Ocean Beach’s Nati’s Traditions Alive in Kensington

by on March 26, 2018 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Gail Powell

For those of you out there not looking forward to life without Nati’s Mexican Restaurant, I have good news to share.

No, it has nothing to do with Nati’s being saved or a change-of-heart to continue the Nati’s traditions, by the new owners. The terrible fate that awaits those of us who love this longtime Ocean Beach eatery, as it’s last days dwindle down, might be assuaged somewhat with the news I am about to share.

For I have learned from a childhood friend that a previous cook who once worked at Nati’s, went and many years ago, opened his own local restaurant. I was told that many of the dishes, menu items and even combo plates bear many similarities to the Nati’s traditions such as ground beef tacos and sour cream enchiladas. Even their business hours are the same: 11 am to 9 pm!

Just to make sure before I spread the good news, my son and I visited for lunch. As I was told, there is a heart-warming similarity to Nati’s that can bring a smile and turn a frown upside down to despairing souls irked at losing their OB go-to. Instead of table and chairs, the new digs has comfy booths and some tables and chairs. There is also outdoor dining in the front of the establishment but the new patio does lack the smell of the ocean and pesky summer flies that Nati’s had.

Also not much landscaping or little sparrow birds begging for scraps. But you can enjoy a bustling urban scene and a busy trafficked street as you enjoy the free tortilla chips and salsa available to diners. One of the managers even walked over some salsa verde, which was fabulous.

My son enjoyed his gigantic Surf and Turf burrito and I had the lunch special very similar to Nati’s “O” Combo plate with a cheese enchilada, beef taco and beans. (No rice but can substitute.) New Nati’s has a huge bar with a great selection. There are colorfully painted walls with large framed portraits, similar to the one of beloved, departed Nati’s waitress, Luisa, found in the older Nati’s dining room.

While nothing can replace the nostalgic delight of Nati’s, I hope OBceans can find it in their hearts to venture out to Adams Avenue in Kensington to try Ponces Mexican Restaurant. It is located at 4050 Adams Ave. and has a solid 4 Yelp star rating. Ponces has been in business now for 40 years so they are doing something right.

I know that nothing can entirely take the place–in our hearts and minds–of Nati’s. I grew up dining there and so did my children. Many of my friends from high school worked their first jobs at the Bacon St. eatery. I personally celebrated more birthdays and Mother’ Days there than I can try to remember. Once the Nati’s doors are shuttered, remember that a short trip East on 8 or 15 South might help to fix the Mexican craving gnawing at your stomach … and broken heart.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris March 26, 2018 at 5:12 pm

The quality of the food at Ponce’s has always blown the doors off of Nati’s.


Geoff Page March 27, 2018 at 10:46 am

Very cool story, thank you.


Ashley March 28, 2018 at 1:37 pm

Awesome, thank you so much. I am so happy to hear that there is a place similar to Natis. I will definitely try Ponces.


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