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Rancho Ortega Blog discusses matters of public interest in South Orange County, including the communities of San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo.

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Ghosts of Orange County: 6. El Adobe de Capistrano Restaurant

To celebrate Halloween, Rancho Ortega Blog is counting down the ten most haunted locations in Orange County.  If you missed any of our earlier installments, you can find them at the links below:

10. Katie Wheeler Library and the “Lady in Blue.”

9.  John Wayne and the Wild Goose Yacht

8. Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm

7. Fox Theater

We return to our own backyard, Old Town San Juan Capistrano, for our 6th most haunted place in Orange County.


El Adobe de Capistrano, a landmark restaurant located on Camino Capistrano in old town San Juan Capistrano, claims many historical honors.  El Adobe was one of President Nixon’s favorite places to eat while in residence at the Western White House.  It is said that he would often dine with personal friend and political adversary Richard O’Neill there.  Indeed, O’Neill’s nephew and the current Rancho Mission Viejo patriarch Tony Moiso is a part-owner of the restaurant.  El Adobe is located in one of San Juan Capistrano’s most historic buildings, dating from 1778.  Before it became a restaurant, the structure did time as the town’s court and jail.  Indeed, a former jail cell is now a wine room for private parties.

A converted jail now serves as a wine room for private dining (photo courtesy of

No two hundred year old former jail is complete without a healthy dose of ghost stories.  One of El Adobe’s rumored ghosts is a headless monk.  It is unclear why a monk would haunt the former jail, as opposed to the Mission, but a headless monk might easily get turned around in modern day San Juan Capistrano!  Others have reported seeing the apparition of a white lady peering through the windows of El Adobe.  Numerous patrons have been tapped on the shoulder, only to turn around and find nobody there but the darkness.  Even the longtime staff have described experiencing disorienting chills at times as they pass through certain areas of the restaurant.

But don’t take our word for it, you can see for yourself.  El Adobe hosts a dinner on Halloween night.  According to the restaurant’s web site:

Come and savor a meal with our friendly ghosts at San Juan Capistrano’s favorite haunted restaurant.

Delicious food and supernatural company?  What more can you ask for on October 31st?

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