by Maren Dougherty - 197 Reviews - 32 List
Budget-conscious dining doesn't have to mean settling for Carl's Jr. or Costco free samples--even if your bank account is down to double digits. Here are some of our favorite San Diego spots where a $10 bill will get you a delicious meal and, in some cases, a few dollars back. (Photo courtesy of Teri Cafe)
Updated: January 19, 2010
Napkins, wet naps, bibs, hand wash stations--no, it's not a day care but visits here can sure get messy. For less than $7, you can get a BBQ chicken dinner, a pulled pork sandwich, or a cheeseburger topped with an onion ring and BBQ sauce.
Its vibrant decor of pink walls, glittery booths, and Mexican wrestling gear make it clear that the restaurant is no run-of-the-mill taco shop. Despite the frills, $1.50 TJ-style hot dogs and $2.25 tacos create a smackdown of a meal that won't leave your wallet in pain.
About $10 will get you a simple salad and a dinner plate of ultra-creamy mashed potatoes served with your choice of a grilled entree: angus flank steak, chicken, albacore tuna, or veggies. The hot stuff is flavorful and well-seasoned, making this one of our favorite places in the city for comfort food.
Everyone has their favorite hole-in-the-wall taco shop, but this Mexican joint in Barrio Logan brings people from around the county for the fresh tortillas, rolled tacos, chorizo and tamales. Be sure to stop at an ATM first--it's cash only.
First-timers are often skeptical about the concept of a Torpasta, a crusty garlic roll stuffed with spaghetti and meatballs. While the Torpasta will never be South Beach Diet friendly, it's well worth the carbo-load. For $6, we recommend you give it a shot.
They bill it as "California Mediterranean with a Euro-Turkish influence," but all we know is that it's cheap, quick, and delicious. For about $7, have your choice of spiced lamb or marinated chicken wrapped in flatbread with garlic yogurt sauce.
With reasonably priced pizza and a decent selection of beer and wine, this is a great place to go for a pre-Padres game meal or an inexpensive dinner with friends downtown. Special toppings include mashed potatoes, fried eggplant, and roasted red peppers.
La Jolla may be known for its Benzes and Beemers, but that doesn't mean you can't find a cheap meal. The standouts at this seafood spot are the fish sandwiches: for $8-$9, order snapper, swordfish, halibut, or other varieties of fresh fish grilled with lemon butter, teriyaki sauce, or the house marinade. You'll also find some of the best clam chowder in the city.
Grilled shrimp teriyaki, bowls of pho, and pan seared noodle dishes served in a relaxed OB joint. Speaking of joints, the staff elicit smiles from patrons by capturing the haze of this beach community with shirts that say "pho 20".
It's surprising that more SoCal delis don't have a Turkado on the menu. Maybe it's because they can't beat the ones served in Del Mar--the fresh turkey is piled high with a hearty spread of avocado, jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and onions on sourdough bread.
Some of the best Philadelphia-style cheesesteaks, chicken sandwiches and hoagies served on authentic Amoroso Rolls. And if you have a friend or coworker from Philly, bring back a few Tastykakes to get a smile--guaranteed.