About a year ago we reviewed Oceana Diner, a new at the time breakfast and lunch diner on Beach Boulevard that is located where Over the Ditch Cafe used to be. Our previous review was a breakfast review, and owners Marvin and Yalcin invited us back out to try their lunch menu recently. As we are lovers of their breakfast menu, we couldn’t resist. As always, I was greeted at the door by Marvin and Yalcin as they greet all their customers. They know their regulars by name, they seat them at their preferred tables, and they visit with them about the going-ons in their lives. You hear a lot of times restaurants described as “like being at home” but Oceana truly is a step into their home. It’s warm, friendly, familial, and designed where you can really relax and stay awhile.
After visiting with Marvin and Yalcin for a while I asked for their recommendations on a lunch order. Yalcin had a few dishes in mind that he really loves and for specific reasons. His first recommendations were the Reuben ($8.99) and the Philly Cheesesteak ($8.99). Marvin and Yalcin are from New Jersey, so these seemed like safe bets for me on authenticity. Also I love a good reuben and crave it often and there are too few good ones in Jacksonville. He also recommended their chicken salad for our next visit because he said that it’s simply pure chicken salad as it should be. No accoutrements, no fuss – just good quality chicken, pepper, and mayonnaise ($6.49). The sandwiches ordered come with a choice of freshly made chips or fries. I went with one of each to try them both out. I enjoyed people watching while I waited on my food. Again it’s just so comfortable in the restaurant that it’s not uncommon to see two tables talking to each other, one of the waitresses stopping to speak to one of her regular customers, or a laugh rising up from a large group eating lunch together. As I predicted last year, Oceana Diner has become a true locals spot with a regular clientele.
My two sandwiches came very quickly and after the obligatory foodie Instagramming, I tackled the reuben first. The Reuben came on perfectly hot grilled bread that was simply dripping with layers of melted cheese, thin sliced but thickly piled corned beef, and warm sauerkraut in the middle to hold the sandwich together. All of this was covered in sweet russian dressing but not so much that the sandwich fell apart or got soggy. I had to take a moment with this reuben because finally I have found the sandwich I have been searching for all my life. It’s salty and sweet and tangy all at once and it’s so well assembled you get each layer of flavor in every single bite. This sandwich was served with their freshly fried seasoned waffle chips, which were super thin and crispy. I haven’t seen waffle chips before, it’s a pretty unique offering. Pro tip: use the provided plate pickle to squeeze a little pickle juice on them. Delicious, trust me.
My next sandwich was the Philly Cheesesteak. What’s pretty unique about this particular cheesesteak is that the meat is ordered in directly from Philadelphia to ensure quality and authenticity for those searching for the perfect cheesesteak. Since I’ve started eating them, I’ve learned that the topic of cheesesteaks is a rather embattled one and can cause some minor altercations on how a cheesesteak “should be served.” I won’t take sides either way (I think they’re delicious no matter what), but here is how Oceana Diner serves their philly. A) The sandwich is massive and extends beyond the plate on basically a small loaf of soft bread that’s lightly crusty on the outside. Coming from Louisiana, I compare it to soft French bread. B) The sandwich is served open faced with about roughly a whole cow’s worth of steak. This may be a slight exaggeration but really this thing is huge. C) Beneath the cow is melted, stretchy, sweet provolone cheese. There is no cheese whiz on this sandwich. Yalcin made it clear to me he likes provolone on it better. D) Cooked into the steak are mushrooms, peppers (I had to opt out – allergy), and large cut, sweet onions. This sandwich is so comforting. The vegetables were tender and sweet, the meat was simply perfect, and the melty cheese that you had to pull apart in every bite brought everything together. This is a delicious and hearty philly that I’m sure will please even the most intense critics. This sandwich came with their double battered seasoned fries, which had great potato flavor.
I thought I was done for the morning when Yalcin brought out the cutest little stack of Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes as a dessert treat since they don’t actually serve dessert. These aren’t on the menu, but I’d wager that as much as they excel at customer service, they would find a way to prepare them for you. They will even use them as birthday surprises for their regular customers, which is pretty adorable. Their pancakes are dense and this particular stack was layered with strawberries and whipped cream. Somehow I found room to polish off nearly half of those, too.
Walking away stuffed and with a box of leftovers, I can assuredly say that Oceana Diner is serving up lunch that is equally as good as their delicious breakfast offerings. They are what a diner should be – friendly, easy going, and full of delightful, comforting food. And they’re serving it up at some pretty incomparable price points too. Want a filling inexpensive breakfast? Stop by Oceana Diner on Mondays or Tuesdays from 6 am to 11 am for a $3.99 breakfast platter that will start your week off right. Also in other great news, starting soon Oceana Diner will reopen for late night service on Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 pm until 3 am, which will make for the perfect post-night out meal. Oceana Diner has it all, and they serve it with a smile.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to taste new menu items. This meal is usually comped, as this one was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.