5083 Santa Monica Avenue, Ocean Beach
“If you want to go to a real beach bar, you go to the Pennant or the Beachcomber. If you want to go to a real beach bar that serves good food, you hit up Wonderland Ocean Pub in Ocean Beach.” So says my daughter, who doesn’t drink.
So that’s where we went for lunch one afternoon and where I ordered one glass of wine. Only one, because the daughter counts my alcohol intake when we are dining out.
I’m not a big fan of OB. I was born there, so I’m allowed to say that. But this beautiful bar with a panoramic view of the Ocean Beach pier and waves crashing on the shore is pretty great, as far as aesthetics go.
We checked out the diverse menu, and I noticed that Wonderland incorporates Hawaiian-style cuisine into many of their dishes. The daughter decided to start with an appetizer and ordered the Pescadero Sampler, which includes three seafood cocktails: Mac Daddy Ahi Poke, Baja Ceviche, and Mango Shrimp Cocktail.
I don’t like ceviche, but the mango shrimp cocktail with large shrimp buried in chunks of mango was fresh and had a bit of a bite that got your attention. My daughter pronounced the ceviche too fishy for her taste.
We decided to share the Woco Moco, which is a grilled hamburger patty covered with garlic fried rice, two eggs over medium, and house chicken gravy. We were feeling brave. The dish was pretty, with rice spilling out of the pile of food. We ordered extra gravy because we had run a few miles that morning.
I’m not a big proponent of this rice-egg-burger combo, even though the burger patty was meaty and cooked medium, just as we ordered it. It was flavorful, the rice was soft and garlicky, and the eggs had just enough yolk oozing out. But when I cut into it and poured on a little extra gravy, it tasted like a breakfast my babysitter from Arkansas used to make.
In other words, it was all about the gravy, which was peppery and thick with a mild chicken flavor. I could have just ordered a bowl of gravy. The plate was a huge mess by the time we called it quits.
We decided to watch the sun set from the pier, for one reason — every evening as the sun falls behind the ocean, the staff passes out shots to everyone (free for bar patrons and $3 for restaurant patrons).