Friday, June 27, 2008

The 10 Best Cheap Eats in SF

This is a quick 10 piece guide to the best meals for your dollar in San Francisco. When I created this list I was looking for places that you could get a delicious, quick meal for around $6.

1. TACOS (obviously)
I recommend a wagon deep in east oakland, no joke. I can't remember their name but their taco's are to die for.

If you are ever around International Blvd and 90th Ave in Oakland, unless you just came from an all you can eat buffet and steak house and finished the 72 oz house special with sides to score yourself a free meal, you have to stop and try these tacos.

Mi Lindo Yucatan

In the city I would recommend the flavors of Mi Lindo Yucatan in the San Francisco Mission district. Order 2-4 appetizers depending on how hungry you are. I always get a order of Tacos de Cochinita (Roasted Pork in traditional achiote sauce, wrapped in home made tortillas and pickled red onions), Panuchos (Fried home made tortilla stuffed with black bean puree. Topped with grilled chicken or turkey, cabbage, tomato, pickled red onions and avocado) and Salbutes (Fried tortilla puffs topped with grilled chicken or turkey, lettuce, fresh tomatoes, pickled red onions and avocado.) Sometimes two Tacos de Cochinita, spicy! cause they are so good.
401 Valencia Street
(between 15th St & Sparrow St)
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 861-4935

2. BAHN MI THIT (Vietnamese pork sandwich)
Slices of heaven between clouds of love, with cilantro, carrots and jalapeños! Wow it doesn't get any better then this, and for under $3 a sandwich. I recommend the roast pork or roast chicken sandwich, the sweetness of the meat is an amazing contrast and complement to the spicing hot slices of jalapeños and the fresh flavors of the carrot and cilantro sprigs. Damn I want one right now!

Saigon Sandwich Shop

There are a bunch of good vietnamese sandwich shops around San Francisco, and most are really cheap but Saigon Sandwich Shop is just flat out, the best!
560 Larkin St
(between Eddy St & Turk St)
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 474-5698
link to reviews

If you don't know about pupusas yet you have been missing out, but no worries because you now know! Pupusas are great for breakfast, lunch, diner or a snack. I highly recommend getting the cheese and Loroco (a delicious flower native to El Salvador.)

El Zocalo

They are the best here, I have tried them at over a dozen spots in San Francisco and no others come even close. Hands down these are the best pupusas in the city! I love this spot for the late night meal.
3230 Mission St
(between 29th St & Valencia St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 282-2572
link to reviews

Again, there are a lot of great burgers in the city, but not many of them are a good deal...

Burger Meister

I hate Barney's Hamburgers and I hate all the press it gets! Barney's is an overrated shit factory. Now I wouldn't say that Burger Meister is that much better, but it is better. And on Tuesday they host a 2 for 1 special before 6pm which makes them way better!
138 Church Street
(between Duboce Ave & Reservoir St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 437-2874

There is a bunch of great pizza places in the city, these just happen to be the best for you buck.

Arinell Pizza

13% Laid back, non-chalant service, mixed with 19% cranial impotence, and add in a 81% hipster attitude. (Statistics include a 13% margin of error) The fact is, it's fucking good! They offer both a true Neapolitan thin crust and a deep dish and are quick to heap the toppings on.
509 Valencia St
(between 16th St & 17th St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 255-1303
link to reviews

Golden boy pizza

These guys specialize in deep dish and it's tasty. Push past the usual line at the door and squeeze into a seat at the bar, pizza and beer, what more could you ask for?
542 Green Street
(between Bannam Pl & Jasper Pl)
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 982-9738
link to reviews

Top Dog in the east bay is an amazing late night spot also but for here in the city I recommend the legendary: Rosamunde Sausage Grill on haight.

Rosamunde Sausage Grill

Wow, they do one thing and one thing right! Sausages! (and burgers on Tuesdays) Order a dog and eat it at the bar next door with a beer. Be prepared for a wait during lunch time cause this place is packed, and it's not because they move slow. These guys and girls sweat to get you your dog or burger as fast as possible. All I can say is wow, I want an Andouille right now!
545 Haight St
(between Fillmore St & Steiner St)
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 437-6851
link to reviews

Another staple of the poor man's diet, tamales. There are some many different styles and flavors available I could eat them everyday.

The Tamale Lady (Virginia Ramos)

She's the savior of the night and can usually be found at Zeigeist or somewhere else in the mission. Plus she's pretty much famous, she has a Wikipedia page, over 225 yelp reviews and even a documentary about her.
Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 218-1443
link to reviews
link to article
link to documentary

Virginia is often found at Zeigeist
199 Valencia St
(at Duboce Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 255-7505

I'm not usually a buffet style guy but I'll make an exception for Tommy's

Tommy's Joynt

I wouldn't say it's that good, but it's hella cheap! Hey it's family style. The wall hangings will keep you looking for days. The perch of more then a dozen small birds each with 3 inches of dust on top is my favorite. As for the food, the meatball sandwich is good as well as the turkey diner. It definitely beats the Mel's Drive-In alternative, plus it's got drinks!
1101 Geary Blvd
(between Franklin St & United States Highway 101)
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 775-4216

Your local coffee shop pastries are always usually good for a quick cheap snack, but for something savory and a little more filling, try Peasant Pies.

Peasant Pies

These are great, the ham and cheese in great in the morning and the black bean tofu is good for lunch. Each is spiced right and, if heated up, is usually nice and moist too.
4108 24th Street
(between Castro & Diamond)
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 642-1316

You can't beat the farmers market in quality or price. They have all the freshest seasonal fruits and veggies from around the state, plus an amazing tamale stand.

Alemany Farmers Market

100 Alemany Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94110
6 a.m.-4 p.m

There are also a bunch of other markets held around the city including:

The Bayview Hunters Point Farmers Market
4705 Third St at Galvez Ave
San Francisco, CA 94124
8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

The Civic Center Farmers Market
1182 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Wednesdays and Sundays
8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

The Crocker Galleria Farmers Market
50 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94101
11am to 3pm

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

Tuesdays and Saturdays

The Noe Valley Farmers Market
3861 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

And to top off the list: Free Food!
Free food in SF? What? Really, this guy (the cheap bastard) has ways of getting free food at good restaurants like Frisson, Madrone Lounge and New Delhi Restaurant. Check out his page to find out how.

photos from

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