When looking for places to eat, it becomes somewhat of a habit for college students to filter anything out of their Yelp search that goes beyond 2 dollar signs. But who says good food and fine dining must always come at a high price?

San Diego's biannual Restaurant Week recruits over 100 local restaurants to offer up a tasting of their house favorites at prix-fixe prices. Just last week, our team set out to find the best and the tastiest deals out there so that you can have your own #BougieOnABudget moments the next time SDRW rolls around. 

Tom Ham's Lighthouse: $15 Lunch

Michelle Phan

Tucked away on Harbor Island is Tom Ham’s Lighthouse - one of the most impressive, if not the best, deals from San Diego’s restaurant week. 

Not only was the view to die for but a mere $15 will give diners a diverse selection of two courses from their regular menu items at full sized portions. Just to name off some favorites: lobster rolls, tuna niçoise, tuna crudo, and crab BLT. 

#SpoonTip Be sure to make a reservation for a table on the patio to score a seat overlooking the downtown skyline and the clear blue ocean.

Herringbone: $20 Lunch

Ming-Ray Liao

Merely being in Herringbone is an experience itself as the interior is a nothing short of picturesque pulchritude. It’s a 1930s era vintage warehouse with tall, open ceilings and live trees that begets images of a woodland fairy tale complete with chipper birds, most likely lost and disorientated.

My companions and me started off with the Bloody Mary and the mimosa, the latter being smooth and sweet, deceptively masking the alcoholic roots of the cocktail. The restaurant week menu, which didn’t include the cocktail, went for an affordable 3 courses for $20.

The Tuna Conserva on Wheat was essentially their glorified tuna sandwich, but with a certain elegance. It wasn’t drowned in mayonnaise but rather, maintained the integrity of the tuna flavors cut through with the freshness of sprouts and tomatoes. 

Banker's Hill: $30 Dinner

Ming-Ray Liao

I’m of the philosophy that a good dining experience is the only dining experience worth having, and Banker’s Hill has certainly lived up to my expectation. 

The Restaurant Week dinner menu consisted of a full 3 course meal for $30 and was in the spirit of contemporary American gourmet.

The dish that stood out however, was the Pear and Endive Salad. This trendy salad was an exemplar appetizer, being nuanced and balanced across the flavor wheel and elevated by the goat cheese and spiced honey. 

Chedi Thai Bistro: $10 Lunch

Stacy Trac

As college students, we’re always jumping at an opportunity to save money or looking for the best bang for our buck. Therefore, having lunch at Chedi Thai Bistro was a no brainer.

Right in the middle of Downtown La Jolla, Chedi Thai offers a wide range of appetizers and entrees that are sure to satisfy. For only $10 you can choose between classics like pad thai and curries or more contemporary dishes like charred squid and Thai chicken wings.

#SpoonTip Vegetarians, have no fear! Chedi Thai has a ton of veggie options and are able to do vegetable or tofu substitutions for no extra charge. 

Tidal: $40 Dinner

Melissa Vajanaphanich

My outlook towards SDRW is that it's one, out of the two weeks in the year that SDRW is live, of the few times to go on a gastronomical adventure that I wouldn't have the chance to otherwise.

So with Tidal's $40 dinner menu offering dishes like duck rilletes, pork cheeks, and lamb shank, my friend and I were definitely in it for the experience. While my lamb was a bit gamey, as it should be,  the highlight of my night was the duck rilletes which was an explosion of foreign, yet pleasant, umami flavors.

#SpoonTip Make a reservation on the patio so you can make it for sunset and enjoy both the daytime and nighttime view. 

Duke's La Jolla: $20 Lunch

Melissa Vajanaphanich

Despite having been open for less than a year, Duke's has gained a lot of momentum in La Jolla's food scene. Whether it be for the Hawaiian inspired food or the scenic view overlooking the Cove, I was glad that their $20 two-course lunch special gave me an excuse to stop by to see what all the fuss is about. 

While their island fare draws on some Asian influences, the dish that stood out to me the most was entirely Californian contemporary. The chilled shrimp and crab salad was refreshing and light, thanks to the yuzu dressing and the watermelon radish, and was the perfect accompaniment to the salty, ocean breeze. 

#SpoonTip This is another restaurant with killer scenery so reservations are a must.  

Prepkitchen La Jolla: $20 Lunch

For quality food at a reasonable price, Prepkitchen in La Jolla offered a $20, three-course lunch menu that was ideal for two people. The meal started with a shared appetizer, an entree for both guests, and finished with a dessert to share.

During SDRW, my friend and I ordered the burrata--a delectable, creamy ball of cheese smothered on a plate of heirloom tomatoes and dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. My entree consisted of their famous fries and steamed mussels, followed by an oozing plate of apple bread pudding in butterscotch sauce.

Galaxy Taco: $15 Lunch

A photo posted by Jacob & Julie (@jacobtris) on

At Galaxy Taco, a $15 lunch consisting of an appetizer of your choice and two tacos is an offer that cannot be beat.

You are first asked to select from different, full-sized appetizers like guacamole with a mountain of chips or steamed mussels. This was followed by choices of different tacos on their blue-corn tortillas like carnitas, carne asada, and beef tongue for the more adventurous.