Whoever does the cooking at Ricardo’s in San Juan Capistrano knows what they’re doing. This is authentic Mexican food, cooked low and slow. When you bite into a taco here, you get the crispy crunch of the freshly-fried taco shell, the cool tang of cheese on top, and finally the hot juicy beef inside. So, this isn’t Mexican food from Taco Bell, or El Torito, or any other watered-down imitation.
There is a respectable variety of food here, from the refreshingly-light ceviche, to the oily, guacamole-drenched taquitos. And it’s all good.
My favorite dish at this restaurant is the pescado de ajo. That’s “garlic fish”. It’s incredible. Garlic is the key word in this meal, because the moist, perfectly cooked fish comes covered in it, and if you’re not a huge fan then you might have a garlic overdose. Personally, I need garlic like air, so I LOVE this meal. The fish is firm and moist, and the garlic is toasted and mellow. This richness is tempered well by the fresh cucumber, tomato and avocado that comes sliced on the side. Presentation is also great with this order, all laid out on a rustic fish-shaped plate.
Another important quality indicator of a Mexican restaurant is the salsa, and Ricardo’s kicks ass. It’s got heat, but it isn’t just hot; it tastes good. With a recipe this great, it’s easy to imagine that it has been passed down from generation to generation.
One last thing I want to mention that I really like, is that you can actually see the real Ricardo here! You will sometimes notice a jolly-looking, silver-haired gentleman taking orders or shuttling drinks around. That’s the man himself, and I’ll happily eat at his restaurant for years to come.