Something old is new at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe: It’s Morada Restaurant
Photos and Report By Kelley Carlson
The space that was formerly a ballroom at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe was recently converted into Morada, an elegant and sophisticated restaurant that still manages to be comfortably casual and welcoming. Vacationing families clad in jeans and T-shirts mingle with local residents gussied up for date night, dining on locally sourced California cuisine that’s suitable for all tastes.
Guests who arrive through the main entrance walk across the polished hardwood floor of the bar and lounge, which is filled with glittering chandeliers, booths covered in Ikat fabric and its signature flower patterns, and picturesque landscape paintings.
On weekends, customers gather at the bar to devour burgers while watching sports on TV, which is hidden behind glass during the remainder of the week.
A wall with a built-in fireplace divides the bar from the equally grand main dining room. Photos of Rancho Santa Fe in its early days line the walls, a nostalgic tribute to the hotel’s history.
Patrons are also welcome to indulge on Morada’s fare in the adjacent living room. There, they can casually sip vintages from California wineries while lounging on large leather chairs in front of the crackling fireplace. It’s quiet and intimate, enhanced by soft instrumental music and dim lighting.
But to really experience Morada, Executive Chef Todd Allison recommends terrace dining, where visitors can gaze across the sprawling, landscaped lawn toward the heart of “The Ranch.” It’s an idyllic spot to watch hot air balloons soar during sunset while sharing a bottle of wine, perhaps getting cozy by one of the fire pits.
“The patio has the best view in town,” Allison said. “It’s relaxing and very inviting.”
Guests can augment their experience in a variety of ways – entrees, shared plates or a la carte. Allison takes a farm-to-table approach with his creations, using ingredients from his on-site garden, local farms and farmers markets throughout the region.
He recommends sharing a couple of starters, perhaps the pan-roasted baby octopus and the steamed black Carlsbad mussels, before moving on to main courses such as the grilled Colorado lamb loin chops and the local honey-glazed Chilean sea bass. Then top off the meal with a dark chocolate pot de crème.
Other menu items worth considering include the light Golden Beet Salad with slices of citrus, sprinkled with white balsamic vinegar and bits of creamy Humboldt Fog cheese; the flaky pan-roasted ocean trout over a slice of grilled green tomato, resting on a bed of toasted red quinoa with saffron glaze; seared Ahi tuna street tacos with avocado mousse and cilantro slaw inside crispy shells; and the coconut panna cotta with a top layer of tropical fruit salsa, served with shortbread cookies.
The children’s menu is a bit more standard with items such as chicken Alfredo, pizzas, hamburgers, chicken fingers and mac ‘n’ cheese. While waiting for their food, kids can tap into their creative side by playing with complimentary neon-colored Wikki Stix, made of yarn and non toxic wax.
Morada is also open for breakfast and lunch, offering dishes that range from bananas foster French toast and Dungeness crab eggs benedict to the ginger BBQ Mary’s free-range chicken sandwich and blackened Alaskan salmon.
Reservations are recommended at the restaurant, especially on weekends, Allison noted. Much of the “rush” occurs when there is live entertainment – usually flamenco-style background music – from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Address: 5951 Linea del Cielo, Rancho Santa Fe
Phone: (858) 756-1131
The Vibe: Elegant, intimate, relaxed
Signature Dishes: Steamed Black Carlsbad Mussels
Open Since: 2013
Patio Seating: Yes
Happy Hour: No
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily; main dining room closed from 3 to 5 p.m.
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