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Cheap eats in San Francisco

Lookin for off the beatin path local favorites places.Have eatin at all the top rated in past trips.Looking for great Vietnamese,French,Soul,Mexican.Any great Cheese or wine Bars also..Thanks.Also can anyone reccomend any solid asian markets to shop at with great fish and produce.....

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  1. Cheap eats:

    A La Turka
    Angkor Borei (Cambodian)
    Bodega Bistro (Vietnamese)
    Burma Super Star / Golden Mandalay (Burmese)
    Gyro King
    Naan 'n' Curry / Shalimar / Shan / Pakwan (Indian)
    L'Osteria del Forno (Italian)
    Maykadeh (Persian)
    Spices / Spices II (Taiwanese Sichuan)
    Taqueria San Jose (tacos al pastor or chorizo)
    Thai House Express
    Ti Couz (crepes)
    Truly Mediterranean (falafel, schawerma)
    Zante (Indian pizza)

    Wine bars:

    Hidden Vine
    Hotel Biron


    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I'm with ya on Cav...especially because there are so many choices with the wine: tastes, glasses, flights and many are very reasonably priced...and the cheese selection kills me - they slay me, I love them!

    2. adding some

      Yamo (Burmese) 18th Steet
      Dosa (Southren Indian) Valencia
      Chow (American, eclectic) two locations Church and 9th Ave.
      Assab (African) on Geary at Collin
      Little Delhi (Indian/Pakistani) Eddy
      La Santaneca De La Mission (Salvadoran) Mission either 23rd or 24th Street?
      La Palma Mexicatessen 24th street
      Farolito Taqueria 24th street
      El Farolito Mission
      The Butler & The Chef Bistro (French) the best QUICHE! and choc. truffles South Park
      la Turca (Turkish) Larkin
      Okina Sushi-fresh and cheap Arguello, near Fulton.. open Thurs-Sunday only

      4 Replies
      1. re: Lori SF

        Dosa's expensive as Indian restaurants go.

        1. re: Lori SF

          I find Chow and Ti Couz to be reasonable but certainly not cheap. If the bill for two averages around $30 I don't find that a steal.
          I am really curious what everyone considers cheap.

          1. re: finchycocoa

            Ti Couz is cheap if you get just a crepe, which can be a fairly filling meal if you choose the right one. If you order a salad, savory crepe, dessert crepe, and drinks, not so cheap.

            Bodega Bistro and Maykadeh can also be cheap or not so cheap depending on what you order.

            1. re: finchycocoa

              $10 each or under for a meal is cheap to me. I'll also add Mifune, Valencia Pizza & Pasta, Lee Hou, La Corneta, Cha Cha Cha, No Name Sushi (west side of Church, south of 15th. st.), Panchita's

          2. I second Ti Couz, and we also like Pancho Villa for Mexican - both in the Mission.

            1. In Chinatown and Celment there are D&A super cheap, very decent fo the price.

              I will second Yamo.

              2 Replies
                1. re: finchycocoa

                  A Chinese restaurant with two branches, one on Clement and one on Broadway.

              1. a few more:

                Saigon Sandwich and Baguette Express for Vietnamese Sandwiches (takeout only)
                Sai Jai Thai
                Adana Kebab
                Hing Lung

                Parea Wine Bar has a great happy hour until 7pm everyday. A flight of 3 wines + appetizer is $10.

                1 Reply
                1. re: alag

                  9 Flavors (this doughnut shop on 5th near Mission) has excellent Vietnamese grilled pork sandwiches.For $5.25 you can get an iced coffee with it!

                2. Many good recs here. I will add Yucatasia in the Mission. The Mission is a cheap eats haven.

                  1. Tu Lan - Vietnamese on 6th at Mission
                    Taqueria Cancun - 19th and Mission
                    Great markets and restuarants (Taiwan) on Clement...

                    have fun!

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: jbyoga

                      What do you recommend ordering at Taiwan on Clement? So far, I've only had so-so food.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        I honestly haven't been in a few years but as I am veg - it was a veg dish..remembering it as good though...again - a few years ago....

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Lion'shead, but I haven't had it for years.

                        2. re: jbyoga

                          Tu Lan has gone downhill a lot. It's still quite "scenic" but now the food matches the decor a bit too closely.

                          1. re: malachi

                            when would you say the downhill slide occurred? I was there last summer and it was alright I thought. for americanized viet food I've done worse.

                          2. re: jbyoga

                            I would not recommend Taiwan either.

                            1. re: tvr172

                              Almost 20 years ago there was a Taiwan restaurant in Berkeley, related to the SF place. Ordered a whole steamed fish and after tasting it you could tell it was frozen at one point (or dead in the tank). They swore it was fresh but when we got up and said we were leaving they said nothing. Serving bad fish in a Chinese restaurant is like serving Chef Boyardee in an Italian place. I swore I'd never go to either again and haven't.

                              1. re: ML8000

                                I would only steamed fish at a restaurant with live tanki where I get to select the fish I want. It has been over twenty years since I have eaten at Taiwan in Berkeley and we never had steamed fish as I remember it did not have tanks as a non-Cantonese restaurant steamed fish would not be on my list of thing I would order.

                                I remmber they did other things right.

                                1. re: yimster

                                  You know those Taiwanese, they're super classy and better then any Canto peeps and they're not not afraid to say so. They'd never keep a tank in the dining area...way too peasant.

                                  1. re: ML8000

                                    I know,but the only way you get really fresh fish is get alive. Another reason I do not order steamed fish without tanks.

                                2. re: ML8000

                                  I did not know they are related. Anyhow they are both pretty lame.

                                3. re: tvr172

                                  I can only speak of Taiwan at Berkeley. It has some great dishes but they are specialty dishes that are available at certain times on weekends. Like the south style taiwanese noodle soup is very good.

                                  On the regular menu, the oyster omelette is good. So is the pork with tofu skin roll.
                                  Both Taiwanese specialties but available everyday.

                                  Also their beef sliced thin (marinated 5 spice) is v good.

                              2. Is Gyro King still around? I thought it had closed.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Tobias

                                  Changed to Sahara with about the same menu. Enjoy their fish dishes.

                                  1. re: Chernyert

                                    I guess that explains why the recently opened Sahara immediately changed its name to Adana Kebab.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Had some seriously bad food at Adana Kebab. E.g. the kibbeh that was supposed to include fresh herbs and walnuts seemed to be stuffed with nothing but unseasoned meat. While the coating was nicely brown on the outside it was gooey and raw inside. I don't even understand how that's possible.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        There are raw types of kibbeh, loved the one I had at a lebanese restaurant in London. But I'm surprised that raw meat would be served to you intentionally in SF without some disclosure.

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          No, the meat was if anything overcooked. It was the starchy part that was raw and gooey. It wasn't the usual coarse bulgar dough, seemed more like a batter.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Now that I haven't run across, beats me too.

                                    2. re: Chernyert

                                      That's not true, Gyro King is still Gyro King.

                                  2. Thanks to all for the great ideas.!!! Any alum of China Moon Cafe with a place int the city? Also any brick oven pizza in town...

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: globalcubbard

                                      If by brick oven you mean coal-burning a la Patsy Grimaldi's, there aren't any. This list includes all the wood-oven pizzas I've found:


                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston


                                        Saw your pizza list and was curious if you've tried "The New Yorker" pizza at Haystack in Noe Valley. I've posted about it on Chowhound in the past. Just curious what you thought of it. We love it and it reminds us of Ray's in the Village. Not sure how it's baked, just sure how it tastes.

                                        1. re: NoeMan

                                          No, I haven't been there since the change in ownership and remodeling. Doesn't look terribly NYish to me:


                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Try it you'll like it. The picture does not do it justice. Not much of a change in ownership, the couple got divorced and the kids and Mom kept it going, I think the kids own it now.

                                            1. re: NoeMan

                                              The Web site says the husband's daughter took it over.

                                              When I lived in the neighborhood (ten years ago), they made standard mediocre California pizzeria pizza, not as good as Cybelle's down the street.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Wow, that's a surprise, I remember the Mom running it after the divorce and over-sharing details with us. That's quite a change. I hate their other pizzas and am only recommending The New Yorker. We get one about once a week, and only discovered it about 3 years ago, so the change has done them good.

                                                1. re: NoeMan

                                                  Ray's in the Village? I'm not sure that's stuff anyone would be craving in the Bay Area. I guess that kinda looks like the stuff they serve at the original Ray's on Prince st.which can be okay for a slice, if that's what you mean, but they're not really known for quality ingredients or a wood burning oven. Meanwhile, Haystack is one of those funny places I don't particularly like, but I've certainly had some great pizzas there every few years.

                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                    Some ex-New Yorkers crave Ray's-style pizza. I think that explains how Arinell's manages to stay in business.

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      Of course, but Ray's is a quickie slice made with a fake cheese substitute, served with a pool of grease floating on the top. Don't get me wrong, I've had my share of it!

                                                      The closest thing to a NY corner slice I've had in SF was from the pizza place on Noriega in the Sunset. I think it's on 46th. The sweet sauce was very similar to a place called Stromboli's that has locations on 2nd (in the EV) and University Plc. They even get the synthetic cheese that will burn your tongue right. It's not what I would call good, but if that happens to be the craving, as opposed to a grandma style pizza, then that's a place to go.

                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          What, no Victor's??? (If you want delivery specify thick crust or moisture condensation ruins the delicate etherial crust, cool on wire racks, reheat in toaster oven to serve at home). You won't be sorry.

                                      2. one of my favorite cheap eats that's totally a neighborhood place is david's kitchen on tarval and 28th. it's a small place - the food is a range of cuisine from curry to a pork chop with kim chee on the side. i love their taro root cake dessert. plus the prices are very good especially for dinner.
                                        here's my longer review: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42356

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: katg

                                          Lunch at David's Kitchen has a half-pound burger with salad or fries for $5.25
                                          Note: the Chinese Chicken Salad for $6.95 is generous enough for two to share!
                                          Lunch is served Tues - Sat from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. It's a sweet deal for the Cheap Eats list.

                                        2. El Delfin for Mexican (mole, mariscos). Search for my report on it - SO great!

                                          In fact, i think everything on this list qualify as cheap eats:


                                          1. Relatively recent addition: Lee's Sandwiches (not to be confused with Lee's Deli). 625 Larkin St., across the street from Baguette Express.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              What kind of sandwiches? I recently had a pork sandwich from Baguette Express and the pork was too garlicky and had a funky texture. I should have crossed the street!

                                              1. re: finchycocoa

                                                Funky texture bad. Too garlicky impossible.

                                              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                ehh, I recommend any of the other Vietnamese sandwich places nearby over Lee's.

                                              3. Ming Lee on Clement- Bakery- They make good pork sew mai, pot stickers and other dumplings. I did not care for the lotus moon cake probably not just made like their dim sum is which comes right out of the kitchen. I resisted the BBQ steam buns but could of kept ordering. Oh the custard tarts very tasty You could spend 5.00 and get filled up fast. We were there for a snack something to take the hunger edge off before browsing at Green Apple Books across the street.

                                                3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                    I love Wei Lee! Thanks for the links of the threads I will check them out.

                                                    1. re: Lori SF

                                                      This might be the place (corner of Clement & 8th or 9th Av) that has the best pork- pei don jook for $1.39, or something like that. Their steam table foods never impressed, however, just OK.

                                                1. I like the burger at jay's cheesesteak, the carnitas at El Mariachi.

                                                  Jasmine tea house and Mi Lindo Peru have great lunch specials.

                                                  1. Cheap Eats in the Mission:
                                                    Taqueria San Jose and Farolito's would not be my top picks as far as tacos or burritos go. La Taqueria (25th and Mission) and La Corneta (23rd and Mission) or the taco truck on Harrison and 22nd have fresher and juicier meat. However, for the best cheap eats Mexican food in SF go to the Alemany Farmers Market on Saturday or Sunday and eat at El Huarache Loco. I have been really enjoying their quesadillas made with fresh masa and griddled with your choice of filling and salsa. For pupusas and other Salvadoran specialties try Balompie on 18th and Capp. For Guatemalan try San Miguel on Mission around 29th. Good homestyle Peruvian food is inside the Mission Market Mall (22nd and Mission) at El Perol. The portions are huge.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Xilonem

                                                      What are the times that Huarache Loco is open? You said both Sat and Sunday? The quesadillas you describe sound great. Thanks

                                                      Dave MP

                                                    2. New favorites:

                                                      Burmese (lunch only): Larkin Express Deli.

                                                      Yucatecan: Popol Vuh

                                                      Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen
                                                      452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                      Poc Chuc
                                                      2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Popol Vuh is now Poc-Chuc. Same cook.

                                                        Poc Chuc
                                                        2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                      2. Links:

                                                        Burma Superstar Restaurant
                                                        309 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                                        Angkor-Borei Restaurant
                                                        3471 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                        A La Turca
                                                        869 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                        Bodega Bistro
                                                        607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                        Gyro King
                                                        25 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                        533 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                        L'Osteria del Forno
                                                        519 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                        Maykadeh Persian Cuisine
                                                        470 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                        Singapore Malaysian Restaurant
                                                        836 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                                        Spices II
                                                        291 6th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                                        294 8th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                                        Taqueria San Jose
                                                        2830 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                        Thai House Express
                                                        901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                        Ti Couz Creperie
                                                        3108 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                        Zante Pizza
                                                        3489 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                        Cav Wine Bar
                                                        1666 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                        Hidden Vine
                                                        620 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                        Hotel Biron
                                                        45 Rose St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                        Wine Bar & Shop
                                                        2 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                        642 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston


                                                          Truly Mediterranean
                                                          3109 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                        2. Another great cheap place:

                                                          Old Jerusalem
                                                          2976 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                            what's good at Old Jerusalem? I went once and ordered the Jerusalem Salad (a salad of tomatoes, cuucmber tahini sauce & lemon) which turned out to be a plate of watery tahini dressing drowning some chopped tomatoes and cukes. The hummus wasnt very good either.

                                                            Maybe the meat is a better option?

                                                              1. re: mchan02

                                                                Have had the Shawerma & Kefta Sandwich. Both very good.

                                                                1. re: Calvinist

                                                                  I'm not a big fan of their beef/lamb shwarma (despite 2 tries), especially in the wrap; their chicken shwarma's better imo. I also prefer their unstuffed falafel to the stuffed ones.

                                                                  Service has ranged from really nice, chatty, and accommodating to...barely perfunctory (eg you have to ask for every specific thing you'd want (more water, more pita, check) while the waitress "waits" behind the counter, depending on who's there. same as it was for me in parts of the middle east. Still, I'd recommend it.

                                                              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                I had the shish taouk, a chicken sandwich spiced differently from shawerma (seemed to be marinated in yogurt). I loved it.

                                                              3. One more to add to the list: Shalimar in the Tenderloin for Indian/Pakistani. Amazing chicken tikka masala, and pretty much everything else is great there too - and very cheap. It's also BYOB.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: CaitlinC333

                                                                  When Shalimar is out-the-door, head over to Pakwan (south on the corner, within view). To my taste buds, Pakwan in the same class without the hassle factor. Slightly less dingy, and they deserve the business.

                                                                2. Finally, good cheap dosas and other South Indian stuff:

                                                                  Udupi Palace
                                                                  1007 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                  1. Paladar, Cuban, not dirt cheap but reasonable. Lunch only.

                                                                    Paladar Cafe Cubano
                                                                    329 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

                                                                    1. These are some of my favs:

                                                                      Home Restaurant on Market and Church (next to the Church St. MUNI station) has a great early bird dinner meal: $12 for three courses and a glass of wine (or soda).

                                                                      Warakabune Sushi on Church St. (b/t 15th and 16th (off the J-Church MUNI line) has reasonably priced sushi served via a sushi boat (ask for the "Special Roll"). Dinner only.

                                                                      Cancun Taqueria on Market and 6th, not far from the Powell BART/MUNI station.

                                                                      Out the Door (Slanted Door Restaurant food "to go") at the Ferry Building -- Under $10. Lots of flavor for the buck;

                                                                      Arabi (Middle Eastern) at Rincon Center (Embarcadero BART/MUNI stn.), 101 Spear St. Lunch only.

                                                                      BurgerMeister (3 locations in SF, incl. two next to MUNI lines) -- Great Niman Ranch hamburgers.

                                                                      Tandoori Mahal, Indian Lunch Buffet. 941 Kearny St (near Columbus). A lot of variety for the buck.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: ChowHoundGal


                                                                        Warakubune Sushi Restaurant
                                                                        307 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                                                                      2. Wow, I'm impressed, I'm not sure any of the places listed here have closed or gone downhill.

                                                                        Larkin Express is now called Burmese Kitchen and is open until 8pm.

                                                                        Dosa has a second location on Fillmore.

                                                                        Major new addition: Lers Ros.

                                                                        Lunch at Jai Yun.

                                                                        Jai Yun
                                                                        680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                        Lers Ros Thai
                                                                        730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

                                                                        Dosa on Fillmore
                                                                        1700 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          Do you really consider Dosa to be cheap eats? Just curious...

                                                                          1. re: chaddict

                                                                            As others have noted, DOSA can be a cheap eat, or very expensive eat. Their dosas are entree portioned, and in the low teens/high single digits, so if one just makes a meal out of one of those, it is a cheap eat.

                                                                            If one does the four-course menu with wine pariings, it is not

                                                                            1. re: chaddict

                                                                              Yeah, if you get just a dosa or uttapam, it's cheap. Otherwise, not so much. Kind of like Ti Couz, Bodega Bistro, or Maykadeh, you could spend a little or a lot depending on what you order.

                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                According to the menu online, there isn't a dosa or uttapam for under $10. In my book, that does not qualify as cheap eats. Single digits, please....

                                                                                1. re: chaddict

                                                                                  They're not particularly generous Dosas either. It's not like we're talking about a dosa entire families can make a meal off of.

                                                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              I just mentioned Dosa's second location because it had come up before. It's relatively expensive for an Indian restaurant, e.g. Udupi Palace's dosas are about 20-30% cheaper.

                                                                            3. Grant Place is Great!! for Noodles in the afternoon. Duck over mein is fantastic. When I say cheap, I mean you can eat great for about $7 with tip. Their dim sum is not bad.
                                                                              Lychee Garden is on I want to say Powell. This is a real chinese place. Really good Wor won ton soup. Crab with black bean sauce is really good and not too bad a price.
                                                                              If you want really cheap eats in Chinatown, stroll up and down Stockton Street during the early morning and afternoons, this entire strip is loaded with chinese bakeries (char shu bau and law mai gai), take out only shops, and markets. This is the area where local people go to get the food. Stockton is one street up from Grant . It's a great area to eat for under $5.

                                                                              Grant Place
                                                                              737 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94108