Top 11 Places to Eat in Ocean Beach (San Diego), CA
San Diego is a city rich in culture and fine foods. There isn't a cuisine you can imagine which you cannot find here. With that being said, narrowing down the top eleven restaurants would be much too difficult. Rather, we will dissect these fabulous places to eat by neighborhood. It is much easier to narrow down a top eleven this way and we shall start with my own neighborhood, Ocean Beach.
Just west of Point Loma, Ocean Beach is a small, hippie, beach community known for fabulous food, open-mindedness, dog friendliness and straight hippie earthiness. Most businesses in OB (Ocean Beach) are privately owned and the only corporate establishment present is a Starbucks which was vigorously protested against upon its arrival. The citizens of Ocean Beach are fairly diverse ranging from traveling nomads to the highly affluent. Many people refer to this beach community as having a home-like and small-town feel to it. With that being said, one can only imagine the eclectic dining choices within.
With a plethora of taco shops, Mexican restaurants, diners, and bars there is something for everyone in OB (Ocean Beach). From Sushi to Thai, Mediterranean to Brazilian, Italian to organic gourmet, one really cannot go wrong with choosing Ocean Beach as a favorite place to dine out. There is even a German restaurant here.
Nestled between the busy tattoo parlors, funky hair salons, clothing boutiques and bars on the busy main strip Newport Ave, one will find a scrumptious little Mexican restaurant entitled Ortega's. As the eleventh top place to eat in OB, this lovely little Mexican restaurant serves up top quality chips and salsa, Mexican beer, agave wine margaritas and superb seafood and fish tacos. The shrimp and mahi-mahi are my favorites. It is difficult to eat more than one, however, so keep that in mind. This restaurant is incredibly small and has a sign stating "no public restroom" in the window. Seeing this I was led to believe no one could use the restroom, but customers do have one. This is simply done to keep the homeless sub-culture of OB out of the establishment.
Number ten is a diamond in the rough and was literally stumbled upon one afternoon quite by accident. One day while walking from People's Co-Op on Voltaire, I passed a little vegan bakery named Stephanie's. I had often strolled by and admired the cakes and pastries from the window but had never actually gone in. On this day, however, there was a couple sitting at a bistro table outside on the sidewalk eating fresh baked pizza. I noticed the pizza was from Stephanie's and immediately had to go inside and try some for myself. Stephanie's isn't your typical restaurant or bakery. They offer vegan baked goods, healthy pizza (although not vegan), gourmet sandwiches and homemade kombucha. This is not a place you go to for a dining experience as their only seating consists of two or three bistro tables on the sidewalk, but definitely worth it if you are in the mood for something casual or for carry-out. It takes about twenty minutes for the pizza to be made, but it is definitely worth the wait. This was truly some of the best pizza I have ever tasted in my life. The kombucha was fabulous as well. After we dined and paid for our bill we were given some free day old cookies to take home. They were sinfully delicious. If you live in San Diego and haven't tried Stephanie's bakery yet, you are truly missing out.
Number nine does vegan and healthy Mexican food fabulously and out of a popular liquor store on Voltaire St. name Liticker's. They offer $2 breakfast burritos, a plethora of fish and seafood tacos, tamales and burritos; even black beans if you want something healthier than refried. They will cook to order right in front of you while you wait or do your shopping. This is a great choice if you are on the go and want something quality and fast. Who needs fast food when Liticker's is right around the corner? The mahi-mahi burrito with guacamole and black beans is the best around.
Number eight is just across the street from Liticker's, but is much more upscale. This is the O' Bistro. With a large outdoor patio, gourmet breakfast/lunch/dinner and a stellar wine list, you cannot go wrong with this dining choice. They offer healthy salads, scrumptious sandwiches, pastas, steaks, fish, etc. They even cater, host private events and will offer set menu dining choices. They have a cozy, romantic indoor seating area as well which is nice on a cool night with a loved one. Plan to shell out some cash for this dining experience, but you certainly will not regret it. The O' Bistro truly delivers. A favorite dish of mine was on their specials menu one evening. It was potato gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce. It was rich, creamy and everything comfort food should be.
Lucky number seven is on Newport Ave and is a little sandwich shop entitled the BBQ House. This is by far the best place for BBQ in OB. With their fast service, quality food and generous portions, BBQ House is number seven of the best places to grub in OB. There is no glitz or glam about it. It's a little BBQ shop with quality food, plain and simple. They offer a number of sandwich styles with the option of beef, pork or chicken and mild, medium or spicy BBQ sauce. There is outdoor seating available for dog owners and they even serve beer and have a fabulous selection of sides ranging from potato salad and pork and beans to jalapeño poppers and macaroni and cheese. The BBQ is so tender and succulent it just melts in your mouth and makes you feel tingly all over in a good way; such a good way.
Number six is across the street on Newport Ave. This is a pizza joint entitled Newport Pizza & Ale House. With a patio that allows dogs, a plethora of by the slice pizza options and a top notch, rotating tap of high quality microbrews, Newport Pizza is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. It is fairly common for people to come into the Pizza shop alone, grab a brew and a slice and strike up colorful and interesting conversations with a number of the eclectic patrons who could even become life-long friends. They make pizza's to order, and even deliver this extraordinary New York style pie. And the best part? They are open until 2 AM, so if you happen to be bar hopping in OB, it is a fun and convenient stop along the way. One thing I must insist is that one visit an ATM before going to this place as it is cash only, like many of the establishments in OB.
Number five is a hometown, San Diegan and tourist favorite. It is a small funky burger shop entitled Hodad's. This place is small with family style seating and a bar rail facing the sidewalk allowing for people watching on hot summer days. This shop is named Hodad's after a person who dresses like a surfer and has a surf board, but is more of a poser than anything and not a real surfer. With license plates adorning the walls and historic photos of San Diego, there is a bit of culture and history told within. If you plan in dining here do bring cash, and plan to wait in line for a long time. On a typical afternoon or evening there is often a line outside of Hodad's that stretches around the block. What people will do for those burgers. A nice alternative if you are not interested in having a beer with your burger is to order it to go, which allows you to skip the line. You can always eat on the beach or have a picnic on the grassy null in front of the beach.
Number four is a hop, skip and a jump across Newport Ave. Just on the edge of the strip of Newport where the street meets the sand, you will find the South Beach Bar and Grill. This is a hot spot for locals and tourists from everywhere. With some of the best fish and lobster tacos around, this is truly a must-try if you are ever in the San Diego area. They offer a full bar with a view of the ocean, a juke box and an outdoor patio. Some even say their burgers are better than Hodad's. One has yet to test this personally. The mussels are absolutely mouth watering and the oysters are superb. It is usually packed in this place and they only accept cash, so come in, grab a drink at the bar and when you see a table open up, grab it before someone else does.
Number three is located on Bacon St. in between Newport and Niagara. This is The Vine. An upscale restaurant and wine bar with half-off bottles of wine specials daily from 4-6 pm. They offer indoor seating, and outdoor patio and very knowledgeable severs and bartenders. The food is absolutely divine with options such as filet mignon, short ribs, pork tenderloin and gourmet cheeses. This is a pricier place in OB, but so very worth it. It is the ideal place to come sit on the patio, order a half priced bottle of malbec and munch on cheese, banquettes and fruit. Absolutely superb.
Number two is a new addition to the OB family of restaurants. Just a couple blocks down Newport from South Beach is a little Italian bistro named Ciao Bella. With an all native Italian staff and traditional "back to the roots" menu concept, one feels as if stepping through the doors actually has transported him/her into Italy. They offer a nice selection of wines, beer, salads, pastas and pizzas. The ingredients are fresh, simple and authentic. Also, do not forget to save room for dessert. They offer an extraordinary crepe menu as well as after dinner coffee drinks, dessert wines and tiramisu. The servers are attractive Italian men who are friendly and down to earth and there is ample rail space to sit and people watch. I have found myself coming here just for dessert and being completely content.
Finally, the moment we have all been waiting for: number one. In my opinion and experience eating my way through Ocean Beach the number one place to eat is the Third Corner Wine Shop. This place is truly a delight. With a wine shop and restaurant all in one, you have the option of ordering a bottle off the menu, or picking one out yourself from the shop and taking it to your table. The selection is vast and sophisticated and the employees are knowledgeable and helpful. There is a room full of leather couches and coffee tables which is open for dining as well. It is nice to pick out a bottle, lounge on the couches with friends and order hors d’ oeuvres of cheese and hummus while enjoying good company. The dining area is nice as well and very upscale. They offer a wide variety of cheeses, steaks, gourmet pastas and fish along with nightly specials, and a French culinary influence. This is a must-try if you enjoy quality food and wine and have never had the pleasure of dining at the Third Corner. It is located on the corner of West Point Loma Blvd and Bacon St. You will never regret trying this restaurant, and will most likely want to go back as soon as possible.
With all of the dining options and choices in Ocean Beach, it was truly difficult narrowing down a top 11. There is just so much greatness it easily could have been a top twenty. The next neighborhood discussed will either be Hillcrest or Point Loma, so stay tuned, keep reading and eating your way around San Diego. Bon Appétit.