Nick’s Strikes Again!
Visited: August 2017
Since Tracy and I had already visited and enjoyed Nick’s in Long Beach and Nick’s in Laguna Beach, we decided to head south of Nick’s to San Clemente. We met our friends, Kim and Mary, who had driven up from San Diego on a gorgeous Sunday morning to yet another Nick’s Restaurant, this one appropriately named South of Nick’s Mexican Kitchen + Bar. The restaurant is housed in a lovely Spanish building adjacent to Avenida Del Mar, which hosts the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market.
Walking inside, we entered a beautiful space with beamed ceilings. We passed the cool bar area to our table in the large central room.
Although we were the first ones there, the restaurant filled up as the morning progressed.
Nick’s offers three breakfast items on the weekend until 3 p.m.; Breakfast burrito; Nueske’s bacon, hash browns, pico de gallo, jack cheese, avocado, cilantro and scrambled eggs($13); Omar’s Skillet; eggs your way, hash browns, chorizo, jalapenos, jack cheese, sour cream, house salsa, pico de gallo, avocado, black beans and cilantro ($15); and Huevos Rancheros; fried eggs, ranchera beans, roasted tomato salsas and crispy tortillas ($13).
While we perused the menu, we were brought freshly made tortilla chips with three salsas: medium, hot and really hot. And when they say really hot…they mean it. We stopped after a couple of refills and a couple thousand calories. Once we regained feeling in our lips, we ordered.
In a case of our eyes being bigger than our stomachs (something that frequently occurs on our dining excursions), we started with an order of Queso Fundido; jack and oaxaca cheese, roasted onion, poblano pepper, and pork chile verde ($11), served with house made flour tortillas. Whose idea was that anyway? Oh yeah, mine, the man with a bottomless stomach. The Queso Fundido and tortillas earned a “Wow” from our table. It was spectacular…and quite filling. Were we done? Of course not!!
For breakfast, both Tracy and Mary ordered Omar’s Skillet, which really could be shared even if you don’t start with an appetizer for breakfast. Tracy took her leftovers home and had it for dinner that evening.
I eschewed breakfast and went straight to the main menu and ordered some delectable short rib tacos (3); slow braised short ribs, green tomatillo salsa, cilantro, white onions, picante salsa, avocado, radish, lime, refried beans ($19). Fantastic!
…and a bottle of tequila that must contain some damned good hooch. A shot of Patron Lalique here runs $450. That seemed unbelievable until I read online that a 750ml bottle of this tequila can run nearly $7,000.
Not to worry, there are far less expensive shots, and margaritas run between $10 and $13. There is, of course, a full bar. It was even too early for us to drink, but we’ll come here for lunch or dinner in the future.
There were so many items on this menu calling our name that we will have to go back and check them out. This was our third (but not last) of the Nick’s Restaurants we have visited, and they continue to excel with an innovative menu and a truly professional, engaging and knowledgeable staff. We are very excited that Nick’s recently opened a new location in Pasadena, Nick’s on South Lake. We hope to be among the first to check it out.
MaiTaiTom Rating – 4.6 maitais (out of 5)
South of Nick’s Mexican Kitchen + Bar
110 North El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
Hours: Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.