A RESTAURANT REVIEW : “Walk on Water” at the Ocean Beach Pier

by on September 13, 2012 · 12 comments

in Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

 “Walk on Water” (“WOW”)
Ocean Beach Pier
5091 Niagara Avenue,
Ocean Beach, CA

 Oh my, oh my, oh my. It has been many years since I had a meal at “WOW”. They were famous for their macadamia nut pancakes that last time I was there, and I tried many times to duplicate the taste in my own kitchen.

This time, when I asked if they had any macadamia pancakes, the chef was not even sure what I was talking about; didn’t “think we have any”, but if we did could make them for me. (After placing my order for something else she said that she had found some nuts and could make them for me. I declined.)

Unfortunately, I think that “Walk on Water” tried walking on water one too many times, for I do not remember having a worse meal than I was served today.

To begin with, I went with a friend – Joe – that I have gone out with before. I had touted the restaurant as one of the better breakfast places in OB and knew he would like it.

The “owners favorite ” was the Machaca Plate and since that is one of my favorite Mexican meals I ordered it without hesitation. It came with a dollop of sour cream; a smaller portion of salsa; beans; tortillas – corn or flour – and some green sprig.

Joe was going to have something different but since they didn’t have the macadamia nut pancakes, he decided to also have the Machaca plate. And here is where we ran into the first problem. After waiting for 7 minutes to have MY order taken from the “Outside Take-out” window, I went and sat down. Twenty-two minutes later, Joe’s order was taken, AND he had stood at the window with me when I placed my order.

The second problem was when someone from inside the restaurant yelled “machaca plate” that I realized it was my order. Joe, still standing at the window waiting for his change, brought me my order. His was not served up for another 18 minutes!

The plate was set up nicely. It looked delicious. After waiting for a few minutes for Joe to receive his order, I started eating my meal.

(It should be noted that on Joe’s plate, when it finally arrived, was a single sprig of cilantro. My “sprig” appeared to be a piece of lettuce, but I am not sure exactly what it was, or from what kind of a plant it came from.)

One of the disappointing factors of the machaca plate is that – despite the chef, and the person taking our orders being Latino – we would have been hard pressed to tell, in a blind taste test, just what we were eating. I doubt if they would have served it in their own home. There was virtually none of the wonderful spicy taste that Machaca usually offers. In fact, it tasted like scrambled eggs with left-over meat that had not been seasoned. Neither of us were able to finish the meal, not because we were full, but because of the lack of taste from the “owners favorite.”

Additionally, Joe ordered a coffee latte, and the person taking the order looked over at the chef and said, “ . . . a coffee latte has milk in it, doesn’t it?” It goes without saying that even the latte left something to be desired.

I ordered an “Arnold Palmer” – half iced tea and half lemonade. It was fair; nothing I would order again.

Overall, the $12 that we each paid for our meal was a complete waste of money. I don’t know if we had hit a bad day – after all it was a Tuesday and maybe the weekends are better – but I would not go back to give it a try again. And for those of you that are regulars and upset by this review, all I can say is that I am more upset than you. I work hard for my money, and I felt, as I threw away the remaining meal, that I had also thrown away my money.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

chris dotson September 13, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Like so many OB establishments, you never know what the daily quality standard is going to yield when your meal finally arrives. I hadnt eaten there in about 10 years, as prior experience was more about the people and location than the food or service. So, it is by some coincidence that over the recent holiday my niece was visiting with her husband and she wanted to eat on the pier. While the pod of dolphins feeding among the surfers was the true highlight of our meal, my breakfast burrito was good. Nothing stood out as exceptional, nor do I recall what the others ate, except my niece enjoyed herself immensely! All plates were cleaned!


Citizen Cane September 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Check out the website they have on their menu sign. It looks to me like it says



jim grant September 15, 2012 at 7:29 am

looks like a porn site , maybe should have cked that before posting the link ..unless you really think the cafe is a porn site ..jus sayin…


jim grant September 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm

fat boys pizza i think…..


dave rice September 14, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Fat Boyz was a pizza-by-the-slice place in Mission Beach, across the street from the amusement park. I know they took over the pier cafe some time ago, and I think since then their MB place has gone the way of the dodo.

I haven’t eaten at either in probably a decade or more, aside from a few cups of hot chocolate or plain black coffee when I’m out on the pier really early or really late, but from what I remember Fat Boyz pizza was pretty good when I was a kid, and the pier cafe was awesome when I was a kid and my dad would grab grub when we were out fishing. That was a good 20 years ago, though…


judi Curry September 15, 2012 at 8:32 am

And…there isn’t even a bait shop there – at least if there is it wasn’t open!


OB Mercy September 16, 2012 at 10:35 am

Wow, I couldn’t disagree more with your review of their Machaca Plate Judi. It is pretty much the ONLY thing I like here! Well. I’ve only had their fried clams and one other dish and was not impressed.

But I love riding my tryke out onto the pier on a sunny day and ordering this yummy Mexican dish. I don’t get the beans or tortillas with it, but order their home fried potatoes, a little well done. Love the mild salsa on top of it and the dollop of sour cream.

I just brought my new boyfriend out to WOW Cafe when he was visiting from New York and he ordered the same dish as me, except with the beans and tortillas and he loved it too.


judi Curry September 16, 2012 at 10:42 am

Interesting, Mercy, because you and I usually agree on these restaurants. But I still have to say that this was one of the worst meals – if not the worst – I have had in years. The dollop of sour cream was probably the best of the entire meal and I would have liked more to wet the machaca as it went down. Won’t try it again – too many other places to go, but it was a real disappointment since I remember WOW when it was really good.


jim grant September 18, 2012 at 8:21 am

WOW Is All I Can Say. We have eaten at the Pier Cafe 6-8 times over the past 5 or 6years it has always been what we expected. We have taken and sent many people to the Cafe as well every time they have been very happy with the experience. Kids especially love the place.

Dining anywhere is a total experience: Mr. A’s has the view, Bali Hai has the Mai Tais, Poma’s has the sandwiches , every restaurant has its own flavor and attraction.
You make no mention of a leisurely morning stroll down the pier watching surfers or seagulls.
You make no mention of the interior of the restaurant decorated to look like a boat interior complete with throttle control at the entrance that almost every single person experiments with !! its fun try it next time.
After getting your food and while eating you make no mention of the slight swaying of the pier or watching fishermen or sailboats.
You missed out on a lot while fuming no doubt on having to wait in line or your friend waiting 22 minutes ( not 21 not 23 22 minutes!) I must admit I question the thought process standing and waiting at the walk up window for 22 minutes when the person in front of you just ordered. I think a reasonable person might have actually said ” pardon me is this where I order?”
As far as the food where did you think you were going to eat as you walked down the pier, breakfast at the Marine Room ?
If you did not like the food and you seemed disgusted by it , Did you think to send it back and get eggs and bacon ?
The Ocean Beach Pier Cafe is a great novelty place the food is secondary its the total experience I guess you missed that.
The Owner is a fantastic guy. He gives a lot back to the Ocean Beach Community.
I feel bad you feel like you wasted money and food . Send me your address I will send you a check for 12 bucks. I would like for you to take your Grandchildren to the Cafe see how they like the total experience… I bet they will review it like mine did they said ” grandpa jim this place is cool”
Next time you go to the Pier Cafe try to use all your senses.
Breath the fresh salt air.
Watch the surfers.
Feel the sway of the Pier.
Listen to the waves and chirping terns…
It’s actually enjoyable…


judi Curry September 18, 2012 at 8:36 am

Wow is right, Jim. I mentioned that the restaurant was a place that we liked to go to many years ago. We could breathe the fresh air; we could have watched the surfers – which we did while waiting for our order; we did not feel the sway of the Pier; we watched the birds – a beautiful egret as well as the pelicans sitting on the railing; but we were not there to discuss the ambiance of the WOW. We were there to have a meal, and it was NOT secondary to all of the surroundings.

How dare you ask me if I thought I was going to eat at the Marine Room! I have lived in Ocean Beach since 1965; I have had many meals at the Pier and the surrounding restaurants. What Joe and I enjoyed had nothing to do with the terrible food that was served to us. We could have gone to the Pier just to take a leisurely stroll and enjoyed all of the things you mentioned. But we didn’t. We went to the pier specifically to have breakfast at the WOW. And, quite frankly, Jim, it sucked.


jim grant September 18, 2012 at 9:07 am

“As far as the food where did you think you were going to eat as you walked down the pier, breakfast at the Marine Room ?”
I dare say you missed the point on this statement.
What is being implied is every time we go anywhere to eat ( or anywhere for that matter)we have a conceptualized idea of what we are expecting. I was being a little sarcastic by saying ” did you think you were going to the Marine room” By the way go there for brunch I would be eager to see your review of it.
The Pier Cafe is what I refer to as a Novelty Place….if you have been in Ob since 65 that’s great. I am sure you realize then the Pier Cafe never made the Zagat List right?
I AM a 1000% sure that NO BODY in OB says hey lets go the the Pier Cafe for the BEST breakfast in San Diego …or even the best breakfast in OB for that matter.
Frankly judi it amazes me an adult would stand for 22 minutes waiting to order at a walk up window without saying something….
And frankly it amazes me you did not send the machaca back and get the chocolate chip pancakes they are yummy…
The San Clemente Pier has a cafe on it as well it also falls into my category of a novelty place ….so- so food BUT great views and experience !!

Maybe you will enjoy your next visit to the Pier Cafe and say WOW that was fun !! Take kids watch them have fun…have a super day.


judi Curry September 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Jim, I am not going to belabor the point, but it is a slow day today while I wait for my car to be serviced, so this will be my last response to your comments.

Every now and then Chefs have bad days. I can relate to that easily. As I said originally, this may have been one of those days.

My youngest daughter remembers us going to the Pier Cafe frequently when she was a child. It WAS someplace that we went to for a nice breakfast. Since my husband loved to fish, and loved to take the kids with him, we probably had a meal there more often than many other people. It was always good – sometimes even great – but never BAD!

I will never go to the Marine room for any meal – not that I wouldn’t like it – but I cannot afford it. Yes, I have been there also, but as a single person living on a fixed
income it is now beyond my means.

The only reason that Joe stayed at the window for 22 minutes was because I had already ordered my meal. The woman taking the orders said to him, ” . . . just a minute” – several times. There were only two people working – the chef and her – there was no one else to talk to about the delay.

Normally I would send the meal back – and even if I did it would not have changed the review. I doubt if I would say ” . . . the machaca was horrible but the bacon and eggs were good.” That was not the purpose of the review.

And…we never went there for the purpose of a review. It was only when things went so wrong that I decided to write it. Joe and I were out for a passing meal; a stroll on the pier; a relief from the heat (which, by the way, did not materialize that morning.)
And…lest you think that I do not walk on the pier, I had been there just two weeks before when my Granddaughter jumped off the pier with the Jr. Lifeguards. I enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells then, as I do whenever I walk on it.

A final comment: My mother used to live in San Clemente in a mobile park right on the beach. We frequented that restaurant also, and, as you say the food was “so-so”, it was never as bad as what we had at WOW. You can be assured that I will continue to take my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for walks on the pier; the only difference will be that we will not be eating at the restaurant, and that is a pity.

And with that statement – I encourage you to continue your affair with “WOW”. I am pleased that you, and Mercy, and others have enjoyed it and will continue to do so. My review is only one out of many.


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