Restaurant Review: Surf Check

by on November 4, 2016 · 14 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry


All photos by Hitomi Saito and Judi Curry

“Restaurant” Review:

Surf Check (An Apparition)
Corner of Sunset Cliffs and Pt. Loma Avenue
Ocean Beach

Let’s follow this unlikely scenario.  You are driving down Sunset Cliffs, heading South from Newport Avenue, and you pass a Thai restaurant, a couple of Italian restaurants, an Indian restaurant, a defunct Mexican restaurant, a donut shop, a coffee shop and a market.  And as you continue your drive all of the places to eat, or have a cup of coffee,  vanish.


Richard Aguirre

You are quickly approaching one of the most scenic areas of San Diego, when, out of the blue,  on a piece of cement no bigger than 40 feet wide, you are met with a blue and white trailer sporting a yellow surf-board on the top, and, in a wide array of colors, a “menu” featuring coffee, acai, smoothies and hot dogs.

This is just down the street from the Little Lion and at the south end of the parking lot where the new mechanic plies his trade.  What is this trailer? you ask.  Funny that you should ask that question, because I asked it also.  I watched it being set up, wondering just what would develop and today the suspense was just too much so Hitomi and I sauntered over to find out what was going on.

The “Surf Check” is owned by someone that has been in San Diego – more importantly Sunset Cliffs – for years.  His name is Richard Aguirre; he is the president of “Save Sunset Cliffs” and a dedicated, concerned person – concerned about so many things.

ob-surf-check-jc-3We began talking about the erosion that is going on at the cliffs; his research shows that the main problems are caused by the storm drains.  In fact, he is just about completed with a 3 minute movie depicting the problems of the erosion of the area.  He talked about the city’s plan to put in parking meters, a camp ground, etc. without any community input. He feels that in the next few years the erosion at the Cliffs will reach gigantic proportions and we are in danger of losing this valuable resource.  He is afraid that not only will there be home loss, but life loss as well.

Now since this “review” is really not about Richard’s philosophy but about his snack bar, I hope that your appetite has been whetted enough to read his “Save Sunset Cliffs Master Plan” on the internet.  If nothing else it is an enlightening read.

So what about the Surf Check? Hitomi and I each decided to try a drink – she had a “Wave of the Day” – a latte with a choice of caramel, vanilla or mocha; two shots of expresso; steamed almond milk topped with whipped cream.  It came in a 16 oz or 20 oz cup and was either $4 or $5 depending on the size.  I had a Strawberry Smoothie ($5) which had, but not limited to strawberries, banana, mango, and pineapple. Both of our drinks were very tasty.

ob-surf-check-jc-4As we were standing at the counter waiting for our order, we both decided to have a hot dog, and Richard gave us the options of mustard, relish, ketchup, sauerkraut, etc.  We opted for everything.  The bun was hot and fresh, the hot dog was good, and we both enjoyed it. We sat at one of the small wooden tables under an umbrella, that was on a small, nice, redwood platform. The two hotdogs totaled $5.

Also on the menu is Expresso and coffee (featuring Bird Rock Coffee), Acai Bowls, and other beverages.  I noticed that he had some Fanta on the counter and I remarked how it brought back memories of some of our camping trips to Mexico.  He told me that in the next few days he will have a cooler at the side of the shack (trailer?) that will feature all of the Fanta beverages.  What fun that will be.  He also said that they are going to have a drinking bowl for the dogs that come by, because this area has many dog walkers.

ob-surf-check-jc-5Richard said that he has been thinking about this place for months.  He said that when those of us walking and living near this part of Ocean Beach/Pt. Loma want to get a cup of coffee we had to go into downtown OB to do so.

Finally there is something for those of us walking our dogs; enjoying the scenery; riding our bikes, or just looking at nature’s beauty.  There is a “drive through” if you don’t want to get out of your car.  It took him almost six months to get all the necessary permits but he has them now.

Go say hello! I think you will be happy that you did.  (And don’t forget to take a look at his website.  I think you will be happier that you did that too – and aid in the fight to keep Sunset Cliffs a viable community scenic spot.)

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page November 4, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Be careful engaging Richard in conversation unless you have a lot of time on your hands, that man loves to yak. Interesting, the colors match his vintage VW bus. Great idea to put a coffee stop there.


Bill Ray November 6, 2016 at 2:56 am

Yeah, you can actually put your phone down and have a great conversation with a guy who ran for governor of CA in 2010 (got his name on the ballot!), knows OB like the back of his hand and pretty much everyone there…

I now live in Seattle and really miss having those long drawn-out hangs with Richard. He’s one of my best friends.


Pam Clarken November 4, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Your review makes me want to stop by which I will do. Sounds like fun.


judi November 4, 2016 at 7:42 pm

It is – even if it is just for a Fanta!


ric Kraszewski November 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm

I stopped by on opening day and U R right the smoothies are deeeelicious. Love the “fish board menu board” E-e-e-e-e-e yow LOCAL Businesses Rule ..tomorrow is “Small Business Saturday” so stop in.


sunsetcliff November 4, 2016 at 11:26 pm

VWs & Fantas !! RA has it covered.

from Wikipedia : Fanta originated as a result of difficulties importing Coca-Cola syrup into Nazi Germany during World War II due to a trade embargo.[1] To circumvent this, Max Keith, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland (Coca-Cola GmbH) during the Second World War, decided to create a new product for the German market,


nostalgic November 5, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Fanta was invented in Mexico. The other story must be Nazi propaganda. Never knew there were so many Fanta aficionados!


SunsetCliff November 5, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Made in Mexico propaganda ‘cover story’ -a Goebbels masterpiece.


Madeline Spencer November 5, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Biggest pet peeve: ESPRESSO not Expresso. I’ve never actually seen someone believe that’s what it’s called and spell it out like that, it’s usually only mispronounced.


judi November 7, 2016 at 10:51 am

Blame the typist. Didn’t catch the error. You aren’t the first one to point it out. Oh well…between that and Fanta we have things to discuss that have nothing to do with the Surf Check.


Larry OB November 5, 2016 at 10:59 pm

Does he make a smoothie with fresh kelp in it?


PL Local November 6, 2016 at 7:49 am

Been waiting for this article!

This place is awesome. I stopped by on opening day, not even knowing it was opening day. But, I have also been there a handful of times since then. The smoothies are awesome. Just wish they had more than 2 options. But, then again, Ive been there are people have ordered some stuff not even on the menu and the workers will make it (ex. Hot Chocolate).

I was shocked to hear the hours (5:45am till just after Sunset)


South OB Girl November 6, 2016 at 10:41 am

Great article!!
Holy smokes who knew Fanta would lead to such comments… The miracles of The OB Rag… Bird Rock Coffee is one of the best in the world in my opinion… Also the opinion of some other people too…  As Judi’s article says — Bird Rock Coffee at Surf Check.


SunsetCliff November 6, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Coca Cola product Fanta has historical significance: Several large US companies were circumventing laws and selling products to NAZI Germany, some exported all the way through WWII thus enabling Hitler’s war machine. BTW, discussion of fascism is a common theme in OBRag.

For further on the subject read “Trading With The Enemy” by Charles Higham.


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