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Downtown/Wharf-cheap eats with teenagers

I am traveling with teenagers will be staying in the Wharf area of town. We will have some free time and some dinners and lunches free. Can you suggest places that will be under $10 a meal, that both adult and probably mostly un-adventerous teenagers would like? We will be able to get away from the Wharf and venture out a bit using public trans. One day we will be close to the ballpark. Thanks!

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  1. Under $10 a meal? In-N-Out Burger.


    1. Take heart, It's doable, especially if you focus on ethnic eats like Chinese, Mexican, Indian Curry joints, etc. if your teenagers are adventurous enough for those, and even if you don't. Not a lot at the wharf itself, but Chinatown/North Beach is within walking distance and public transportation is good.

      Boudin Bakery-Cafe outlets (but not the main "Bistro Boudin") have chowder (or chili) in a bread bowl for $6-$7. This menu applies to three locations at the wharf.

      Pier 39 has a number of snackish, burgerish places in that price range, including a Boudin's outlet and a branch of North Beach Pizza.

      If they're up for Mexican, Taqueria San Jose #3 at Mason and Francisco is a good option, though there's another taqueria or two at the heart of the Wharf that may be more gringoized.

      As a last resort, the Wharf has a full complement of McDonalds', BK's, IHOPS etc.


      San Jose Taqueria
      2257 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94133

      1. If you're downtown, check out the food court at the new Westfield shopping center. It's not your typical food court: there's a wide range of cuisines, and most of the places are outposts of local restaurants, not low-end chains (for example, there's a more casual branch of the famed Slanted Door called Out the Door).

        Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre
        865 Market St, San Francisco, CA

        7 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Not that easy to feed a hungry teen for under $10 at Westfield, though, except possibly at Sorabol. I think it's about $10 for a bowl of noodle soup at Out the Door.

          1. re: Xiao Yang

            Yeah, it would be pushing it. But there's a Bistro Burger, and Askew Grill, where I think you can eat for $10 or so. I didn't check out all the offerings so I don't know what else might fall into this category. The plus is that you don't have to have the kids agree on something, and there's going to be an option for everyone.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I've never tried Asqew, so I don't know how big their portions are, but according to their menu it's around $8 per skewer.

              I stop there often for coffee or iced tea from Peets, and Sorabol seems to be one of the most popular, probably because their portions are huge.

              I do like Bistro Burger (and I'm probably one of the few that do) and would pick it over In-n-Out, no contest.

              1. re: Xiao Yang

                It happens that when I was at Westfield I did order from Asqew. I got one of their skewered salads: the grilled pear with beef tenderloin, which is described as mixed greens, grilled pears, toasted almonds, red bell peppers with creamy gorgonzola and a skewer of beef tenderloin and veggies. I don't remember how much it was, but it was under $10. It probably wouldn't feed a teenaged boy (but then, what does?), but it's a nice meal for me and most teenaged girls, I would think.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  $7.79, according to the menu. All the skewers are priced for one OR two skewers, which made me wonder if people commonly order two to make a meal.


          2. re: Ruth Lafler

            I think it would be cruel to take hungry teenagers with a $10 budget to Westfield.

            1. Downtown, the third floor of the Crocker Galleria has several places. Nothing amazing, but you could probably all find something you like. Burritos, sandwiches, soup. I can't remember what else. Then you can take the food up onto the roof, if the weather is nice. It's a fun out-of-the-way spot with a bit of a view.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Glencora

                I wouldn't send tourists to the Financial District, but if I had to feed hungry teenagers there on a budget, I'd take them to Órale Órale. It's one of the few places downtown that doesn't charge much more than similar places in the neighborhoods. Serves breakfast. 7am-8pm, closed Saturday and Sunday.

                Escape from New York has decent cheap pizza by the slice.

                Orale Orale
                91 Drumm St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                Escape From New York Pizza
                333 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94104

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I wouldn't send them there either, especially on a weekend, but the Galleria is part way between the Embarcadero and Union Square, so they might be walking past. The distances are pretty short.

                  What do you recommend at Orale Orale?

                  1. re: Glencora

                    I'd order the huevos con chorizo and the chile relleno again. My favorite thing there is the chips and unusually spicy salsa.

              2. Town's End is near the ballpark and has a $10 lunch special - Cup of soup or house salad
                ½ of any sandwich Any beverage Any cookie. They make a nice lemonade.

                In North Beach you can get a big sandwich at either Molinari's or Freddie's ... Freddies is closer to the Wharf.

                What does unadventurous mean? Will they eat Chinese?

                1. In case you find yourself around Lombard St., there's Amici's Pizzeria. They also have a location near the ballpark.


                  10 Replies
                  1. re: ceekskat

                    That reminds me ... along the Embarcadero about half way between the ballpark and the Ferry Building is Goat Hill pizza which has an All-You-Can-Eat Special Lunch: $7.95 Dinner $9.95

                    1. re: rworange

                      And that reminds ME that the Pier 39 North Beach Pizza outlet has an AYCE pizza and pasta lunch too, though the price isn't listed on the menu.


                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          It's not one of your haute pizza places, but for teenagers coming from Salt Lake City it probably will work well as comfort food, especially in an AYCE pizza-pasta setting.

                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            I second XY's emotion. I personally have a real, real ... real dislike for North Beach Pizza ... but it is better than a chain (yeah, it is a local mini chain) ... and the ingrediants are still not bad, though not top rate ... it is the execution that is objectionalble to me ... too much cheese ... sloppily assembled pizzas. There is no way I'd recommend this to a Chowhound ... but for chain-loving teens they might consider it the stuff of greatness ... and it beats Domino's ... or ... ick ... California Pizza Kitchen.

                            1. re: rworange

                              It's a disgrace, but I think Round Table would beat North Beach in any blind tasting.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Ah .. but you have to realize you are dealing with someone with a dark side ... food-wise ... Carvel, McDonalds, even Burger King.

                                I've had both North Beach Pizza and Round Table within a short space of time. I know those pizzas. And i will tell you, sir, RT is no NBP. NBP is better ... especially given the all you can eat ... but I'd still choose Goat Hill.

                                However there are a bunch of places in North Beach that might please all with better food ... Cafe Sport, Capp's Corner, Mario's Bohemian n... and even ... sheesh ... Tommaso's.

                                BTW, if you are in North Beach, they might enjoy XOX chocolates.

                                Kara's cupcakes in Ghiraldelli is a cupcake place. SKIP the ice cream at the Ghiradelli shop and go to the Mitchell's Ice Cream place at Fisherman's Wharf.

                              2. re: rworange

                                For some segments of pizza-eating society, there is no such thing as "too much cheese" and it's apparently a very large segment...


                        2. re: rworange

                          The Goat Hill on Howard might have closed..or they might have just taken down the signs in the evening. I walk by it about once a week around 6 and it looked shut down on Monday.

                          To slcook -- if you don't get In 'n Out near you, that could work.

                          1. re: ML8000

                            They can check the number on the website to be sure. Hope someone knows if they closed or are still open. There are a few yelp reviews in March but that might not mean much since it is hard to tell if people ate there recently or in the past ... or if they are confusing the Harrison and Howard location.

                      1. I'm taking notes, actually my printer is taking notes...thanks for all of the sugestions. I will check back. We leave a week from this Wed. It's a choir trip with a group of about 80-90 high school kids. The last time I went along, we visited Boston, and the meals on our own were with a small group ( usually me and 5-6 others). I know from experience that the kids are always more on the conservative side when it comes to eating out, and they are usually limited to about $10 per meal. You know how it is...most people LOVE anything chain. Kids are usually no exception. Thus the guidelines! One more question... One of my kids lives in Southern CA, and loves Pinkberry. Is it in SF? How about any great cupcake places? If we go to Chinatown, any suggestions there? Actually, three questions.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: slcook

                          Just to clarify, are you asking for a small subset, or for the whole 80-90? The latter would present some logistical difficulties, to be sure.

                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            Yes, just a small group will be along -when we eat meals on our own.

                          2. re: slcook

                            No Pinkberry in SF, but there are some other Red Mango knockoffs:


                            Cupcakes are not the fad here they are in NY and LA but:


                            1. re: slcook

                              Teens seem to like the cream puffs from Beard Papa's -- it's near the Metreon.

                                1. re: Glencora

                                  There's also a BP in the Westfield food court

                              1. My advice is to tire them out before you feed them. Stroll down the Embarcadero to Red's Java House, a wterfront dive straight out of Warner Brothers' back lot. I don't think anything is over $8 and the fish and chips is $6 or$7 (as it should be) and superb. Full bar in back for the grown-ups. Spend the afternoon.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: little big al

                                  That would do for the "close to the ballpark" request, I'll add.

                                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                                    Bear in mind Red's Java House (which I recommend ) is north of The Java House at Pier 40 (which I don't recommend).

                                    1. re: little big al

                                      Aww ... while I like Red's better, I like the breakfast at Java House too. It is an absolutely no-frills breakfast ... we are talking eggs, bacon, potatoes and cheap white bread for toast ... but I like the ambiance of a joint that in my time there went from serving the working class to the currentt condo-crowd ... changing nothing.

                                      On the website it says that Red had an argument with his brother and started his own place down the street ... that was in the 50's. Different owners since 1984.