Ocean Beach's Newport Avenue reminds me a lot of Beale Street in Memphis. Each street sports a history of urban warfare—Beale was the site of deadly race riots in the 1860s while Newport saw some biker-gang violence and fervent political action a full century later—and an identical sense of community. There's a palpable swagger about both places, their bustling bars and colorful street musicians fueling the bohemian edge. If Beale gave birth to the blues, Newport took up the slack on everything else.
Take Livingston's Chicken and Mexican Grill, gosh-darn it. From the outside, it looks sort of like a walk-in closet, swallowed up by brawnier eateries like Hodad's and The Sunshine Company on either side; and somehow, the musicians don't congregate out front that much. All the more for you, you lucky stiff—because your path to gastronomic ecstasy is thus unimpeded. Go ahead. Opt for that delicious beef torta (a highway steal at $4.59) or the cilantro-fueled octopus cocktail (the large one's a scant $8.50). Your order's up even before you get the words outta your mouth, although the staff may need a few extra seconds with its family-size chicken dinner, complete with jo-jos, slaw and rice. True, it's $27, but you're also getting 16 pieces, which means a family of four gets fed for a little less than $7 each.
There's breakfast, too, and it's served from the minute Livingston's opens (10 a.m. seven days a week); the peeps zip everything up at midnight Sundays through Thursdays and at 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. You can call in your order ahead at 619-224-8088—but unless you're willing to pick it up at 5026 Newport Ave., there's prolly not much point to that. Meanwhile, let Beale Street have a good time. You're in Ocean Beach, where Livingston's is. At the moment, that's all you need to know.