5083 Santa Monica Avenue, Suite 1B, Ocean Beach
After a beautiful afternoon running my pup around OB Dog Beach, I got to thinking I could have it all: sunshine, ocean view, canine companionship, a couple of fish tacos and a tasty beer to wash them down. So I rolled over to one of the few places in the city with a dog-friendly patio looking out over the water: Tower Two.
Named for the lifeguard tower standing watch over the Ocean Beach Pier, Tower Two has been a relatively uncelebrated OB fixture all but forever. While its open view of the beach may be a tick less immediate than that of its neighbor, Shades Oceanfront Bistro, and its fish tacos don't receive the hype of nearby South Beach Bar & Grill, Tower Two does let you enjoy some of the best people-watching in the city, with your pup in tow. Which might be the only reason to bother.
My first mistake was bypassing that beer. San Diego as craft beer Mecca has admittedly spoiled my palate, but that doesn't excuse stacking a tap list with macros you can find at any minor league ballpark. Given the choice between mediocre hefeweizens and Pepsi, I chose iced tea. If beer snobbery hadn't gotten the best of me, I might have been more receptive when the fish tacos arrived.
They came out fast. Actually, all the food gets served lickety split, whether it's a fried appetizer or grilled sandwich. Which probably tells you a little something about the quality of meal we're talking about here. The grilled wahoo and fried pollock tacos each showed up on flour tortillas, with melted cheese, loads of ranch dressing and pico de gallo that leaked far too much greasy fluid onto my plate. In retrospect, I would have preferred to wait a bit longer for my order, as it quickly became apparent enjoying the atmosphere was going to be the best part of this meal.
My dog actually had a blast. A young girl from the next table came over to pet her, and there were several other pups at nearby tables, so there were plenty of opportunities for stare downs and even a little three-part barking harmony at one point. The restaurant makes plenty of water bowls available to keep your pet comfortable, and there's enough space that humans dining with other humans don't seem too frustrated by having a few well-behaved animals nearby.
I did have to wonder, though, why any dogless soul would bother? There's no question Tower Two benefits from location location location. The problem is that it seems content to abuse this advantage by marking up substandard food for OB's transient population of sun-seekers and tourists. I suppose the longevity of the place bears this business model out, but it seems borderline offensive that the owners, virtually guaranteed a steady stream of business any day the sun shines brightly over Ocean Beach, seem so willing to embrace the lowest common denominator of the restaurant business. If you want this food and these drinks, you can get them a lot cheaper at any out of the way dive bar in possession of an Erotic Photo Hunt videogame. If you're just looking for a place to gaze at the ocean with your best furry friend beside you, grab a counter seat and nurse that cocktail.