we never felt like the Raider fans were going to get all crazy towards us. The service was pretty strong here as well. Our waitress was very out going, and kept checking on us regularly. The part of our criteria where OC Tavern misses the boat on being the ultimate football watchers paradise is with the food. Not that it was awful, but it was all pretty average. Nothing that really grabbed our attention, or anything that we have craved since we came here. Of course we just came here once, so there might be something on the menu that we might have missed. Even with the pretty standard food here, OC Tavern is definitely one of the better places to watch football on Sunday mornings. I just wish I would have had the opportunity to watch my team win while we were here. Oh well, maybe next week.
Out of five bougainvillea's, (the city flower of San Clemente), five being best to zero being worst, OC Tavern gets 3 bougainvillea's.
For more information about OC Tavern, click here: http://www.octavern.com/