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“Very Disappointing..”

South of Nick's Mexican Kitchen + Bar
Ranked #2 of 220 Restaurants in San Clemente
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $35
Cuisines: Mexican, Seafood, Steakhouse
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Late Night, Reservations
Description: "Southern California Mexican" Featuring Prime steaks, seafood, and Mexican favorites. An Orange County favorite for Mexican dining.
Reviewed February 8, 2012

As a HUGE fan of Nicks in San Clemente, I had really high expectations for "South of Nicks" but was very disappointed with our dinner experience. We went over the opening weekend and had to wait an hour for table, so we enjoyed a couple of beers and salsa at the bar. A piece of the avocado pit was actually in the guacamole - I could have seriously broken a tooth on it.

Anyway, after waiting over an hour, we went up to the receptionist and she claimed to have called us 20 minutes before. Turns out they called the wrong number! I've never had this problem at the original Nicks restaurant.

Not a great first impression of the restaurant....

My main complaint is with the menu and the LACK of vegetarian options. I believe there was only one salad that we could order that didn't include meat. We ordered the burrito without chicken, only to find out that their beans AND rice are made with lard. Come on, seriously?

The only way I'll go back is if they revamp their menu to include vegan/vegetarian options. Considering San Clemente is a health-conscious SoCal town, I'm shocked that South of Nicks didn't include healthier food options on their menu.

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3  Thank jillian646
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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564 - 568 of 578 reviews

Reviewed January 29, 2012

We visited this new restaurant for lunch and we were very impressed. It is very spacious with a "cantina" ambiance with a large bar in the middle and tables and booths surrounding it. The wine list is short but well thought out. The bar is full service with some excellent sipping tequilas as well as imported beers and mixed drinks. We chose the house chardonnay for lunch and were happily surprised that the house pour is Edna Valley. The pour itself is generous and the price is only $6.00 per glass. A great deal. We shared an appetizer of shrimp taquitos that were superb. Huge shrimp wrapped in a thin tortilla and deep fried, served with salsa fresca and queso fresco. For our main dish, I enjoyed the pork carnitas, which came with salsa fresca, guacamole spanish rice, refried pinto beans, and handmade tortillas. The carnitas were excellent, however, the refried beans seemed to be almost pureed and lacked both texture and taste. My spouse enjoyed the snapper Vera Cruz, a large fillet of snapper baked and served in a banana leaf with tomatoes, olives, onions and capers in a white wine lemon sauce, that was cooked to perfection. The prices are moderate and fairly typical for south Orange County. Service staff seem very knowledgeable and prompt. This is a great new restaurant and based on our lunch experience, we will be visiting it again soon for dinner.

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Thank beachdogs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 26, 2012

Got a lunch reservation through Urban Spoon today. As a sucker for architecture and history, I loved walking into the new South of Nick's space today for lunch. This was Ole Hanson's office and the first building ever built in San Clemente.

South of Nick's kept the gorgeous tile floor entrance and the awesomely hefty, exposed wood beams on the ceiling - it is beautifully zen inside the thick Adobe walls. The new skylights bring in some of the sunny day - it was 75 degrees today! The only thing better than a perfect California beach day is adding some tasty, authentic Mexican cooking. My Chili Verde was perfection. The homemade chips, salsa and tortillas were great treats too.

I could live on salsa, but my boyfriend can't stand tomatoes or cilantro- The Horror! His taco salad showed up looking like it was dressed up for Halloween as a tomato-cilantro festival. He asked the waiter for help and he promptly brought the manager over to discuss. She told us they would talk to Nick and adjust the menu wording. There was no mention of tomatoes or cilantro under the taco salad description. After whisking away the dish, they immediately brought out a new salad sans offending vegetables and herbs. They also cut it off the bill AND the chef came out to apologize. Now that is customer service...and all the while they were holding interviews for the new waitstaff!

Love me some Nick's (or South of Nick's in this case!)

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Thank Courtney C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 22, 2012

We love Nick's on Del Mar and in Laguna Beach, and have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the latest member of the franchise, and it did not disappoint. The fact that this restaurant has only been open for a couple of weeks blew us away, and the smooth sailing of everything from kitchen to staff is a testament to the fact that this group knows what it is doing. The decor is chic, adobe style walls, but sexier than a typical Mexican restaurant - but of course, this isn't your typical Mexican restaurant. The menu reflects a surf and turf with a Mexican flair, and being a non-meat eating fish eater, there was plenty to choose from. We started with margaritas; i had a skinny, my husband had the regular, price-wise they're consistent with cocktails around here, and the drinks were well made. The shrimp taquito appetizer is a MUST - one of the best starters I've ever tasted, with enough heat to qualify as spicy without making my eyes water. For an entree, I enjoyed the Vera Cruz snapper, cooked perfectly, moist, flavorful, and my husband loved his fillet. The tres leches cake was ok.
Our waitress Shannon was wonderful; she knew the menu, offered recommendations and flavor profiles, she was attentive but not over-bearing. We did have to wait an hour as a walk-in at 545 pm, but we knew that this was coming and had no complaints; next time, we'll definitely make a reservation (we tried in the morning but they were totally booked by then.) By the time we left at 8pm, the wait was 2 hours long, the bar was packed, standing room only, the lobby area was packed, the outside of the restaurant was packed - and it looked like the long wait for tables was scaring anybody away. We will definitely be regulars at San Clemente's newest restaurant.

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Thank CourtneySC01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 21, 2012

This new restaurant is still trying to work the bugs out. We called for reservations and they said they didn't take them but when we showed up, we found that they do now and were forced to wait 40 minutes. Regardless they seem set on making people wait perhaps to give it curb appeal or appear more in demand. We arrived at 5pm and there were lots of tables open during the entire two hours we were there but they still made people wait. Perhaps the kitchen was backed up....

It took almost 20 minutes after ordering the drinks for them to arrive and they came one at a time. In fact at point the waitress brought one drink for each for four tables, rather than all four drinks for one table.

They served chips and salsa to the table. The salsa was good; not very spicy in fact it was on the bland side. We ordered the guacamole and it was VERY good. Fresh chunks, seasoned perfectly and topped with a dash of pepper.

The menu has a few traditional Mexican items but it is mostly fish dishes. In fact if you didn't know and didn't look at the appetizer menu you would never know it was a Mexican restaurant at all. It took about 60 minutes to get the food to the table.

We decided to try and order all the Mexican dishes they had on the menu. My spouse had the chili relleno with lobster. The pepper was not battered but rather grilled and stuffed. While the appearance looked appetizing they had failed to clean the pepper and the result was it was VERY spicy overwhelming the stuffing. The rest of the plate was rounded out with plain white rice and runny refried beans.

One of our family members had the enchilada with zucchini blossoms. Same white rice and runny beans. The enchilada was nothing to brag about and could be best described as OK.

I had the large stuffed burrito. Again it looked very good on the plate but the taste left a lot to be desired. It was served cold. My best guess would be that it sat in the kitchen for an extended period of time. The burrito was large and stuffed to the brim but totally devoid of flavor. To top it off it was dry even though the menu said it was served “wet”.

The waitress never returned to ask us if we wanted more drinks but the Bar made a mistake and made our drink order twice so midway through the meal we got our second drinks anyway.

Once we were done eating the waitress suddenly showed up and grabbed our plates from in front of us and did everything she could to get us to leave. In the busy restaurant I understand trying to turn the table but since the two tables next to us were empty I just didn’t understand the need to push us out the door.

Dinner for four, one drink each, no desert, the meal cost $100. Eat here to check the new place in SC, eat there to be seen by friends, but don’t eat there for the food.

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1  Thank ksiddel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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