San Juan Capistrano’s original iron barred jail that was built in 1812 along with a Justice Court directly above it, was used to house some of California’s most infamous criminals such as Joaquin Murrieta. The legendary California bandit who was known as a Mexican Robin Hood to many, robbed gold miners and held up stages as he fought the oppressive actions of Yankee miners. Another inmate held in the Carcel was Manuel Fellows who were sentenced for the murder of Jose Delores Garcia in a dispute over land. There were many criminals like them who on the dirt floor of this musty jail cell passed the time carving graffiti into the walls that can still be seen today. The Carcel also still has the original old iron bars and entryway to the underground tunnel that led to Judge Richard Egan’s house across the street This tunnel has since been blocked off for safety reasons. This space is so rich with history as it is one the oldest, if not the first known jail cell in California.
The Carcel is now used as a wine cellar and small private dining space featuring an antique round wooden table set for 8 guests with low ceilings and old iron chandeliers that make for an interesting, fun night for an intimate group looking to host a private event that is set apart from anything else you will experience when dining in Orange County. The regular menu is available and all that is required to reserve this space is a quick phone call to our front desk who can take down your reservation.