Restaurant Review: Old Townhouse Restaurant in Ocean Beach

by on February 27, 2014 · 31 comments

in Economy, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

OB Townhouse jc 01 Old Townhouse Restaurant
4941 Newport Avenue
Ocean Beach, CA 92107

It has been years since I had a meal at the “Old Townhouse.” I am not sure why we stopped going there, but I am sure it had nothing to do with the food. I think more restaurants opened in the area and we started going to some of them.

OB Townhouse jc 02The place, on Sunday, was packed, and there was a line waiting to get in when we left. Irene and I arrived at 9:50am and got the last vacant table. I was amused to see that the booth we sat in probably had the same cushions it had 20 years ago; first I sank into the seat; then I moved more to the middle of the seat and had to sit on a hump in order to reach my food. A little re-upholstery would be nice!

Their breakfast menu is extensive – eggs, biscuits and gravy, omelets, south of the border specialties, sides, and beverages. Their lunch menu is almost as extensive with cold and/or hot sandwiches, salads, soups, beverages, etc.

OB Townhouse jc 04After looking over the menu, Irene ordered a #5 from the menu. It consisted of scrambled eggs and two large hotcakes. The cost was $4. I ordered the breakfast burrito – scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage (I chose the bacon) – hash browns and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla. The cost was $5.50 Surprisingly enough the coffee was $1.85 a cup, and although refilled constantly, it seemed a little high for the size cup we were served.

OB Townhouse jc 05Our waitress, Ramona, was very good and concerned until the end of our meal. She asked me if I wanted a box to take home the rest of my meal and I said “yes.” However, she forgot to bring it to me and I had to ask again.

Irene said that her pancakes and eggs were very good, but the eggs should have been hotter. She said the top was cool – but the bottom was hot. The pancakes were large and airy.

The breakfast burrito was interesting. It was served hot with a side of salsa. The innards were good – eggs, bacon cooked crisp, hash browns that were crispy, and melted cheese. The flour tortilla was soft and pliant – at first – but as the time wore on the tortilla became tough and impossible to cut. Hence, I asked for a box to take home more than ¾ of the burrito. After I received the box, Ramona brought me a lid to put on the salsa container.

OB Townhouse jc 03There were several signs on the walls that were fun to read; one sign said “free beer tomorrow” – but of course when you would come in “tomorrow” for your free beer the “tomorrow” would be just that – manana!

Our total bill was $16.10, which was a surprise to us, since Irene’s meal was only $4 and mine was only $5.50. That is why we checked the price of the coffee and found that our two cups totaled $3.70. It still seemed like a lot for what we ordered, and we left a $3 tip.

When I went up to the cashier – the owner, I presume – he was busy talking to a man sitting at the counter and writing up a charge card for someone else. He almost ignored me until I said I wanted to pay for the meal. He wasn’t rude, per se; just not interested. I decided to hand him my OB Rag card on which I had written that he had just been reviewed. At that point he started to be more friendly but I was already walking away from the counter.

Would we go back? Maybe. There are several other breakfast restaurants in the general area. I have been trying to eat at all of them as a comparison to what is available in Ocean Beach. There was nothing wrong with the food – although I would not order a breakfast burrito again – and I would make sure it was piping hot or send it back. Over all, the teacher in me would give it a B-.


CC February 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

me and my gf used to eat there a lot when we lived in OB. It is just that kind of place. Down and dirty, oldschool diner. You either go there for that experience or go somewhere else.

coffee was $1.85 and you’re complaining about it? Your breakfast was $4. You get free refills on the coffee, you go somewhere else and see what they charge you.

I don’t love that place but don’t go in there expecting much and it ends up being fine.

judi curry February 27, 2014 at 10:43 am

When I go to a restaurant I go because of the quality of the food, the ambiance, and the service. I do not go for the “experience”. I work too hard for my money. I always expect the best out of every place I go to. Why else would I go?

I am not complaining about the coffee. I was merely surprised that it was $1.85 for a small cup.

It’s been in business a long time. It has been a long time since I was there. I was merely checking it out after a long hiatus. It fell short of my expectations.

Ron K. February 27, 2014 at 11:29 am

I love the Old Townhouse. It has the comfortable easy going atmosphere. I have always liked their breakfasts & the prices were reasonable to me. Usually when it gets really crowded on the weekends & I don’t want to wait, I will go to Margarita’s next door. Their breakfast is really good & you never have to wait for a seat. I do believe the Old Townhouse needs to remodel to some sort & put in better televisions meaning flat screens. I know they do pretty good business, but I guess the owner doesn’t want to pay the extra expenses on improving the restaurant inside. Everytime when I go there, Ramona has always been pleasant & great to talk too.

Catherine February 27, 2014 at 11:57 am

I love the Old Townhouse. My family eats breakfast there all the time. We went to the Village Kitchen recently because OT was packed and the pancakes were not nearly as good. The waitress always remembers our order (we’re predictable) and the atmosphere is small town and charming. There really is nothing comparable in the area, although Shades has great pancakes and a nice view.

judi curry February 27, 2014 at 12:07 pm

One of the things about doing a restaurant review is that everyone’s taste buds are different. I, personally prefer the Village Kitchen pancakes to the Old Townhouse. And what I really like about the Village is that I don’t like big thick pancakes. If I ask them to make them thinner for me they always do so willingly. I seldom order pancakes out because I think that mine are so far superior to what I can get in a restaurant I’d rather have something I don’t make for myself.

Irene liked the pancakes at the Old Townhouse. Just a few days ago a date that I had liked the pancakes at Shades. I will be doing a review in a few days of the pancakes I ordered at the Antique Row Cafe. I am sure there will be discussion about those also.

That’s what restaurant reviewing is all about. Thanks for your comments.

John Filthy February 27, 2014 at 12:41 pm

What can you get for $1.85 at Starbucks? A hot steaming cup of jack squat.

Its $1.85 because its bottomless. I remember one particularly rough 6am morning when two of us drank what seemed like a pot each before we had the strength to get up. The night before was a Newport bar crawl that left us too drunk to walk let alone drive back home to Escondido… turns out the Robb Field ball diamond is not a bad spot to sleep aside from the dew. God bless the Old Town House.

judi curry February 27, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I don’t buy coffee at Starbucks. In Ocean Beach I buy my coffee at Tiki Port on the corner of Voltaire and Cable. Can hardly wait until Bob opens up the new Pirate’s Cove.

John Filthy February 27, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I wasn’t suggesting that you buy coffee at OB Starbucks. That’s an insult I wouldn’t throw around lightly. My point was just that $1.85 is not that much money for bottomless coffee and that the same money at Starbucks would get you a single small coffee of the day at best.

Pepe February 28, 2014 at 10:09 am

“as the time wore on the tortilla became tough and impossible to cut.”

What the what? Who cuts a tortilla when eating a burrito?

judi curry February 28, 2014 at 2:44 pm

When a burrito is too hot to handle, you cut it.

Frank Gormlie February 28, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Or if you can’t bite into it straight on ….

Mark Dodge February 28, 2014 at 10:21 am

I have been eating breakfast there for 30 years. I have to admit my visits have been infrequent over the past decade. The trendier places with stronger more expensive coffee have lured me away. But one thing I can count on every time I return, even after gaps of more than a year, is Ramona remembering I like Swiss cheese in my spinach omelet and that I need real milk instead of creamer for my coffee. This article reminds me to get back there soon.

Randy March 1, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Wow! Someone’s got an axe to grind. Once I read your complaint about how expensive a bottomless cup of coffee is for $1.85, the rest of your review just became null and void. You don’t get out much, do you? Please find any other restaurant in the country that not only fills your cup as often as the OTH but offers it this cheap?

I have been going to OTH for years and I just can’t find anything wrong with it. Sure, it’s old style decor but where the owners save money on updating to make it pretty and trendy for the likes of you, they throw the savings back to the customer. You noticed how cheap the food was, right? You noticed how big the portions were, right? You know how expensive food is to buy, right? OTH net profit has to be minimal, to say the least.

And judging by everyone’s comments above, doesn’t look like anyone agrees with you either.

I am also a small business owner in OB and it’s reviews and people like you who just irk me to no end. We are all trying to make a living, especially in these hard economic times and we all need to have each other’s backs, especially in OB, otherwise we will be overtaken by the corporate chains. Do you even live in OB? Do you know our history? This is not trendy Hillcrest where we can afford to charge ridiculous prices for our items. If we could do that, we would also be able to update our decor because of our massive profits.

Shame on the OB Rag for even posting this review. Frank, you will no longer have my support when you next ask me for a donation if this is what you do to local businesses, who I’m sure have supported you in the past. I know OTH sponsors a lot of local charities so I’m sure if you asked either Ted or Kathy for a donation they would definitely say yes to you. If they were to read this review I’m not too sure they would be so willing.

Frank Gormlie March 2, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Randy – and others who object to Judi’s review: she tells it like she sees it; she gave the place a B- which is still a B. Right? And BTW Judi has lived in OB / PL for decades. Is this the first time you’ve read a review of hers?

As far as you giving the OB Rag support, Randy, I don’t think you have. You have not – as far as I know – ever bought a t-shirt, an ad, or sent us a donation. So where’s the support you say you are now withdrawing. We’re all small businesses – the Rag included – and when we had a crisis last Fall – I don’t remember you Randy stepping forward to help another small business.

judi curry March 2, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Randy, let me assure you that I have no axe to grind. I have lived in OB for going on 48 years. (How long have you lived here?) And I wasn’t complaining about the $1.85 for a cup of coffee. The coffee was good; the cup was filled; the waitress was nice. Is it the best restaurant in Ocean Beach? I don’t think so. Is it the worst restaurant in OB? No. It isn’t even close to being the worst one in OB. Do they have some problems? Yes. I, too, own a small business. I had to close down the first one when “Blue Monday” hit. I know the small profit margin that these kind of businesses have.

Frank has nothing to do with this review. I went with another person – as I do with all of my reviews – so that it was not a one-sided perspective. But I also call it like I see it – and the review was how I – and Irene – saw it. I am not sure what you really object to. The food was good. The tortilla hardened up before I had a chance to finish the meal; the service was good; the coffee was $1.85 a cup with a constant refill. To blame Frank and tell him you will not support the OBRag is as unfair to him as the “irking you get” with reviews like mine. To stay in business one must offer the best service; the best food; the best there is to offer. Maybe it was an off day – Sunday and packed; new cook? I don’t know, but the review was this columnist – and her friend’s – honest assessment of the restaurant at the time .

JMW March 2, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I’m thinking “Wah, wah, wah!” about your comments. I do not live in OB, but did for some years and ate at the Old Townhouse many times. When I think of reasonably good pancakes or just a good simple and inexpensive breakfast, I think of it. With the now gone Little Chef, it remains a fond memory. Irk that.

Randy March 2, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Not looking for an argument. Just as you made your point in your review, I made my point in my rebuttal.

As you said, “to stay in business one must offer the best service; the best food; the best there is to offer”. I think they got that down. They’ve been in business for over 40 years, haven’t they? They’re doing something right.

In my humble opinion, after 40 years of business, we should be congratulating them, especially with the continuous amount of competition that comes into OB, not criticizing them for something as minor as a tortilla.

I think Ted and Kathy are actually giving it a fresh face and modernizing it somewhat. I’ve seen a lot of positive changes since they took over. And yeah, they have upholstered but realistically, do we want them to become fancy and trendy or just remain as they are? Isn’t that part of the charm of the businesses of OB? Like I said previously, I’m sure their net profit is minimal, as is most of ours in OB, so anything we want to do, takes time.

Again, just my humble opinion.

Peace out!

SaneVoice March 3, 2014 at 9:39 am


Please share what your small business is in OB. I’d like to know so I don’t give my hard-earned money to a jerk like you who has a bad attitude.

Kathy Caplaneris March 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Hi all,

This is Kathy from the Old Townhouse. Wow. what a controversy one review can make.

First of all, Judi, thank you for taking the time to not only come to our restaurant but also for taking the time to write your review. I’m sorry you didn’t have the most enjoyable experience but unfortunately, we can’t please all the people all of the time, can we? Heard that somewhere before, haven’t we? :-) Next time you come in, please say hi to Ted or myself and we’ll be sure to look after you. We have a special place in the corner we place unhappy customers. Just kidding!

Ramona has been with us for 27 years and it’s rare for her to mess up so be sure to come in again on a weekend when she works and give her hell. But be prepared to get it back. She gives as good as she gets! :-)

Randy, whoever you are, thank you so much for your kind words. Next time you come in, please let yourself be known to us and we’ll be sure to buy you breakfast. I’m guessing I’m going to have a lot of “Randy’s” coming in tomorrow considering I just offered free breakfast.

Mate, the review was it was. We didn’t take offense to it at all. It was one person’s honest opinion. If we never have negative reviews, we would believe we never needed to improve. Everyone has room for improvement. Although hard to believe by most, even I do! :-) Also, who was it said, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”? Judi had about 10 different people talking about us in the past few days because of this review, who probably wouldn’t have given us a thought otherwise. So thank you for that, Judi.

You’re absolutely correct that our profits are minimal, as are most in OB. Thus, the cheap prices of various establishments in OB. We haven’t had a price increase in over 5 years so yes, updating the decor is tough for us, as much as we’d love to, because the daily operations are always more important. But we’re slowly getting there.

Frank, keep up the good work of the OB Rag. You still have our support. Hope to see you soon.

To all the posters above, thank you for your positive comments. Hope Judi has whet your appetite and it brings you back in soon to say hi.


judi curry March 4, 2014 at 7:53 am

Kathy, thank you for your most gracious answer to my review. I never go into a restaurant with a preconceived idea of what I will find. Some days are “off” days; some are “excellent” days and the rest are average.

Ramona was an excellent waitperson. I think her forgetting the take out box was only because the crowd was huge; she had a lot of tables to satisfy.

I will be back again to introduce myself, but you have to promise that if I sit in the “corner” I can still face the outside.


Frank Gormlie March 5, 2014 at 4:34 am

Many of us still love the Old Townhouse, even with a B- grade from Judi. She told it like she tasted it. IF we want A plus food at a restaurant, we need to dig deeper into our purses and wallets and many times we just don’t feel like doing that – or just don’t have the moolah, and fall back to an old favorite.

John Filthy March 5, 2014 at 6:35 am

I hate to continue this after Kathy has been so kind. But this review was critical of the price of coffee, if saying $1.85 seems expensive for a cup of coffee isn’t a complaint than what is it? Since we are giving out grades I give Old Town House an A+ and this review a C- In my years in OB I went to OTH dozens of times and never had anything but great experiences. I was always treated with respect even when I was in very rough shape and didn’t really deserve it.

SaneVoice March 6, 2014 at 10:13 am

If you begin your statement with “I hate to continue”, then it’s probably not a statement you should be making. Regardless, your grades really don’t hold water since you’re not a restaurant reviewer nor a review reviewer.

Ron K. March 5, 2014 at 9:42 am

Pretty much any restaurant that you go, a cup of coffee will cost you a couple bucks or more. That’s pretty much the standard price for a cup of coffee at any restaurant. If you can get free refills & a great service to go with it, it is totally worth the price. I love the Old Townhouse & I have been going there for many years. I never had any problems or complaints & it has been a good experience everytime I go there.

Rachel March 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm

As someone who gets to spend only a total of 30-35 days a year in Ocean Beach/San Diego area, I appreciate Judi’s reviews. People have to remember everyone has a different perspective and reviews are very subjective. I like that Judi reviews places I might have not have gone into during any of my trips. It puts the place on my radar. I’ve probably passed this place a hundred times, but I never went in (for whatever reason), but now I actually would like to have breakfast there my next trip. Thank you for your reviews, Judi.

phil Smith March 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm

I there every time I in the area for Kathy’s hot Aussie accent. The food isn’t bad either.

John March 5, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Does the OTH even need a review??? And if it does it was the first line of the second paragraph, “The place, on Sunday, was packed, and there was a line waiting to get in when we left”. That’s all you need to know, period. Do you think a place with a line waiting to get in would be anything less than great, I think not. If I was from out of town and driving by and saw that, that would be the place I wanna have breakfast at, review or no review.
OTH to the locals (IMHO) is another little slice of heaven that we call OB. The food and coffee is great (amazing) for the price, the decor and charm is second to none, that is if you are in that OB state of mind that we are in 24/7.
Thank God for OTH, it may get a B- in this review, but it will always get an A+++ from me, and the customer is always right, right???

SaneVoice March 6, 2014 at 10:21 am

Wrong. The length of a line outside a place doesn’t equate to it being great. Ever go to the DMV ?

It’s obvious writing is not your strong suit giving your over usage of punctuation and abbreviations. Your long-winded diatribe seems to reflect that you went to the Ted Kaczynski School of Journalism. Maybe you should leave the restaurant reviews to a journalist who’s published on various websites. After all, it is her job.

OBC March 6, 2014 at 11:01 am

Maybe you should change your name to “snarky voice.” Is my punctuation okay? Do I need to be a comment reviewer to have a valid opinion here? I’m sure you’ll set us all straight.

SaneVoice March 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Maybe you bunch of blowhards could stop verbally abusing an older woman (no offense, Judy) just because she has a different opinion of a restaurant than you. You shameless cretins act as if she personally attacked you or a member of your family. Get a grip, it’s a restaurant review.

Patty Jones March 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Thank you Judi, thank you Kathy, thanks to everyone who added their views without getting their panties in a bunch! Comments are now closed!

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