Food & Drink

San Diego’s 15 Best Eats Under $5

Published On 06/17/2015 Published On 06/17/2015
ERIN JACKSON/THRILLIST
ERIN JACKSON/THRILLIST
Bruxie
NATALIE HOLTZ/THRILLIST
ERIN JACKSON/THRILLIST
H&B's Guac Shac
ERIN JACKSON/THRILLIST
Erin Jackson/Thrillist
MESS ROYALE
SARA NORRIS/THRILLIST
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1. Food Shop 455 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

Food Shop is the grab-and-go component of Michelin-starred chef Michael Bao Huynh's Sovereign Kitchen. The menu is casual and straight forward Vietnamese, offering bahn mi, pho and vegetable bowls. And don't forget to save room for the light and crisp coconut waffle, with creamy peanut butter, condensed milk, and shredded coconut it's insanely good.

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2. Bronx Pizza 111 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103 (Hillcrest)

This Hillcrest slice shop is known (and loved) for classic NYC-style pies and calzones with so much variety that it may take several visits to find your favorite. The no-frills seating area is fine for a quick bite, but if you want a full pie, it’s better to call ahead for a fresh one to-go. There’s no delivery, and the parking situation is a permanent pain in the butt, but pies this good are worth the trouble.

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3. Bruxie 5157 College Ave, San Diego, CA 92115 (University City)

Get yourself some waffles the non-traditional way at Bruxie with creations involving buttermilk fried chicken, angus beef patties, and hot pastrami.

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4. Blue Water Seafood Market and Grill 3667 India St, San Diego, CA 92103 (Mission Hills)

Famous for their fish tacos, Blue Water Seafood in San Diego offers in-house dining, as well as a large selection of fresh fish and shellfish available for cooking at home. The vast majority of fish/seafood taco options at this always-busy shop ring in under $5, and unlike most places, you also get to choose your preparation (lemon butter, lemon-garlic butter, bourbon butter, teriyaki, chipotle, blackened, or bronzed).

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5. Regents Pizzeria 4150 Regents Park Row, La Jolla, CA 92037 (La Jolla)

Regents in La Jolla slings both New York and Chicago-style pies made with a stone deck oven imported from Italy. You can get a whole pie if you’re willing to wait, or head directly to the slice case for instant gratification. Appetizers, salads and sandwiches round out the menu in addition to a selection of good craft beers and a solid wine list. The space, located in a strip mall, is bright, simply decorated and often busy.

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6. Lucha Libre 1810 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103 (Mission Hills)

Lucha Libre Taco Shop in Mission Hills embodies the zany energy of the Mexican brand of masked pro wrestling. In a high-energy space with hot pink walls, framed pop art, and lucha masks all around, tacos and burritos are the true champions. One such knockout is the Surfin' California burrito, a 14in tortilla packed tight with steak, shrimp, avocado, French fries, cheese, pico de gallo, and chipotle sauce. Discounts on various menu items are rewarded to those crazy enough to show up in an actual lucha mask.

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7. Venga Venga 2015 Birch Rd, San Diego, CA 91915 (Chula Vista)

Pair Mexican comfort food with 100 tequilas & mezcals behind the bar (all of which are also comforting), add in guac prepared tableside and a large patio outfitted with firepits, and you've got Venga Venga. They host a bottomless brunch on the weekends with unlimited breakfast tacos and shareable small plates, plus unlimited access to the brunch bar stocked with micheladas, Bloody Marias, margaritas, and mimosas.

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8. Plumeria 4661 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116 (University Heights)

Located in the center of University Heights, Plumeria offers vegan and vegetarian Thai food made with only organic and MSG free products. Be sure to try the fresh spring rolls, wrapped in pleasantly chewy rice paper and stuffed with a generous portion of fresh veggies, tofu, and rice noodles.

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9. Mess Royale 142 University Ave Ste C, San Diego, CA 92103 (Hillcrest)

Get a dozen different spins on poutine at San Diego’s first poutinerie, plus other Montreal comfort food, like “toasties” (hot dogs) and sandwiches made with imported sesame seed bagels.

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10. Fish 101 1468 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024 (Encinitas)

California coastal seafood house Fish 101 has a menu that changes not only with the seasons, but with whatever fish bites the line that morning. The Encinitas seafood shack is local and sustainable in both fishing practices and ingredient sourcing, as the produce and herbs come from from various SoCal farms. Order at the counter, grab a seat at the communal table, and enjoy a glass of wine or a craft beer while you wait for your California-caught, simply grilled (or fried) catch-of-the-day to join you at the table.