O.C. Neighborhoods: Swanky San Juan Capistrano

Photographs by Amanda DeFrancis

Just across the freeway from downtown San Juan Capistrano, Marbella Plaza offers top-notch restaurants and an upscale boutique, each with a distinct style and vibe, away from the hustle and bustle of the historic district.





Harlow’s Kitchen & Craft Bar

Here, farm-to-table fare meets 19th-century European decor, and diners devour rib-eye steaks ($38), beignets ($9), and craft cocktails ($10 to $12). 31111 Rancho Viejo Road, 949-240-8100, harlowskitchen.com







Blue Eyed Girl 

The vibe is exposed brick and whitewashed wood walls, but the clothes are modern: Lucy Love and Free People dresses ($96 to $148) and Hudson and J Brand jeans ($165 to $249). 31103 Rancho Viejo Road, 949-429-1361,







The Olives Branch

Traditional Lebanese dishes such as beef and lamb shawarma ($14) dominate the menu, but there’s also chicken tawook flatbread pizza ($8) and charbroiled shrimp ($19). 31105 Rancho Viejo Road, 949-373-5633,







South Coast Kitchen

At this bistro, the menu changes often but usually includes seafood, steaks, and risotto prepared with seasonal ingredients, along with terrific starters. 31105 Rancho Viejo Road, 949-481-9596, southcoastkitchen.net

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