Cheap food near Haight-Ashbury?
June 19, 2012 10:36 PM   Subscribe

Cheap food near Haight-Ashbury?

I'm about to be in San Francisco for a week or so (this city is new to me, so I'm very excited); however I also suddenly need to economize quite a bit.

So, what are the best places to eat cheaply in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco? (I'll be near Oak and Divisadero, so perhaps this is actually closer to Lower Haight).

I'll be willing to splurge for a couple nicer meals during my time in SF (and suggestions for relatively economical splurges are welcome too), but I'm mostly interested in suggestions for good ways to eat cheaply in this area and elsewhere in San Francisco during the next week or so. Maybe food trucks or something along these lines? Or neat little places that have decent food (dine-in or take-out) that is surprisingly affordable.

Thanks for any suggestions.
posted by landlubber to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man. Little Chihuahua. especially the fried plantain and garlic shrimp burritos. And the soup. Yumm....
posted by samthemander at 10:49 PM on June 19, 2012

Also, it can be tough to eat cheaply in SF. true story: a friend moved to that same neighborhood post-college but was broke and lazy, so he lived on nothing but convenience store chili and ramen for a few months. His was an extreme case. Fortuntely, it's easy to find delicious food if you can pay about $10-$12 a meal. And it's easy to find cheap HHs in this neighborhood, so ahoy for cheap beer.
posted by samthemander at 10:55 PM on June 19, 2012

I haven't been there in a few years, but El Balazo on Haight was always a great place to get a reasonable meal.
posted by cyndigo at 11:14 PM on June 19, 2012

El Balazo closed a few months ago.
posted by mollymayhem at 11:23 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Omg yes, Little Chihuahua. And the bar next door, the Page, has great boilermaker specials.
posted by dame at 11:33 PM on June 19, 2012

Little Chihuahua is delicious, but not very cheap. On Haight, there's a little noodle shop called Citrus Club that's pretty cheap, and a bunch of burrito places and coffee houses. In general, it's not a super cheap neighborhood, but there are some options. You'll probably be better off buying some staples and cooking, if you have access to a kitchen.
posted by judith at 11:35 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not as familiar with the food options in the Haight-Ashbury (lower or upper) but if you need cheap food in SF, get yourself to the Mission and eat some burritos.
posted by grapesaresour at 12:01 AM on June 20, 2012

For when you're in the Haight-Ashbury area:
I really like Squat and Gobble cafe, they have an awesome patio. Also Panini, Escape from NY pizza and Blue Front Cafe all have really yummy food under $10.

Also, I'm not sure if they have specials on food but Kan Zaman (right across the street from Citrus Club) has a badass happy hour during the week, $2 beers from 3-7.

Lower Haight: KK Cafe (sandwiches under $7) and Palmyra (I get the delicious falafel wrap or Mediterranean burger for $5). And you can get a yummy sandwich under $6 at King Foot Submarine on Divisadero.
posted by ad4pt at 12:15 AM on June 20, 2012

Also go North on Divisadero.
posted by rhizome at 2:00 AM on June 20, 2012

Cha cha cha cha.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 3:13 AM on June 20, 2012

Get yourself a muni pass. Now you can go to cheap food anywhere in the city!

In Chinatown go for a rice plate lunch at Woey Loy Goey. It's a dump of a dive and I've been going for 45 years! 699 Jackson Street, at the corner of Grant St. It's downstairs, so look down.

The Rincon Annex at Mission and Howard is a wonderful old Post Office building that's been converted to shops, restaurants, etc. They have a "food court" there that has lots of choices.

Get a burrito in the Mission District. It will be huge!

Many of the Bodegas in the neighborhoods have take away food. Wander around and see what there is to see.

My advice is to make your big meal of the day lunch, and then have something more appetizery or small plate at dinner.

Now for a splurge, of sorts. Mozzarella Di Bufala restaurant. Back in the day (really? Twenty years ago?) this used to be DiPaula's on Filmore. But now it's at 69 West Portal. Easily a Muni and bus ride away. But worth it.

Yes, it looks like a pizzaria, but that's not why you go. It's for the Brazilian food! What you want to order is the Frango A Brasileira. Here's the menu description: Chicken pieces in saffron beer sauce with peppers, onions and tomatoes, served with rice and spinach. This stuff is amazing. Changed my life. It's $17 and a full plate of food. They sent me the recipe, but they left out an ingredient, something they do there that makes it addictive. Go. Eat. Reflect on the perfection of life.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:54 AM on June 20, 2012

When I lived there I was a fan of sandwiches from the Safeway deli counter for cheap food (there's one on Market St. in the Castro). Bonus: you can eat outside and people watch.

Seconding The Citrus Club and Escape from NY Pizza; also on Upper Haight, Zona Rosa is decent for burritos (cash only). El Burrito Express on Divisadero is better, while the Mission district is best, like Ruthless Bunny said. You can get tamales for a cheap lunch at the Civic Center farmers market on Wednesdays and Sundays.

For a splurge, Sunday brunch/barbecue at the Park Chalet is fun. The food isn't great IMO but it's a gorgeous location at the end of GG Park across from the beach, and the indoor/outdoor seating makes for great dog watching and a festive atmosphere, like a church picnic but with hipsters and beer and music. There's also a Safeway out there across from the beach, so you could grab a bus to the Outer Richmond, get a sandwich and a beer and bring them to the beach, which I used to do all the time. Then check out the Sutro Baths ruins and Land's End walking trails before heading back downtown. The ruins are one of my favorite spots in the city (go through the cave if it's not blocked off, you'll be glad you did).
posted by désoeuvrée at 6:37 AM on June 20, 2012

I was just in SF a few months ago and walking from the Castro to the Haight, came upon Courtney Produce, a sweet little grocery/produce store. They have really delicious PB&Js for a buck fifty and lots of other sandwiches for under three bucks. My man & I got two sandwiches, chips, water, apples, and a huge organic tomato to eat for lunch in the park -- set us back about $6.00. One of our favorite meals of the trip and definitely the cheapest.
posted by jabes at 7:00 AM on June 20, 2012

There's some really cheap food in the Tenderloin: Shalimar (Indian food) and Tu Lan (Vietnamese) that is supposed to be pretty good. Shalimar definitely felt like a hole in the wall, though. These places probably aren't that far from buses you'd get on to head back to where you're staying if you're hanging out downtown during the day.

There's a Whole Foods where Haight Street dead-ends at Golden Gate Park, and there's also a Lucky's (standard grocery store) somewhere near where you're staying if you want to throw together a meal yourself. Not that Whole Foods is cheap...
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:02 AM on June 20, 2012

Another vote for Escape From New York pizza, but that's the Upper Haight, and I think your Divisadero location is actually the Lower.
posted by Rash at 8:28 AM on June 20, 2012

nthing Squat & Gobble either on Haight or next to the West Portal Muni station. Not elegant, but in terms of fairly decent food for the buck (savory and dessert crepes), hard to beat.
posted by Danf at 8:47 AM on June 20, 2012

Nthing EFNY Pizza, but along Divis there are lots of places to choose from. Bus Stop Pizza, KK Cafe (love their peanut milk), the sandwich place on the same block, Club Wazeima Up the street (Eritrean food in a bar). Walk on Divis between Oak and McAllister and there are so many choices.

I find so many places in Upper Haight especially aren't as good as they used to be and cater mostly to tourists. Also most expensive than down the hill.

Lower Haight, so going downhill from Divis, once you hit Pierce, there are also a bunch of burrito, pizza, and other places. The middle eastern place isn't bad, if still there. The sausage place, the name escapes me, is awesome. Get a beer next door and you're set (I believe they still allow you to take your sausage in with you).

If you are a walker, continue down Steiner and meander through to the Inner Mission, along Guerro and Valencia streets in the mid-teen blocks (what, 15th-25th) and there are also a ton of places.

I'm a neighborhood girl (close to Haight), so I avoid WF like the plague, opting instead for Haight Street Market. Family owned, super nice people, decent prices, great food (groceries and prepared). It is in Upper Haight on Haight between Ashbury and Clayton (north side of street).

Have an awesome time!
posted by mamabear at 9:13 AM on June 20, 2012

I used to live near there -- you're neither upper nor lower Haight at that point. You have plenty of reasonably priced options up and down Haight Street in either direction but you'll have to walk a few blocks to get to them. I find Lower Haight far less annoying that the Upper Haight (aka Haight-Ashbury). Divis itself now has more options, in the few blocks around the Metro and further north.

I miss King Foot Subs on Divis at Haight -- I used to eat there allll the time.

Axum Cafe is inexpensive Ethiopian on Haight.

Get a sausage at Rosamunde and eat it with a beer next door at the Toronado.

For a splurge meal, Nopalito.

Yelp in SF is well-populated and helpful for these sorts of questions.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:05 AM on June 20, 2012

every time I'm in that area I eat at Askew.
also I just typed "askew" into google and I think my brain's still tilted.
posted by changeling at 10:43 AM on June 20, 2012

(Asqew, rather.)
posted by changeling at 10:44 AM on June 20, 2012

For what it's worth, I prefer Memphis Minnie's in the Lower Haight to Askew, but neither of them are as good as whatever-it's-called-now BBQ at Divisadero & Grove.
posted by rhizome at 11:08 AM on June 20, 2012

but neither of them are as good as whatever-it's-called-now BBQ at Divisadero & Grove.

Brother-in-Law's for practically ever, then briefly Lily's, now Da Pitt. (I can only vouch for the B-i-L's incarnation, which was quite tasty.)
posted by trip and a half at 12:57 PM on June 20, 2012

Taco trucks are cheap. Fancy food trucks are not. Carts are often cheap, you'll find them mostly in the Mission. It's worth getting out of the Haight because SF is really not that big. There's no reason to stay in that hood when a 20 minute walk or a 10 minute bus ride will get you so many more options.

I think you'll find more cheap food in the Tenderloin/ Tendernob than around Haight. Pagolac is delicious Vietnamese. Hoang Dat has three dollar Bahn Mi (as it should be). Order two. Shalimar (on Jones) is good cheap Pakistani/Indian. For whatever reason I don't like the other Shalimar on Polk as much.

I think EFNY pizza is absolutely terrible these days, but it is cheap. It's just disgusting. For a super cheesy, big, cheap slice I think Serrano's is better, but you'll have to travel to the Mission.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:08 PM on June 20, 2012

I live on Haight Street. The Upper Haight is okay— you just have to enjoy it as you might enjoy Las Vegas. All the kitschy stuff is part of the experience, and there's a lot of history underneath it all.

Also, this weekend is PRIDE. Brace yourself for traffic and funtimes!

People have mostly covered it, but here are some more options:

Upper Haight:

Ploy II - Best Thai food in the upper haight, possibly in all of Haight. Most entrees are $8-16. I'm pretty sure it's a converted home, so it's a great place to sit and eat.

Splurge: Club Deluxe's pizza - Their pizzas are the best kept secret in the Haight. They have weird hours, so make sure they're open. If you are eating there, be aware that it is a jazz club...

Lower Haight:

Love N Haight - A good variety of cheap (<$7) sandwiches. They have meat, veg, and vege-meat (made from soy). My order is usually a vegetarian sandwich ($4.99!) with a bag of snap-pea crisps. Not a great place to sit down and eat, but my favorite place to pick up food.
posted by yaymukund at 7:21 PM on June 20, 2012

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