Restaurant Review: La Doña in Ocean Beach

by on November 24, 2021 · 11 comments

in Ocean Beach

Restaurant Review

La Doña
1852 Bacon
Ocean Beach, CA 92107

By Judi Curry

One of my favorite Mexican restaurants in Ocean Beach was Nati’s. I think that when they closed down almost the entire town was unhappy and many experiences there just became old memories.  I was happy to see that another Mexican restaurant – La Doña – was going in to the same place, and hoped that new memories would be established there.

The other day was the day that four older ladies decided it was a perfect time to visit the new restaurant.  Although it has been open for some time, we thought it was important to give it a chance to establish its own persona.

We met at the restaurant shortly after 12:00 because we knew that they didn’t open until noon.  When I called to make a reservation their phone message told me that they only made reservations for parties of 20 or more, so we hoped that there would not be a wait when we got there.  There was not.

We entered from the same area that we entered Nati’s – the front door on Bacon – and the nice young hostess sat us at the second table in the restaurant. It was quickly apparent to us that that table was not going to work for us, for it was directly under the loud speakers and music was playing very loudly.  We asked for another table and were accommodated quickly.  We were shown to the back part of the restaurant where it was quieter.

Almost immediately we were served a tray 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 around the edge, and we pointed that out to our delightful waitperson.  She quickly brought us a clean glass.

Carne asada taco

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

In checking the paper menu vs the on-line one, we found that there were many items listed on the on-line menu that were not listed on the paper menu.  This could be a real problem, because the three $10.75 items that we were interested in were not listed on paper and, unless we had checked the on-line menu, would not have even known about them.

Fried fish taco

I also found that in looking at the fish taco’s menu – “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 the San Diego waters — although it is caught locally.

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

Grilled fish taco

The presentation of what we ordered left us in laughter – at least at first.  I ordered two fish taco’s – one grilled and one fried, with no rice and/or beans.  They were served in two serving containers and the grilled fish bottom was filled either with water or grease.  It was not very appetizing, and I quickly removed the taco to join the other plate.  It was a little dry; the fried one was much better and tastier.  It also had more things on top – cabbage, cilantro, tomatoes, etc.  I didn’t think to ask at the time, but a dollop of sour cream would have added to the taste.  They were both hot, but I do not think I’d order the grilled one again.  My total price for the two ala carte was $15, not counting the tip.

Pescado plate

Judy ordered two Pescado, which were beer battered local fish topped with cilantro jalapeno slaw, pico de gallo and chipoltle lime crema. She changed her order to grilled rather than beer battered fish.  A side of rice and beans came with the order, again on the long serving container.  All of the ladies that had beans had the same thing to say –  they were very loose and drippy. The waitperson said that she likes to mix the beans with the rice, giving it a heavier consistency and the others agreed that was probably the way to go.  Judy also mentioned several times that the coffee she had ordered was exceptionally good. The two tacos were $16.75.

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

Grilled fish plate

Joelle also ordered a fish taco with rice and beans. She ended up taking the beans home, but said that the rice, made with corn kernels, was very good.  She enjoyed the grilled fish.  Her meal was about $13 and, like me, did not order a separate drink.

So…. once we finished our meal, we discussed it.  The chips and salsa were good; the dirty glass was a turn-off.  The liquid at the bottom of my taco was a soggy turn-off also.  The loose beans could have been made better if they had a better consistency, although they were good.  The addition of the corn to the rice was a nice touch. The fact that the menu did not coincide with the on-line menu was frustrating, and would be even more so for people that do not know how to use the on-line menu.  Anne said that her husband would not know how to utilize the on-line menu.

The prices were higher than we would expect to pay in Ocean Beach, but it is a new place with probably a higher overhead that Nati’s had, but one didn’t get much for the additional monies.  The service was good; the waitstaff helpful but there was just something that did not “click” for the four of us.  Things were tasty, but…..  Service was good, but…..   At this time I do not think that any of us will be going back for awhile. There are other Mexican restaurants in the area that we will want to try.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

TL November 24, 2021 at 11:29 am

My parents have eaten there twice. First time they loved it. Second time they hated it and my pop said that they are dead to him now. My husband and I were with them the second time and I ordered pretty normal tacos. I like to try new mex places with tacos first because I figure that’s a low entry and hard to mess up. I enjoyed my tacos but they weren’t earth shattering. My husband also ordered tacos and he didn’t have issues with his either. I didn’t mind the runny beans. The only complaint I had was the chips. Many of them in our bowls were stale. Not sure how some are stale and some are not but it was pretty obvious. Salsa was good. The food is also way more expensive than I think mex food should be but I’m sure they’re paying a ton for the rent.

One issue I have with many of the local Point Loma and OB restaurants is consistency with food. It’s almost like they don’t care if the food is the same every time because they get so many 1 off tourists. It really terrible for locals who like to establish relationships with restaurants. I’ve given up on many of the local places in OB because I can’t get the same thing each time go, to taste the same each time.


judith curry November 24, 2021 at 11:56 am

Consistency is a big thing in the restaurant industry today. Another restaurant I have reviewed – no name mentioned by on Pt. Loma Ave – fluctuates from meal to meal and I no longer go there either. It’s gotta be good each time – too much competition not to be consistent.


Deb porter November 24, 2021 at 11:58 am

We went to la Dona for dinner..much too noisy so we left. We then went there for was okay, service was okay…margarita was drinkable but not excellent..which it should be for $9!…I will probably not go back………ALSO: I heard that Hugo has left Hugo’s that true? It won’t be as enjoyable without him!


judith curry November 24, 2021 at 12:11 pm

Hi Deb, it is true that Hugo left the Cocina, but it has been over a year since he left. I contacted him because I heard he was still in OB and he said he’d call me back – he didn’t. Not sure where he is now.


Vern November 24, 2021 at 1:07 pm

Similar experience at La Dona.
Ordered the two grilled fish taco combo. Fish was dry as dry could be. Kinda hard to screw that up, one might think. The sides, rice & beans, were fair.
Service was ok.
It was, however, a nice day and the window seating was good for watching weekend cyclists run the stop signs.


Geoff Page November 28, 2021 at 5:57 pm

Ha, ha, good one ,Vern! Did anyone get creamed by an evil car obeying the law?


Vern November 29, 2021 at 12:20 pm

Geoff, no evil cars were involved.

However, a few cyclists seemed to ignore the pedestrians in the crosswalks and words were exchanged. But that, for better or worse, seems fairly routine, these days.


Catsmom November 24, 2021 at 3:03 pm

I’m addicted to their birria tacos! I’m happy that there’s a close restaurant that knows how to do birria!


Joelle November 24, 2021 at 4:04 pm

I wanted to add to Judi’s restaurant review that the ‘to go’ container for my runny beans had a lid that didn’t fit tightly. Runny beans ran….yuck.


Meredith November 25, 2021 at 7:47 am

RIP Natis… let’s hope for the best for La Doña.


GML November 25, 2021 at 1:13 pm

While some of your complaints are valid I do not believe the QR menu or paper straw should be considered a con. They are both beneficial to helping out the environment (eliminating plastic/waste). I really enjoy their beans in that style but can also understand they are not for everyone.


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