Starting Carlos Mexican Restaurant & Cantina 50 years ago, Carlos Lamas wanted to create a place where family and friends could get together and make memories.

“My dad was really family-first focused,” said Lamas’ daughter, Mercedes Winvick. “It wasn’t about making a million dollars. It was about having a place where we could get together, which we always did.”

Over the years, Winvick and her husband, Neal, have continued to make the restaurant, which is celebrating its 50th year as a Dana Point business, feel like home for their diners and guests alike.

Lamas moved to Dana Point in 1972 and purchased a burger joint off Pacific Coast Highway. In 1975, Lamas added on to the burger stand, and it became a coffee shop as well.

“We’re not the biggest restaurant in town or anything, but we have a good customer base; we just have a lot of regulars,” she continued. “That’s really what was important to him—family in a space where you could sit down and be with family and enjoy a good meal.”

Carlos Mexican Restaurant & Cantina turned 50 years in February. Winvick intends to celebrate the anniversary throughout the year. Visit them at 34224 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point or online