Small Plates…Perfect Food Bites…Tapas in San Juan Capistrano

Small plates of food are ALWAYS appealing to me…that’s part of the reason I am so attracted to afternoon tea menus – they are normally “small bites or small plates” of food, often meant to be a shared eating occasion…and I am all for partaking of eating occasions.  For me, tea time and tapas time are absolutely enticing eating experiences.   So, when I asked my niece to lunch and she chose the recently opened  Guapas Tapas Restaurant and Wine Bar in San Juan Capistrano, I was revved up and ready to go.  It was our first time there and we will be back.  The service, environment, and the food we chose were spot-on good, making for a truly enjoyable experience.  We shared these plates: Tortilla Espanola – potato . egg . chives (just deliciously flavored with chives and a little hollandaise-like sauce..tender, fluffy eggs with creamy perfectly cooked potatoes) – Calamari – Beligian ale battered with an herb alioli (crunchy and incredibly tender calamari), Meatballs – beef & pork with herbs and romesco sauce (so flavorful…porky good) –  we finished with a caesar salad which was fresh and crisp… nice, really nice

Meatballs in romesco sauce, Crispy Calamari, Tender Tortilla Espanola (potato . egg . chives)  at Guapas Tapas SJC

Meatballs in romesco sauce, Crispy Calamari, Tender Tortilla Espanola (potato . egg . chives) at Guapas Tapas SJC



Tapa means ‘cover’ in Spanish, and it is said that the original tapas were slices of bread or meat placed as a cover on top of a drink (wine or sherry) in order to protect it from fruit flies. An extension of this idea is that people often stand at Spanish bars, and they needed somewhere to place their plates while eating their tapa. They placed their small plates on top of their drinks, creating a lid, or cover.

A more folkloric explanation of tapas involves King Alfonso X (some sources cite King Alfonso XII of Castile.) It is said that he ordered a cup of sherry at a popular inn on a windy day in the port city of Cádiz. His waiter covered the cup with a slice of cured ham to protect the sherry from the beach sand, and from then on King Alfonso ordered his sherry ‘with the cover.’


We drank iced teas with our lunch — their tea was just “o.k”…when I diluted mine with some ice water, it tasted more to my liking.  The location is in the bustling and interesting part of San Juan Capistrano near the train depot which is becoming a real dining destination and hot spot with many cool businesses opening up.   Can’t wait to go back and try several other small plates.


  1. Was the food as good as the pictures looked?

    • yes…and I went again and it was just as exciting, flavorful and fun.

  2. Better…the tortilla espanola was seriously stunning…I love eggs (as you know) and don’t often eat potatoes – their combination was delicate, tender, flavorful and beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed each morsel

  3. I love the things the Spanish do with potatoes, a Spanish tortilla is one of the joys of life. I didn’t know about the derivation of the word, very interesting. It looks like a great place!