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Best Bang for the Buck in SF

I'll be in SF for a few days (the trip will run from a Wednesday through a Sunday) and I'm looking for lunch and dinner options that have great food for the money. We'll be splurging a couple of nights but are hoping to find some less expensive yet still delicious options, too.

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  1. it's not quite a meal, but in North Beach, there is a LIgurian foccacia bakery that is outstanding. They sell out early most days, but if you get there by 10 or 11, you won't be disappointed.

    On the edge of Chinatown, there's the House of Nanking, which is a bargain.

    I'm not sure what you define as less expensive, but a lunch at Tadich Grill would be a hearty, great meal in a classic SF setting.

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    Tadich Grill
    240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    House of Nanking
    919 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94133

    1 Reply
    1. re: glutton

      Tadich is good, classic SF, but it isn't cheap (good seafood never is). There are lots of cheap eats in Chinatown that are better than House of Nanking where you don't have to stand in line (time is money, especially when you're on vacation and have better things to do with it).

      It would be really helpful to steer you to some good places if you were more specific about what you were looking for and in what price ranges.

    2. It would be good to define a price range - I'll assume for now that you mean cheap eats (under $20)

      7X7 had a good list:

      http://www.7x7.com/content/food-finds...

      Here's a great ongoing thread - started in 2007, but as recent posters have noted, it's still pretty up to date.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/359937

      1. One place that always provides fantastic food for the money is Limon Rotisserie.

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        Limon Rotisserie
        1001 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

        1. Angkor Borei
          Bodega Bistro
          Burmese Kitchen
          Helmand Palace
          Lers Ros
          Maykadeh
          Poc-Chuc
          Thai House Express

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          Bodega Bistro
          607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Thai House Express
          901 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Helmand Palace
          2424 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Maykadeh Cafe
          1180 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA 95125

          2 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Remember, Poc Chuc raised their prices. Most entrees are $18.

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

            1. re: sugartoof

              Not cheap at dinner any more, no. Lunch prices are lower.

              http://www.pocchuc.com/menu.html

          2. If you have a car and can get to the outer mission, I think Broken Record is a great value considering the creativity of the food. It can get a little crazy on weekends, so I'd suggest if you go, try Wednesday or Thursday.
            http://www.brokenrecordsf.com/

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            Broken Record
            1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

            6 Replies
            1. re: chuckl

              Didn't the Broken Record people just open another place closer in?

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              Broken Record
              1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                not sure, last time I was there was about 3 weeks ago. Broken Record is owned by the same guy who owns Church Key in North Beach. I hope it doesn't change, I really like that place

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                Broken Record
                1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

                Church Key
                1402 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA

                1. re: chuckl

                  The original Broken Record chefs are now running the kitchen at Bruno's. But I hear good things about the people cooking at Broken Record now.

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                  Broken Record
                  1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

                  1. re: Calvinist

                    I've heard that Broken Record rebounded nicely from the departure of the original chefs to Bruno's.

                    Meanwhile, Bruno's is definitely worth considering. Not exactly cheap eats, but definitely good bang for the buck. The OP appears to be from South Carolina, so it might be fun to check out the Bruno's chefs take on southern food.

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                    Broken Record
                    1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

                    1. re: Calvinist

                      Where is this Bruno's? I didn't find it in a search.

                      1. re: Mick Ruthven

                        try this:
                        Bruno's
                        2389 Mission St
                        (between 19th St & 20th St)
                        San Francisco, CA 94110
                        (415) 643-5200
                        http://www.brunossf.com/
                        http://www.tablehopper.com/biz/brunos/

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                        Bruno's Restaurant
                        2389 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              2. Limon Rotisserie is good bang for the buck.

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                Limon Rotisserie
                1001 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

                3 Replies
                1. re: Atomica

                  For cheap tasty chinese I would recommend Chung King for Lunch plates or Louie's Californa Chinese for fresh dim sum. Chung King plates are less than $6 and Louie's can do plenty of dim sum for less than $10 per head and we always leave full (it our go to friday lunch spot at my office). Little Star pizza on Divisadero is also nice for thin crust or chicago style. San Wang in Japantown is a Korean/Chinese place where you can not fail ordering dry-fried anything (chicken wings, squid, or tofu) they are all good and you get a heaping platter of food.

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                  San Wang Restaurant
                  1682 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                  Little Star Pizza
                  846 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                  Louie's California Chinese
                  646 Washington Street, San Francisco, CA 94111-2106

                  Chung King
                  606 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  1. re: myst

                    Funny...I was mentioning to friends and family that we should go to San Wang (Sam Wong, San Wong, Sam Wang, which ever sign you read). It has been a long time, but it is indeed the best Asian food buy in town, albeit a bit greasy (but very tasty grease). Great squid and clams. Keep in mind the menu prices look rather hign by comparison to others, but the servings are enormous.

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                    San Wang Restaurant
                    1682 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                    1. re: OldTimer

                      Yes it is good grease. Guilty pleasure to get a bunch of fried stuff at San Wang...the clams though are hit and miss. We got a batch that were obviously not fresh - told the waiter to just toss them. He insisted on bringing new ones - we kept saying no but he brought them out anyway and they were fresh. I think they try to unload the less fresh stuff on unsuspecting types, so you just need to be careful. Never had that issue with other dishes. Plus my chinese friend's parents make such awesome clams, restaurant ones never seem to compare!

                2. Park Chow is always a good deal. Plus there is no corkage.

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

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Civil Bear

                    Park Chow is a deal. You can spend more at Denny's and get way, way less in quality. Nice diverse menu, enough to make a few people happy.

                    For lunch I'd definitely check out some taquerias or taco trucks. Don't know where the OP is from but if you're not from CA, it's worth a look/stop. The choices are many and everyone will give you a different opinion. Do a search like this one:

                    http://search.chow.com/search?query=b...

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

                    1. re: Civil Bear

                      The Inner Richmond is full of good cheap eats options. If at Park Chow, save room for dessert. My favorite - the ginger cake with pumpkin ice cream. Delicious any time of the year, not just Thanksgiving.

                      Another option - Pacific Catch if you are in the mood for seafood. I love the salmon or grilled ahi tuna bowls. Order with with brown rice and feel extra healthy or over salad to feel even healthier. But the health benefits do not detract from the tastiness.

                      http://www.pacificcatch.com/locations...

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

                    2. Polkers , on Polk, in Russian Hill, has really good casual faire (best Turkey burger ever), and Tommy's Sandwich Joynt are both great comfort food on the cheap, like $10/pp versus Park Chows is cheap in the $15-20/pp.

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

                      1. For lunch if it's a nice day pick up something at Sentinel and eat outside - there are lots of options downtown e.g. the roof of the Crocker Galleria.

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                        Crocker Galleria
                        360 Degree Gourmet Burrito, San Francisco, CA 94102

                        1. less expensive and delicious - on MUNI #5 bus route:
                          Jannah serves $13 entrees and $3 pours of Salmon Creek wines, desserts $4-$5. The Salmon Creek Pinot Noir + Lamb Tikka kebab,cooked to order rare (5 pieces) and plated with hummus, tabouleh, pickles, salata, tomato, onions with sumac and lavash is a $16 value. Add a $4 dessert and you have a $20 evening.
                          or, go to Bistro Central Parc at Grove St. and Central for the early bird prix fixe - 3 courses for $17.50 if you request the special 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm menu.

                          -----
                          Jannah
                          1775 Fulton St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                          Bistro Central Parc
                          560 Central Ave, San Francisco, CA 94117

                          1. Gordo's Taqueria - less than $5 for a gigantic, mouthwatering burrito
                            Golden Star - my favorite Vietnamese joint in Chinatown - the grilled shrimp and pork bun (vermicelli) is especially delicious and about $10 with tip
                            Humphry Slocombe - the most unique and amazing ice cream ever!
                            Tartine Bakery - their frangipane croissants are heavenly
                            Koh Samui & the Monkey - atmospheric, great service and delicious food - dinner for two will be less than $50 - the sesame crushed scallops and pumpkin curry are especially delicious, and their corn fritters should not be missed!

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                            Tartine Bakery
                            600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            1. The Hog Island at the ferry Building is a great place on Tuesdays, as is the Hyde st seafood they both do specials on Oysters if you like oysters. There is an early bird special at Rue Saint Jacques in Nob Hill between 5:30 and 6:30 every day it's a 3 course and a glass of wine, you just cannot beat that in Nob Hill. If you like sushi, the best bang in my opinion is Shimo's on Clement St, sit at the sushi bar and let shimo himself make you marvel, and you wont break the bank
                              http://www.hydestseafoodhouse.com/
                              http://www.ruesaintjacques.com

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                              Shimo Restaurant
                              2339 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121