Ocean Beach: Hodad’s and a Sunset

Most of our wanderings in San Diego occurred in the evenings after Jay finished his seminars at UCSD.  It was left to me to research and plan where our adventures would take place once the evening rolled around.  At the end of his first day of classes, I informed Jay that we would be heading to Hodad’s in Ocean Beach.  Why Hodad’s?  Because it’s a legendary burger joint, and sometimes a girl just needs a bacon cheeseburger.

After fighting through some evil rush hour traffic, we pulled into Ocean Beach to discover a line of people already waiting for their Hodad’s experience.  After a brief debate of should we or shouldn’t we wait, we decided it was probably worth it and and took our places in the sun.  The line wasn’t surprising.  Hodad’s was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in 2007, but this hole-in-the-wall restaurant, which has been a fixture in Ocean Beach since 1969, was popular long before Guy Fieri pulled up in his ’67 Camero and created his Guido Burger (which is still on the menu).  If being featured on a popular TV show isn’t enough recognition for you, how about this: In 2009, CNN listed Hodad’s as one of the top 5 burger joints in the US and the only one located on the west coast.

Hodad’s would definitely fall into the “dive” category.  Licence plates and music posters cover the walls, surf boards hang from the ceiling, graffiti is etched into the counter tops, and people are crammed into the tiny space like sardines.  I won’t even discuss the bathrooms.  We didn’t have to wait long for two seats at the counter that faced the sidewalk.  Our waitress, wearing little shorts and a tank top and sporting numerous tattoos and piercings, stood on the sidewalk to take our orders – it was the only way she could get close to us.  She was friendly and impressively efficient.  I’m pretty sure she had our drinks served before we even finished placing our order.


{ hodad (noun) – a non-surfer who spends time at beaches masquerading as a surfer, a.k.a a poser }*

{ Yum! }

{ Shock Top in a mason jar }

What can I say?  The burgers were fabulous and worthy of all the accolades.  While we stuffed our faces with the juicy deliciousness, we watched a very interesting assortment of people looking a lot like our waitress parade to and from the beach that is situated at the end of Newport Avenue.  The Ocean Beach neighborhood has a somewhat scruffy, hippie-esque vibe which emanates from the residents and their surroundings.  Compared to La Jolla’s wealthy tidiness, Ocean Beach had us feeling like we’d landed on a different planet.

We walked down to the beach ourselves when we finished feasting.  The sun, which had been relentless earlier, was softening as it slid to the west and a cool breeze was scattering puffs of cottony clouds across the sky.  The makings of a good sunset were beginning to take shape.  While we waited for the show, we investigated the pier.  From our perch above the water, we could see surfers patiently waiting for just the right wave.  Fishermen (and women) on the pier also waited patiently for something to tug their lines.  The peacefulness of the evening was calming and restorative.

{ Newport Avenue from the beach }

Back down on the beach, we waited for the sun to set.  People gathered on the sand and along the sidewalk, talking in hushed whispers and expectantly watching the changing colors of sky and clouds as the sun inched closer to the horizon.  When the fiery ball finally dipped below the edge of the ocean, I thanked God for the blessing of that singular moment: a gorgeous sunset viewed from a small patch of sidewalk in Ocean Beach, California with the person I love most in the world.  Life is good!

* The definition was taken from Hodad’s menu.  Uban Dictionary offers more complete explanations of this interesting 1950’s slang term.

Just for clarification:  Ocean Beach is a neighborhood of San Diego.  Oceanside, which I blogged about here, is a beach town several several miles north of San Diego.  Not only are they in different locations, they are completely different experiences.


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