This article originally appeared in the December 2016 print issue of LOCALE Magazine.
Touchdown for Wonderland Ocean Pub!
Touchdown! As Super Bowl LI approaches, diehard football fans are already scoping out where to catch the Big Game and the playoff action leading up to the matchup. Dozens of San Diego sports bars offer flat screen TVs, pub fare, and noisy rival fans, but Wonderland Ocean Pub in Ocean Beach raises the stakes for these football-oriented bars. Not only does Wonderland offer dozens of flat screen TVs and fellow football fanatics to cheer with, but the restaurant and bar steps up its game by offering innovative coastal-infused pub fare, a friendly neighborhood atmosphere where every patron is family and killer ocean views that can’t be found anywhere else.
Wonderland Ocean Pub sits at the corner of Santa Monica Avenue and Abbott Street above soon to be Ocean Beach Surf Lodge in the heart of Ocean Beach steps away from the sand and surf. The restaurant itself embodies San Diego—and quirky Ocean Beach—with a nautical theme apparent upon entrance. From the light fixtures to the wood ceiling that mimics the interior of a ship to the mermaid mascot, Wonderland gives off a breezy, laidback vibe that doesn’t let its guests forget they’re lucky enough to live next to the water! The remainder of the bar is decked out with huge flat screens, a pool table, shuffleboard and foosball tables. An entire wall covered in athletes’ biggest fails gives the bar a unique OB touch.
The casual restaurant and bar are widely known for its wall of windows that overlooks the entirety of Ocean Beach. If you’re lucky enough to snag a bench seat along the water-facing windows, you can enjoy the game and the food with a prime panoramic view of the Pacific and the historic Ocean Beach pier. Don’t worry though—any seat in the house can easily catch a beachy view between plays on the big screen!
Beyond the relaxed, unassuming vibe and picturesque ocean views, Wonderland offers a fresh take on traditional sports bar fare, which is perfect for fueling your Super Bowl watch party. The menu features a variety of game time apps—try their Salt & Pepper Wings, Killer Nachos, and Fresh Spring Rolls. If your group rivalry is strong, stick to the Woco Moco or the Short Rib Rolled Tacos as individual entrees! The Woco Moco is among Wonderland’s signature dishes—a grilled hamburger patty, kale and garlic fried rice, two sunny-side up eggs and house made beef gravy. The Short Rib Rolled Tacos are a twist on California’s infamous taco obsession equipt with slow cooked short rib, corn tortillas, lettuce, cheese, cilantro salsa and avocado mash topped with the hot house sauce. If you are feeling inspired by the views while watching the game, opt for the Mac Daddy Ahi Poke, IPA Fish & Chips, Lobster Tacos or Oysters!
Wonderland offers over 25 beers on tap to wash your game time grub down and toast to when your team takes the lead. The majority of beers on draft are from local craft breweries, celebrating San Diego’s reputation as craft beer capital.
The entire venue is easygoing and sports-oriented, perfect for grabbing fresh seafood and icy drafts while catching the game. Whether you are cheering on the San Diego Chargers (as you should), the New England Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks, the Pittsburgh Steelers or any team in between, Wonderland treats its patrons like family. This contagious attitude passes between fellow restaurant guests, all rivalries aside.
Interview With Wonderland’s Executive Chef Sven Rusch
Q: What should guests look forward to at Wonderland?
Sven Rusch: Guests should look forward to our fresh local products—seafood, oysters, mussels, fresh fish. We also offer a well-rounded menu to offer something for everyone who comes in.
Q: What inspires Wonderland’s flavors and dishes?
SR: Our beer selections, along with our location, inspire me to focus on a seafood-heavier side of culinary creativity. I’m also inspired by the OB way of being healthy.
Q: How do you integrate San Diego, and specifically Ocean Beach’s, vibes into the menu?
SR: I like to use the Ocean Beach vibe to keep things fresh and exciting—offering the best of local seafood and produce. Our craft beer selection is very important to San Diego beer drinkers. We offer the best of craft beers.
Q: What are your must-order items on the menu?
SR: My go-to menu items are: Mac Daddy Poke, Surfer Teriyaki, Beer Cheese, Da Kine Guacamole and Fish and Lobster Tacos. For brunch, I love the Short Rib Machaca, Woco Moco, and the Breakfast Croissant.
Q: What food and beer pairings do you recommend?
SR: Any IPA with our Fish and Chips; the Alpine Duet pairs nicely. I also recommend the Resident Blond with any of our tacos. It also pairs nicely with the Farmer’s Market Salad. The Resident Pale Ale and Modern Times Pale Ale pairs well with the Poke and with our Pescadero Sampler. On the darker side, the Resident Porter pairs with the Short Rib Burger.
Did You Know? Fun Facts About Wonderland Ocean Pub
- Wonderland Ocean Pub is named after Wonderland Park, San Diego’s first amusement park (before the heyday of Belmont Park!) that debuted in Ocean Beach on July 4, 1913
- Every evening at sunset, the staff passes out shots to everyone (free for bar patrons and $3 for restaurant patrons). When the sun falls below the horizon line, Wonderland staff rings a giant bell while everyone toasts one another!
- Wonderland has a rotating draft list filled with San Diego craft beers. There are always 25 plus choices on tap!
The Happiest Hour: Celebrate Your Team With Wonderland’s Happy Hour Specials
- Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m.: $1 off tacos, $1 off drafts, $2 off wines, $3 off mules
- Mussel Up Monday, 6-10 p.m.: Half-off mussels and oysters
- Sunday Brunch, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Champagne until 2 p.m.: $10 bottles of Champagne, $5 red or white sangria by the glass
- Select Chargers Games, All Day Sunday: $15 buckets of beer, $4 select drafts, $5 Black Magic Spiced Rum
Crowd Pleasers: Top 5 Apps To Order While Watching the Game
- Fresh Fish Ceviche: Mahi Mahi, lime juice, fresh Pico, and avocado served with tortilla chips
- Killer Nachos: Corn tortilla chips, mixed cheeses, pico de gallo, raw jalapeños, black beans, sour cream, and fresh avocado mash
- Salt & Pepper Wings: Sea salt, cracked pepper, fried scallions, jalapeños and red chili flakes
- Hot Beer Cheese & Salty Pretzel Bowls: Homemade beer cheese made with Stone Smoked Porter
- Buffalo Cali Flower: Seasoned cauliflower florets fried and tossed in house buffalo wing sauce served with blue cheese dressing
Wonderland Ocean Pub
5083 Santa Monica Ave, Ste 2C
San Diego, CA 92107