CHEAP eats in SF/Berkeley
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.
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
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
2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
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.
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
Since you are from Chicago, pizza and Mexican you might want to skip here ... unless you want Cal Pizza
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.
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
2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
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
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.
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.
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.
4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA
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
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!
Bar reviews at bayareabars.wordpress.com
Geta Japanese Restaurant
165 41st St, Oakland, CA 94611