By Karen Billing
The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe has now opened its revamped restaurant named Morada. The new restaurant took over the old ballroom space, expanding from about 130 to 260 seats spread among the scenic front patio, a luxurious main dining area, inviting bar/lounge and private dining rooms.
Morada’s look and the food are unmistakably fresh.
“I’m ecstatic, I can’t be happier with what we got,” said Executive Chef Todd Allison, who was gifted with everything new from a brand new kitchen down to new table linens. “We’re super excited about it and ready to start packing the place in.”
After eight weeks of renovation, the restaurant opened softly on July 3. Adam Martindale, The Inn’s director of food and beverage who comes to Rancho Santa Fe from Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara, said that after the Fourth of July parade residents flooded in to check out the new digs.
In re-imagining The Inn, the new owners tried to stick closely to their brand pillars of “comfortable sophistication” and “modern nostalgia.” The restaurant’s design embodies both of those pillars, from the striking wall covered in silver-framed black and white photographs of vintage Ranch to the studded-suede chairs that belly up to beautiful wood tables with clay pot succulents as their centerpieces.
It’s a dramatically different view as you step down into the restaurant from the lobby, as glossy, espresso-colored hardwood floors replace the old ballroom’s patterned carpet.
“What’s nice about the place now is we’ve turned the bar into a really great lounge area and gathering space,” said Martindale, noting that they recently hosted a wedding with 170 guests who enjoyed utilizing the spot.
The bar area features roomy booths decked out in gray Ikat fabric and sparkling chandeliers, as well as crystal light fixtures that play light off the walls. A pair of dark leather chairs face a fireplace that was built into a new dividing wall that separates the main area of the restaurant from the bar/lounge.
The bar/lounge opens out into the front patio of the restaurant — with views looking down The Inn’s freshly leveled and landscaped lawn into the village. New fire pits have been added to the corners of the patio.
Behind the bar, Martindale is excited about the taps — they never had draft beers before at The Inn and now they have three taps to showcase local craft beer.
Martindale said he is also proud of their wine list, which offers all California wines from Sonoma County to Temecula Valley vineyards. Martindale said they hope to feature wineries owned by Rancho Santa Fe locals and have already got a start on that goal by serving Gen 7 sparkling wine in one of their signature cocktails, the Sparkling Santa Fe.
The refreshing drink features Gen7 sparkling wine, lavender-infused syrup, Hangar One vodka and fresh squeezed lime juice all garnished with a lemon twist and sprig of candied lavender.
Their cocktail list also includes a watermelon margarita and The ‘M,” starring Woodford Reserve bourbon, sweet vermouth, angostura bitters, maraschino cherries and an orange twist.
The old restaurant area still has finishing touches to be done but the large room has been broken up into smaller, flexible spaces for meetings and private dinners. The library remains mostly the same and thoughts are still swirling on what the old bar will be.
It remains the same right now but its future may depend on community feedback.
“We want people who live here to say ‘If I’d done it myself, that’s exactly how I would’ve done it’,” Martindale said.
A brand new ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-accessible ramp connects the bar and old restaurant with the new.
As far as the menu, Chef Allison has placed an emphasis on fresh and local ingredients, “from farm to fork.”
His kitchen receives several of its ingredients grown right on site at The Inn from three gardens. One of his gardens is the most visible right off the lobby, flourishing with herbs, tomatoes, corn, peppers, melons, berries and, soon, artichokes.
“It shows that I’m serious about the farm to table concept, it’s not just a slogan,” Allison said.
Morada’s menu is completely new and will shift with the seasons — the only holdover being the Royce Salad, long a town favorite with lettuce, avocado, bacon and Parmesan ranch dressing.
Breakfast options include items such as an acai berry and yogurt bowl, egg white frittata or bananas foster French toast with bananas sautéed in dark rum, topped with chantilly whipped cream.
Lunchtime visitors can enjoy starters such as pan seared albacore ceviche, steamed black Carlsbad mussels or baked macaroni and cheese with black truffle, speck ham and Beemster gouda. Meal options include salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, burgers and entrees such as steak and duck fat fries, grilled local halibut tacos and house-made bulls blood beet fettuccine.
Dinner is when Morada may shine brightest.
“Right now the Chilean sea bass is the winner,” Allison said of the bass glazed with local honey and served alongside grapefruit and bok choy, kaffir polenta and aged soy.
The dinner menu includes salads and small plates like farm tomato and watermelon salad, house-made ricotta gnudi, natural beef tartare and seared ahu tuna street tacos.
Entrees include Maine lobster carbonara, oven-roasted monkfish puttanesca, braised natural prime beef short ribs, and herb-crusted Mary’s fried chicken served with crème fraiche potatoes, broccolini, and a morel and sage gravy.
Allison said if he were to sit to dine in his own restaurant, he’d opt for the Colorado lamb loin chops. The chops are available á la carte or as an entrée paired with cous cous, ratatouille, spearmint and pistachio gremolata.
Morada is open for breakfast daily from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Weekend brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Morada is open for dinner daily from 5-9:30 p.m. and the bar is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and until 11 p.m. from Friday through Saturday.
The restaurant is just a small slice of the overall renovation of The Inn. Guest rooms have elegant new décor, there are new cabanas poolside, new furniture in the lobby and the brand new spa was scheduled to pamper its first patrons on July 15.
For more information, visit
or call (858) 381-8289. The Inn is located at 5951 Linea Del Cielo, Rancho Santa Fe, 92067.