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Jun 28, 2001 01:39 AM

Requesting suggestions for good cheap places

  • l

I'm trying to wean myself off more pricey dinners to save up for a trip to France and would love suggestions for good cheap eats (under $7 total - incl. tax and tip for dinner but not drinks).

Recently, I've been to quite a number of places in the lower Haight (e.g. Two Jacks for great cornmeal crusted fried fish, Rosamunde for fat flavorful hot-off-the grill sausages, Memphis Minnie's for their nice smoky brisket and hearty fixings and Ali Baba's for pretty good falafels). Already been to many places mentioned on this broad: Shalimar, King of Thai, Truly Mediterrean, Arizmendi etc... I've also eaten at many of Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai places on Clement, up to about 20th Ave. I go to school at UCSF and have been to most of the worthwhile places within a 15-20 block radius of school (located at Parnassus near 3rd Ave). Currently, I'm down to a list of Mission tacquerias and pupusarias, but I don't want to be eating Mexican and Peruvian every other day when I'm not cooking.

I'd be very grateful to hear of your favorite great cheap places. Distance or dicey neighborhoods are not problems (in fact I'm thinking right now about fish and chips at the Edinborough Castle in the Tenderloin), so long as it's in SF.

Thank you so much in advance!

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  1. r
    Randy Salenfriend

    Hi Limster:

    The gauntlet has been thrown down and I suspect the Chowhounds can answer this most difficult challenge, even in San Francisco. Given your criteria and your locale, you may very well have frequented some of the following but here are some in my neighborhood, (Richmond, just off Lake).

    Pho to do @ 1000 Clement-Unbeleivably inexpensive for standard Vietnamese, including tasty Pho,fresh rice-paper rolls and adequate rice dishes.

    Bai Som- Clement near 21st or so-sometimes sparkling Thai dishes, including curries, larb and Pad Thai. Close to your limit but you might be able to squeak by just under the cap!!

    Bill's Place-Don't know if your tastes run to hamburgers but this old standby does serve some decent ones, large and filling, many choices of combinations, great authentic shakes (served with the can) and fries.

    There is a fish and chips spot on Geary, roughly between 17th & 19th on the south side of the street which will satisfy that craving and fit your budget. If someone knows the name, perhaps they will post it, otherwise, I will glance at it next time I pass by & note the name for you.

    Einer's Diner-Right next to the Fish & Chips joint, burgers, dogs, chicken etc.

    Ernesto's-Right next to Bill's Place on Clement @ 23rd,
    homey neighborhood Italian, may be able to score one or two pasta dishes for 6.95. Not spectacular but consistent and good value.



    2 Replies
    1. re: Randy Salenfriend

      Thanks for the suggestions!

      Yes - been to Bill's Place - liked it too.

      I just went to that fish and chips place - it's called Buffalo Burger and Fish and Chips and is located between 17th and 18th. Got the fried seafood combo for $6.75 - 3 fried oysters that were juice-squirting good, 3 fried scallops, 2 light crunchy prawns and 1 battered cod with chips.

      I think this place is a cut above the usual diner-type places - here the seafood tasted like seafood and the fish was also quite good. Chips was an interesting option - it's not french fries, but deep fried thin slices of potato. Burgers there look big too - I actually had one there a few years ago right before a movie at the Alexandria.

      Finished off with a scoop of Thai tea ice cream at Joe's Ice Cream on the same block.

      Haven't been around that stretch of Geary much (I usually end up on Clement) but I noticed a couple of places that seem kinda interesting...will have to try them soon - there's a small quiet and rather intriguing Korean place just across the street, and 2 Chinese places and a Thai place as well. Maybe I'll give them a whirl, since I know nothing about these places. And that's just that block...

      BTW, Moscow and Tbilisi Bakery is just 2 blocks away, I'm a fan of their piroshkis and all their hearty goodness. The cakes are also good and very cheap.

      1. re: Limster
        Randy Salenfriend

        You're quite welcome, glad you enjoyed Bill's and got to check out the Fish & Chips spot. There are so many spots on Geary between Park Presidio and 27th that one could likely find some hidden gems with a little hounding. Let me know if your search turns up anything worthwhile. Happy Hunting!


    2. Dinner at a non-Oriental restaurant for $7.00 or less is rather unlikely, but the best food buy in SF is still Original Joe's on Taylor (dicey neighborhood, but valet parking). Your best bet is to take a friend and split an order ($2.00 extra, I think). Sometimes there's no charge if one splits an entre and the other splits a big salad. Ask the waiter. Portions are humungous, and food is great.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jim H.

        Sounds good - will have to drag a friend along one of these days! Any particular favorites on the menu?

      2. King of Falafels on Divisadero (and bush?) has the best falafels in town, great hummos (better than Haigs), good grilled chicken sandwiches and fries.

        7 Replies
        1. re: garcon

          Just ate lunch at King of Falafels - the falafel sandwich was awesome! The falafels were made to order and were hot on the inside and crispy on the outside. Definitely the best I've had around here. Getting them fresh does mke a huge difference.

          Thank you so much for the tip!

          1. re: Limster

            You're most welcome. The King of Falafels does a few things well, like hoummos and falafels.

            Most Californians just haven't had great middle eastern food or know how Hoummos or babghanouj should really taste like. Eating middle eastern food here is like eating Chinese food in Iowa. I've been spoiled having grown up in Paris, home of the best mideastern food outside of the Levant. If you're ever there, I recommend Noura's, avenue Marceau off the Champs Elysées. Great sandwiches and lebanese desserts, most of which are not available in Northern California, prepared and presented with good taste. They opened a branch in London last year.


            1. re: garçon

              Alas -- should have picked your brain before my France trip last year! I did spend a week in Paris in November and stuck to French food (with a few forays into bad Chinese places just to keep me sane.)

              What's your opinion on Truly Mediterrenean (upper Haight branch) and Ali Baba's (Lower Haight branch)?

              1. re: Limster

                I've tried Truly Med once, if it's the shawarma/fast-foodish place on the upper haight and north side of the street. Their version of knafeh (a great dessert consisting of baked sweet mozzarella-like cheese topped with a thick golden-brown semoulina and soft shredded wheat crust with syrup) was not very fresh.

                I've yet to try Ali Baba, thanks for the tip.

                If you're ever in Montreal, I would strongly recommend Restaurant Alep, the best mideastern restaurant I've been to in N. America. Other cities with good mideastern restaurants are Houston and perhaps NY and LA.

                1. re: garçon

                  Yes - you're right about the knafeh - I got it one evening and the shredded wheat seemed somewhat oily in a flat way.

                  I've seen them put out desserts in the afternoon, around lunch time...perhaps that might be a better time to get them. Do they serve that elsewhere? Haven't paid much attention to desserts, but the cheese really intrigued me.

                  1. re: Limster

                    I haven't seen knafeh anywhere else, except perhaps the mideastern deli in the Sunset on Irving, IIRC. I just replied to a post in the int'l board about knafeh and Noura. This item is often served for breakfast stuffed in a crescent-shaped sesame hollow bread. That was my favorite breakfast in Paris, the blend of the golden-brown crisp semoulina top, which gets softer in the middle and merges with the melting cheese underneath, dipped in syrup with a hint of orange blossom water, all stuffed inside a delicious sesame-topped flatbread: to die for!

                    Unfortunately, the pickings are pretty slim in Northern California as far as middle eastern food is concerned. I know Houston has some solid offerings. I think LA is supposed to be better too, I will try to explore and report on my next trip south this spring.

                    Another great mideastern dessert is katayef (not to be confused with the greek dessert by a similar name of kataifi consisting of clotted cream or cheese wrapped in shredded wheat), a small soft spongy bread (a little similar to the ethiopian version, made on a griddle with from flour, water and yeast) stuffed with clotted cream and topped with orange blossom syrup, ground pistachios and candied orange blossoms. The King of Falafels does this dessert by special order. Sometimes the bread is also stuffed with nuts or cheese and refried.

            2. re: Limster

              My friend and I moved to Iowa 10 years ago, we still dream about their parsley sauce.

          2. You didn't say it had to be a sit-down place, so I'd recommend Lucca's Deli on Chestnut in the Marina.

            They have a box dinner that is 1/2 rotisserie chicken, a healthy-sized piece of specialty bread, and a choice of 1 side item for $5.95!!! Makes for a GREAT picnic on the cheap.

            Just a few blocks from Crissy Field - would make a nice summer diversion.

            Happy eats!

            1. I'd go to the Mission for a taco. Papalote, La Tacqueria, Tacqueria Cancun...