Hi SD Hounds!
Bottom line: What cheap eats does San Diego do BETTER than Los Angeles?
As a whole, it seems that SD doesn't have as many excellent (but cheap) places as LA has (generally I'm talking about super cheap ethnic hole-in-the-wall eateries like in LA's Thai Town, Little Saigon, East LA, San Gabriel Valley) that fill this city. Plate of Thai Pud See Ew = $5-6.00. Taco truck tacos = $1.00. Huge bowl of hand pulled noodles in spicy stewed beef soup = $5.00 (enough for 2). Satay sticks at Wat Thai temple = $1.00 or papaya salad for $3.00. In LA, the price you pay is not necessarily proportional to the sheer deliciousness of the meal.
To give you an indication of our cheap SD eats experience:
We went to Super Cocina once and was excellent (would definitely go back). Also we had a burger at Rocky's a while back, which was very good but not particularly special. (We had a great meal at the Linkery thinking sausages would be cheap, but that is WAY out of the price range for this post). We've had a huge, cheap breakfast burrio at a beachside surfer joint in OB (can't remember the name-- they have two patios, one disconnected from the restaurant where the servers run your order to you across the boardwalk). We've been to El Zarape for fish/scallop/shrimp tacos but compared to mexico (and to Tacos Baja Ensenada in LA) they did not measure up. Also, a few years back we hit up a decent, authentic dumpling place but as we visit the restaurants in San Gabriel quite frequently, it was just okay.
With such close proximity to Mexico, certainly there must be a dozen outstanding fish taco places in San Diego... where are they? (the east LA fish taco joint which many LA hounds rave about, Tacos Baja Ensenada, is nothing compared to the insane deliciousness of the roadside tacos we had at a little cart in Ensenada Mexico... somehow they stayed crispy even after being doused in crema.
We don't care about decor, service, etc. All we care about is cheap, delicious food. Please, no chains! (If you're even thinking about recommending Rubio's for cheap fish tacos, please reserve your comments!)