Shades Oceanfront Bistro has some of the best real estate in Ocean Beach, with an extraordinary view of the Pacific Ocean and the Ocean Beach Pier. On top of having picturesque views while you dine, this neighborhood restaurant is all about family and community. Established in 2003 the family-owned and operated eatery has been serving up ridiculously large portions of delicious dishes at affordable prices, and providing excellent customer service for over a decade.
The inspiration for Shades was a desire for someplace to enjoy a cocktail and nice steak after a long work day without the hassle of a reservation or dressing up. It turns out, other people were looking for that as well. Now, they proudly boast that 70% of their customers are regulars who have become extended family. The Shades family is deeply involved in their community, and cherish the chance to work in beautiful Ocean Beach. They wanted “a family place where everyone is welcome,” and that is exactly what they created. They welcome you, and your little dog too!
Shades Oceanfront Bistro Ambiance
This beachfront oasis can be easily spotted driving down Santa Monica Avenue in OB. It’s on the street level of Sunset Plaza across the street from Ocean Beach, white with floor to ceiling windows and a large neon blue Shades sign above the door. There is a wonderfully beachy patio out front, with giant wicker chairs with high backs, white tables, and large blue umbrellas interspersed throughout the space to provide shade.
Inside, Shades is retro-chic. Navy blue carpet, faux marble bistro tables with wood trim and padded wood chairs allow for plenty of seating. A curved red bar with mirrored shelving sits on the far end of the restaurant. An entire wall of windows faces Ocean Beach and floods the restaurant with light during the day. Inverted lampshades cover pendant lights hanging from the ceiling and casting a soft glow at night. Running along the outdoor perimeter of the restaurant is additional seating at a narrow bar rail with bar stools. The restaurant is simple and relaxed allowing the stunning views of the beach to be the focal point.
Shades Oceanfront Bistro Food
Shades serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner by the sea; this is SoCal cuisine at its finest using locally grown vegetables, organic meats, and fresh seafood in all their dishes. For breakfast you’ll see an extensive American menu featuring an array of selections that start with the specialties of the house.
Items like a delicious cinnamon bread pudding, or the Beast Bagel – scrambled eggs, sausage, avocado, and tomato on your choice of bagel with garlic cream cheese – are a couple of their unique creations. A lengthy list of omelets including the California with fresh avocado, bacon, tomatoes, spicy jack, and cheddar, plus benedicts, scrambles, and breakfast classics are all great choices.
Lunch brings on a whole new wave of indecision with starters like Swimmers – fried calamari strips with house-made cocktail sauce. Follow that with their Blankets – uniquely flavored flat bread pizzas. Try the Security Blanket with sun-dried tomato cream cheese, with gouda, blue cheese, and parmesan cheeses. Salads, entrées such as grilled salmon filet, sandwiches, paninis, and burgers are all on the menu. The hard part is making a choice.
For dinner, start with the crab cake sliders on toasted rolls with roasted red pepper, and lemon slaw with house-made spicy cocktail sauce. You get the same great selection of soups, starter salads, greens, burgers, and sandwiches as lunch, but you also get the added bonus of elaborate entrees. Shepherd’s pie, fried chicken, hickory smoked ribs, fish tacos, and spaghetti squash are a few tempting dishes. Try the Steak Frites – a six-ounce pub steak with Dave’s secret seasoning, grilled over an open flame served over house-made fries. End your night with one of their decadent desserts. Shade’s Luscious Half Pound Brownie is not something you’ll want to miss – though you may want to share!
Note: Shade’s has their own home-made catsup and salsa, and while they may look like unassuming condiments, be sure to try them.
Shades Oceanfront Bistro Details
One of the biggest things Shades is known for is their love of dogs, they have two furry mascots named Nilla and Bean who greet the crowd in front. This family is so committed to their furry friends as well as yours they even provide a dog food menu along with water bowls, so they can eat while you do. This is an excellent place for the family, in fact, having a place for parents to feel comfortable bringing their kids was one of the main reasons they opened Shades.
The restaurant is ADA accessible. Groups are always welcome. There is a full bar with a few televisions. They have no Wi-Fi, so you’ll have to connect with the ocean instead. Shades Bistro has an underground parking garage beneath the restaurant, and there is plenty of street parking within several blocks of the restaurant. Bike parking is provided out front.
Shades offers Craves Catering Café services, which delivers Party Packs with gourmet sandwiches, salads, fresh bread, hummus spreads, fresh baked cookies, and Pepsi products. It’s perfect for meetings, parties, luncheons, or other entertaining, and delivery is free.
Shades Oceanfront Bistro Neighborhood
Ocean Beach is an authentic old school beach community that is all about sunbathing, surfing, hanging out at the pier, and letting your dog loose at Dog Beach. It’s the place you go when you would rather spend your time hanging at mom and pop boutique shops and restaurants than hitting up the chains. This funky, groovy beach community is nestled between the San Diego River and the hills of Point Loma, and offers you the chance to see what vintage SoCal life was all about. You’ll find a majority of the shops, restaurants, bars, tattoo shops, and more along Newport Avenue, the neighborhood’s main street. Coffee shops and cute boutiques also run along Santa Monica Boulevard, which is where you’ll find Shades.