Spoiler Alert.

When I go surfing with my friends, we generally won’t be in the water for more than 15 minutes before someone mentions that we should eat afterwards. It’s not that we’re starving (yet), or that we plan on getting out anytime soon, but to us, the post-surf lunch (or brunch) is a crucial part of the social surfing process. Over the years, and in various Californian locations, I have collected very unofficial data on which foods are most satisfying following a surf. Needless to say, this has been non-scientific research, and standard protocol was not followed, but I have definitely noticed trends that are not only present within my group of friends, but are also the standard with the majority of other Californian surfers. Although everyone is entitled to their own preferences, I thought I’d provide a ranking which is based almost entirely on hearsay, and well, partially just personal opinion.

8. Juice

I truly believe in the power of a swamp-colored beverage, and I know that fresh pressed juices must provide some sort of goodness. However, a juice is not a meal. If you are telling me that after a long surf, you are craving a refreshing juice, I would have to assume this would be accompanied by, well, real food. Before any juice lovers get all in a tizzy, I’m still on your side, and very much enjoy a thirst-quenching juice after a workout. I just think that your body would thank you if you added a little extra something.

7. Oatmeal

Again, there may be some backlash here, but I want to assure everyone, I love me some morning oats. I just think that they belong in the pre-surf program. This is especially the case if you are going out to eat after surfing, as oatmeal can only be made so many ways, and your at-home version is more than likely to be just as tasty. Eating a bowl of oatmeal is a great way to start the day, and warm you up before sliding into that cold damp wetsuit. While still fulfilling after surfing, I personally have never seen anyone look very pleased when everyone else is served interesting meals, and they’re stuck with the bowl of mush they ordered.

6. Sandwich

The category of sandwiches is a little bit broad. For the purposes of my research, the title also encompasses the latest trend of fancy toast creations, which are basically just open face sandwiches. As a longtime resident of the nonexistent “most popular lunches” club, sandwiches had to be included in this ranking. They are easy, generally cheap, and often times can be eaten over the span of two meals. As far as their relationship to post-surf eating goes, I would say they are a decent choice - not good, not great, not bad, just decent. Then comes along the ever so millennial “toast.” The most iconic of the toast items would probably have to be avocado toast, a beloved pick among many of my friends, and, ​apparently, the reason my generation can’t afford to buy houses. ​I can’t sit here and deny the fact that I have ordered avocado toast on many occasions following a surf session, but I do believe that the trend will soon die, pushing the sandwich category further behind on this list.

5. Pancakes / Waffles

Pancakes and waffles are brunch staples. They cannot be ignored, but they are also unremarkable. I put them together because they are similar in terms of flavor, and are an equally mundane option for an after-surf treat. By all means, I understand the differences between the two, but when I’m craving pancakes or waffles, I can’t say I ever have a preference in either direction - I just know I want something sweet and breadlike with little-to-no nutritional value. If you order pancakes or waffles after surfing once in a while, I definitely won’t be judging you. If you regularly order pancakes or waffles after surfing, I might be judging you, just a teeny bit. 

4. Tacos

The ranking of tacos on this list is quite possibly my most controversial statement of all time, and I know that I am betraying many of my friends by placing them at number four. Anyone that knows me knows that tacos are my favorite food, and I can almost certainly find a way to eat them for all three meals. However, as far as a satisfying post-surf lunch goes, they aren’t exactly ideal due to a couple factors. First of all, they aren’t portable. If you want to grab a quick bite with some pals but need to get to work, you can’t just quickly wrap them up and put them in your bag. They must be eaten promptly to maintain their yumminess quotient- trust me, I’m an expert in this field. Secondly, they aren’t really a breakfast food (again, they can be, but typically are not), and for some reason, brunchy things usually provide the greatest satisfaction after a surfboard riding session. There is, however, one major exception to this statement. On the holiest day of the week, Taco Tuesday, they are the only delicacy one may devour after surfing. I don’t make the rules, that’s just how it works.

3. Coffee and pastry

The main reason that the coffee / pastry combo is so high on this list, is because of the sheer volume by which they are consumed by people who have just exited the ocean. Nearly everyone I know has a preferred coffee shop, a go-to beverage, and a favorite pastry. Grabbing coffee after a surf is a quick way to wrap up a nice morning with a friend or two, before going about their separate days. As a timeless classic, loved by many, coffee and an accompanying pastry will always be a respectable choice.

2. Acai bowl

Obviously, this is not going to be the most logical order on a chilly day, but luckily, its warm enough around here to consume frozen cuisine after some morning exercise. Yes, there are still a large amount of cafes making acai bowls that are nothing more than a glorified ice cream sundae, and if that’s what you like, go ahead, but those places would not receive my personal recommendation. This Brazilian treat has taken over California cafes, and although there are multiple varieties of the general smoothie bowl, acai remains the most popular frozen blended fruity soup. At this point, acai and surfing are almost codependent, as I believe many local groms wouldn’t be able to paddle out for their NSSA heats without downing a PB Banana bowl first. They are a great light meal, and they are perfect for those who may not be super hungry after surfing. It is undeniable that acai bowls are an excellent surfy snack.

1. Burrito

This should come as no surprise to any native Californian surfers, but burritos have absolutely earned their number one place on this list. I almost split different types of burritos up into sub-categories, but I decided that they all deserve this honor. In general, I tend to go for breakfast burritos following a morning surf, but I know that all burritos are worthy of consumption at lunchtime. Warm and filling, they serve as an ideal meal for a surfer who has had a marathon session. According to my completely fictional calculations, the average burrito weighs over half a pound, and tend to be rather calorically dense. If you’re a hungry growing surfer (or, just a hungry surfer), burritos are not only delicious, but also a financially responsible choice - usually costing well below $10 USD. I truly feel that I do not have to defend this placement, as we all know burritos are, and always will be, the most satisfying post-surf lunch. I’m sure this ranking is not in order for many people, and I probably forgot to include some classics, but luckily, most cafes in the Encinitas area have versatile menus with options for everyone. When I go to lunch following a surf, I nearly always find myself eating at Swamis cafe, but also highly recommend Lotus and Mozy, all of which are along Coast Highway. On that note, all this food talk has made me hungry, so I’m off to grab a burrito. Happy surfing and happy eating my friends!