HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese?
TELL US

CHEAP eats in SF/Berkeley

c
chiguy13 Jun 22, 2009 02:21 PM

I am visiting SF next week and will be there for 3 days. I am travelling on a budget but want to experince great local food. I would prefer local places, off the beaten path, non-touristy.

I would like to find a great sushi place, or chinese place, or mexican place, or some other ethic cuisine that will blow me away. I have read previous posts on this subject, but they were a year or two old, and I know with cheap eat places, they might not be around.

So give me suggestions with neighborhood for lunch or dinner, or even breakfast if you have any. If you have some thoughts for Berkeley, let me know as well.

For me, cheap eats is $10-$15 per person.

thanks. looking forward to finding out some great places.

  1. wolfe Jun 22, 2009 02:32 PM

    Here is an overview and several recent threads to get you started.
    http://www.chow.com/lists/1591
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/615245
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/599216
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/596206
    http://www.sfgate.com/food/bargains/

    7 Replies
    1. re: wolfe
      grayelf Jun 23, 2009 07:47 AM

      As a visitor to SF, I think Larkin Express would fall into your cheap "ethnic" category nicely. We don't have any Burmese here in Vancouver to compare with (maybe part of why we have found it so satisfying) but I'd be hard pressed to find something I'd like to eat more than their tea-leaf salad. And the relatively recent addition of samusa soup made me very happy -- I liked it better than the version at Pagan which had a lot of unnecessary lettuce in it. It is in an area that locals sometimes warn tourists off but we have never had problems there. It is also mainly a daytime destination, though I believe it is now open till 8-ish on Friday and Saturday.

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

      1. re: grayelf
        Robert Lauriston Jun 23, 2009 09:03 AM

        Open till 8 on Friday and Saturday, also the name is now Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen. Tea leaf salad and moh hinga are still $5.50 each. Half a dozen combo platters get you two or three items, rice, and tea for $5.50 to $8.50 ($1 more after 3pm).

        Poc-Chuc (Yucatecan) is another place with great food in that price range.

        Cheese Board Pizza for a dirt-cheap, very Berkeley experience.

        -----
        Cheese Board Pizza
        1512 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

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

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          Cynsa Aug 30, 2009 10:20 AM

          new hours: Monday 10:30 am to 3:00 pm, Tuesday thru Saturday 10:30 am - 8:30 pm. Closed Sunday. Go now and enjoy 10% off your dinner tab. $2 beers Happy Hour from 4 pm to 6 pm: Fat Tire/Corona/Tsingtao/Heineken

          1. re: Cynsa
            grayelf Aug 30, 2009 11:35 PM

            Nice! Thanks for that, Cynsa. Am I mixing things up here -- I thought I read/heard that happy hours are not kosher in SF?

            1. re: grayelf
              Robert Lauriston Aug 31, 2009 07:39 AM

              Maybe you're confusing happy hours with BYOB? The latter's illegal in California if the place doesn't have a liquor license.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                grayelf Sep 1, 2009 12:27 PM

                You're right, thanks, and for clarifying how BYOB works in CA as well.

        2. re: grayelf
          CarrieWas218 Jun 23, 2009 11:30 AM

          Second Larkin Express. Great food for great prices. I'm now completely enamored with their corn and onion side...

      2. rworange Jun 23, 2009 08:27 AM

        What days are you planning to be in Berkeley and what days are you planning to be in SF? Will you have a car?

        The Chow Digest is a good thing to read for recent tips.
        http://www.chow.com/san_francisco_bay_area_digest

        It covers the whole Bay Area, but if you scroll through it you will see lots of recs for different places in Berkeley and SF like this one for falafel
        http://www.chow.com/san_francisco_bay...

        Since you are from Chicago, pizza and Mexican you might want to skip here ... unless you want Cal Pizza

        6 Replies
        1. re: rworange
          c
          chiguy13 Jun 25, 2009 01:19 PM

          I will bein Berkeley on Monday and SF on Tuesday-Thursday.

          Going to One Market for our nice meal. any thoughts?

          Heard good things about Sai Jai Thai, anyone confirm.

          If you had to choose between Larkin Express and Burma Super Star?

          1. re: chiguy13
            Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2009 01:27 PM

            The food at Larkin Express is a big step up from Burma Superstar, but it's lunch only on Tuesday through Thursday, Burma Superstar's open for dinner.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              CarrieWas218 Jun 25, 2009 01:59 PM

              But you will easily spend double at Burma than you would at Larkin. And it is hardly twice as good...

            2. re: chiguy13
              JasmineG Jun 25, 2009 03:02 PM

              One Market is fine, but it would not be my choice for a one nice meal in SF.

              1. re: JasmineG
                rworange Jun 25, 2009 08:19 PM

                I have to agree. It is the last place I would send someone for a nice meal. It is the type of place that people take clients for lunch and dinner. It is part of a restaurant group by Bradley Ogden who has long ago sold his soul for a comfy income ... this is from someone who was almost a groupie of this chef when he started. If you are in Berkely, I'd use that nice dinner for the Cafe at Chez Panisse.

              2. re: chiguy13
                s
                sfbing Jun 25, 2009 03:13 PM

                Sai Jai is just ok. I think Lers Ros is significantly better.

            3. b
              bradluen Jun 23, 2009 11:15 AM

              Two good restaurants in Berkeley specialising in cuisines you might not get much of in Chicago are --

              Jayakarta (Indonesian): The nasi padang rice plate is a logical starting point for adventurous newcomers (chili-fried egg! sator beans! the rice itself sometimes sucks though), or else get something wrapped in a banana leaf: optimally, a whole fish.

              Vik's (Indian chaat/snacks): If you've had first-rate chaat elsewhere, you'll find nits to pick about this place. Otherwise, order the lamb baida roti and something with the garbanzo chutney and be very satisfied. Wider menu on weekends. (NB: Vik's is moving in the very near future, but I think that's after your trip.)

              -----
              Vik's Chaat House
              2390 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710

              Jayakarta Restaurant
              2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

              1. rworange Jun 25, 2009 08:26 PM

                Another thought if you don't want to do Chez Panisse is Incanto's special $30 three-course monday night dinner. Here's the report for week one
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/628917

                If you are on University Ave, stop by Chocoletier Blue. .He was a pastry chef who worked at Charlie Trotter and opened a chocolate shop here. The summer flavors are here and the stand outs are the raspberr and the smores. From the ongoing flavors the espresso is my favorite. For a $2 truffle, you can buy a piece of the best of the best. The cold chocolate drink is amazing too.

                1. k
                  kabocha Jun 25, 2009 10:11 PM

                  We like Cancun Taqueria in downtown Berkeley, at 2134 Allston Way between Shattuck Ave and Oxford Street. It's been reviewed on Chow before. Great selection, and it is right near BART.

                  Another great pizza place, about a mile or so from North Berkeley BART (Monterey and Hopkins neighborhood) is Gioia. Never know what 5 or so combos they'll have available, but all of them are good. It's at 1586 Hopkins ( gioiapizzeria.com ). Not a lot of choice and few seats, but a local favorite.

                  1. Robert Lauriston Jun 26, 2009 08:28 AM

                    One Market doesn't make sense to me. Splurge on a budget, go to Dopo.

                    You might also check out Adesso (same people), which has free food at happy hour.

                    -----
                    Dopo
                    4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                    Adesso
                    4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

                    1. s
                      stomsf Sep 1, 2009 01:37 PM

                      I went to Kasa last night after reading about it in Travel and Leisure. Good place for a quick meal -- their specialty is the kati roll, which I understand is street food in India. Little wraps in Roti with indian fillings: I had the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Lamb Curry and they were quite tasty. They are made to order and the guy behind the counter was happy to explain the whole thing to me as well as add a bunch of jalapeno chutney to the wraps as I like it spicy. Fresh onions are a nice add as well.

                      Can't beat the price either, only 4.95 for one roll (snack), 8.95 for two (meal), and 11.95 for 3 (I'm starving). Also serve a platter that's two dishes plus roti on the side.

                      Nice places to sit and eat in as well. I think they serve beer and wine.

                      -----
                      Kasa Indian Eatery
                      4001 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: stomsf
                        Cynsa Nov 12, 2009 12:59 PM

                        the thali lunch is $8.95 and two kati rolls are $7.95 at lunch time

                         
                         
                        1. re: stomsf
                          Robert Lauriston Nov 12, 2009 01:48 PM

                          Their prices are relatively high compared with Indian / Pakistani fast food places in funkier neighborhoods.

                        2. b
                          bayareabars Nov 12, 2009 03:06 PM

                          Howdy:

                          Tara's Organic Ice Cream on College for Mind-blowing ice cream.
                          KangNam Pho House on Telegraph for some ridiculous Pho etc.
                          Geta Japanese Restaurant on 41st St. for some cheap Sushi
                          Zacharay's Pizza on College for great pizza
                          GodSpeed for some crazy amazing drink specials
                          Addis Ethiopian on Telegraph for the best Ethiopian food I have ever had. Mind blowing!

                          Happy eating!

                          Bar reviews at bayareabars.wordpress.com

                          Cheers!

                          -----
                          Geta Japanese Restaurant
                          165 41st St, Oakland, CA 94611

                          Show Hidden Posts