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By Tony Ault
Staff Writer 

Rainbow Oaks Restaurant offers great food with a touch of history


Last updated 2/26/2018 at 1:39am

Tony Ault photo

The Rainbow Oaks Restaurant's Sports Bar top, stools, ceiling timbers and wall panels were all specially milled and polished from salvaged, burned-out trees from the devastating fire that raged across northern San Diego County in 2007. The restaurant at 4815 5th Street, just east of the Interstate 15, was not destroyed in the fire but instead was remodeled and reopened in 2009.

I had a real treat when I accepted an invitation to meet with the ranch hands and managers of the nonprofit Manzanita Ranch at the historic Rainbow Oaks Restaurant just off the Interstate 15 in Rainbow.

It was nothing more than a meet up with the Manzanita Ranch folks on their first "Manzanita Mondays" benefit, but to me it was a nostalgic visit to the restaurant on the way to San Diego on old Highway 395 since the 1947 postwar era, before people even dreamed of interstate freeways.

The wood-framed restaurant, which has been owned by Duke and Jonell Maples since 2008, has survived fires, economic downturns, planning problems and untold other problems through the years and remains as one of the best-known landmark restaurants in San Diego and Riverside counties.

It continues to offer delicious breakfast fare, with double-sized portions of American and Mexican food from burgers to seafood and a full bar. The Maples also manage and lease a neighborhood market, service station, health clinic and other amenities on the property, serving Rainbow residents and visitors alike.

Even with the super busy I-15 and its thousands of cars and trucks just above the restaurant at 4815 5th Street off Rainbow Valley Road whizzing by every day, motorists find a stop here a relaxing and enjoyable time, especially hungry motorcyclists.

My visit began by meeting with Johnny and Jill Roberts from Manzanita Ranch, where the "horses are the therapy" for veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder. We dug into a huge plate of corn beef and cabbage.

Every bite of the tender corned beef, buttery soft cabbage and red potatoes was garnished with a touch of garlic and washed down with a big glass of iced tea. It was delightful and a reminder of the upcoming St. Patrick's Day. Since I don't have it often at home, I savored every bite. It was well worth the price, $13.95. My table neighbor ordered the same dish and ordered a beer from the bar.

I wasn't able to meet the Maples that evening, but now I had another reason to visit Rainbow Oaks on a Thursday and order another delicious lunch from the menu and have a chat with them. This time, I tried their classic meatloaf sandwich. The minute the waitress set the dish down and I saw how it filled the entire plate, I knew I would need a takeout box; it was so large.

After enjoying almost half of the sage-flavored gravy, meatloaf and soft homemade potatoes, I was completely stuffed and still had enough left over for two meals at home.

"Yep, we specialize in homemade American food with over-sized portions," Duke Maples said with a big smile just before lunch that day at the full-service sports bar. He said Rainbow Oaks Restaurant's favorite meal is breakfast. The most popular bar drink is their Bloody Mary.

Tony Ault photo

The Rainbow Oaks Restaurant at 4815 5th Street, just off Old Highway 395 in Rainbow, invites motorist and motorcyclists to enjoy double-sized portions of delicious food from breakfast to dinnertime, seven days a week.

The bar and dining area, while completely remodeled and reopened in 2009, still feels historically unique since the dining room is paneled with salvaged local timber from the 2007 fire that spread across north San Diego County and was milled for the walls, ceiling and bar-top of the restaurant.

Where there used to be a lounge with a low, dark ceiling, the locally milled, rough-cut timbers now reaches up to the 20-foot-high peak in the main dining room. The bar is an equally impressive slab of cedar and similar wooden touches are everywhere.

I could go on about the restaurant's historical significance and its huge menu and sports bar, but instead urge anyone coming or going from Riverside or San Diego to stop and see this piece of Americana and enjoy a cooling drink or delicious meal at the Rainbow Oaks Restaurant and Sports Bar.

Guests often see Duke or Jonell Maples walking around the grounds with their favorite English bulldogs, Porter and Oakley. They said to be sure to say "Hello."

Visit or call (760) 723-2279 for group event reservations.


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