Restaurant review

La Doña at Ocean Beach

Restaurant review

La Doña
1852 Bacon
Ocean Beach, CA 92107
619-269-6144

By Judi Curry

One of my favorite Mexican restaurants in Ocean Beach was Nati’s. I think when they closed almost the whole city was unhappy and many experiences there have become old memories. I was happy to see that another Mexican restaurant – La Doña – went to the same place, and hoped that new memories would establish there.

The other day four older ladies decided it was a great time to visit the new restaurant. Although it’s been open for a while, we thought it was important to give it a chance to establish its own personality.

We met at the restaurant shortly after noon as we knew they didn’t open until noon. When I called to make a reservation their phone message told me they only booked for groups of 20 or more so we were hoping there would be no waiting at our arrival. There was not.

We entered through the same place we entered Nati’s – the front door to Bacon – and the kind young hostess sat us at the second table in the restaurant. It quickly became clear to us that this table was not going to work for us, as it was directly under the speakers and the music was playing very loud. We requested another table and were accommodated promptly. We were shown the back part of the restaurant where it was quieter.

Almost immediately we were served a platter of hot corn chips accompanied by a mild tasting salsa. A carafe of water was placed on the table near the chips, along with 4 glasses. Unfortunately one of the glasses had lipstick on the rim, and we reported it to our lovely waiter. She quickly brought us a clean drink.

Taco Carne Asada

One of the things we noticed right away was that we weren’t given a menu. Instead, on the table was a QR sticker telling us to take a photo of this and open it in Safari to see the menu. I asked if there was a paper menu and was told there was and asked to see it. One of the reasons was that I had already checked my home menu and found that there were items on it that were reasonably priced compared to others that I thought were too high for what we were served. .

Checking the paper menu against the online one, we found that there were many items listed in the online menu that were not listed in the paper menu. This could be a real problem, as the three $ 10.75 items we were interested in weren’t listed on paper and unless we looked at the menu online we wouldn’t even have been aware of it.

Fried fish tacos

I also found out when looking at the fish taco menu the ‘local fish’ was listed, but when asked what it was, I was told it was mahi- mahi. Mahi-mahi is also known as Dolphin-fish (or Dorado) and is not easily found in San Diego waters, although it is fished locally.

Anne ordered a margarita and was told what the daily special was. Unfortunately it was made with mango, which she is allergic to, and stated that she wanted a regular margarita then. The waiter informed her that they didn’t have a blender so it wouldn’t be a “mixed” drink and Anne said she was fine with it. The margarita she had was very good. The only thing she didn’t like was that it was served with a paper straw and tasted like cardboard. Perhaps it would have been better not to serve it at all with a straw!

Grilled Fish Tacos

The presentation of what we ordered made us laugh – at least at first. I ordered two fish tacos – one grilled and one fried, with no rice or beans. They were served in two serving containers and the grilled fish stock was filled with water or fat. It wasn’t very appetizing, and I quickly pulled the taco back to the other plate. It was a bit dry; the fried was much better and tastier. There was also more stuff on top – cabbage, cilantro, tomatoes, etc. I didn’t think about asking at the time, but a dollop of sour cream would have added to the taste. They were both hot, but I don’t think I would order the grilled again. My total price for both a la carte was $ 15, not including tip.

pescado plate

Judy ordered two Pescado, which were local beer battered fish topped with cilantro jalapeño coleslaw, pico de gallo, and chipoltle lime cream. She changed her order to grilled fish rather than beer battered fish. A side of rice and beans came with the order, again on the long container. All the ladies who had beans had the same thing to say – they were very loose and dripping. The waitress said she liked tossing the beans with the rice, giving it a heavier consistency and the others agreed that was probably the way to go. Judy also mentioned on several occasions that the coffee she ordered was exceptionally good. Both tacos were $ 16.75.

Anne ordered a taco carne asada and, instead of rice and beans, ordered two servings of beans. I noticed she didn’t finish either and again noticed the looseness of the beans. But she said the carne asada was very good and she enjoyed it. Anne’s bill was around $ 25, but remember she had a margarita with her meal.

Grilled fish platter

Joelle also ordered a fish taco with rice and beans. She eventually brought the beans home, but said the rice, made with corn kernels, was very good. She enjoyed the grilled fish. Her meal was around $ 13 and, like me, didn’t order a separate drink.

So…. after our meal was over, we discussed it. The fries and salsa were good; dirty glass was a stop. The liquid at the bottom of my taco was also soggy. Bulk beans could have been improved if they had a better consistency, even if they were good. Adding the corn to the rice was a nice touch. The fact that the menu does not coincide with the online menu was frustrating, and would be even more so for people who do not know how to use the online menu. Anne said her husband wouldn’t know how to use the online menu.

The prices were higher than we would expect to pay at Ocean Beach, but it’s a new place with probably higher overheads than Nati’s, but we didn’t get much for the extra money. The service was good; the waiters were helpful but there was just something that didn’t “click” for the four of us. Things were tasty, but… .. The service was good, but… .. At the moment, I don’t think any of us will be going back for a while. There are other Mexican restaurants in the area that we will want to try.


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