Restaurant Review: Pop Pie Co. in Ocean Beach

by on January 31, 2022 · 58 comments

in Ocean Beach

Pop Pie Co.
4195 Voltaire Street
San Diego, CA 92107
Soft Opening Hours – 10:30am-7:00pm Daily
9:00am-9:00pm Friday and Saturday

By Judi Curry

Under normal conditions, I would never review a restaurant during the first week of operations. However, this is not “normal conditions” and people have been waiting for the Pop Pie Co. restaurant to open ever since it was announced that they were going into the old “Nati’s” building. (Obviously that did not work out.)

The Pop Pie Co. has been in Hillcrest for a long time, and since this is an adjunct of that restaurant, using the same menu and recipes, I decided to do a soft review to go with their soft opening.  And yes, they are open now.  I also want to be a little more clear about their location. They are on the corner of Catalina and Voltaire, next door to Cesarina’s and inside the storefront that stayed vacant for years after the coffee house moved out. Just down the street is another restaurant “Peace Pies” which is an entirely different restaurant.

Steve and I looked over the menu – which is quite extensive – and decided to try their classic Chicken Pot Pie.  It is made with chicken breast, garden vegetables, pearl onions,  and finished with a creamy herb sauce.  It was $9.50.  We decided that we should have a side order of mashed potatoes and gravy ($3.00) to go with it. The description on the menu stated that it was a “Skin-on red potato and cauliflower mash with chicken gravy.

Classic chicken with side of mashed potatoes

We also decided to order a Classic Veggie Pot Pie because it is listed as Vegetarian and we wanted to make a comparison. It was described as having portabella mushrooms, roasted halved Brussels sprouts, garden vegetables, pearl onions and creamy herb sauce.  It was $9 and we ordered a side of creamed corn ($3), corn, cream cheese reduction, a dash of salt and pepper, to compliment it.  And, since they are housed along with an ice cream/pie restaurant, (StellaJean’s Ice Cream) we would share a dessert. We ordered a lemon curd and mixed berry hand pie for $4.50.

The first thing that we noticed was that the restaurant was almost empty. There are a few tables, and there were a few people there, but the word is not out yet.  Secondly, Alex, the person that waited on us was delightful; knew his stuff, and was nice to talk to.

Everything was already made and in the display case.  It wasn’t like they made things to order for us.  In addition to the pies we bought, they are also available frozen.  On the receipt is a comment about reheating the pie – in the oven – and I think that should be more prevalent on the box because most people do not look over the receipt after the purchase. The reason I say this is because the pies are in an aluminum tin, almost covered by the pie itself. Most people, me included, tend to warm things up in the microwave.  To put one of these pies in the tin in the microwave spells danger.  Somewhere there should be a warning that says only to warm pies in a conventional oven.

Pies cut open.

The Chicken Pot Pie was very good.  The crust was also very tasty. I am not an affectionado of white meat, and would have liked to see a mixture of both white and dark meat, but it still was very good. There was no indication that the Vegetable Pot Pie would be spicy but it was. Not too spicy, but I would hesitate to give it to a child or to someone that did not like spicy food.  It was very good also. I would be hard pressed to pick out a Brussels sprout because I didn’t taste it per se, nor did I see anything that looked like one, but the overall product was very good.

And so was the creamed corn.  It wasn’t anything special but a nice accompaniment to the meal.  The mashed potatoes, on the other hand, I could have done without.  First of all it was way too salty for me.  And if there was skin from the red potato as part of the mash, I didn’t see it or taste/feel it.  There was a definite cauliflower flavor which was nice.  The gravy was mixed in with the mashed potato because there was nothing for us to add.  Because it was chicken gravy, it was not easily detected in flavor.

lemon curd and mixed berry hand pie. All photos by Judi Curry

I could also do without another “hand pie.”  The filling of lemon curd and berries was good, but not enough of it.  The crust was too thick for my liking.  But, of course, we both finished it!

Overall the meal was very good; very filling; and tasty.  The cost of $35.58 without a tip was a little pricey, but what isn’t these days. It should be pointed out that they do not take cash – credit/debit cards only.  I think that Ocean Beach has a winner with the Pop Pie Co. It will be fun to try the other items on the menu soon. And as for being a soft opening – they receive an “A”.  I saw no glitches at all. They are to be complimented for having it down so well. Thanks, Alex, for making it enjoyable.


{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

judith curry January 31, 2022 at 11:49 am

Parking could be a real problem here. It was for the coffee shop that was there before. Keep that in mind when going to get your “Pop Pies”.


Carlos Bibas February 1, 2022 at 5:20 pm

God forbid you have to walk a couple of blocks.


Jan hall January 31, 2022 at 1:25 pm

We carried out and loved it!


Louisa Golden January 31, 2022 at 1:45 pm

I was interested until learning they do not accept cash, requiring credit or debit cards for service. I don’t like using my credit or debit cards as a general principle. Using cash keeps me very aware of how much I have spent and how much I have left to spend.

Additionally, credit/debit businesses discriminate against people who do not have bank accounts. It’s a way of eliminating a certain group of people.

I feel unwelcome in those places because of my old-fashioned money management strategy and I know a lot of other people are unwelcome because of their socio-economic status.

It sounded good, but I’ll pass.


GML January 31, 2022 at 3:10 pm

Definitely your choice and somewhat understandable. However, many business have already taken this approach and I expect many more to do so in the future. It is safer for them to do so for several reasons: avoiding counterfeit bills, theft, accounting, etc.


Chris January 31, 2022 at 3:27 pm

I have to agree with GML. I seriously doubt they are doing it to make anyone feel welcome or to actively discriminate against anyone of lower socioeconomic means. I work on the North Island base and all the eateries are card only. This is not uncommon.


JM January 31, 2022 at 10:40 pm

Say what, Chris? I occasionally eat at one of the Subways on North Island and almost always pay cash. But Phattie’s Bake Shop right up the street from Pop Pies is card only. Seems more like an OB thing to me.

My money management system is to get cash back on my credit card, so I’ll eat there! But I’d rather have businesses that accept cash also. I thought it was legal tender for all debts. And I’d like to have the option to not be tracked, but I prefer the cash back.


Chris February 1, 2022 at 9:13 am

I don’t know about the Subway on base, but the bowling alley and Pizza Parlor are card only, so I guess you can say I assumed all eateries on base are card only. I remember the rec center @ 32nd street and adjacent Starbucks was also card only.


Peter from South O February 1, 2022 at 7:33 am

Cashless establishments may not intend to discriminate against the unbanked, but it affects 17% of African American and 16% of Latino households across the USA.
Cashless requirements are illegal in four major cities (New York, Philadelphia, D.C. and San Francisco) as well as the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts (the MA law went into effect in 1978). Colorado and Connecticut have passed legislation that are waiting on the Governors to sign, as well.
There is also the privacy issue: not everyone wants to leave a digital trail of everywhere they go (paranoia runs deep). In my case, after the third time I had to replace my debit card I limit where I use electronic transactions (not paranoia, just prudence).


Fletcher Miller February 1, 2022 at 7:57 am

I believe some businesses stopped using cash when the pandemic started in the attempt to limit contact. We now know the virus is spread via aerosols, so perhaps they will switch back. As for eateries on North Island, that is a specific demographic where everyone has a job and likely has a cashless pay option. I think we do need to be sensitive to public-serving businesses being welcome to all, even if we personally are not shut-out.


retired botanist February 5, 2022 at 4:47 pm

Louisa, gotta say, I concur. I’m sorry/not sorry but the last time I checked cash was still the legal tender and it irks me that any retailer would discriminate against those who “put cash on the counter”. Its irrelevant WHY one chooses to use cash vs. electronic credit! Maybe its the writing on the wall, but until we no longer have cash…don’t discriminate against those who want to use it! That’s my two cents… and btw, anyone notice that the cent symbol no longer occurs on the keyboard, haha?! :-)


Chris January 31, 2022 at 2:18 pm

One minor correction. The other location is University Heights, not Hillcrest, tho close. Glad you liked it. It the OB location is as good as the Univ Heights location the it should do well.


Louisa Golden February 1, 2022 at 8:06 am

Here’s an article that fleshes out the issues pretty well. (I know. Paywall. Sigh.) Based on my own weighing of the various considerations, I will not patronize any business that does not accept cash. I don’t care that they don’t “intend” to exclude. I just care that that is the effect.

What it means for me is: I waste less money and make more careful, deliberate, mindful choices about where I DO spend money.


Fletcher Miller February 1, 2022 at 8:27 am

Louisa – can I pay cash to read the article? :-)


Louisa Golden February 1, 2022 at 9:32 am

Why, yes! Yes you can. There is still a news stand in Hillcrest. Or you can access it for free at your library. Plus, since this is the first of the month, NYTimes may let you access it for free (limited # of articles.)

But please, by all means, feel free to eschew digital payment for digital content if that is your preference!


Fletcher Miller February 1, 2022 at 12:36 pm

Great reply to my joke! Actually, I subscribe to the NYT, so I did read it. I am so pleased to learn that there is still a news stand in Hillcrest, perhaps a more literate neighborhood. I really miss Paras in OB – that was a great asset to our community if you of the age to remember it.

To return to the topic, I am looking forward to pie and ice cream no matter how I pay!


marc johnson February 1, 2022 at 8:30 am

It’s heading to cashless society not a good thing.


Debbi February 1, 2022 at 9:03 am

No shirt, no shoes, no cash sign should be on the front door. The last time I went to Azucar they did not take cash-not been back since I prefer to pay cash for small purchases.

Maybe it stops employee theft?


retired botanist February 5, 2022 at 4:56 pm

Debbi- wow, very disappointed to read that about Azucar! It was my all time favorite drop-in when I lived in OB! Such great food! But honestly, like Jack Hammer below, cash should ALWAYS be accepted. Young, old, poor, rich, who what why, doesn’t matter. If you have cash in your hand, a bag of pennies, crumpled up bills, its a proprietor’s responsibility to accept it.


Dr. Jack Hammer February 1, 2022 at 10:27 am

I feel that in the USA, cash should ALWAYS be accepted. I could understand CASH ONLY, no credit cards (as some establishments in OB do…) but not credit cards only, NO CASH.

I have been to few parking garages lately that only take credit cards. I refuse to comply, even if I have a credit card, based solely on principal.


Dr. Jack Hammer February 1, 2022 at 10:29 am

whoops.. principle.


Peter from South O February 1, 2022 at 11:37 am

“This note is legal tender for all debts public and private” appears on our paper money, but there is no Federal law that backs that up. Thus it is left to local and state jurisdictions to codify the policy. One more example of regulations lagging behind technology.


Chris February 1, 2022 at 11:44 am

Interesting turn this thread took. It took on a life of it’s own debating about establishments using card only on not the quality of the restaurant itself. And I ma guilty of putting in my 2 cents.


Micah Murrin February 1, 2022 at 8:26 pm

I don’t support places that don’t take hard currency. People don’t realize what they are losing by digitizing there spending. The government and big corporate definitely would love to outlaw cash.


Deb Porter February 1, 2022 at 4:39 pm

lets keep the comments to the quality of the restaurant’s food and service. I loved my chicken pie, and not to much the Hog and cheese pie.. it was too spicy and too meaty. But I love the place, and their pies look so great, I cant wait to try them all… esp. the dessert ones. I hope they make it.. its so nice to have good comfort food close by. I do think that parking will be an issue, esp. since Caesarina has taken up the street parking. Also, nice to have an ice cream bar so close.. I think its open till 8pm..


Louisa Golden February 1, 2022 at 5:32 pm

Why? Why do you want us to ignore social issues related to how a business is run? I’m happy for you that you enjoyed your meal. Happy for you that you enjoy the privilege that comes with easy credit. (Did you know that women were not guaranteed access to credit until 1975?)

Me? I’m pleased that the tone and tenor of the discussion is civil and pretty balanced. People are sharing thoughts and opinions and fleshing out ideas that matter.

Here’s an interesting short essay about the legislation passed in 1974 and made effective in 1975 (Not so very long ago!) that at least codified a prohibition of credit discrimination… in theory. We know, though, that the credit system is still discriminatory in fact. And that is a real shame.


Chris February 1, 2022 at 7:39 pm

They do take debit cards. If that still excludes those who can’t muster enough funds to have a bank account then that’s unfortunate, but I don’t see the difference between that and an upscale restaurant that is too expensive for some or even many. There are plenty of restaurants in OB that take cash but would still be out of range for someone who can’t get a bank account. And as others pointed out, a lot of restaurants have gone cashless for safety reasons.


Andy cohn February 1, 2022 at 6:51 pm

I won’t even try this pot pie shop
, nor the bakery a few doors down. It’s discrimanation, to not take cash. And i take yoga several days a week across the street. Shame on them. 8


Chris February 1, 2022 at 8:01 pm

How is it discriminatory? Also no pot I’m their pies.


Chris February 1, 2022 at 8:03 pm



lyle February 2, 2022 at 9:51 am

“the bakery a few doors down” … What’s the name of the bakery ? I haven’t noticed it, and would love to find a good bakery close to home to get some good ciabata.


Vern February 4, 2022 at 7:39 am

The bakery Judi mentions may be Phatties Bake Shop at 4143 Voltaire St, San Diego, CA 92107. Next door to Don Tommy’s Mexican Food.


Justine February 1, 2022 at 6:58 pm

When I saw the Pop Pie sign on the old Coffee Bean last week, my daughter and I immediately changed our dinner plans!! I called to make sure they were open and they said they were doing a soft opening. Well, there was nothing soft about it. We went in at 6:00 pm to a line out to the sidewalk!! It was well worth the wait!!! The pies are exactly the same as the North Park location which is DELICIOUS!!!! I got my favorite (Green Hog and Cheese) and my daughter got her favorite (Chicken)! The handpies (one guava and one lemon berry) were phenomenal as always!!!!!

We ended up going back the next night too for the Aussie Pie which seemed lonely so we got more hand pies!!!!

PLEASE!!!! Make sure we all frequent this establishment regularly because I don’t want to have to go back to driving all the way to North Park!!!


Chris February 1, 2022 at 7:41 pm

Actually the other location is Univ Heights, not NP but still close.


Judi February 1, 2022 at 7:06 pm

Most places are not taking cash because of the danger of transmitting COVID. My physicians office no longer takes cash or checks for the same reason. Not to try a place – regardless of what they have to offer – during these times is unfortunate for both the merchant and the buyer


retired botanist February 5, 2022 at 5:04 pm

Judi, sorry, but your Doc’s office is out of line! Shame on them! Wtf? There are as many germs on a plastic card, or the device it gets shoved into. And so, its ok for the patient to have touch some grubby machine with his/her pin #, but not ok for the staff to accept folding money?! Nope.


Sorry not Sorry February 2, 2022 at 7:50 am

I just don’t understand the argument. Why are so many people upset they don’t accept cash? You don’t want a bank account? Chances are you already have one. You don’t want to leave a digital footprint? Throw that damned cell phone away, disconnect from the internet, don’t leave the house (the average person is caught on camera more than 24 times/day).

A couple of years ago, my employer was contemplating of making payroll strictly direct deposit. Many companies have done this. Of course there is 1 or 2 that just have to make a stink and said the same sort of thing, “you’re making me have a bank account?” Funny thing is, those 1 or 2 that complained, have a bank account or multiple bank accounts.

If you don’t want to support this business because they don’t take cash and that is how you want to pay, fine, don’t complain about it. They made their choice (which apparently is legal) and they are living with the consequences. I guess some people aren’t happy unless they are complaining about something. (Sort of like me, complaining about you people complaining).


Peter from South O February 2, 2022 at 10:49 am

Your response ignores the primary issue of selective exclusion; there are segments of our society that are “unbanked”. The feedback here is because the no-cash rule excludes a segment of the population that has already experienced more than their share of discrimination.
If this wasn’t a social issue of concern a number of large cities and several states would not have laws against the practice.


Chris February 2, 2022 at 11:51 am

Regardless of other cities having laws against the practice, what’s the difference between the fact that the “unbanked” will be excluded and a place that accepts cash but the prices are out of reach for many? A person who can’t muster up the cash to start a bank account will also not likely be able to afford a steak dinner @ Bully’s, even though Bully’s takes cash.


Peter from South O February 2, 2022 at 12:59 pm

The two things (poverty and being unbanked) are not necessarily linked. There is a long tradition in this country of banks discriminating against minorities, plus the dearth of bank branches in depressed areas leading to the proliferation of check cashing outlets.
Those that don’t study history are destined to repeat errors in judgement.


retired botanist February 5, 2022 at 5:06 pm

Thank you, Peter


GML February 2, 2022 at 12:11 pm

Is this any different than many sporting events now requiring a digital ticket to enter?


Peter from South O February 2, 2022 at 1:01 pm

Places that utilize digital tickets always provide the option to print out a paper version with a QR code.


Sorry not Sorry February 4, 2022 at 4:42 am

That still does not change the fact the business can and did make that decision. The FDIC estimates that 5.4% of the population is “unbanked”. The highest percentage of the 5.4% allegedly is in Mississippi. SO, while I could not find any specific numbers for California or San Diego, I am sure a community such as Point Loma has an astonishingly low number of “unbanked”. I don’t think it’s discriminatory at all. It just makes sense.


Peter from South O February 4, 2022 at 5:00 am

Assuming that only residents of the Point Loma area are to be considered potential customers of an establishment in OB is faulty logic. OB, like all the rest of the beach communities, rely on visitors to their restaurants and retail stores to make their businesses profitable.
Discrimination does not vanish if you rationalize it.
I suggest that instead of looking at National figures and statistics to make your judgement you take a look a bit closer to home:


Sorry not Sorry February 4, 2022 at 9:54 am

Well, shame on me for assuming the vast majority of their customers would be local. Look, I don’t necessarily disagree with you, I grew up my entire life believing cash was accepted everywhere and should be. But times change. I rely less and less on cash every day. I just don’t see it as an issue. I respect your opinion if it differs from mine. I just don’t see the issue as big enough to whine about.


Peter from South O February 4, 2022 at 1:35 pm

Concern about social issues is “whining”?


Chris February 4, 2022 at 1:44 pm

Ultimately, Pop Pies will make it or not make it on the quality of their food and service. The other location does well so no reason why the OB one won’t as long as it has the same quality. Few locals or visitors will opt not go to the OB location out of principal or protest and even fewer because they are unable to. Most people will break out a card not even knowing or caring they don’t take cash.


Vern February 2, 2022 at 8:31 am

Judi, you also mentioned Peace Pies in your article. Thank you!
Our family loves Peace Pies!
Their food is raw, vegan and gluten free and just plain delicious.


Nancy Saylor February 2, 2022 at 3:30 pm

We recently visited our daughter at UCSD and enjoyed a delicious pot pie! and of course followed up with dessert at peace pies! Our visit to san diego was brief, loved all the variety of restaurants, but found La Jolla over-rated and it smelled like sh*t by the la jolla cove, ocean beach well we did not really feel safe, too many homeless and people with tattoo’s, and the smell of urine was all too common, but POT PIES was a highlight of our brief visit there, enjoyed the UCSD campus too.
Nancy and Ken Saylor


Chris February 2, 2022 at 7:37 pm

Too many tattoos lol. You’d really freak out going to a show @ The Casbah. BTW, it’s Pop Pies, not Pot Pies.


sealintheselkirks February 4, 2022 at 4:45 pm

That IS pretty funny! I wonder where they are from because even in this rural mountain county tattoos on people are everywhere both male and female. Is there anywhere that isn’t flooded with tats and piercings?

I know one local mechanic in his mid-30s that I asked what his ‘across the shoulder’ tattoo meant one hot summer day when it was visible and he said it was what was cool in high school around here. I’ve noticed others with similar over the years about the same age so he was probably telling the truth. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was a Pacific Islander tattoo that I thought might be from Tonga. Somehow I don’t think he really knew.

Pot Pies. Get your buzz with your munchies at the same time. Coconut Creme Pakololo-style sounds like a winner if they use real Maui Wowie.

I really miss having any decent Mexican food within 40 miles of this house…used to be one but it was raided by La Migra years ago…

Big sigh.

To Judi and all you commenters, you are making me hungry and it’s snowing outside and I don’t know anywhere that serves a good dinner pot pie in these mountains… Can I have some crackers with my whine?



Chris February 5, 2022 at 6:37 pm

I wonder that too. I mean OB is known for being a bit rough around the edges, but tats in OB are now more prevalent than anywhere else in 2022.


Judy Collier February 5, 2022 at 9:15 am

Just curious. Is the corner of Catalina and Voltaire in OB? It’s in the Peninsula Planning area.


Geoff Page February 5, 2022 at 3:40 pm

Always an argument in this area. It is out of the OB planning area but it is in the 92107 zip code. I don’t think most people would look at this as being in OB.


Scott February 6, 2022 at 9:44 pm

I’m curious about what the Pop Pie folks intend to do with the recipes from Nati’s that they now own. It would seem a wise idea to open a Mexican restaurant using the tastes that kept Nati’s crowded for 58 years. (Please, no comments if you did not like Nati’s. It is gone, so any negative remarks are meaningless).


Chris February 7, 2022 at 4:19 pm

I thought Pop Pies pulled out of that deal. This new PPs is in a different location from where Natti’s used to be.


Geoff Page February 7, 2022 at 4:26 pm

I was a big fan of Nati’s for the atmosphere and the staff, especially the outdoor patio. The food was basically OK but I can’t imagine that Nati’s recipes have any great value. They didn’t really have any unique dishes and their Mexican food was very Americanized.


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