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A family passion for fine Lebanese cuisine
By Samantha Hammer
31105 Rancho Viejo Road, Suite C13, San Juan Capistrano,www.theolivesbranch.com
Serving fresh, authentic healthy foods is a passion for owners Nabil Chmait and son Omar Chmait, who opened the doors of San Juan Capistrano’s The Olives Branch in November 2012.
Bringing family recipes and traditions from their homeland of Lebanon has made a remarkable addition to the local restaurant scene and earned a slew of loyal customers.
The Olives Branch chefs were trained in the fine Lebanese cooking techniques and recipes of Ghania, Omar’s mother. The menu features homemade cuisine crafted with only the finest and freshest ingredients and an open-kitchen concept allows guests to watch these talented chefs at work.
“We love San Juan Capistrano,” Omar said. “We are honored to serve our customers authentic family recipes brought down from generations of family restaurateurs.”
A favorite choice among the restaurant’s many traditional Lebanese appetizers is the fresh fried eggplant, a delicate treat that is lightly fried and topped with diced tomatoes and tahini sauce. Another must try is the spinach fatayer, a homemade pastry shell filled with sautéed spinach, onion and olive oil. Entree specialties include beef, lamb, chicken and fish creations.
Crisp fresh salads, homemade soups, rice bowls, a la carte selections and freshly made desserts are served daily. Lunch specials are priced from $5.99 to $7.99. A children’s menu and catering are also offered.
Beer, wine and hand-crafted cocktails can be enjoyed in the dining room or in the traditional and romantic Moroccan cocktail lounge that inspires pure comfort and relaxation.
PRICE RANGE: $6 – $30
HOURS: Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. The lounge has extended hours.
RESERVATIONS: Accepted but walk-ins are welcome
ENTERTAINMENT: Music and dancing at 8 p.m. each Saturday