• Connect with us

Las Olas pioneered the Fish Taco and serves authentic Mexican Food, local craft beers, and the best margaritas at our two beach locations in San Diego.

History Of Las Olas

Painting by Charleene Bonney

La Historia de Las Olas

In Spanish Las Olas means "The Waves", we want it to also mean to you, great food served by friendly people. Since 1981, Las Olas has been serving authentic Mexican Food on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and not only pioneered the first Fish Tacos in North America but has been serving healthy choices long before it became the thing to do.

Owners Dave Murphey and Peter Johnson, both local San Diegan’s, developed their passion for real Mexican food growing up in beautiful San Diego where there was always a great Mexican restaurant near by, but the many surf trips down the Baja and into mainland Mexico is where they got hooked. Fish Tacos, fresh ceviche and the unbelievable clam cocktails on the street corners of Ensenada or Puerto Vallarta was paradise for a hungry and broke surfer. Since the first day they opened they have maintained their passion for offering authentic Mexican food to happy customers, now over three decades in the making - a fact Dave and Pete are very proud of.

Dave remembers “Back in 81, for the first few weeks we were open, Senora Mendoza, a long time family friend helped establish many of the recipes we use today. She is a great cook, particularly of authentic Mexican Food and really helped establish the essence of our food style and recipes in use today. Pete and I have great memories of the early days where the two of us pretty much did every job in the place with very little help. Days were long but very rewarding and we always had the Pacific Ocean right across the street. I couldn’t believe how excited we were when we were able to put a cold water shower in the back so we could rinse off after a quick surf break or how we celebrated the first batch of brand new Las Olas T-Shirts with our very own business and logo on them!”

Our families have grown up here, going to school, playing baseball, soccer, surfing and the many other things the area has to offer residents and we have tried to maintain a strong commitment to supporting our community. It is where we work, live and play and we are very proud having employed so many of the community's kids over the years. “It is so great to see the many past employees that frequent Las Olas now with families of their own in tow and business of their own, it has been a very interesting and rewarding journey.” says Pete. 

A Few of Our "Los Originales"

As said, the owners are very proud to say they have hired and trained hundreds of wonderful and loyal employees over the years, most local kids in the neighborhood. In 2007, they celebrated the first batch of "20 Year Club members, employees that have been with Las Olas for 20 years or more, five reached this milestone. An interesting side note.... two of the five have menu items named after them, "Nachos de Salva" after Salvador Juerte Gonzales and "Ricardo's Mahi de ajo, garlic fish" after Camillo (Ricardo) Enriques, both menu items are really good.

The Storms of 1981-1982

Over the decades Mother Nature has taken her toll on several occasions seriously affecting the entire So California coastline. The combination of strong on shore winds, heavy rain, huge surf and high tides all occurring at the same time can create havoc along our shores (see photo). This combination of events is rare and equates to the perfect storm and Las Olas has had the Pacific Ocean knock their doors more than once!