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*really* cheap food: $1, $2, or $3 in San Francisco

So -- i'm looking for super cheap places to eat with some students on an upcoming visit. Any suggestions on $1, $2, and $3 places to eat or drink? Anything from sushi rolls to tacos to smoothies to great desserts or frozen yogurt is appreciated! Pizza?



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    1. If you should be in Berkeley this could fill the bill.

      Dollar Curry House
      2136 Oxford St, Berkeley, CA 94704

      1. I dunno what area you'll be in, but Chinese bakeries are great for uber-cheap dim sum - pork buns, chicken pies, etc. Lots of good ones out there, but Chinatown, Richmond and Sunset would be ground zero.

        1. -Vietnamese sandwiches are great and filling
          -Chinatowns have "happy hour" food that are very cheap. I know Oakland has plenty of those but you really have to know which items to order to avoid the "bad ones"
          -Safeway has great sandwiches but a little above your limit. Well worth it I think. Even some of their soups are outstanding such as their jambalaya on certain days
          -Chinatown bakeries have great selections
          -Jook/porridge can be had for around $3. I like sliced fish, pork w/egg kind.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Han

            Most of those Safeway sandwhiches could probably feed two, particularly if supplemented with a peice of fruit or chips or something.

          2. berkeley: desi dogs $1.50 after 5pm, cheejboard pizza $2.50, DA Cafe $2.50 items from
            3-6 and after 10pm [richmond district/sf], peasant pies may still be half off at the end of
            the day [noe valley]. tacos are $1.50 at a numer of places, but that's not really a meal.

            $5 super burrito at el farrolito can feed two [24th st, mission district sf].

            if you just want calories, berkeley king pin apple fritter ... it used to be 95cents,
            but that was a few years ago.

            nations hamburgers are better than 99cent burgers and pretty cheap ...
            and of course there is in-n-out burger ... various locations.

            you could get a loaf of acme bread and a lump of cheeseboard butter [berkeley].

            escape from NY cheese slice with free coke coupon [SF].

            supposedly mccormic & schmicks $1.95 happy hour [i have not been] ...
            berkeley or SF.

            this is a meaningless question without geography ... presumably you arent going to
            pay $4 to drive across the bridge to get a cheap slice of pizza.

            4 Replies
            1. re: psb

              Cheeseboard butter? They make their own? Or sell it bulk?

              I agree it is important to know where. Though I haven't been to the Mccormic happy hour, the caveat is you have to buy a drink ... so that pushes the price up quite a bit.

              1. re: rworange

                I'm sorry you guys but thanks so much for responding to this post... and catching my dumb mistake!

                1. re: rworange

                  i dont know its provenance but there is usually "odd shaped pieces"
                  in the refrigerated self-serve shelf next to the cash register ... where
                  they keep the flavored creme cheeses etc.

                  i meant the "cheeseboard butter" in contrast to say Safeway Challenge butter
                  for the "anti-atkins" meal.

                  1. re: rworange

                    The don't make their own butter. I'm 90% certain that they buy bulk Clover and sell it in pieces. They do make their own creme fraiche which is priced quite reasonably.

                2. Sunrise Deli, falafel 6 / $1.85, Armenian lamb pizza $2.59, spinach pie $2.49.

                  Sunrise Deli & Cafe
                  2115 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                  1. Oh, great question.
                    Some have mentioned banh mi sandwiches, which you can find along Larkin Street. Those will be the single most filling and tasty item you can get for less than $3.
                    Tacos in the Mission rarely go above $2, and if you go to a truck, they're about $1.50 each -- and three will totally fill you up.
                    Pizza at Golden Boy Pizza in North Beach.
                    Bob's Donuts on California for the best donuts in town.

                    Golden Boy Pizza
                    542 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                    Bob's Donut & Pastry Shop
                    1621 Polk St, San Francisco, CA

                    1. There are a bunch of items under $3 on Poc-Chuc's menu, and some of the funkier Yucatecan places a couple of blocks away on Mission are even cheaper.

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

                      1. Come on down to the Mission just about every night, but especially Friday or Saturday night, and follow your nose for the infamous Mission Dogs. Street-corner vendors wrap hot dogs with bacon, fry 'em up in their own grease, and then stuff 'em in a bun with sauteed onions and peppers and smother 'em with ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. A gutbomb to be sure, but it's cheap, $3 max. While you're in the 'hood, there are plenty of Mexican joints that'll serve a taco for under $2.

                        1. There's a place across the street from Green Apple Books on Clement at about 5th or 6th Ave.--sorry, I don't remember what it's called--but they sell these enormous and very tasty steamed pork or pork and vegetable buns for $0.80 a piece, as well as a bunch of other tasty and inexpensive dumplings. There are a few self-service tables and a dingy bathroom inside but it's mainly a take-out operation. Might be Wing Lee.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Euonymous

                            Yes, it is Wing Lee I refer to above. Here's an earlier report on it.


                            Wing Lee Bakery
                            503 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                          2. Blondie's Pizza used to be cheap, and you'll never want food again after that.
                            Golden Boy Pizza (already suggested and probably more then your budget, but still)
                            Tartine's bread pudding is a decent portion.
                            Mochi, buns, etc. in Japantown.
                            Tacos from La Balazo or a billion other places. (they pile the meat up high, and I've made a small meal off one taco alone. there are a billion taco recs. but these fill me up for some reason. A billion choices for good cheap tacos though)
                            Tamales from La Cornetta on Mission can be ordered as appetizers and come out cheap.
                            Piroshki at Cinderella Bakery
                            Hoong Sing Chinese in Glen Park or Tung SIng on 24th have takeout in the front. (It's greasy MSG heavy Chinese that's another San Francisco taste time warp. I only order what looks fresh, but the pot stickers, baked pork buns, and fried won tons are usually safe cheap bets for a certain craving).

                            1. for slightly more money than listed
                              cordon bleu vietnamese on california and polk

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: thew

                                Thanks all!!!!! I really appreciate it.