First adobe on left eventually became the El Adobe restaurant, 2nd is the Domingo Yorba Adobe, 3rd is the Garcia Adobe French Hotel
The building that houses El Adobe de Capistrano restaurant today was originally two adobes. The northern section of the building was the home of Miguel Yorba. The southern section of the building was used as the Justice Court and Juzgado (jail). The building has been used as a post office, store, and stage depot. The home of Miguel Yorba may have been built by his father, Jose Antonio Yorba II, as he was living there in 1841.
The southern building has the more colorful history. It was not known when it was built but appears to have been erected early in the 1800s. It became the Justice Court in the upper part of the building and the jail was located in the cellar.
The Seeley & Wright Stage Line from Los Angeles to San Diego operated in the 1850s and stopped in San Juan Capistrano overnight. The driver drove the team through the opening between the two adobes and the passengers spent the night at a local hotel. Early the next morning they were again on their way.
Harry and Georgia Vander Leck joined the two adobes in 1910 and used them as their residence and store. By joining the two, the couple was able to create a dining room in the area between the two. Each end of the building had a wing that led to the rear and extended the building down to the west. The wings had lower floors than the main buildings. There was a frame addition on the west side which made the house quite large.
In 1946 Clarence Brown purchased the adobes and turned them into today’s El Adobe de Capistrano Restaurant. The restaurant opened on July 8, 1948 with a wedding reception for the first Commanding General of Camp Pendleton, General Joseph C. Fegan. President Richard Nixon was a frequent guest when he resided in San Clemente and enjoyed the Mexican cuisine.
The adobes have had several additions creating a place where many social events take place. A large area was added to the west side of the building featuring a ceiling that slides open to the sky. It was built by Roland Olsen. A chapel setting was created for weddings which are often held in the large western patio. The old Juzgado (jail) is now the wine cellar. Today the property is owned by Rancho Mission Viejo and the restaurant is leased to Melinda and Tony Moiso, Gilbert Aguirre and Steve Nordeck.