San Diego’s Specialty: Low-Cost Mexican Restaurants Downtown
The Mexican influence on the city of San Diego is unmistakable and can be appreciated through the many Mexican restaurants in the area. From taco shacks to full-service restaurants, the dining establishments in San Diego that serve Mexican cuisine offer authentic bites and beverages, all available at a cost that will make you and your wallet happy. While Old Town San Diego is the premier spot for Mexican cuisine, those staying at one of the cheap hotels in downtown San Diego can check out the following eateries.
- Taco Express
Taco Express is a family owned restaurant that offers a wide variety of authentic Mexican food. They have a large selection of specials in the $5 to $8 range, with several that include a soft drink in the price. Be sure to try their tacos which are a local favorite, always said to be cooked to perfection. If you’re looking to add a bit of spice to your meal, their hot sauce is just the right combination of flavor and spice and is the perfect accompaniment to your entrée, no matter what you get. Taco express also offers a family feast for $41 that serves six people, great for visiting and vacationing families or groups on a budget.
- Pokez Mexican Restaurant
Pokez has a vibrant decor and a trendy atmosphere which welcomes residents and visitors. Pokez is popular because it features an extensive menu with many traditional Mexican items. The best part, all entrees can be found for under $10! They also serve breakfast all day and several items on the menu can be prepared vegan or vegetarian for those with specific dietary restrictions or preferences.
- La Puerta
Situated in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, La Puerta is frequented often by tourists because of its exceptional food offerings and reputation among locals. It’s more of a sit down restaurant, so expect a short wait during your regular meal time hours of lunch and dinner. They have a full bar, which satisfies many Gaslamp Quarter visitors and a selection of tacos sure to satisfy your cravings. If you’re from out of town and want to try a “California” entrée, we have to recommend the carne asada fries.
Other Options for Affordable Mexican Food across the County
At the Pacific Inn, we also know that there are a handful of tourist destinations throughout San Diego County such as the beach, SeaWorld or one of the nearby colleges will likely take your travels somewhere besides the downtown district. If that’s the case, and you know you are still going to have that Mexican food craving, here are some other local Mexican taco shops and restaurants serving up the best cheap eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner:
- El Zarape Restaurant
Located on Adams Avenue between Bancroft Street and 32nd (just north east of downtown), El Zarape offers a wide variety of Mexican specials as well as barbeque chicken and beef, and vegetarian burritos. While they fall in a similar price range as the other mentioned Mexican restaurants, not costing more than $10 per entrée, they are one of the few affordable eateries that offer alcohol. They serve a few different Mexican beers which are perfect for washing down their popular green salsa and also make a mean house margarita that won’t set you too far back in terms of budget. For those driving to El Zarape, don’t worry about parking, they have their own private lot around back.
- JV’s Mexican Food
If you’ve had a long day at SeaWorld or find yourself in the neighboring Linda Vista area, JV’s is the place to go for affordable and delicious Mexican food. JV’s serves unique specialties such as their corned beef hash breakfast torta, grilled salmon wheat tacos and roast pork burrito. Most items cost between $5 and $10. That said, patrons should come with a big appetite as the restaurant is known for serving large portions. Savings tip: split something with a friend or family member! We guarantee there will be plenty of food to go around.
- Oscar’s Mexican Seafood
Those who worked up an appetite after relaxing at La Jolla Cove or along Pacific Beach must check out Oscar’s Mexican Seafood. This restaurant provides visitors with the best of both worlds by combining classic Mexican dishes with fresh seafood to create simple offerings with big flavor. You’ll also find some unusual (but totally worth trying) options such as the octopus taco, smoked marlin tacos and their fisherman’s torta which is packed with spicy shrimp, scallops, grilled and smoked fish and some produce for some crunch. Most entrees are in the $4 to $6 range and include a side of cabbage. Oscar’s has a casual atmosphere and offers outdoor seating, ideal for visitors looking to soak in a bit of the San Diego sunshine!
Keep the Savings Going
Whether you’re search for affordable Mexican restaurants because you love a good burrito, have under-age picky eaters who will only consider quesadillas for dinner, or you know you’re going to need a late night burrito run after a night of partying, there’s plenty of options for Mexican food wherever you are.
For the most convenience, reserve a room at the Pacific Inn & Suites located in downtown San Diego. Steps from Little Italy and a block from the San Diego Bay, we offer our guests great value in terms of prime location and affordable prices! For more information about our hotel or our discounted rates, reach out to a Reservation Manager at 1-800-571-2933. We’d love to help you start planning your San Diego vacation!