Good Cheap Eats in California – New Feature!

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Looking for good cheap eats in California? I’ve got you covered with reviews of the best restaurants and food shops to enjoy on a budget.

As you know, I’m a California girl. While my parents are both Minnesota-born and bred, they moved west in 1967 when there was a teacher shortage in the Golden State. They stayed.

And now they’re both afraid of snow.

Can’t say I blame them. The weather in “most” of California is pretty delightful. I was born in a suburb of Los Angeles and have lived here for almost my entire life. Except for a brief sojourn in Kansas City, this has been home.

I’ve lived in the desert and at the beach. I’ve vacationed in the mountains. And even where things are desolate, there’s beauty to behold practically everywhere. See?

And I don’t even own Photoshop.

Contrary to popular belief, everything is NOT expensive in California. Sure, gas and land, certainly are. I do a happy dance when fuel costs drop below four bucks. And we’ve yet to find our dream home at a price we feel comfortable with.

In fact, lots of things are priced very competitively with other places. We don’t spend that much more on anything (except gas and rent) than we did when we lived in Kansas.

I love this great state of mine. It’s home. And it’s pretty. And there’s good food here.

Which leads me to my main point. Good Cheap Eats are at the heart of California. Oh, sure, you can go eat at some expensive hoity toity restaurant in Beverly Hills. But, who does that?

Not me. We’re just normal folk who live here, despite what you see on TV. And normal folk need good cheap eats.

So, I’ll be sharing more specifics about Good Cheap Eats in California — as well as the rest of the continent — over the coming weeks and months. I’ve got a great series of restaurant and food shop reviews all laid out. We’re starting in good old Cali because that is where I started, of course. But, don’t worry. We’re going to travel around.

Β Posts in the Good Cheap Eats in California Series

Whether you’re anticipating a move, planning a vacation, or are simply curious about life in the Golden State, I’ll be sharing great sources for Good Cheap Eats in California.

Have you been to California? What’s your story?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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  1. Sounds like an excellent series.

    That was a Beautiful picture! We visited California in 2006 when my husband was between jobs. We packed up the whole family in our van and pulled a pop-up camper and drove from South Carolina to San Francisco and back! San Fran is a neat place to visit! We spent some time in Monterey, because my husband’s best friend from high school lives there. It was very pretty and a neat little town. We also spent hours trying to get through Los Angelos — on a Sunday afternoon no less! A highlight for us was going to Reagan’s Presidential Library!! Very Interesting! The Most Breathtakinly Beautiful city we visited was San Diego! It was beautiful and I would love to go back and visit again some day! But, I think I’m content to be a “Carolina Girl” living in Georgia! πŸ™‚

  2. I live in NC, but will be leaving for California the end of June for a business trip. My first time there – and I’ll be watching your page for some good eats to enjoy while there πŸ™‚

  3. teresa g says:

    I’m a California Girl living in Illinois. Born and raised in the North Bay but moved in ’99 when my kids were all under 10. Your right, California is not all expensive. In fact, I found the cost of living to be about equal between Norther Calif, and Northern Illinois. I do miss how cheap seafood was out there though πŸ™

  4. Nancy says:

    I am originally a Washington State girl, married to a California boy and living in California for decades for now. We recently moved from San Jose (Silicon Valley), where property is still very expensive, 115 miles away to the Sacramento area, where our new home cost 60 percent less and is 40 percent bigger than our old one. And we’re mortgage free now. As mostly retired folks (I still make some income from freelance writing), we need to stretch our dollars and cents as faaaaaaaar as they will go. I’m working hard at saving everywhere I can, including on food. Bring on the good cheap eats in California.

  5. Janine says:

    Ooh. How cool. Coincidence that this might answer my question to you the other day πŸ™‚ Totally looking forward to this series.

    • Jessica says:

      @Janine, I’m sorry I haven’t gotten to your email. I will eventually. Hope it won’t be too late to be helpful!

  6. Beth in OH says:

    I’m a native southern California girl who has been living in central Ohio since 2005, and I’m planning on moving back within a year. I’ve recently started a relationship with a high school classmate, getting in touch through Facebook. I’m visiting him in July, and want to find an affordable eatery that’s walkable to the beach. I’ll be in the Irvine (Orange County) area, so Manhattan Beach down to San Clemente is the area I’m searching. Any ideas?

  7. KS says:

    I live in Long Beach, CA, and I’m looking forward to this series. : ) Our state government is clueless. I stay because my parents are here.

  8. marisa says:

    Northern Cali girl here! Excited about the series!

  9. Jen says:

    We’ve been to California 3x (1x San Francisco, 2x San Diego). We love all the cheap and tasty Mexican food, and the fresh seafood. If you’re in San Diego, you have to try a California burrito at a local Mexican joint. They usually consist of carne asada, french fries, cheese, salsa, and guac. Mmmm, I was I was going back soon!

    • Jessica says:

      @Jen, I have actually NEVER heard of a burrito combination like that. Do you remember the name of the restaurant? It might be unique to that particular place.

      • Jen says:

        The place I remember from two years ago was called Benny’s. It was located in the South Park neighborhood.

  10. KATHY says:

    love your photo outside El Indio! One of the best cheap eats, not only in San Diego, but all of Cali!

  11. Jodi Flynn says:

    California girl here! Born in Gardena, grew up in Ventura, and transplanted in Clovis, CA. I am looking forward to this series. We will be traveling down to Oceanside with visit to Disneyland at the end of this month.

  12. Amanda Cresap Kost says:

    Ohh how I miss Cali in the summer now that we live in AZ. It was good growing up in the SCV, wasn’t it? Soooo, if the Fisher family is leaving town this summer and wants to rent their house out, then just let me know b/c we are in! I’d offer a vacation home swap, but you won’t want to come here til October.

    • Jessica says:

      Ha! The only time I’m leaving is to go to France! LOL. Good to “see you”, Amanda. I’m going to see Janel this weekend. yeah!

  13. Renee says:

    I’m a California girl – born in SoCal, lived in NorCal, college on the Central Coast, two years in Wisconsin (what??!!), and now raising my family in the Bay Area. I love living in CA, even though there is so much in and about our state that is all kinds of crazy.

    I think the best cheap eats you’ll find are at some really great taco stands and food trucks. Oh, and Farmers’ Markets.

  14. Mary Lou says:

    Thank you for saying what I’ve been saying all along: Barring land and gas, Cali is NOT that expensive a place to live. It was my home state for 44 years and I never had to spend money on snow boots every year for my growing kids. We also never had $200 heating bills in the winter as we do in Colorado. I miss the yummy, cheap Mexican and Chinese food found there. It can’t be beat!

    • Jessica says:

      @Mary Lou, you said it! I also spend less money on clothes for the family since we can dress spring almost all year round.

  15. Central Cali here, but native Texan. I think that there are definite pros and cons to Cali, but food is by far not a con. I’ve never seen so many farmers markets and inexpensive produce in my life!! Looking forward to this series!

  16. Melinda P says:

    I live in Southern California, but I’m not a “native” Californian (born and raised overseas, actually). I do have the pleasure of living about 1.5 miles south of my sister and her family, 3 miles west of my parents and 5 miles east of my parents-in-law. My husband’s brother and sister-in-law live about 35 miles away. So, while I’m not necessarily attached to the state itself, per se, I do love living close to family and they are here, so I’m cool with it. Looking forward to your series!

  17. Brenda says:

    Love and miss El Indio!

  18. MaryBeth Loewen says:

    I’m a California girl living in British Columbia, Canada. This series should make me good and homesick! πŸ™‚

  19. erica says:

    This is great timing! We are bringing our kids down to California for 10 days in June and feeding our crowd is going to be a challenge. We do have a list made of places we want to eat (El Pollo Loco, In ‘n Out, Shakeys) but 10 days of meals is a lot of restaurant eating (breakfast is at the hotel or at the friend’s we are staying with in San Diego)

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