San Diego’s Best Cheap Eats Under $5

San Diego’s proximity to the ocean and general excellence in all things translates into a higher cost of living when it comes to things like rent and gas, but if you know where to look, you don’t have to shell out much for great food. Need proof? Here it is, in the form of San Diego’s best cheap eats under $5.

Papa Luna’s Empanadas

Pacific Beach/Downtown
What you’re getting: Empanada de choclo ($3.95)
All of the empanadas here are under $5 a pop, but we have a special place in our heart for the choclo (sweet corn, cotija cheese, and fire-roasted pepper). Hit it hard and often with chimichurri.

Food Shop at Sovereign

Gaslamp Quarter
What you’re getting: Coconut waffle ($4)
You’ll know your waffle is just about ready when the sweet, vanilla-scented air wafts through the window to the kitchen at this casual grab-and-go spot. The combination of light and crispy waffle, creamy peanut butter, condensed milk, and shredded coconut is insanely good.

Blue Water Seafood

Mission Hills
What you’re getting: Fish tacos ($4.25 and up)
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). Multiple visits may be required to find your favorite, but that’s not really a bad thing


University Heights
What you’re getting: Fresh spring rolls ($4.95)
Pleasantly chewy rice paper wrappers can barely contain the generous portion of fresh veggies, tofu, and rice noodles inside these seriously healthy yet totally delicious rolls. Two house-made sauces (peanut dip and pineapple sauce) sweeten the deal.

Regents Pizzeria

La Jolla
What you’re getting: Bacon plate ($4.50)
If you’re visiting this UTC-area pizza restaurant, it’s likely you’re planning on ordering a pie, but consider this plate of thick-cut bacon rubbed with a house-made blend of spices, served with blistered shishito peppers. The salty/smoky/spicy flavors pair great with a beer, just watch out: some peppers are much hotter than others.