Once hailed as San Diego’s first amusement park with a roller coaster from 1913 to 1916, the reincarnated Wonderland is now an ocean pub where Qwigg’s and Nick’s At the Pier once were at 5083 Santa Monica Ave., Suite 2C.
Mina Desiderio, who co-owns Wonderland and owns The Local downtown, said her goal in reinventing the restaurant space was to “pay homage to the history and lifestyle of OB.”
The restaurant space has been remodeled in a unique hybrid style Desiderio characterized as “urban beach.”
“We transformed this space, really opened up all the windows so you can see from the pier all the way down to La Jolla,” she said adding, “The view is absolutely breathtaking.”
The ocean pub’s seating is also atypical.
“It’s community-style seating with shared tables and booths and a lot of bar space,” Desiderio said, noting full advantage is taken of the pub’s remarkable ocean views.
Wonderland is half sports bar, half sit-down restaurant.
“The Pier Pub is our sports bar with more than 40 televisions and a complete sports package,” Desiderio said. “On the other side is a full-service restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner.”
Wonderland serves up pub-style grub with a twist, including seafood, fish tacos, fresh mussels and oysters on the half-shell — and burgers too. Desiderio calls her cuisine “islander coastal.”
“The food reflects what you’d eat in coastal Mexico, Hawaii and in San Diego, all three of those areas,” she said. “We don’t limit ourselves to a particular type of genre of food. We just want to serve good food we know we can make well.”
Wonderland’s atmosphere is described by Desiderio as laid-back with a local flair.
“It’s more casual to fit in with the OB lifestyle,” she said. “The people from our place can catch the best surfers.”
Desiderio said Wonderland “complements the town because we’re featuring the history of Ocean Beach, including the name of our restaurant, as well as having lots of great photographs.”
Desiderio said being an entrepreneur is in her DNA. Both her father and mother were in the restaurant and bar trades. She became a bar owner at age 27 downtown with The Local 10 years ago. When Nick’s at the Pier became available, she and a business partner jumped at the opportunity to reinvent the restaurant space.
Desiderio said Wonderland is family-oriented until 9 p.m. After that, on many nights, music offered up by DJs livens things up for the adult crowd, turning the establishment into more of a night spot.
Desiderio talked about her bar’s signature cocktail, a Greyhound made with fresh-pressed citrus juice.
“We squeeze all of our citrus in big metal juicers,” Desiderio said.
The bar also has 25 beer taps, 80 percent of which feature local craft brews.
Desiderio said she’s happy to “provide the best view for this town,” and hopes Wonderland draws new people to the community, giving them “one more reason now to come to Ocean Beach.”
Wonderland is open Mondays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to
2 a.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
For more information call (619) 255-3358 or visit www.wonderlandob.com.i