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Dec 2, 2011 09:52 AM

Cheap eats in San Diego area for two broke traveling students

My boyfriend and I are going to be visiting San Diego (also hitting La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Oceanside-- little biking trip up the coast) and are looking for some good places to eat for relatively cheap - about $10 a person and under, the kind of stuff you see on Diners, Drive ins, and Dives. (We already have Blue Water Seafood, El Indio, and Hodad's on our list from that show!) I'd really appreciate your suggestions!

Also, any good bars in those areas that you could recommend? Thanks!

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  1. I wouldn't put too much emphasis on DD&D. I'd skip El Indio and Hodad's. Maybe Kono's in PB for a large filling cheap breakfast, Bare Back Grill, also in PB, for a good burger and reasonable happy hour. In LJ, El Pescador for a great grilled fish sammie. Super Cocina, in NH on Univ & 36th, for excellent Mex slow cooked food, Marisco's German truck, on Univ & 35th, for one dollar fish tacos.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cstr

      I like Mariscos El Pescador (Chula Vista Toys'R'Us parking lot) better than Mariscos German. Depending on where you are biking, it might be easier to get to (closer to the coast) than University & 35th.

    2. Taco Shops in SD are your best bet for super cheap and super good food..
      Happy hours too.
      Don't listen to DD&D's...imho, he's a taco short of a combo platter..
      Have fun!

      1. I like Blue Water a lot- but that's not in your budget. It might seem like it from the program, but I find it as expensive as a good fish restaurant.

        Up San Diego Avenue from El Indio is a small typical taco shop called "Dos Brazos". I live very close to both of these places- closer to El Indio, and have not been to El Indio in over 12 years. I go to Dos Brazos, and if I'm feeling sad, lonely, depressed, anxious, happy, elated, energetic, tired, or otherwise emotional, I get their carnitas burrito. You see, just as art has a pedigree, Dos Brasos used to be Nico's, and I suspect they, like the baker of a fine sourdough bread uses a starter, are using grease similar to Nicos. Perhaps they reverse-engineered the Nico's burrito in their lab to duplicate that dining experience.

        This burrito is a work of art. That's right, it's art you can eat. It has that crispy-soft griddled tortilla, the spicy deliciousness of the fatty pork with the little fried bits.

        I'd eat 20 of their carnitas burritos before I'd go to El Indio.

        In fact, I have. And now, dammit, I might need to today.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Fake Name

          Agreed 100%. Dos Brasas kills El Indio many times over.

          1. re: Fake Name

            And here I thought your allegiance was to Super Sergios...

            1. re: DiningDiva

              As it's north of 8, I can only visit Super Sergio's while traveling.

              It's in that part of California known as the Orange County/Los Angeles Metroplex, or OCLAM.

            2. re: Fake Name

              'if I'm feeling sad, lonely, depressed, anxious, happy, elated, energetic, tired, or otherwise emotional, I get their carnitas burrito.'
              Boy, I'm screwed if I took to your neuropsychoanalysis..
              ; )

              1. re: Fake Name

                Absolutely right. And their breakfast burritos were personally responsible for my friend Eric gaining 30 lbs (he worked right across the street and ate one of said "Special Breakfast" burritos everyday). He was soo pissed when I moved just up the hill from Dos Brasos. Damn. . .I love my new place, but I miss that taco shop.

              2. As others have said, skip El Indio and Hodad's. Undoubtedly someone will come on and defend Hodad's, but Hodad's is a big waste of time. When Hodad's was not a TV star, it was worthwhile, if you were in the area. I lived in that 'hood for 8 years, and ate at Hodad's many times. After moving out of the area, I did not. It's just an OK burger.

                Guy Fieri is a knucklehead, IMO. The places in SD he recommends are all exceedingly average at best (Blue Water a notable exception).

                If you're looking for cheap eats, Blue Water's a bad spot. Their good fish is expensive.

                Here are some better suggestions, which are bikeable from the coast:

                Marsicos Beyer Truck, on Imperial and 22nd - much better fish tacos than Blue Water. A relatively easy ride up from downtown.

                Tacos El Paisa - Forget the cross street, but it's also on Imperial. Great street tacos, makes El Indio look even more pathetic than Dos Brasas. Could hit this on the same ride as the mariscos truck.

                For burgers, try Burger Lounge in Little Italy. Some people don't like the place, but they're wrong.

                Mona Lisa Deli, also in Little Italy, makes very tasty Italian subs.

                Pete's Meats, also in Little Italy, makes very tasty subs with stuff like meatball, grilled veal, and eggplant. Very good and affordable.

                For bars:

                Monkey Paw Pub and Brewery, on 16th and G St. Great beer selection.
                Downtown Johnny Brown's. Ditto.

                Solana Beach
                Pizza Port

                Ocean Beach
                Pizza Port
                Newport Pizza and Ale House
                OB Noodle House - all three of these have great beer selections

                4 Replies
                1. re: Josh

                  You forgot:

                  Pizza Port

                  Also, when riding by San Elijo Lagoon, just before Solana Beach (if heading south) Bull Taco is hiding in the beach campground and makes for an easy visit by bike. Not the cheapest of taco shop eats, but pretty good.

                  1. re: The Office Goat

                    Yeah, whoops. That one makes great beer.

                  2. re: Josh

                    Regarding Josh's rec for Burger Lounge in Little Italy, Burger Lounge also has a location in La Jolla (one of the cities annie86x said she and her BF would be visiting).


                    Burger Lounge
                    1101 Wall Street
                    La Jolla
                    858 456-0196

                    1. re: Josh

                      +1 on skipping Hodad's. I'd much rather have pizza & good beer at Pizza Port a few blocks away.
                      I also like happy hour at The Brigantine for fish tacos and Brig Brew.

                    2. I don't know if Hodad's is worth a visit, but you might enjoy walking down funky Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach (especially in the evening), where Hodad's is located. At the end of the Ocean Beach pier is a diveish cafe (Ocean Beach Pier Cafe) to warm up, get some fries, and enjoy the view.