Nati’s Mexican Restaurant is the gold medal-winner for being the best restaurant in Point Loma and Ocean Beach six years in a row. This landmark restaurant, which is only a block away from the Ocean Beach Pier, is celebrating over 55 years in business.
Mexican food lovers dine here on a regular basis. To this day, Nati’s is one of the most recommended San Diego Restaurants in the San Diego. The owners pride themselves on serving virtually every dish made to order with the finest ingredients while providing patrons with affordable prices.
Nati’s traditional style Mexican food has won numerous awards including the “Beacon’s Newspaper Reader’s Choice Awards” with a Gold Medal for Best Overall Restaurant on the Peninsula for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Nati’s claim to fame is that it is internationally known. It’s common for travelers to drive miles out of their way to make this their first dining destination upon arriving in San Diego by car, ship or plane.
A select list of traditional Mexican dishes is featured including the ever-popular chile relleno plate, which includes a beef taco and cheese enchilada with beans and rice. Another specialty of the house is Nati’s sour cream enchilada plate. It comes with two beef enchiladas topped with very fresh sour cream and sliced avocado with Spanish rice and refried beans. They combine Nati’s most tender steak, marinated with a special blend of herbs and spices, and serve it with fresh corn or flour tortillas, Spanish rice and refried beans. All for only ($13.50)!
The à la carte selection is also extensive. So come to Nati’s with your friends and family and discover great traditional Mexican dishes amid a friendly atmosphere of smiling faces!
A History of Nati’s
In an era when businesses, especially restaurants, come and go like airplanes at Lindberg Field it is a true milestone when a restaurant thrives for more than 50 years. Nati’s Mexican Restaurant was opened in 1960 by proprietor Vern Lontz as a one room diner at the corner of Bacon and Niagara Street in the eclectic community of Ocean Beach. At the time Lontz was more concerned with the little diner’s survival than it ever reaching over 50 years of continuous operation.
Nati’s profited and in 1962 Lontz remodeled and enlarged the facility to its current configuration of 2 dining rooms, a large patio and ample parking. The patio was designed to take advantage of the restaurant’s location, one block from the beach and Ocean Beach fishing pier. The new, larger kitchen required more employees, and Lontz hired a 16 year old Point Loma High School kid, Dennis Kerr, to run the dishwasher. Little did either Vern or Dennis know at the time that years later Dennis would become one of the owners of the business.
Vern Lontz and his wife, Charline, owned and operated Nati’s until retirement in 1972. At that point the company became a corporation; both remained active in the business until they passed away. Nati’s is now managed and run by the stockholders who are long time employees. General Manager and Vice-President Marilyn Thomas started as a hostess in 1969, and as mentioned above, Dennis Kerr, company President, started on the dishwasher in 1962. Both owners literally “grew up” in the business under the tutelage of Vern Lontz.
“Vern’s business plan was simple–good food, good service and a fair price — remains the foundation of Nati’s popularity” explains Thomas. That plan continues to serve the business well and has earned it a solid following of loyal, repeat customers. As part of that commitment Nati’s has found that it is important to retain employees to maintain these goals. “We believe that consistently outstanding food is the basis of our popularity, we maintain consistency by keeping our employees.
Our chefs, brothers Mace and Inez Conde, have been with Nati’s for over 30 years, this longevity provides us with the consistent quality our loyal customers have come to expect and new customers appreciate”, said Thomas. Many of the “Nati’s Family” have been with the restaurant for over 20 years. Lead Wait Staff, Luisa Allen, had been at Nati’s since Lontz opened in 1960 until her sudden and untimely death in October, 2011. Former Head Chef Luis Bedoya started with Lontz in 1960 and retired in 2008. “We constantly strive to maintain the quality of our food and the cleanliness of the restaurant,” said Thomas. Marilyn Thomas has a B.S. Degree in Food and Nutrition so she is well versed in quality control and environmental cleanliness.
Aside from loyal customers, Nati’s traditional style Mexican food has won numerous awards including the “Beacon’s Reader’s Choice Awards” with a Gold Medal for Best Overall Restaurant on the Peninsula for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. “We are very proud of our “Reader’s Choice” awards since they are the community’s vote” said Co owner Thomas.
Nati’s is proud to be a part of the Ocean Beach community. “We are very happy to have such strong customer support in the Point Loma-Ocean Beach area, it’s that support that has kept us here for over 50 years,” said Thomas. Nati’s is a member of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association and has supported the Peninsula Little League since the early 60’s. In 2006 they were presented a plaque for being the Sponsor of the Year and the longest continuous sponsor.
Nati’s reflects the Ocean Beach Community conscious by being environmentally friendly. “Nati’s has recycled for years, way before it became popular,” explained Thomas. Nati’s recycles kitchen cooking materials, glass and paper products. Additionally, it is one of the few businesses that still maintains a grass parking strip while most others have cemented them over. “We think it is a nice touch, even though it requires a lot of maintenance,” said Thomas, “and the dogs sure like it.” Nati’s went “Non-Smoking” in both dining rooms 2 years before the law mandated it. “We felt it provided a more pleasant atmosphere in the restaurant and took the initiative,” said Thomas. Smoking is allowed in the patio.
Prices are very reasonable and there is a full bar and compliment of margaritas, domestic and Mexican beers.
Banquets & Catering at Nati's Mexican Restaurant
1852 Bacon Street
Price: Call for pricing