Food & Drink

San Diego’s Savory Steals: 19 Cheap Eats You Can’t Resist!

San Diego is a foodie's paradise. With a diverse range of cuisines and cultures, it's no surprise that there are countless restaurants to choose from.

However, dining out can be expensive, and it's not always easy to find affordable options that don't sacrifice quality or taste. That's why we've put together a list of the best affordable restaurants in San Diego.

From Mexican street food to Asian fusion, San Diego has it all. Whether you're looking for a quick bite or a sit-down meal, there's something for everyone.

We've scoured the city to find the best restaurants that won't break the bank. These restaurants may not have Michelin stars or fancy decor, but they serve up delicious food that won't leave you feeling guilty about your wallet.

Our list includes a mix of well-known spots and hidden gems that serve up tasty dishes at reasonable prices. We've taken into consideration factors such as portion size, quality of ingredients, and overall value.

So whether you're a local or a visitor, you can trust our recommendations for a satisfying and affordable meal in San Diego.

1. Las Cuatro Milpas

Las Cuatro Milpas
1857 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA 92113 (Google Maps)

Las Cuatro Milpas is a San Diego classic that has been serving up authentic Mexican food since 1933. This affordable restaurant is a must-visit for anyone in search of delicious, no-frills Mexican comfort food.

The menu is simple, but the food is hearty and filling. The freshly made tortillas are a standout, and the beans and rice are a must-try.

The hot sauce is more like Asian "chili crisp" than the typical salsa served in Americanized Mexican restaurants, but it's worth a try.

The restaurant is cash-only, and there is often a line out the door, but the wait is worth it. If you're looking for simple, authentic Mexican food, Las Cuatro Milpas is the place to go.

2. Hodad's Downtown

Hodad's Downtown
945 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

Hodad's Downtown is a quirky and fun American restaurant that serves up some seriously delicious burgers. With monster-sized servings and juicy patties, this place is a must-visit for burger lovers.

The onion rings are also a hit, and the shakes made with hand-dipped ice cream are the perfect way to wash everything down.

The staff are friendly and the service is quick, making for a great dining experience. Prices are reasonable, so you won't break the bank by coming here.

Whether you're in the mood for a classic cheeseburger or something a bit more adventurous, Hodad's Downtown has got you covered.

3. Oscars Mexican Seafood

Oscars Mexican Seafood
703 Turquoise St, San Diego, CA 92109 (Google Maps)

Oscars Mexican Seafood is a must-visit for anyone who loves affordable and delicious seafood. With a menu that features classic and modern tacos, tortas, sides, and sodas, there's something for everyone.

The standout item is the shrimp tacos, which come with a kick that will leave you wanting more.

The sauces are also noteworthy and add a delightful touch to the dishes. The service is quick, and the staff is friendly, making for a great dining experience.

If you're looking for a chill spot to grab some tasty seafood, Oscars Mexican Seafood is the place to go.

4. The Friendly

The Friendly
4592 30th St, San Diego, CA 92116 (Google Maps)

The Friendly is a neighborhood slice shop that serves up delicious burgers and pizza. The menu is simple and straightforward, with no-frills space.

The burgers are cooked to perfection on a flattop grill and come with a savory grill flavor.

The pizza is thin and crispy with nine different specialties to choose from. Prices are very affordable, making it a great spot for a quick and satisfying meal.

The atmosphere is laid back, with a hip and fun vibe. The Friendly is a great place to grab a bite to eat without breaking the bank.

5. Empanada Kitchen

Empanada Kitchen
819 C St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

Empanada Kitchen is a cheery and affordable Argentinian restaurant that specializes in handmade empanadas. The restaurant offers a wide variety of empanadas that are hearty, nutritious, and reasonably priced.

The friendly service is a standout feature, making it a great place for a quick snack or meal. While the decoration could be better, the food more than makes up for it.

The spicy beef and mushroom cheese empanadas are highly recommended, and the chimichurri sauce is made fresh daily.

In addition to empanadas, the restaurant also offers take-out and breakfast options. If you're looking for a delicious and affordable meal, Empanada Kitchen is definitely worth checking out.

6. Roxy's Tacos

Roxy's Tacos
815 C St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

Roxy's Tacos is a must-visit affordable restaurant for Mexican food lovers. The restaurant offers fresh and delicious food, made to order.

The staff is friendly and passionate about their food. The portions are generous, and the prices are reasonable.

The menu includes a variety of items, from meat lover burritos to shrimp tacos. The ambiance is cozy, and the outdoor seating is perfect for enjoying a meal.

Whether you're a local or a tourist, Roxy's Tacos is a great place to satisfy your cravings for Mexican food.

7. Lucky's Breakfast

Lucky's Breakfast
3804 Grim Ave, San Diego, CA 92104 (Google Maps)

Lucky's Breakfast is a classic vintage diner that offers affordable breakfast options. The owner, Lucky, cooks all the food himself and has a welcoming aura about him.

The place is small and homey with calming music that adds to the overall experience.

The menu is simple, yet delicious, and the service is friendly. The only downside is that the restaurant only accepts cash.

All in all, Lucky's Breakfast is a great spot for a quick and tasty breakfast without breaking the bank.

8. Lefty's Cheesesteaks

Lefty's Cheesesteaks
528 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

Lefty's Cheesesteaks is a fast-food joint that serves up generous hoagies and fries.

Their Philly cheese steak sandwich is highly recommended by customers. The staff is friendly and accommodating, and the service is fast.

Customers can customize their sandwiches for an additional charge. The restaurant also offers cheesesteak egg rolls and a variety of other sandwiches.

If you're looking for a quick and filling meal, Lefty's Cheesesteaks is a great option.

9. Lucky's Lunch Counter

Lucky's Lunch Counter
338 7th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

Lucky's Lunch Counter is a retro diner that serves classic American breakfast and lunch. The restaurant has a laid-back atmosphere and offers both indoor and outdoor seating.

Lucky's has an extensive menu with a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and breakfast items.

The portions are large and the prices are very reasonable. The food is cooked perfectly and has great flavor.

The staff is friendly and provides fast service. Lucky's is a great option for those looking for a delicious and affordable meal.

10. Taste of Denmark

Taste Of Denmark
142 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 (Google Maps)

Taste of Denmark is a hidden gem that serves authentic and delicious Danish cuisine.

The family-owned restaurant offers a variety of lunch entrees and snacks, as well as freshly made bread and pastries.

The service is excellent and the atmosphere is laid-back and cozy. Don't miss out on trying the Danish meatballs and hot smoked salmon.

Prices are affordable, making it a great option for a casual lunch or dinner.

11. Tacos El Gordo

Tacos El Gordo
511 F St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

Tacos El Gordo is a local chain that serves up delicious and authentic Tijuana-style tacos. The cafeteria-style ordering process may seem chaotic, but the food is well worth it.

The pork Adobada is a must-try, cooked like a shawarma and served with a phenomenal sauce.

The beef Carne Asada is also grilled to perfection and chopped finely as you order. The prices are reasonable for the quality and taste of the food.

If you're a fan of street tacos and want a proper cantina experience, Tacos El Gordo is the place to go.

12. EL Puerto Seafood By the Park

El Puerto Seafood By The Park
317 Tenth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

EL Puerto Seafood By the Park is a must-visit restaurant for seafood lovers. This affordable restaurant offers delicious and flavorful seafood options at reasonable prices.

The staff is friendly and provides quick service. The restaurant has a homey and clean atmosphere.

The daily specials are a great addition, and the $2 fish tacos on Tuesdays are a steal. The tortillas are notably delicious, and the calamari is a must-try.

This restaurant is a great spot for a quick bite before a Padres game, as it is within walking distance of Petco Park.

13. Grab & Go Subs

Grab & Go Subs
109 W C St # A, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

If you're looking for a great value sandwich spot with quality food and fast service, then Grab & Go Subs is a must-try.

Their sandwiches are tasty and fresh, with firm and flavorful toppings. The bread could be better, but the meats are always top-notch.

They also offer a good selection of drinks and soups. The outdoor seating is nice and the staff is friendly and professional.

This affordable restaurant is perfect for a quick bite during lunchtime or a casual dinner.

14. Taqueria Los Chuchys

Taqueria Los Chuchys
543 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

If you're in the mood for some delicious Mexican street tacos, look no further than Taqueria Los Chuchys.

This affordable restaurant serves up some of the best tacos in town, with fresh ingredients and perfectly cooked meats.

The Al Pastor tacos are a must-try, with a hint of pineapple and amazing flavor.

The staff is friendly and the service is quick, making it a great spot for a quick lunch or dinner. Don't miss out on this gem of a taco spot!

15. Blanco Cocina + Cantina

Blanco Cocina + Cantina
7007 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92108 (Google Maps)

Blanco Cocina + Cantina is a Mexican restaurant that offers excellent quality food at affordable prices.

The meats used in their dishes are of high quality and the rice served with them is amazing. Customers have the option to eat inside or outside, and the staff is professional and friendly.

The Cheese Crisps are a must-try, and the Guava Passion Fruit Paloma is highly recommended.

The restaurant has a nice atmosphere and is a great place to enjoy a culinary experience in San Diego.

16. Tacaliente Mexican Grill

Tacaliente Mexican Grill
1266 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 (Google Maps)

Looking for delicious Mexican food that won't break the bank in the city center, Tacaliente Mexican Grill is a must-visit.

The restaurant is clean, with friendly staff, and serves up generous portions of fresh ingredients.

The breakfast burritos are a standout, while the carne asada bowl and al pastor tacos are also worth trying. Don't forget to check out the salsa bar, which has a variety of delicious options.

With great prices and tasty food, Tacaliente Mexican Grill is a fantastic choice for those looking for affordable Mexican cuisine.

17. Al Teatro Panini Grill

Al Teatro Panini Grill
1254 3rd Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

Al Teatro Panini Grill is a hidden gem for those looking for quality Italian food at an affordable price.

With a wide variety of options from paninis to salads, the menu is sure to please all taste buds. The staff is attentive and takes pride in their food, making everything from scratch.

The cozy atmosphere adds to the experience, making it a great spot for a quick lunch or a casual dinner. Don't miss out on their homemade pastries and tiramisu, which are a must-try.

Al Teatro Panini Grill is a must-visit for those seeking authentic Italian flavors without breaking the bank.

18. Kafe at the Abpopa

Kafe At The Abpopa
3776 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 (Google Maps)

Kafe at the Abpopa is a hidden gem that's worth checking out. This affordable restaurant offers amazing coffee, delicious food, and great beer.

The owners take pride in their food offerings, and it shows in the quality of the dishes.

The outdoor seating area is comfortable, and the customer service is excellent.

The cafe offers freshly baked items and serves Cafe Vergnano, some of the best coffee around. Highly recommended for a casual and curated dining experience.

19. Landini's Pizzeria

Landini's Pizzeria
1827 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

Looking for affordable and delicious pizza in a casual setting with friendly service in Little Italy, San Diego, then Landini's Pizzeria is your go-to place.

They offer a variety of pizzas, pasta, and paninis with vegetarian options. The crust is thin and toppings are authentic, and the mozzarella is always fresh.

They have a welcoming back patio, and you can grab and go or sit down to enjoy your meal. The restaurant is open until 11 pm, which makes it a perfect spot for a late-night snack.

The staff is quick and friendly, and the prices are reasonable. If you're in the area, be sure to check out Landini's Pizzeria for some delicious grub.