If only we could all sip Champagne and martinis and enjoy long leisurely lunches seven days a week. Sadly, most of us have to work grueling hours to bring home the bacon, and lunches often get relegated to sandwiches, hastily packed leftovers or a fast food combo.
To answer the never-ending lunch plight, local restaurants have stepped up to the plate to offer delicious and affordable options to keep our engines running and our bodies feeling strong for the rest of the day.
Here are a few pocket-friendly options to try, all priced under $15 (some under $10!), that also run well into the afternoon, until 3 or 4 p.m. to make sure you can grab lunch almost anytime.
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot
With locations in China, Japan, Canada and the United States, this globally popular restaurant keeps fans flocking with two locations in San Diego: Mira Mesa and Clairemont. The killer $11.95 lunch special includes a variety of veggies and meat options, and runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check out the website for mouthwatering photos and hotpot options including lamb wontons, shrimp balls, oyster mushrooms, baby bok choy and oh so much more.
Clairemont: 4718 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., 858.274.2040; Scripps Ranch: 9841 Mira Mesa Blvd., 858.860.5730, littlesheephotpot.com
Sometimes you just want pizza and a big pint of beer for lunch. This local veteran answers the plea with a knockout lunch deal. Choose a slice (cheese or pepperoni), salad and drink, or sub a salad for 2 slices, for $6.50. They also offer a specialty pizza of the day for $1 extra or a salad upgrade to Caesar for $1. For craft brew lovers, sub out that fountain drink for a discounted beer, for example a pale ale becomes $2 instead of $5, a single IPA is $3 instead of $6, and for heavy hitters the Double IPA is $4 instead of $7. Available at all locations 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thotsakan Thai & Vegetarian Cuisine
Downtown execs rave over this unbeatable lunch deal on any schedule, running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ranging from only $9-$12, diners can pick from a whopping 19 options of meals including Drunken Noodles; red, yellow, green, panang or pumpkin curry; and Cashew Nut. Pick out a protein, whether its tofu, shrimp, chicken, pork, beef, or even mock duck or chicken, and receive house soup (with dine-in only), salad, vegetarian spring roll and jasmine rice. If you’re asking yourself how this is possible, get downtown and find out.
1153 Sixth Ave., downtown, 619.795.5454, thotsakanthaicuisine.com
Fans of kebabs, shawarma, falafel, and Lebanese cuisine will love this affordable lunch option. The restaurant offers a combo any of their wraps paired with Lebanese salad, lentil soup (vegan), French fries or rice, ranging from $9-10.50. Top recommendations from staff include the chicken kabob with housemade garlic aioli, and the vegan crispy cauliflower wrap, with tahini sauce, and a pickle. Even better? If you check in on Yelp, you receive a sampler of savory pastries, including beef, spinach and cheese. Served 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
8915 Towne Centre Dr., University City, 858.404.1395, amardeencafe.com
Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen
With ramen all the rage for San Diego diners, it’s no surprise this popular spot makes the lunch deal list. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., all locations offer a combo of one small ramen with small item (like edamame or gyoza), starting at $10.50. Selections vary at each, so be sure to check out available options before heading to your favorite spot.
Kearny Mesa: 4646 Convoy St. #102-A, 858.573.2400; Little Italy: 2254 India St., 619.240.8511; Point Loma: 2820 Historic Decatur Rd., 619.487.9346, rakirakiramen.com