The T shaped Ocean Beach pier has my vote as a fabulous cheap date. Here you fish without a license, enjoy great views of the ocean and beach and just chill out from the city’s chatter. A bit more than midway to the T, stop at the Ocean Beach Pier Café owned since 1990 by the same family that owns the Fatboyz Pizza Mission Beach. This barely 20 seat wood and windowed room, outfitted with wood tables, captains chairs, a few patio chairs, and nautical pieces you can purchase, is just plain sweet. Sit at a window table and watch surfers below, or take in the coastline view north.
They open daily at 7 a.m. and serve breakfast all day. Don’t expect real plates, it’s paper and plastic all the way. Lobster fans will find an omelet and or taco, and the menu features a huge platter of nibbly nachos that two of us made a meal. Lemonade hits the spot in place of alcohol (it caused too much trouble on the pier) and white clam chowder comes in a bread bowl, (a smaller version comes in a small roll bowl). The rich chowder is creamy and filled with clams, potatoes and no thickener. Weekends, I’m told, there’s a wait for mango or blueberry pancakes. Scrambled eggs can be tricky if they are overcooked and dry. I had a single scrambled, perfectly cooked, egg with some really good homemade thickly sliced and cut crisp potatoes served with fresh salsa. Late in the day it made a perfect light dinner. Food can be ordered to go if you want to wander down to that T and watch the unobstructed sunset. 5091 Niagara, Ocean Beach, 619-226-3474.