At a party a couple of Friday nights ago, one of my Ocean Beach buddies started quizzing me on the food and drink joints I've been to in his neighborhood. After answering "Nope" to four of the places he named, we decided to spend the next day bringing me up to date on all the goods a grubber can afford on a couch-cushion-change budget.
A gastro crawl requires fuel, and with the words "mocha in a fish bowl" stuck in my head from the night before, there was no other place to go but To The Point (4161 Voltaire St. in Point Loma). Sadly, the espresso machine was on the fritz that day, so the three of us settled on iced coffees instead—$3 for what looked to be a 32-ounce mason jar filled with joe. How is this legal when PCP isn't? I left the place feeling jet-propelled.
Though I could have flown straight to the moon, we had only to walk next door for our first feeding of the day. Tommy's Mexican Food (4145 Voltaire St.) is known for its killer, freshly made flour tortillas, so we went with a chorizo breakfast taco for $3.25. The soft taco's fresh tortilla was so big that it was more like a not-quite-stuffed burrito. We shared it in anticipation of our next stop and measured it out to roughly a 10-bite taco. That's a mouthful, peeps. Go get it.
Of all the places we set out to visit, I was the most excited for PL Bagels (3704 Voltaire St.), because it won the raves of Mr. O.B. (a recovering East Coaster), who said it's the only place that he's found akin to a New York City bagel shop.
The salt bagel—its exterior flecked with coarse crystals—had my name written all over it. In case you care about nutritional guidelines, there are plenty of less-abrasive standards to munch, from sesame seed to blueberry. I got my bagel-pretzel hybrid toasted, with butter, along with a side of garlic-basil-bacon cream cheese ($2.75 total); strawberry, jalapeño and walnut-raisin-compound cream cheeses are also available. A baker's dozen is $9.75.
Fearing the bloat, I scraped some of the salt off the bagel and dug in. Still, I found myself using the cool, savory bacon cream cheese to absorb the shock of sodium. Next time, I'll try the sourdough version with the same spread because its blast of garlic and sweet basil made it a win through and through.
These aren't the big, dense, dry blobs of dough that pass for bagels elsewhere. I could have eaten two. It was light, somewhat airy and had the slightest chewy resistance that, when bitten into, pulled apart with ease. It was texturally amazing and told me why New Yorkers are so passionate about what makes the best, and worst, bagels.
PL Bagels is cash-only, and it's open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily, so plan accordingly. Mr. O.B. says that the bagels freeze wonderfully and will last on your counter for up to 24 hours. Add this joint to your regular rotation and feel free to taste-test the donut shop in the same strip mall and report back to me.