5083 Santa Monica Avenue, Ocean Beach
After running around Ocean Beach's dog beach for awhile, I brought Loki over to Shades Oceanfront Bistro to grab some lunch. I mean, why give up on the idea some bikini-clad girl is going to walk up and strike up a conversation about how cute my dog is? If we just hang around OB long enough….
We hit the dog-friendly patio and grabbed a seat as near to the water as we could. Which wasn't really close enough — they're not all great seats — but I could still see the water and Loki could smell the ocean, so it was good enough.
That make a decent slogan for Shades: good enough.
I'm not slagging the place. It does what it does with relative success, serving a lengthy menu of sandwiches and burgers and, yawn, et cetera. Nobody's ever said, "Have you tried the so-and-so from Shades? It's awesome!" It's doubtful anyone will.
But a day like this, on the lookout for girls at the beach, well — let's just say a guy can't eat fish tacos every day and rely on the ridiculous, enduring cuteness of a fluffy terrier for everything. I wanted something a little lighter, a little less heavy on the fried food and maybe — dare I dream? — nutritious.
That, Shades can do. While the place offers plenty of fried fish and whatnot, it actually serves a lot of salads and generously veggied sandwiches. Better still, you may opt for a side of couscous instead of the ubiquitous some-kind-of-potato.
I did so, adding it to the so-called Tenacity Chicken Sandwich, which tops grilled breast meat with smoked gouda and pesto hummus along with lettuce, onions and roma tomatoes for seven bucks.
Is this sandwich gonna save my life? No. Will the couscous inspire me to traipse into the kitchen demanding someone, anyone give me that recipe? Of course not.
But with my trusty pet by my side, I had an inoffensive meal at an inoffensive beachside restaurant in the middle of the afternoon, and (almost) didn't miss the crunchy allure of fried cod or pollock on a corn tortilla. (Or halibut, if I'm just dreaming here.)
If Shades washed away in big surf, I wouldn't hold a fundraiser to bring it back. But I will stop in every now and again and make a show to the healthy girls who work hard and eat little all spring so they can gather sun all summer. I too, can eat healthy sometimes. Or maybe just a little healthier. But not too much.