The 10 Best Things to Eat for Under $10 in San Diego

By Darlene Horn  |  August 4, 2015

Eating well in San Diego doesn't require a loan. A handful of bucks — 10 or less to be exact — can yield unexpected deals all over town, keeping your wallet intact while satisfying your appetite at the same time. Intrigued? Read below for best budget meals in town.


Whole Pizzas at Blaze Pizza

Why settle for a slice of ‘za when you can grab a whole custom pie made to order? Assembly-line pies are nothing new, but Orange County–based Blaze does it best with fresh ingredients like arugula and spinach available as toppings. There’s no limit to the amount of toppings, so potential combinations are endless. Regardless of choice, all pies are baked in a fired in blazing-hot oven in five minutes or less.

Price: $7.95, additional $2 for gluten-free crust

Multiple locations

Chicago Dog at Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria

Pizzas headline the menu at both outposts, but we recommend bypassing a slice of their signature pies for the hearty Chicago original hot dog. Sport peppers, red relish, mustard and a sliver of dill pickle adorn a steamed Vienna beef link piled into a soft poppyseed bun. And it doesn't end there. A hefty side of hand-cut fries promises to fill in all the gaps, making it a complete meal any Windy City transplant will appreciate.

Price: $7

4030 Goldfinch St.; 619-299-4030
3448 30th St.; 619-295-1720

Dapper Dipper at Rubicon Deli

Sandwiches got a major upgrade when Reno-based Rubicon opened up in town a few years ago. With a choice of bread (Dutch crunch, pesto, garlic cheese, jalapeño jack, blue cheese or wheat) and sliced tri-tip piled on, it may say half sandwich on paper, but diners who have attempted to tackle the full-blown version often fail. A side of au jus ensures a moist, satisfying sandwich to the very end. And to wrap things up on a sweet note, all sandwiches come with a chocolate chip cookie.

Price: $8.49

3715 India St.; 858-488-3354
3819 Mission Blvd.; 858-488-3354


Chile Shrimp Bowl at The Food Shop

Downtown's only source for legit Vietnamese food also comes at a great bargain. With the priciest dish ringing in at $11, a world of fast-casual Asian food awaits. For the best deal that also fuels you up, opt for the grilled chile shrimp bowl filled with springy vermicelli noodles and mixed greens. Toss it up with the shop's sweet-savory sauce and you'll be full for a surprisingly long duration.

Price: $10

455 Fifth Ave.; 619-359-8894

Pad Thai at The Original Sab-E-Lee

Despite the cash-only requirements at this Linda Vista eatery, hungry diners crowd the doorway for authentic Isan-style Thai cuisine. You can't go wrong with their selection of curries, fried rice and soups, but the pad Thai cooked with your choice of chicken, beef, pork or tofu is one dish you'll be coming back for again and again. We recommend starting with a spice level of 3 and work your way up.

Price: $7.95

6925 Linda Vista Rd., 858-650-6868


Döner Kebab at The Kebab Shop

The six San Diego locations ensure that when the craving for Mediterranean food with a Californian flair hits, you won't be far. Flatbread sandwiches filled with slow-roasted meats cooked on a spit await at this local chain. Choose from traditional beef-lamb, chicken or falafel sandwiches rolled with greens and served with a tangy garlic sauce. If you need more carbs, add in fries or rice rolled into the sandwich for only an extra $0.75.

Price: $7.99

Multiple locations

Triple-Threat Pork Sandwich at Carnitas' Snack Shack

When it comes to meat fillings, many restaurant sandwiches come with only the choice of one, but Carnitas' outdoes the others with three succulent porky layers. Breaded and fried schnitzel, pulled pork and crisp bacon with their briny pepperoncini relish has prompted many imitators, but none come close to the original San Diego creation.

Price: $9.50

2632 University Ave.; 619-294-7675
12873 El Camino Real; 858-350-7675

Rolled Tacos at Las Cuatro Milpas

Atmosphere notwithstanding, the real charm of this Barrio Logan eatery comes in the form of rolled tacos at only a buck each. Cooked fresh and hidden under layers of chopped lettuce and cheese, each beef-filled cylinder crushes contenders both in taste and in price.

Price: $1 each

1857 Logan Ave.; 619-234-4460


Açai Bowl at Swami's Cafe

Healthy doesn't have to mean hungry and these fruit-filled bowl fill you up without weighing you down. Available for breakfast, lunch or as a snack, the kitchen layers açai with sliced bananas, fresh berries, housemade granola, coconut flakes and bee pollen. This bowl easily feeds two people or one very hungry yogi.

Price: $7.95

Multiple locations

Japanese Breakfast at Hinotez

Very little beats the Japanese breakfast offerings at this Kearny Mesa eatery available every day of the week from 8 to 11 AM. Their basic set of miso soup, cold tofu, pickled vegetables, nori and unlimited white rice refills with a side of tea starts at a staggeringly low $3. If that’s not enough, tack on additional plates like udon, soba, fried chicken, shrimp tempura, curry and gyoza for $1 to $2 each.

Price: Starts at $3

7947 Balboa Ave.; 858-565-4244