4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Rebranding a sunset view, yet again

OB gastropub trying not to wash away as quickly as its predecessors

The view looking south (I couldn't fit north in the same picture).
The view looking south (I couldn't fit north in the same picture).
Place

Wonderland Ocean Pub

5083 Santa Monica Avenue, San Diego

You'd think it was hard to muck up a restaurant holding down one of the best spaces on the west coast — an oceanfront location so prime, surfers can see into it from the line-up. Yet, here we have Wonderland, taking over the Ocean Beach real estate formerly known as Quigg's, and before that Nick's. Both now closed, and I'm sure they have their reasons.

In between waves, you might get to wondering what they have on tap today.

Wonderland gets its name from OB's almost-mythical seaside amusement park that washed away in high surf a century ago, and its walls share memorable images and bits of trivia about its namesake. But who's going to notice something like that when the entirety of current day Ocean Beach basks, pier to jetty, before the dining room's panoramic second floor windows?

Not the most inspiring looking food, but the'yre hoping you won't notice due to the view.

Drinkers, diners and yes, even waitstaff, can get lost in that view, especially when the waves are breaking and you can practically make eye contact with those surfers out front. This is a take-it-easy kind of place, wasted on anyone unprepared to get cozy with the local brews on tap and linger.

Most of the prime seating faces the same direction — towards the beach. You'll have a to sacrifice some view if you want a looking-across-the-table kind of conversation. It's not a place you need to eat, but when you're hungry a pretty intriguing menu won't stop you from trying. There's not any real thrust one direction or the other — Wonderland seems just as comfortable serving Asian-styled dishes as it does Hawaiian and Southwestern, and of course it serves fish tacos.

The original Wonderland was either washed away or carried off by mermaids, apparently.

So, apparently OB has developed its own style of fish taco. It's basically a take on the South Beach recipe that melts cheddar cheese on flour tortilla. Wonderland does it just as well, with fancy flourishes like cilantro cream sauce and diced jalapeño mixed into the pico de gallo. You can, and probably should, opt for a corn tortilla with any taco you order. I can’t seem to say this enough.

The slow-cooked pork in the Chile Verde Stew delivers some savory tomatillo with a nice dash of kick, though it doesn't quite feel like a balanced meal, despite the side of quesadilla. A sesame-crusted ahi wrap tastes pretty great, but could use more tuna to justify all the rice, carrots and cabbage. Wonderland might be a decent dining choice when any members of your party want to eat light, or if everyone just wants to snack on oysters and ceviche. Otherwise, stick with heavier fare, like the short-rib burger or "Woco Moco," which differs from loco moco in that it has kale. I think we can all safely skip the Spam Mac'n'Cheese.

Nevertheless, I wouldn't mind Wonderland sticking around for awhile. If not purely OB, it manages a slightly distilled take on the signature OB vibe, with some mermaid imagery and local history to replace the saltiness still going strong at street level. While you might wish the food were cheaper, or the staff a little less relaxed, it's not going to be enough to make you want to leave. Unless maybe you own the joint.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Siam Imperial Thai Kitchen's Tom Yum Kung: hot hot hot!

We’re beyond “like.” We’re into addiction here.
The view looking south (I couldn't fit north in the same picture).
The view looking south (I couldn't fit north in the same picture).
Place

Wonderland Ocean Pub

5083 Santa Monica Avenue, San Diego

You'd think it was hard to muck up a restaurant holding down one of the best spaces on the west coast — an oceanfront location so prime, surfers can see into it from the line-up. Yet, here we have Wonderland, taking over the Ocean Beach real estate formerly known as Quigg's, and before that Nick's. Both now closed, and I'm sure they have their reasons.

In between waves, you might get to wondering what they have on tap today.

Wonderland gets its name from OB's almost-mythical seaside amusement park that washed away in high surf a century ago, and its walls share memorable images and bits of trivia about its namesake. But who's going to notice something like that when the entirety of current day Ocean Beach basks, pier to jetty, before the dining room's panoramic second floor windows?

Not the most inspiring looking food, but the'yre hoping you won't notice due to the view.

Drinkers, diners and yes, even waitstaff, can get lost in that view, especially when the waves are breaking and you can practically make eye contact with those surfers out front. This is a take-it-easy kind of place, wasted on anyone unprepared to get cozy with the local brews on tap and linger.

Most of the prime seating faces the same direction — towards the beach. You'll have a to sacrifice some view if you want a looking-across-the-table kind of conversation. It's not a place you need to eat, but when you're hungry a pretty intriguing menu won't stop you from trying. There's not any real thrust one direction or the other — Wonderland seems just as comfortable serving Asian-styled dishes as it does Hawaiian and Southwestern, and of course it serves fish tacos.

The original Wonderland was either washed away or carried off by mermaids, apparently.

So, apparently OB has developed its own style of fish taco. It's basically a take on the South Beach recipe that melts cheddar cheese on flour tortilla. Wonderland does it just as well, with fancy flourishes like cilantro cream sauce and diced jalapeño mixed into the pico de gallo. You can, and probably should, opt for a corn tortilla with any taco you order. I can’t seem to say this enough.

The slow-cooked pork in the Chile Verde Stew delivers some savory tomatillo with a nice dash of kick, though it doesn't quite feel like a balanced meal, despite the side of quesadilla. A sesame-crusted ahi wrap tastes pretty great, but could use more tuna to justify all the rice, carrots and cabbage. Wonderland might be a decent dining choice when any members of your party want to eat light, or if everyone just wants to snack on oysters and ceviche. Otherwise, stick with heavier fare, like the short-rib burger or "Woco Moco," which differs from loco moco in that it has kale. I think we can all safely skip the Spam Mac'n'Cheese.

Nevertheless, I wouldn't mind Wonderland sticking around for awhile. If not purely OB, it manages a slightly distilled take on the signature OB vibe, with some mermaid imagery and local history to replace the saltiness still going strong at street level. While you might wish the food were cheaper, or the staff a little less relaxed, it's not going to be enough to make you want to leave. Unless maybe you own the joint.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Reading about La Jolla reminds him of Paris

Escondido critical race fan applauds shutting down of white cis-hetero
Next Article

“The poorest neighborhood in Tijuana"

Most of 277 families settling on El Cerro de las Abejas leave after police come
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close