by Allie Pape - 10 Reviews - 45 List
San Francisco may be known for fine dining, but there's plenty for those with less change in their pockets, too. Sure, we've got taquerias to spare, but eating on the cheap doesn't stop at burritos. The San Francisco restaurants listed here offer delicious, hearty fare, all of it under $10. Fill your belly at these San Francisco cheap eats and start saving for your next chichi restaurant visit. (Photo: Roast pork banh mi at Saigon Sandwiches by Joshua Lurie)
Updated: July 25, 2011
Burritos are still the district staple for convenient and filling food, but the area has its fair share of other cheap choices.
Located in the heart of the Tenderloin, Saigon Sandwich overcomes its sketchy surroundings with pure banh-mi deliciousness. Widely considered San Francisco's best Vietnamese sandwich shop, it's also one of its cheapest-- $3.25 buys one of the popular roast pork banh mis, topped with lots of fresh carrots, cilantro, and jalapeno.
Run by a pair of grouchy Burmese chefs, Yamo defines tiny: It's a counter operation, with only 10 seats, and there's nearly always a wait. Service is nonexistent, but the delicious tea leaf salad and noodle bowls will leave you smiling; they're delicious, and prices max out at $5.25 for an entree.
A favorite among local chefs after work, this Tenderloin Thai joint is known for its inventive dishes. If you're a timid eater, try the passable pad thai and curries, but the real gems are weird dishes such as whole fish, rabbit and frog legs. None of the entrees are more than $8, making Lers Ros an ideal spot for adventurous foodies on a budget.
Eating cheap doesn't always mean eating at a hole-in-the-wall. If you and a date can each scrape together $10, you'll have enough to split the signature rotisserie chicken at this hip Mission Peruvian eatery. The whole bird is accompanied by your choice of three generously portioned sides, from fried yucca to tostones.
For ready-to-eat and nutritious grub near sunny Duboce Park, locals turn to Courtney's. Simple sandwiches, like roast chicken on a seeded bun, are $2.50 to $4, and you can wash down your meal with a cold 12-ounce bottle of freshly squeezed lemonade, orange juice or pear juice for a mere $2.50 extra. Got wheels? The restaurant offers 10-minute parking out front (a Duboce Triangle rarity), and since sandwiches are pre-made, you'll be in and out with time to spare.
This upscale wine bar has remarkably downscaled prices at happy hour, where you can get a quartino (1/3 bottle) of red wine and a thin-crust personal pizza for $8--combined. Best of all, the staff is ultra-sympathetic to the broke; they'll give you the heads-up when happy hour is almost over, in case you've got a spare fiver for another quartino.
The hip young artists of the Mission adore this small, diner-like spot, which offers huge plates of pasta, decent pizzas, and brunch fare like eggs Benedict at very reasonable prices (typically $8 or less per entree). You'll have enough food for a second meal of leftovers, and service is friendly and prompt. Best of all, you can have a drink with your meal without blowing your budget: Beers are $2, and a glass of wine is $3.