I have a confession: I eat far too much when I travel.
But what’s wrong with trying the local restaurants and cuisine? Whether it’s a locally-owned coffee shop or an iconic restaurant, I have to try it. After all, I can’t buy this food back home.
However, there is one thing travelers must always consider before chowing down: the looming travel budget. This pesky (yet, necessary) aspect of traveling always seems to get in the way! Or does it? In popular cities such as San Diego, it is entirely feasible to dine at the renowned hot spots while staying within budget.
When looking for the best places to eat in San Diego on a budget, head to these seven restaurants.
945 Broadway, San Diego CA 92101
Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
When you visit San Diego, book it to Hodad’s for the greatest burgers you’ve ever had. Coming up on 50 years in business, Hodad’s has been an Ocean Beach and San Diego, CA staple since the late 60s. Tourists and locals alike flock to this burger joint, so get there early and be prepared to wait!
Fair warning: these burgers are massive. Grab as many napkins as you can! You’ll need it.
Mini hamburgers start at $4.75 while regular hamburgers start at $6.25. All burgers are packed with mayo, mustard, pickle, onion, ketchup, tomato, and lettuce. Talk about bang for your buck! To try their most popular burger, order the Double Bacon Cheeseburger. You can thank me later.
2) Phil’s BBQ
3750 Sports Arena Blvd., San Diego, CA 92110
Sunday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
When you think of San Diego cuisine, do you think of BBQ? Most likely not, but after a trip to Phil’s BBQ that’s all you’ll be thinking about.
Since 1998, Phil’s BBQ has been providing mouth-watering ribs, BBQ chicken, and more to the people of San Diego County. Order a basket of ribs all for yourself or an entire dinner to share. Either way, the prices are so affordable you won’t think twice! If traveling with family or a group of friends, order the Full Rib Dinner (10 to 12 bones) which comes with 2 small sides or 1 large side.
When it comes to affordable and delicious barbeque, there’s no doubt about it. Dining at Phil’s BBQ in San Diego is an absolute must!
3) Homestyle Hawaiian
7524 Mesa College Drive, San Diego, CA 92111
Monday – Saturday: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
If you’ve ever traveled to Hawaii, you know that plate lunches are where it’s at! For a low price, you can feast on an extraordinary amount of meat, rice, mac salad, and more. Experience a bit of Aloha in San Diego by dining at Homestyle Hawaiian.
Among the best places to eat in San Diego on a budget, Homestyle Hawaiian offers everything from build-your-own sandwiches to breakfast and lunch plates. The portions are huge so be sure to share or save some for later. To get the most for your dollar, I highly recommend choosing one of the many plate lunch choices.
Do know that parking can be a challenge due to the popularity of the restaurant and the small lot. Arrive early or take another form of transportation to the restaurant.
4) Lucky’s Golden Phenix
3804 Grim Avenue San Diego, CA 92104
Monday – Saturday: 7:00 am – 12:00 pm
Tucked away in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, Lucky’s Golden Phenix is a true treasure. Lucky, the owner, purchased the restaurant 40 years ago, knowing that the North Park area would soon grow in popularity. The restaurant originally served Chinese food, but since Lucky’s retirement, they now serve incredible breakfasts for under $10.
An omelet breakfast complete with toast and hash browns will only set you back anywhere from $4 to $5 after tax! Don’t be surprised if Lucky strikes up a conversation with you, as well. He loves his customers! When you visit, keep in mind that this is a cash only restaurant and street parking is limited.
Once you experience Lucky’s Golden Phenix, it’s easy to see why it made our list of the best places to eat in San Diego on a budget!
5) V.G. Donut & Bakery
106 Aberdeen Drive, Cardiff, CA 92007
Monday – Saturday: 5:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sunday: 5:00 am – 7:00 pm
Specializing in the “old style of baking”, V.G. Donut & Bakery whips up tantalizing donuts, pastries, cookies, cakes, and more daily. The bakery has been in business since 1969 and is currently operated by third generation family members.
If you were wondering, the “V.G.” stands for very good and once you take a bite, you’ll agree. With donuts starting at $0.90 each and cookies starting at $0.65 each, you can satisfy your sweet tooth without breaking your budget.
6) Filippi’s Pizza Grotto
Several locations throughout San Diego
Most locations open daily from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm
For a taste of Italy in San Diego, grab a table at Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. With 15 locations throughout the greater San Diego area and beyond, Filippi’s Pizza Grotto is a household name. Filippi’s serves Italian fare including pizza, pasta, and classic entrees such as Chicken Parmigiana. As one of the best places to eat in San Diego on a budget, you can have peace of mind knowing your pasta won’t cost you a fortune!
For an authentic Italian experience, visit Filippi’s Little Italy restaurant which opened in the 1950s.
7) The Mission
Three locations in North Park, Mission Beach, and SoMa East Village
Open daily from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm.
If you’re looking for a healthy breakfast or lunch and don’t want to pay a fortune, head to The Mission. Boasting three locations in San Diego, this restaurant specializes in healthy recipes with fresh ingredients at an affordable price. Whether you opt for the drool-worthy pancake breakfasts or the Tamales Verde for lunch, you can’t go wrong at the Mission. Meals range from $11 to $30 per person.
Plus, guests who are allergic or sensitive to gluten can have peace of mind by ordering off of the exclusively gluten free menu. No need to sacrifice taste for your health when you dine at the Mission!
Dine at the Best Places to Eat in San Diego on a Budget
Are you drooling yet? I am. Between gigantic Hawaiian lunch plates and gourmet pancakes, you could plan an entire San Diego vacation around dining!