A lot of people made Ocean Beach sound like a dirty hippie commune with a flea-ridden dog beach. I can’t vouch for the dog beach because we still haven’t gone, but we finally explored the ‘hood known as OB this past weekend and guess what? I love it. It feels exactly like what I — and probably most other people — picture San Diego to be, what with the sun worshipers on the beach, board shorts-clad beach bums walking the streets and people of all ages getting around via bicycle.
OB seemed to have a wonderful mix of ages, couples and families with a nice beach, chill eateries and really great antiques browsing along Newport. In the seven months since we moved here, this finally feels like the quintessential San Diego experience.
Here, the 6 steps to a perfect day in OB:
1. Lunch. We chose Raglan, a spiffy New Zealand pub with grass-fed burgers, chicken sandwiches and $3 cocktail specials on the weekend.
2. Ice cream. I got a scoop of toffee ice cream with caramel cups at Lighthouse Ice Cream & Yogurt. That dry erase board of flavors reminds me of my favorite scoop shops from my childhood.
3. The beach. Clearly it gets packed on the weekends. That said, we never felt stifled for space — and there were five of us!
4. Walk along Newport. You’ll find quirky shops and casual places to eat in the section of Newport close to the beach. One guy came by and asked us, “420 friend or foe? If you’re in OB, you’d better be a friend.” All that to say, you’ll find plenty of smoke shops along the way.
5. Antiques. The eastern stretch of Newport is home to antique store after antique store. Some just slap pastel paint on a picture frame and call it shabby chic with a crazy price tag, but others are treasure troves filled with so many weird knick-knacks. I could spend hours browsing these shops.
6. Dessert, again. I was totally and utterly full from my ½ burger + ½ chicken sandwich + 1 ice cream cone lunch, but then we stumbled upon Azucar, a Cuban-style patisserie that I had wanted to check out when we visited San Diego three years ago. We ran out of time to go then, so of course I had to go now. The desserts lean on the tropical side: think mango cheesecake, pistachio crumble and mojito cookies. We chose the Divina, a white chocolate cake with passionfruit cream, raspberries and toasted marshmallow. And yes, it was just as good as it sounds (which was a relief because sometimes these fusion ideas are nice in theory but awful in execution). I’d like to think my two root canals and dozens of cavities over my lifetime vouch for my dessert-rating credentials, so trust me when I saw this was the best dessert I’ve had in San Diego thus far. I’m totally coming back to Azucar for some Cuban coffee and dessert.
Hope you enjoyed this little tour of OB! Is there anywhere we missed that should go on our list for next time?