Food & Drink

San Diego’s Best Neighborhood Lunch Spots

Published On 09/28/2015 Published On 09/28/2015
Urban Plates

That Good Boy

Native Foods

Blaze Pizza

Barrio Star

Sara Norris/Thrillist

Saiko Sushi

Coronado

Saiko Sushi (address and info)

What you’re getting: The spicy tuna lunch combo

Just like anywhere else, there are a lot of cheap, crappy sushi places in San Diego. Saiko Sushi isn’t one of them. The restaurant’s commitment to sourcing sustainable fish means guests can enjoy seafood favorites like yellowtail, sea bass, scallops, octopus, and uni that have been scooped from local waters. This is a great reason to reward both locations (North Park and Coronado) with your lunch money. The spicy albacore tuna lunch combo (with a spicy albacore roll and tuna, shrimp, salmon, and yellowtail nigiri) ticks a lot of boxes, or live it up with the chirashi, a 15-piece sashimi platter with steamed rice.
 
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Writer Erin Jackson is a fan of both San Diego and lunch. Follow her @ErinJax.

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1. Urban Plates 1923 Calle Barcelona , Carlsbad, CA 92009

Urban Plates is a relaxed, farm-to-table restaurant that supplies healthy, affordable eats. Here, lunch consists of innovative salads (like kale coconut tofu or grilled wild ono nicoise) hearty sandwiches, and slow-cooked braises and stews.

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2. That Boy Good 207 N Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054

Everything's bigger in...San Diego? This southern-state-of-mind BBQ joint is known for its hearty portions and "dirty" sandwiches (drowning in cole slaw). The signature entrees are the country-fried chicken thighs and waffles and the cornmeal-crusted Delta catfish.

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3. Native Foods Café 127 N El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024

Native Foods Café reimagines unhealthy favorites—like cheeseburgers, meatball subs, and tacos—by using vegan-friendly meat alternatives. This casual, fast-food chain is 100% plant-based.

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4. Punjabi Tandoor 5424 Morehouse Dr, San Diego, CA 92121

With locations throughout San Diego, Punjabi Tandoor brings authentic India cuisine to the West Coast. This relaxed restaurant is known for their cheap lunch specials, featuring chicken tikka masala, samosas, navratan korma, and others.

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5. Hungry Lu's 4920 Voltaire St, San Diego, CA 92107

Offering homemade pizza, fresh bread, stacked subs, and an assortment of sweets, this casual bakery and deli is a San Diegoian's passport to Italy.

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6. Blaze Pizza 5604 Balboa Ave, , 92111

With 30 different toppings, six types of sauce, and a personal pie in just three minutes, Blaze Pizza is where dreams are made.

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7. The Promiscuous Fork 6984 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037 (La Jolla)

Co-owner Craig Sewell's wife's wandering fork helped inspire the Promiscuous Fork, a laid-back resto where food-sharing is encouraged and all you have to worry about is enjoying your friends' company.

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8. Barrio Star 2706 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

Bright jewel tone walls and Dia de los Muertos-style decor make dining here a casual event, as does the reasonably priced menu of delicious eats. The tortas (carnitas, carne asada, chicken, or veggie) are a can’t-miss, and come with a side of chips, but other items like shoestring plantains and chorizo tacos, also make apt complements for their margaritas, beer, and curated tequila selection.

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9. Fatboy’s Cornerstore & Deli 3050 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

Since 2009, this family-owned shop has been filling bellies with huge sandwiches and hot dogs with towers of toppings made from Boar’s Head meat and cheeses. The must-try here is the ever-famous Hot Poppa, a goliath of a sandwich with turkey, Pepper Jack, cream cheese, Flamin' Hot Cheetos, and jalapeños, but there are plenty of less... scorching options too, like the ABC or Classic Egg. If those still don't float your boat, you can always make your own -- just make sure you pile it high, this place is called Fatboy's for a reason, after all.

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10. Quad Alehouse 868 5th Ave, Level 3, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

You probably would have studied harder in college had your quad study hall doubled as craft beer hall. But better late than never; Quad Alehouse in Downtown has all the trappings of a campus study hall, including a warm wooden interior and the institution’s signature burgundy seal adorning the walls, with the added beer bonus of 28 brews on tap. Chef Ben Miller’s menu is a California take on BBQ bar snacks, juxtaposing seared ahi sashimi with a hickory smoked pulled pork sandwich that’s accompanied by candied roasted tomato and garlic chive aioli. While the beer list is dominated by the stuff of craft West Coast breweries, European draughts are also available.

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11. Samba Brazilian Cuisine 819 C St, San Diego, CA 92101

If all you know about Brazilian food is acai bowls, that’s actually OK! This particular cuisine is fairly underrepresented in San Diego, which is reason enough to get your butt to this super-casual spot to try things like pastels (essentially, giant empanadas), pão de queijo (cheese bread), gluten-free tapioca crepes, and soft potato Coxinhas wrapped in breadcrumbs and filled with savory fillings.

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12. Saiko Sushi 116 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118

Just like in any other city, there are a lot of cheap, crappy sushi places in San Diego. Saiko Sushi isn’t one of them. The restaurant’s commitment to sourcing sustainable fish means guests can enjoy seafood favorites like yellowtail, sea bass, octopus, and uni that have been scooped from local waters. The spicy albacore tuna lunch combo (with a spicy albacore roll and tuna, shrimp, salmon, and yellowtail nigiri) ticks a lot of boxes, or live it up with the chirashi, a 15-piece sashimi platter served over steamed rice.