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Best SF Value Restaurants

I read sooo many reviews that say "food is overpriced" or "too expensive" and the like. So I'm curious - what are people's recommendations for the best bang per buck? Places where the food is great, who cares about the decor and ambiance, and you don't go broke there, you don't have to splurge, it's not a special-occasion-only deal, you don't feel like you were taken advantage of. Probably no tapas places would qualify. I think maybe an example would be Woodhouse Fish Co. What do you think? TIA!

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  1. Genki Ramen on Geary has a $3.00 per appetizer Happy Hour, which includes chicken kaarage, takoyaki, potato croquettes, etc.

    1. I think the Park Chow places are a decent value.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cary

        I'll second Park Chow.

        Park Chow
        1238 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122

        1. re: Civil Bear

          A third on Park Chow. Price and quality both covered...and family friendly for that matter.

          Also Chow in the Castro from the same people.

          La Vie out in the Richmond is very good Vietnamese and a nice but not fancy place.

          215 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114

          La Vie Vietnamese Restaurant
          5830 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

      2. Actually, at least one tapas place would qualify -- the original Esperpento on 22nd near Valencia. Was there recently for the first time in many years, and the food was good and both food and wines bargain priced compared to many other tapas places. Fun atmosphere too. Interestingly, they have a lot of good veg tapas, more than one usually sees. I had some grilled artichokes that were outstanding.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Joan Kureczka

          I had a good experience at Esperpento a few weeks back as well. I like their main dish offerings which come with two sides; I had a breaded snapper that was very nice, light and satisfying. And a grilled calamari starter which was very good. Well-priced for this economy, for sure.

          1. re: Joan Kureczka

            Love Esperpento and their sister restaurant at 16th & Valencia. I think they provide good food at very reasonable prices, especially compared to the jother tapas places in the city.

            1. re: Joan Kureczka

              I agree! Wasn't very excited about trying it after reading lackluster yelp reviews, but I was impressed. Fried calamari and a gorgeous grilled vegetable platter with aioli were the highlights for me, along with some beautiful crisp garlicky green beans. Simple--also, I kept wanting to say, somehow very Spanish. Very different in kind from the more gussied up tapas at Lolo down the street (which I think is also good). Was amazed by the bill: $25 each, including tip, for a group of four--and we had a decent amount of sangria to wash our meal down.

              1. re: katielp

                I keep going back for that garlicky spread they provide with the bread. It also comes with the patatas bravas, some of my favorite in the city.

              2. re: Joan Kureczka

                I like Esperpento, but I think the menu's maybe 50-50 good items and not so good, and I have trouble remembering which are which. Great prices.

                1. re: Joan Kureczka


                  Esperpento Restaurant
                  3295 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                2. I love Woodhouse, but wouldn't call it a place for "value", though the bay shrimp entree salad is a deal at $8.50, I think. Nothing fancy, iceberg lettuce with tons of tiny bay shrimp, some grape tomatoes and a hard boiled egg with blue cheese or Louis, but it's tasty and filling. Actually I think the crab & melted cheddar sandwich with fries is a good deal at $8.95, and the seafood pasta at $12.50 is reasonable too.

                    1. Depends on what you're craving, but I could always go for Taboun's (Mediterranean), Nopa (Californian) - it is pricy, but portions are huge, San Tung, Thai House Express, etc.

                      1. I recommend L'Osteria del Forno. I had a delicious (huge) sandwich for lunch there today that consisted of housemade rosemary foccacia, tender, thin slices of their milk-roasted pork, tomato and lettuce. They also give you a few delicious, hot slices of their foccacia, with roasted red peppers and green olives. The sandwich is only $7 plus tax. In most of the delis in SF, except cheap, chain sandwich places, you pay this or more for factory lunch meat on factory bread.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: lmarie

                          Limon Rotisserie is a fantastic deal considering the quality of the food.

                          1. re: tvham

                            I 2nd that. I love it and it's also great for take-out.

                              1. re: tvham

                                Wow, interesting. Is this the same Limon that used to be in the Mission?

                                Does anyone have experience with their catering? Thanks!

                            1. Value's pretty subjective. For example, I find La Ciccia and Sebo excellent values, but they're definitely not cheap.

                              Good places for a tight budget (like mine, currently):

                              A La Turka
                              Angkor Borei (Cambodian)
                              Bodega Bistro (Vietnamese)*
                              Burma Super Star / Golden Mandalay (Burmese)
                              El Cachanilla (tacos)
                              Gyro King
                              Helmand Palace (Afghan)
                              Naan 'n' Curry / Shalimar / Pakwan / Naan 'n' Chutney (Pakistani)
                              Larkin Express (Burmese)
                              Lers Ros (Thai)
                              L'Osteria del Forno (Italian)
                              Maykadeh (Persian)*
                              Memphis Minnie's Barbecue
                              Mi Lindo Yucatan
                              Old Jerusalem (Palestinian / Middle Eastern)
                              Paladar (Cuban)
                              Poc-Chuc (Yucatecan)
                              Spices / Spices II (Taiwanese Sichuan)
                              Taqueria San Jose (Mission branch; tacos al pastor or chorizo)
                              Thai House Express (Larkin branch)
                              Ti Couz (crepes)*
                              Truly Mediterranean (falafel, schawerma)
                              Zante (Indian pizza)

                              *can be cheap or not depending on what you order

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                I second L'Osteria del forno and Helmand Palace. Also would add a few weeks ago I first tried Zarzuela at Union and Hyde and was thrilled with thew results. Dinner (lots and lots of tapas) and wine (well, Sangria, but we thought it weas just the ticket)for 6 for under $200. And we really powered through some tapas.

                              2. Le P'It Laurent's "special Prix Fixed Neighborhood Menu that changes weekly and is available Sunday through Thursday from 5:30PM to 7:00PM". It's a three course dinner that doesn't hold back on taste and intention to satisfy. $21.00 for so much goodness.

                                Le P'tit Laurent
                                699 Chenery St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: scarmoza


                                  Le P'tit Laurent
                                  699 Chenery St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                                2. A place I feel you get a "full meal" and sort of fast food prices is Good Frinkin Chicken in the Mission. I usually get the rotisserie chicken-- love that garlic spread think they give you.


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rln

                                    Hey rln, have you had a chance to try the rotisserie chicken across the street at Inka's? For $10 you get 1/2 a chicken, fries or yucca, soup, bread, and a drink (plus the best Peruvian yellow pepper sauce on the planet!). It's a buck or two more than GFC, but ten times better in quality and volume, IMO.

                                    Inkas Restaurant
                                    3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                    Good Frikin Chicken (Goood Frikin’ Chicken)
                                    10 29th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                  2. Thanks for all these great responses. Based on some I guess I should clarify what I meant by "value." Definitely, value is subjective. It doesn't necessarily mean inexpensive. It definitely excludes (in my mind) places that charge more solely because a lot of wealthy people live or work nearby or because it has catches some current trend. Good value can come from good food and/or bigger portions even if the price is high. It's the ratio of how satisfied you are relative to what you paid. I'm new to SF but here's another example: I've been several times to Piperade. I always go for lunch because it's the same menu as dinner but less expensive (better *value*). I always pay about $100 for two including wine but I leave there feeling like I'm in heaven; it's 100% totally satisfying, so it's good value, even though pricey. The opposite was Pesce where, for $80 at dinner I had to fill up on their crusty bread and still left feeling hungry - and ripped off. Thanks for taking the time to offer all these great suggestions, all of which I'll try.

                                    1. I think this is all apples to oranges, for ex vietnamese sandwich best quality to price ratio is still the original saigon sandwich, sticking with vietnamese, if your talking pho you could argue a number of places but there may be no better value than a bowl of satisfying pho for $4-6, As far as comments on esperpento its like sushi, items individually may be inexpensive but I could spend a fortune. This is a catagory where you need to be more specific about the type of food your looking for.

                                      1. Alas, there was a time when Original Joe's was the best food buy in town. There are rumors that it may rise from the ashes (no pun intended) when the fire insurance claim is settled. Let us pray that no effort is made to change things. These unfortunate events do give rise to a problem endemic with fire closures...the help must find other employment and do not return.

                                        1. For the money - I recommend Mi Lindo Peru. It offers delicious, consistent Peruvian comfort foods. Also - the entrees are so large, recommend ordering family style when going with a group of friends.

                                          1. please refer to the thread on this board titled "great authentic Beijing cuisine", the restaurant discussed is an excellent value and four people could eat well for $40.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: moto

                                              Here's a link. I think many people don't realize that when you follow the link, the restaurant's page contains links to all the other threads where the restaurant is linked, plus a collection of threads where the restaurant is mentioned. It's a good way to read a lot of different information and opinions about a restaurant in one place (especially now that the site search engine is wonky again).

                                              Beijing Restaurant
                                              1801 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94112

                                            2. Being from the East Bay, I would add Ichiro and Home of Chicken and Waffles to the list.