The Riders Club Cafe
27221 Ortega Highway Suite G
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
I'm ashamed to admit that we had not been back to Riders Club since we wrote about them two years ago. In that review I wrote that they would be on my Mount Rushmore of OC burgers. Yes, that would put them in the top 4 folks, but that was two years ago, and I've eaten a lot of burgers in those two years, so I'm not sure they would still be up there.
A return trip was now warranted because they have opened a spot even closer to us. This new Riders Club, just off of Ortega Highway, is a lot more convenient and comfortable compared to their original San Clemente spot we visited two years ago. There's plenty of parking, a roominess in the small restaurant, and they also added something that the San Clemente location can not offer because of the size of their kitchen, french fries.
Opened in the spot that once housed a German restaurant we never had the pleasure of eating in, this Riders Club is in the same shopping center as Tannins, and the new restaurant to make it onto our restaurant must visit list, Public 74. We showed up on a recent Wednesday night, and were met with a half full restaurant, which almost never happens at the San Clemente location. Maybe people don't know that this one opened seven months ago. Whatever the reason is for the half empty restaurant, we were excited to order at the counter, and have our pick of seats while waiting for our food. Let's see if this location is just as good as the one down south.
Rider's Club does not have a huge menu. In fact they have two versions of a hot dog, a carnitas sandwich, that we will get to a little later, and then they have their burgers, which you build how you want them with their selections of toppings. This first one is Katie's creation. This Burger ($11.20) came with Katie's desired toppings; Havarti cheese, an egg over hard, grilled mushrooms, house spread, lettuce, and pickles. This burger was a little on the rich side for her, but she ended up finishing most of it, and called it delicious. She'd probably tone it down a bit next time. The fries were fried well, but kind of average. They were made better when dipped in the house spread, which could be described as a tamer thousand island dressing.
If you have read this blog for any length of time, you must know about my love of bacon cheeseburgers, and that's what I went with again here at Riders Club. This burger ($10.45 with the cheese and bacon), was just as good as I remembered from our last visit. Along with the cheddar cheese and bacon, this burger came with lettuce, grilled onion, and their very good house spread. The beef here is ground fresh daily, and it makes for a very fresh and juicy burger. The challah bun is also worth noting here, as it stands up to anything you want to top your burger with, and keeps everything together like a good bun should. This burger is what brings people in, but you should not bypass the other item I ordered by any means.
The Carnitas Sandwich ($8.95) kind of out shined the burgers for me on this night, and that's surprising because I really enjoyed my burger. This sandwich was awesome. It came with tender and moist shredded pork, a carrot slaw, cilantro, house spread, and jalapenos. This kind of had a banh mi kind of feel to it, and I really liked the inclusion of the jalapenos to kick things up a notch. The pork had some good bits of crispness to it, which I really like when ordering carnitas. It will be hard for me to forgo this sandwich on future visits to Riders Club.
I'm happy to report that this Riders Club location is just as good as the one in San Clemente, and a lot more comfortable. I'd have to write down all the burgers I've had, and come to some sort of decision on if these burgers are still on my Mount Rushmore of burgers, but they are definitely in the conversation. The burgers might actually be hurt by the very good carnitas sandwich I had on this evening. I can't stop thinking about it, and now that they are closer to where we live, I foresee many more trips to Riders Club.
Out of five broncs, (because the mascot of Rider College in New Jersey is a bronc), five being best to zero being worst, Riders Club Cafe gets 3.5 broncs.
For more information about Riders Club Cafe, go to their website here: http://www.ridersclubcafe.com/