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cheap eats in SF

The comprehensive topic I usually link to has gotten out of date.

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  1. A La Turka
    Angkor-Borei (Cambodian)
    Balompie (pupusas)
    Bodega Bistro (Vietnamese)
    Burmese Kitchen aka Larkin Express
    El Delfin (Mexican)
    Esperpento (tapas)
    Gyro King (Turkish)
    Helmand Palace (Afghan)
    Inkas (Peruvian)
    La Santaneca (pupusas)
    Lers Ros (Thai)
    Little Delhi (Indian/Pakistani)
    L'Osteria del Forno (Italian)
    Mandalay (Burmese)
    Maykadeh (Persian)
    Memphis Minnie's (barbecue)
    My Tofu House (Korean)
    Naan-N-Curry (Pakistani)
    Old Jerusalem (Palestinian / Middle Eastern)
    Old Mandarin Islamic (Peking-style hot pot)
    Pakwan (Pakistani)
    Paladar (Cuban-Colombian)
    Panchita's #3 (pupusas)
    Poc-Chuc (Yucatecan)
    Saigon Sandwich (banh mi)
    Shalimar (Pakistani)
    Singapore-Malaysian
    Spices / Spices II (Taiwanese Sichuan)
    Sunrise Deli (falafels)
    Taqueria San Jose (24th & Mission branch; tacos al pastor or chorizo)
    Thai House Express (Larkin & Geary branch)
    Troya (Turkish)
    Truly Mediterranean (falafel, schawerma)
    Tuba (Turkish)
    Turtle Tower (Vietnamese)
    Udupi Palace (South Indian)
    Yamo (Burmese)

    -----
    Naan-N-Curry
    336 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

    Saigon Sandwich Shop
    560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

    Angkor-Borei Restaurant
    3471 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Inkas Restaurant
    3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant
    3132 Vicente St, San Francisco, CA 94116

    Bodega Bistro
    607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Gyro King
    25 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102

    L'Osteria del Forno
    519 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

    Spices II
    291 6th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

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

    Truly Mediterranean
    3109 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    Turtle Tower Restaurant
    631 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Little Delhi
    83 Eddy St, San Francisco, CA 94102

    El Delfin
    3066 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    My Tofu House
    4627 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

    Yamo
    3406 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

    Troya
    349 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

    Old Jerusalem
    2976 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Balompie Cafe
    3349 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

    La Santaneca
    3781 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Sunrise Deli Cafe
    54 2nd St # D, San Francisco, CA 94105

    15 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      More links.

      -----
      A La Turca
      869 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

      Maykadeh Persian Cuisine
      470 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

      Singapore Malaysian Restaurant
      836 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

      Spices II
      291 6th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

      Spices
      294 8th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

      Taqueria San Jose
      2830 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Memphis Minnie's BBQ
      576 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

      Paladar Cafe Cubano
      329 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

      Mandalay Restaurant
      4344 California St, San Francisco, CA 94118

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

      Udupi Palace
      1007 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Shalimar
      532 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      Shalimar
      1409 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Pakwan
      501 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      Pakwan
      3182 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

      Tuba Restaurant
      1007 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Shalimar
      532 Jones St, SF, CA 94102

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Here's a few more that we like:

        (La Oaxquena, assuming it opens again in December??)

        -----
        Lime Tree - Southeast Asian Kitchen
        450 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

        Dol Ho
        808 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

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

        Pauline's Pizza
        260 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        Chow
        215 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114

        Rosamunde Sausage Grill
        545 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

        Shanghai Dumpling King
        3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

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

        La Oaxaquena
        2128 Mission St, San Francisco, CA

        Rosamunde Sausage Grill
        2832 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        1. re: Thomas Nash

          Little Star and Pauline's are great, and worth the money, but I wouldn't call either cheap as they're both relatively expensive as pizza goes.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            would disagree on little star; 3 people with normal appetites can split a deep dish pizza for just over $18, or three entrees at Yamo

            -----
            Yamo
            3406 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            1. re: vulber

              While in theory two or three people could split a small pizza and get out for $25 with tax and tip, after succumbing to the temptations of beer, wine, appetizers, and/or dessert, our usual bill at Little Star is $35-40 a head (including two or three slices to take home).

              Like most pizza places, Little Star is cheap compared with restaurants in general, but when I can get a great slice for under $3 at other places, it feels out of place on a list of cheap eats.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                fair enough; where's the thread for "only a cheap eat if you resist temptation"? :)

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              It's tough to define what is "cheap" in SF. I could break the $20 per person number including tax and tip at any place on the list so far. Well, maybe not Saigon Sandwich --- I can't eat that much!

              My bill at Little Star or Pauline's for 2 comes right in the same ballpark as Esperpento or Spices or Lers Ros or Angkor Borei or Memphis Minnie or... It just depends what you order.

              -----
              Saigon Sandwich Shop
              560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

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

              1. re: Thomas Nash

                Twenty is the new ten.On the other hand, "Okay", as in the answer to "How's it goin'?" is the new "Fantastic!"

            3. re: Thomas Nash

              kingdom of dumpling>shanghai dumpling king

            4. re: Robert Lauriston

              Still more links.

              -----
              Panchita No. 3
              3115 22nd Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

              Naan-N-Curry
              533 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

              Naan-N-Curry
              642 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Are all three Naan-N-Currys the same in quality?

                -----
                Naan-N-Curry
                336 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  These are all cheap. But are any of them good? Panchitas #3's pupusas were pretty weak when I tried them a few months ago.

                  Let's add:

                  Irving Cafe and Deli (both locations)
                  Moscow and Tbilisi Bakery (for pieroshkis)
                  The Little Chihuahua
                  Pastores
                  Pho Huynh Hiep
                  Ha Nam Ninh
                  Ngoc Mai

                  edit: and Yemeni's for salteh! Man, that bread rocks.

                  -----
                  Ngoc Mai Restaurant
                  547 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                  Pastores Restaurant
                  3486 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  Ha Nam Ninh
                  337 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                  Little Chihuahua
                  4123 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I have loved Mandalay since a teen visiting SF, but is it really "cheap eats"?

                3. Cheap = dinner under $20 with tax and tip; some much less than that.

                  plus

                  Okina Sushi (Sushi)
                  Tajine (Moroccan)
                  Cafe Zitouna (Tunisian)
                  Pastores (Mexican)
                  Pagolac (Vietnamese)
                  Henry's Hunan (spicy Chinese)
                  Palmyra (Syrian- + roast chicken)
                  New Spot (pupusas)
                  Mr Pollo (pan Latin American--the tasting menu has gone up to $20 though)
                  S&T Seafood (dim sum, Chinese seafood)

                  -----
                  Pagolac
                  655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                  Cafe Zitouna
                  1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                  S&T Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant
                  2578 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                  Tajine Moroccan Restaurant
                  1653 Polk St, San Francisco, CA

                  Pastores Restaurant
                  3486 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  The New Spot
                  632 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                  Henry's Hunan
                  1708 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Windy

                    Oh yeah, Henry's.

                    -----
                    Henry's Hunan Restaurant
                    924 Sansome St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    Henry's Hunan Restaurant
                    110 Natoma St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                    Henry's Hunan Restaurant
                    1016 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                  2. I have to recommend WOOLY PIG for killer sandwiches in the Inner Sunset. I've had the Kalua pork sandwich, briny egg sandwich and the banh mi, and they all have made my eyes rolled back in estacy. And reasonably priced too, so hopefylly I can add it to your cheap eats list. You also have to get the Thai tea panna cotta. Oh man. So good.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Eat.Choui

                      Sounds great. Will definitely check it out.

                      Is it where the Hugo Street Cafe was?

                      1. re: Windy

                        I think so - it's on Hugo near 3rd or so. The location is tough enough that they put a sign out on the sidewalk on Irving to draw people walking around the area. It's not that cheap though - I seem to remember the prices being roughly in the neighborhood of The Sentinel. Definitely cheaper than a sit-down lunch, but hardly cheap as sandwiches go.

                          1. re: bigwheel042

                            It's odd pricing.

                            The "special" sandwiches like the Wooly Pig (braised pork belly) & Banh Mi (fillings rotate) are $6. The build your own deli sandwiches are more expensive at $7.95 (+$0.50 for cheese).

                            They say they use Zoe's Meats for the BYO. Not sure about for the specials.

                            This was in June.

                            1. re: drewskiSF

                              I think that at least some of the other meats are from 4505. A guy wearing a 4505 t-shirt was in there today on some sort of business errand.

                              They were out of the braised pork by the time I showed up so I went for the banh mi instead. An interesting sandwich whose complexity probably justified paying a higher price than a typical banh mi joint. This one was bigger than a typical banh mi, with a bunch of layers of cold cuts: some kind of ham, an aspic-surrounded thit doi type thing, and pate. Can't remember if there was cha lua on there too. Lots of finely shredded carrots whose sweetness played nicely off the sriracha aioli. Also some mint, cilantro, and, I'm pretty sure, a few leaves of rau ram.

                              Washed it all down with a Jamaica's Finest ginger beer ($3). More burn than the wimpier Reed's Extra Ginger that I've been drinking lately.

                        1. re: Eat.Choui

                          Great sandwiches and nice people. Thanks for the rec. Didn't love the Thai tea panna cotta, but the spicy secret sauce on the bahn mi more than made up for it.

                          1. re: Eat.Choui

                            Wooly Pig's sandwiches are awesome, and my favorite is their $6 combo banh mi. They lather a Semifreddi french roll with a sriracha aioli, and carefully layer good quality vietnamese cold cuts. There's also shredded carrots, cilantro, slices of daikon, and a pate on the bottom bun. There's no cucumber or jalapeno.

                            The sandwich comes together beautifully. Their bread choice is excellent--- higher end Banh Mi places often go overly gourmet on the bread, and offer a crust that distracts from the sandwich (e.g., Momofuku). The slices of pickled daikon probably wouldn't work on most banh mi rolls, which are sliced like a hot dog bun, but work great on this vertically layered sandwich that's sliced all the way through. The sriracha gives a nice amount of spice. It's nice to have a banh mi without having to worry about getting the oil of a jalapeno onto your hands, and later into your eyes.

                            It might very well be the best higher end Banh Mi I've had. I also like it better than the combo at Little Vietnam in the Inner Richmond, which is still very good, and far better than the one at Irving Cafe in the Sunset. One of these days, I'm going to have to do a head to head test between Wooly Pig, Saigon Sandwiches, and the East Bay's Banh Mi Ba Le.

                            Other things I've liked there are the Kahlua pork sandwich and the pinkish blackberry lemonade. Lunch starts at 11AM.

                            1. re: hyperbowler

                              Worth noting that the sandwiches are great because Lieng makes them. I've been a few times, and the one time he wasn't there, it was a shadow of its former self, including burnt roll. He's the master--and a wonderful guy.

                              I love the meatball bahn mi at Irving Cafe on 22nd.

                          2. given the depth (breadth?) of the list and how often the question comes up, this really ought to be 'stickied' to the top of the board

                            1. Galette 88's a major new addition.

                              Little Star's lunch slices are cheap.

                              -----
                              Galette 88
                              88 Hardie Pl, San Francisco, CA 94104

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Do any of the Little Star branches still do slices at lunch? Albany stopped.

                                Galette 88's now open 11:00-2:30 M-F and 5-9pm the first Thursday of every month.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Little Star on Valencia has lunch M-F noon to 5 pm for Personal size thin crust and deep dish
                                  http://www.littlestarpizza.com/menu2....
                                  400 Valencia St
                                  (between 15th St & Sparrow St)

                                  It's been a year ago since I had 'slices' at the Valencia Street location at lunchtime. Have they dropped it?

                                  1. re: Cynsa

                                    The Albany location no longer has slices, only "personal size," which is 2-3 times the size of a slice.

                              2. Cinderella Bakery (Russian; Inner Richmond)
                                Giordano Brothers (meat or egg, slaw, and french fry filled sandwiches; North Beach & Mission locations)
                                HRD Coffee Shop (Korean inspired diner; M-Sat breakfast/lunch, SOMA)
                                La Torta Gorda (Puebla style Mexican, Mission)
                                Queens Louisiana Po Boy Cafe (Portola)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: hyperbowler

                                  I found HRD cheap but not very good. I might eat there occasionally if I worked nearby given the limited choices in that price range. Definitely would not order a burrito again.

                                2. Once cheap place's closure begs another:

                                  El Delfin (Mexican) -> Pal's Takeway (M-F lunches)

                                  Inkas (Peruvian) -> closed (replacement Pizzahacker is excellent and on the lower end pricewise for that style of pizza, but not cheap as far as pizza in general is concerned)

                                  Singapore-Malaysian -> Lime Tree (coming soon)

                                  Thai House Express -> House of Thai (same place essentially)

                                  Lahore Karahi -> moved to Guddu de Karahi in the Sunset

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                    There appears to be another House of Thai branch about to replace Chili Cha Cha in the Lower Haight. (At least that's the impression I got from the ABC sign in the window.)

                                    1. re: bigwheel042

                                      Confirmed, I think - the awning now reads "House of Thai 2".

                                    2. re: hyperbowler

                                      Guddu is definitely not cheap. $24 for tandoori fish and dal. No rice, bread or drink. And certainly portion size was not bigger than for one.

                                      1. re: davidg1

                                        Well, the seafood dishes are all expensive, about twice the price of the average entrée on the menu at Guddu de Karahi. Most dishes are in the $7-$9 range.

                                        But in general, I think you are right that the portion size is smaller than you would get at a lot of other places on this list

                                      2. re: hyperbowler

                                        Not sure I'd call Pal's cheap. I keep balking at paying that much for a sandwich.

                                      3. Can anyone tell me if Ngoc Mai on Hyde has bit the dust?

                                        It was shuttered when I stopped by for lunch this afternoon (approx. 1:45pm)

                                        1. Updating my list:

                                          A La Turka
                                          Angkor-Borei (Cambodian)
                                          Balompie (pupusas)
                                          Bodega Bistro (Vietnamese)
                                          Burmese Kitchen aka Larkin Express
                                          Esperpento (tapas)
                                          Gyro King (Turkish)
                                          Helmand Palace (Afghan)
                                          House of Thai
                                          La Santaneca (pupusas)
                                          Lers Ros (Thai)
                                          Little Delhi (Indian/Pakistani)
                                          Little Yangon (Burmese, Daly City)
                                          L'Osteria del Forno (Italian)
                                          Mandalay (Burmese)
                                          Maykadeh (Persian)
                                          Memphis Minnie's (barbecue)
                                          My Tofu House (Korean)
                                          Naan-N-Curry (Pakistani)
                                          Old Jerusalem (Palestinian / Middle Eastern)
                                          Old Mandarin Islamic (Peking-style hot pot)
                                          Pakwan (Pakistani)
                                          Paladar (Cuban-Colombian)
                                          Panchita's #3 (pupusas)
                                          Poc-Chuc (Yucatecan)
                                          Saigon Sandwich (banh mi)
                                          Shalimar (Pakistani)
                                          Spices / Spices II (Taiwanese Sichuan)
                                          Sunrise Deli (falafels)
                                          Taqueria San Jose (24th & Mission branch; tacos al pastor or chorizo)
                                          Troya (Turkish)
                                          Truly Mediterranean (falafel, schawerma)
                                          Tuba (Turkish)
                                          Turtle Tower (Vietnamese)
                                          Udupi Palace (South Indian)
                                          Yamo (Burmese)

                                          CLOSED

                                          El Delfin (Mexican)
                                          Inkas (Peruvian)
                                          Lahore Karahi
                                          Singapore-Malaysian

                                          RENAMED

                                          Thai House Express (Larkin & Geary branch) > House of Thai (no ownership change)