La Siesta History


Welcome to La Siesta Restaurant. La Siesta has been family owned and operated since 1956 and based in San Clemente since 1985.

The seeds of La Siesta were sown in 1936 when our father – Jose Carmelo Hernandez – departed Aguas Calientes, Mexico for Los Angeles, California with aspirations of someday owning his own Mexican style family restaurant. Carmelo left Mexico with more than just ambition – he had with him the secret recipes for the wonderful foods that had been in his family for generations and for which he wished to share with the rest of the world.

Carmelo arrived in Los Angeles and toiled-away in odd factory jobs for a few years, until one day, he was able to see his dream of running his own business become reality. In 1955, his perseverance and dedication paid-off as the doors of the very first La Siesta was opened along a great corner of Tweedy Mile in South Gate, California. La Siesta immediately found favor due to its family atmosphere, hospitable service and above all else, for its fresh, authentic and original take on Mexican-styled cuisine.


Shorty thereafter, Senor Hernandez met and married Celia Ruiz. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez would start a family (four boys) while simultaneously continuing to operate the restaurant in South Gate, but an ever-expanding of La Siesta Restaurants; including locations in the nearby communities of Lynwood and Huntington Park. For a brief time in the early 90’s, a La Siesta restaurant was opened in Downey, California, but this experiment was short lived.

Eventually, times changed – as they most often do – and unfortunately, all four La Siesta locations were sold. Carmelo was not to be deterred, however, and began to plan for the future. In 1985, on one of his many trips back and forth to Mexico, Carmelo happened upon the sleepy coastal surf-town of San Clemente, California. He was taken immediately, with the charming town, and quickly ascertained that San Clemente would be the perfect location for a new La Siesta to take root.


He was right! Situated just off of interstate 5, between the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean and the majestic hills of San Clemente, La Siesta opened later that year along a cozy corner of El Camino Real and quickly became a popular destination-spot, for locals especially, in a city looking for authentic, home-made Mexican food.

Even at this early stage, customers entering our doors would be warmed-over by the alluring atmosphere inside…soft-lighting, gentle sounds of guitars strumming and the tantalizing aromas of Senor Hernandez’s old Mexico drifting out of the kitchen and into the main dining area. As a matter of fact, patrons to the restaurant would be treated to see Carmelo in the kitchen, bright and early each morning, preparing the foods that earned him and the restaurant their well-deserved reputation for quality, freshness and affordability.


La Siesta’s name has become synonymous for great food. Our men is extensive, varied and features specialties-of-the-house, such as our sizzling fajita platters, special wet burritos (smothered in a delectable spicy sauce), mouth-watering tacos, zesty enchiladas, the house favorite ‘savory carnitas’ an our award-winning made-fresh-daily salsas are a tempting addition to any item on the menu. Muy delicioso! All dishes are prepared fresh an made-to-order with only the finest of ingredients and our friendly staff will work hard to make your visit with us a memorable one.

Sadly, Senor Hernandez has left us, but his tasteful legacy lives forever in spirit and will endure now that his sons: Sergio, Gustavo, Albert and Ricky Hernandez –have been instructed with maintaining Carmelo’s vision for quality and professionalism in the day to day operation of the restaurant.

At La Siesta, we have not forgotten that our customer is our most important asset. If you are one of our loyal friends, we thank you, if you are new to La Siesta, welcome to the family come in, have a seat and enjoy a small taste of old Mexico through the timeless, classic recipes of our beloved father Jose Carmelo Hernandez.