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neighborhood for cheap eats? [San Francisco]

I'll be visiting San Francisco for about 3-4 nights in a few months (and then driving down to Monterey / Carmel / Big Sur). We'll likely rent something on Airbnb, since it will be more affordable than a hotel.

There are a MILLION apartments on Airbnb, so I thought I'd narrow it down by neighborhood. Where are some areas with abundant cheap eats, besides the obvious Mission? We're definitely on a budget, and will be looking for ethnic food (Mexican, other Latin American, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, and all other kinds of Asian), good happy hour deals, and one or two 'splurges'.

I know this is a broad question - I've only been to San Francisco once before, almost six years ago. Thanks for any guidance at all!

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  1. The Inner Richmond.
    http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/s...
    http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/s...
    Unfortunately my search of Airbnb shows no rentals in that district but some in the Outer Richmond. Both Districts have many good places and then there is that large ocean and a nearby park.

    2 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      And great public transpo! The 38 Geary bus runs from almost the ocean all the way downtown.

      1. re: wolfe

        I'm a huge fan of the Richmond -- inner or outer (except not so much in the summer, when it tends to be fogged in when other parts of the city aren't).

      2. There is no single Neighborhood for cheap eats.

            1. re: hyperbowler

              We're coming from Boston - certainly not a backwater, but I'm excited for the greater variety in San Francisco. We'll definitely look at the Richmond area in addition to the Mission.

              1. re: nyc_to_ma

                Do remember that The Mission, as well as many nabes, have great public transpo. The Mission may have the MOST options, BART and MUNI. And SF is, geographically, a pretty small city so it's quite easy to get around. You're gonna have a great time.

                1. re: nyc_to_ma

                  A couple of my friends stayed at an AirBnB on 42nd Ave. in the outer Richmond and it was a nice, cozy in-law very close to GG Park, the Pacific Ocean and good cheap food.

                  1. re: saffrongold

                    That's a very quiet residential area with almost no restaurants.

              2. I would ask the question: What other thing do you want to do besides eating? As c oliver pointed out, the Mission has pretty good public transportation. You could get from the BART station at 16th & Mission to the Embarcadero Station, a block from the Ferry Building and the Bay, in about six minutes. And in the other direction, you can get to the airport. In many other parts of town, you are stuck with the choice of MUNI buses or light-rail services that are inexpensive but not particularly fast and cab services that are faster but considerably more expensive.

                As for cheap eats in other parts of town, there are some inexpensive places in the North Beach/Chinatown area. Probably not the most inexpensive places in town, but if the north-east part of SF is where you would spend most of your time, it might be worth considering. The problem with the areas that have really dirt-cheap restaurants, like the Tenderloin, is that the neighborhood, for lack of a better phrase, "may lack an element of ambience". I'm not saying that you would get robbed in the Tenderloin, but it's not an area that everyone feels comfortable visiting.

                The Mission, too, has gritty parts that would make some people uncomfortable (unless they are there for hookers or to buy drugs). But it's a gentrifying area and if you know what parts to avoid and can tolerate some sense of general grittiness, you will likely be fine.

                1. Tenderloin for Burmese, Thai, Vietnamese, Pakistani, Turkish

                  Mission for Mexican, Yucatecan, Palestinian, Salvadorean, Nicaraguan, happy hours

                  Inner / middle Richmond for Chinese and Korean

                  Oakland with a car kicks SF to the curb for Mexican and Korean

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Just a note about Korean in the Inner Richmond. There are a few places in that neighborhood, but I'll note that My Tofu House's prices have gone up since it gets mentioned a lot as being dirt cheap. A dinner for three, including a very good tofu stew, an okay vegetarian pancake, and very good spicy pork cost $54 with tax. The six complimentary banchan are yellow bean sprouts, radish, kim chi, yellow croaker, fish cake, and cucumber. Still pretty cheap, but most items are a few bucks more than the competition there or in Oakland--- bi bim bops are $15.

                    1. re: hyperbowler

                      My Tofu House charges $11.50 for the house specialty, soondobu, which comes with panchan and a small fried fish. If I didn't want that I'd probably go elsewhere.