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Cheap eats in SF?
March 17, 2009 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Cheap eats in San Francisco. I'll be visiting San Francisco for a week in April and am looking for good, cheap eats both near my hotel (at Sutter & Larkin) and in other parts of the city.

I've got my hotel booked and touristy stuff all lined up but I'm still looking for a list of good and cheap eats. I've already looked at sites like chowhound but I'm looking specifically for recommendations narrowed down to the neighborhood I'll be staying in. The hotel is at Sutter and Larkin (North Tenderloin? Tendernob? You tell me.) and I'd love some cheap yet good recommendations for that area. Also, there will be the prerequisite visits to the touristy (and not-so-touristy) parts of the city so any other recommendations would be appreciated as well, along with their location.
FYI: I won't have a car so don't send me too far afield! We're going to be on foot or using transit the whole time. And by cheap eats I mean under $10 for lunch and under $15 for dinner inclusive if at all possible!
posted by thecjm to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (20 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Walk down Larkin a few blocks to Saigon Sandwiches for delicious, inexpensive banh mi.

For dinner, try the Edinburgh Castle, which has excellent beer, a good whiskey list, and gets its delicious fish and chips from a great place around the corner.

Shalimar is fantastic Indian/Pakistani.
posted by rtha at 7:20 PM on March 17, 2009


Anyway, I had decent fish & chips at Edinburgh Castle once (which is Tenderloin). Plus the Tenderloin has a ton of cheap Indian and Vietnamese and other Asian-ish places. Holes-in-the-wall but many good (supposedly -- I don't get up that way too often being more of a Mission/Haight person).

And, anyway, everything in the city is only $1.50 (and some time) away, so don't worry about it being near by. And the places that are going to have sub-$15 dinner food and really good are mostly going to be centralish since that's where the most concentration of people are.

In the Haight / Lower Haight(short bus ride, really! Or you could walk in 30-40 minutes), I am fond of Massawa for Eritrean (Ethiopian) and Rotee (though I've only had delivery from them).

Even if you go wrong, the experience will probably still be fun if you keep an open mind. :)
posted by R343L at 7:23 PM on March 17, 2009

Chai Yo for delicious Thai.
posted by sarabeth at 7:27 PM on March 17, 2009

For some good and cheap middle eastern food (Tunisian/Moroccan specifically) you should check out Cafe Zitouna. It's only one block away at Sutter and Polk.
posted by briand864 at 7:33 PM on March 17, 2009

yuet lee in chinatown

arizmendi in sunset
posted by pallen123 at 7:40 PM on March 17, 2009

Mission District for cheap burritos. My favorite place is Taqueria Can-Cun.
posted by chez shoes at 7:55 PM on March 17, 2009

Tommy's Joint on the corner of Van Ness and Geary.
posted by MattMangels at 8:13 PM on March 17, 2009

Pomelo in the Inner Sunset or Noe Valley. I was always partial to the Inner Sunset location. You can take the N-Judah to get there.

Mmmm Pomelo...
posted by juliplease at 8:24 PM on March 17, 2009

When I drank in that neighborhood I would eat at Sliders, Grubstake, and Tommy's Joynt as mentioned for warm food, though just as often we'd grab whatever from places nearby. Also, Brandy Ho's delivery...
posted by fleacircus at 8:34 PM on March 17, 2009

That's near my office, and my usual choices for lunch are:

Brenda's (Polk & Eddy): My favorite restaurant in the area, hands down. Amazing beignets. Tasty shrimp and oyster poboys. Try the gumbo, too. I haven't actually eaten anything I didn't love there. There's often an hour-long wait, but it's completely worth it, and it's not so bad if you show up early--I usually wait between 5-20min for a table if I show up at 11:30.
Saigon Sandwich (Larkin & Eddy): Best banh mi I've ever had. Roast pork and meatball are my favorites. You could go to Lee's across the street for more variety, but the only thing I get there is the bubble tea.
Golden Kim Tar (Larkin & Golden Gate): Maybe not the best Chinese food ever, but it's tasty and filling. I often get the lunch specials, eat half, and stick it in the fridge for lunch the next day. They give you free egg/spring rolls if you order takeout, too.
Splash (Ellis & Larkin): Vietnamese food. With their $5 lunch specials, it's a cheap alternative to the more expensive Bodega Bistro on Larkin. Apparently they're also a karaoke bar at night.
Pho 2000 (Larkin & Willow): HUGE servings. It's tempting to order the large bowl since it's only 50 cents more, but the medium is filling enough for me and my coworkers--the ones who ordered the large bowls couldn't finish them.
Red Crawfish (Larkin & Eddy, right next to Bodega Bistro): The food here is good, but go for the crawfish during happy hour. I can't often get away from work at 3pm, so I forget how much it costs, but you get a bucket of crawfish.
posted by kiripin at 8:39 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Among the other reasons why you're lucky to be staying in Real San Francisco is that you're actually within crawling distance of totally awesome Indian food. Naan n Curry is open 24 hours, and greasy Indian food is always great after drinking. It's also BYOB. It's cheap, so order lots of stuff and share.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:03 PM on March 17, 2009

House of Nanking, on Kearny.
posted by musofire at 9:27 PM on March 17, 2009

Tika Masala -- their website does not match the grit that is the neighborhood. Try the goat -- it's not on the menu.
posted by mmdei at 11:45 PM on March 17, 2009

My favorite place for Thai food: Thai house express on Larkin and Geary. Loved their beef jerky.
posted by meijusa at 11:58 PM on March 17, 2009

Tu Lan, 6th and Market, if you're downtown. It's a greasy place, great to sit at the counter and watch the cooks. It's Vietnamese, it ain't health food, but it's delicious. The Imperial Rolls will make your eyes roll back in your head. Julia Child LOVED the place!
posted by davoid at 12:01 AM on March 18, 2009

Seconding Tu Lan. I can't believe I forgot about it.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:31 AM on March 18, 2009

Eating in Translation spent most of the last month or so in San Francisco. He's always posting cheap and delicious things and I spent most of the last month or so wishing I was in San Francisco eating them.
posted by clockwork at 9:42 AM on March 18, 2009

No need to go to the Mission for Taqueria CanCun - there's one on Market at 6th, around the corner from TuLan.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:45 PM on March 18, 2009


Tu Lan. Worst street in SF but great cheap Vietnamese food.

Saigon Sandwich. Grimy and awesome food.

Brenda's is a must. Please do not leave SF without eating there.

I have been slowly eating my way through these lists:

7x7 Cheap Eats

SF Gate Bargain Bites

Also: Kasa. Indian in the Castro. Kati rolls = awesome
Nicks Crispy Tacos: Not authentic, great space, $2 everything on Tuesdays

Email if you have specific requests.
posted by vaportrail at 12:09 AM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just bought a place in the area and one of my major reasons was the availability of good, cheap food. I recommend any of the ones listed by kiripin (Brenda's in particular for weekday brunch; lines are too long on weekends) with the exception of Pho 2000 or Cafe Zitouna as suggested by briand864 (go for the bastilla or any of the tajines, lamb especially). I'll add A La Turca for Turkish, Turtle Tower for chicken pho, and Pagolac for their epic Vietnamese 7 courses of beef dinner.
posted by junesix at 12:35 AM on March 19, 2009

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