Although the food scenes of Little Italy, North Park, and Convoy get more attention, Ocean Beach has also been experiencing a bit of a restaurant renaissance in recent years. A lot of decent eateries have opened recently but haven’t received the big publicity boom that usually accompanies a new restaurant in Little Italy or the Gaslamp.
Instead, places such as Voltaire Beach House are working for the local dollars and visitors going to the beach, a pot dispensary, or a head shop.
Voltaire Beach House opened in January, but this open-air eatery seems best suited for hot weather. That’s good, because they have cocktails perfect for a blistering summer day. I’ll get to the food in a second, but usually when I eat, I start with a drink.
The Dawn Patrol ($11) is Voltaire Beach House’s take on a Paloma, a tequila cocktail that is more popular in Mexico than the margarita. Usually just grapefruit juice and tequila, VBH’s version adds pomegranate hibiscus agave for both sweetness and tang, as well as muddled jalapeño. The end result is sweet, spicy, and sour. It’s a good beginning to a dinner.
The Lavender Collins ($11) is simple: gin, lavender, lemon, and soda. The bitterness from the gin combines with the sourness of the lemon and makes a good palate cleanser.
Now, to the food. Voltaire Beach House does appetizers well. The Ahi Poke ($13) is what you’d want a poke bowl to be: ample amounts of fresh tuna along with seaweed, tomato, and avocado and a tangy ginger-soy marinade that enhances but does not overpower the dish. It comes with wonton crackers, but those break easily. I just attacked the dish with a fork.
4934 Voltaire Street, Ocean Beach
The House Salad ($11) is the type of meal that should go well in selectively health-conscious OB (home of vegans who smoke). It’s greens and quinoa along with cucumber, bleu cheese, cherry tomato, and corn in a white balsamic vinaigrette. It’s one of those dishes that makes you feel healthy no matter what else you do that day. The dressing enhanced the slight bitterness of the greens and the tanginess of the cheese.
I wasn’t as happy with the Oyster Po’ Boy ($14), which I had with fried oysters. The soft bread, lettuce, tomato, and remoulade didn’t come together as a whole. I realize a soft loaf is more authentic, but I thought the loaf I had was a little doughy. I would have preferred something more crisp and less spongy. The oysters were fried perfectly and had a nice brininess that went with the remoulade…the sandwich just wasn’t unified.
But overall, the house salad, poke, and those drinks are enough to make me return this summer.