S.F.'s Best Cheap-Eats Spots (& What To Order)

We don’t know about you, but we’re not sure we can handle another "S.F. is the most expensive city in the world" headline. We get it — San Francisco is an awfully pricy place to live these days, what with the $15 cocktails, $40 Uber rides, and, yeah, the rent.

But helping us ease the financial pain is the magnificent selection of delicious, affordable eats ahead, all of which are $10 or less (and can be found everywhere from unostentatious markets to some of the top restaurants in town). From tacos to toast, the following spots will leave both your stomach and your wallet feeling full.

Hot Sauce & Panko
How do you like your chicken wings? Tossed with lime and caramelized fish sauce, or smoky with chipotle and pesto-avocado crema? We don’t even care how you flavor ‘em, as long as they’re the juicy-crisp specimens from Hot Sauce and Panko. Even better is their Wings and a Waffle special, which includes a half dozen wings and an airy, buttery Belgian waffle for your game-day (or any-day) enjoyment.

Hot Sauce and Panko, 1468 Hyde Street (at Jackson Street); 415-359-1908.
Tartine Bakery
Speaking of prohibitive lines, Tartine’s tends to strike fear in the heart of even the hungriest San Francisco food lovers. But, oh, is your patience rewarded when you take the plunge, particularly when you have the good sense to order one of its face-sized ham-and-cheese croissants. A full meal in pastry form, this coil of butter-laden majesty has enough sharp Gruyère cheese and thickly sliced smoked ham to put a sandwich of the same name to shame. It’s big enough to share, but trust us...you won’t want to.

Tartine Bakery, 600 Guerrero Street (at 18th Street); 415-487-2600.
Arinell Pizza
A New York-style pizzera in San Francisco, Arinell serves up grab-and-go jumbo triangle slices — the crust is chewy-thin, the sauce is savory, and the prices are on point.

Arinell Pizza, 09 Valencia Street (); 415-255-1303.
HRD is a fast and affordable South Park spot serving up true global fusion fare — with everything from Mexican to Korean flair. Must orders include the Kimchi burrito, short rib bibimbap, poke salad, and Bulgogi tacos to name just a delicious few (all ranging from $9 to $13).

HRD, 521A 3rd Street (between Taber Aly and Park Avenue); 415-543-2355.
WesBurger 'N' More
San Francisco's WesBurger has classic old-school diner vibes and serves up, as the name suggests, more than just a badass burger — we're talking chicken sammies, burritos, steaks, salads, 'n' more! Be sure to stop in and try the "Hot Wes" patty served with onion rings, queso, and pickled jalapeños for just $11. Oh, and a side of the $4 tater tots are not to missed.

WesBurger 'N' More, 2240 Mission Street (between 19th and 18th Street); 415-745-9371.
Saucy Asian
This downtown San Francisco joint serves up fast Korean fare with a "California kick" — try one of the savory rice bowls with a soy egg and some kimchi on top ($11), an order of the three street tacos ($10), or just "Poké It" with their Island Style poké bowl ($13).

Saucy Asian, 3801 17th Street (at Sanchez Street); 415-834-5555.
The Pizza Shop
The Pizza Shop in S.F.'s Mission neighborhood slings out NY-style slices for $4 — the white spinach with mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, and garlic and the white mushroom pies are cheesy crowd pleasers.

The Pizza Shop, 3104 24th Street (at Folsom Street); 415-824-1840.
Photo: Courtesy of Bini's Kitchen.
Bini's Kitchen
Bini's delicious Nepali momos (i.e. dumplings) come filled with either turkey, chicken, pork, or vegetables and are ready to be dunked in a spicy side of tomato cilantro puree. Pick up an authentic Tibetan curry lunch with a side of momos all for just $10.

Bini's Kitchen, 2948 Folsom Street (between 25th Street & 26th Street); 415-361-6911.
Photo: Courtesy of @lindabow.
Balompie Cafe
The only thing better than fresh-slapped, griddle-fried masa is fresh-slapped, griddle-fried masa filled with melted cheese and velvety refried beans. At Balompie, the pupusas are deftly shaped and filled by the hands of masters, the cheese is molten, and the accompanying cabbage slaw is the perfect vinegary pairing. You can’t go wrong with any of the filling combinations, but we love the pure simplicity of the bean and cheese — it truly needs no accompaniment.

Balompie Cafe, 3349 18th Street (between South Van Ness Avenue and Capp Street); 415-648-9199. 3801 Mission Street (between Richland and Crescent avenues); 415-647-4000.
Photo: Courtesy of @my_koh.
Bi-Rite Creamery
In a town of long lines, Bi-Rite’s may very well be the most dependable — come rain or come shine, we will wind around the block for the pleasure of a scoop or three. Get your money’s worth with one of its killer sundaes — our top pick is the Afternoon Snack, featuring roasted banana ice cream, caramel sauce, and the absolutely perfect house-made graham crackers. Don’t forget to take full advantage of their free-sample policy, too.

Bi-Rite Creamery, multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of @mattyuencooks.
4505 Burgers & BBQ
With a name like that, you’d better bet this is greatness in burger form. 4505 delivers with its rich, grass-fed-beef patty topped with Gruyère cheese and served on a buttery, crisp sesame- and scallion-topped bun. It manages to perfectly walk the fine line between top-quality ingredients and down-home, diner-esque comfort-food flavor (don’t even get us started on the secret sauce). And you can even add bacon or avocado and still come in under the $10 mark.

4505 Burgers & BBQ, 705 Divisadero Street (at Grove Street); 415-231-6993.
Photo: Courtesy of @jonasapproved.
Devil's Teeth Baking Company
There are breakfast sandwiches that are hastily assembled and simply meant to give you energy for the day ahead. Then there are breakfast sandwiches that take on a bigger, almost divine purpose — they don’t just start your day, they make it. The humongous, biscuit-topped versions from Devil’s Teeth do this admirably. The bacon-egg-and-cheese original is tops, but lately we’ve been feeling the special — it features the same flaky, buttery biscuit topped with fluffy scrambled eggs, plus thick smoked bacon, pepper jack cheese, avocado, and lemon-garlic aioli. It’s going to be a beautiful day.

Devil’s Teeth Baking Company, 3876 Noriega Street (between 45th Avenue and 46th Avenue); 415-683-5533.
Photo: Courtesy of @lovelymadds.
Arguello Super Market
As quintessentially Northern Californian as a sandwich gets, the roast turkey at Arguello is a standout thanks to its spit-roasted preparation — the meat is always juicy, tender, and well salted, particularly when the dark and white meat combination is layered on a soft, sweet Dutch crunch roll. Add avocado and pepper jack cheese, and you’ll have a park-ready feast at your disposal.

Arguello Super Market, 782 Arguello Boulevard (near McAllister Street); 415-751-5121.
Photo: Courtesy of @rheayo.
Mission Banh Mi at Duc Loi Supermarket
There are cheaper banh mi in town, but few are as generously topped and addictively good as the specimens found at Duc Loi. We love them all (including the excellent fried tofu), but it’s hard to beat the decidedly untraditional fried-chicken version, which features layer upon layer of thinly pounded, panko-fried chicken topped with caper aioli, pork paté, slaw, and jalapeños.

Mission Banh Mi, 2200 Mission Street (at 18th Street); 415-551-1772.
Photo: Courtesy of @lanaberrie.
Chomp N’ Swig
What’s better than a grilled-cheese sandwich? A grilled-cheese sandwich slathered with bacon butter, loaded with guacamole and sharp cheddar cheese, and pressed until it's melty and crisp (yet manages to avoid being greasy!). Pair it with a craft beer, and consider yourself in paradise.

Chomp N’ Swig, 1541 Clement Street (between 16th Avenue and 17th Avenue); 415-683-5946.
Photo: Courtesy of @angelamilz.
Eddie’s Cafe
We couldn’t design a better neighborhood diner than Eddie’s even if we tried. From the smiling staff to the mismatched coffee mugs, Eddie’s is guaranteed to cure what ails you, and promptly enough to allow you to climb back in bed after. Really go for it with its Special Combination — one egg, two pancakes, and two strips of bacon (feel free to add hash browns if you’re feeling feisty). Simple, straightforward, and totally delicious.

Eddie’s Cafe, 800 Divisadero Street (at Fulton Street); 415-563-9780.
Photo: Courtesy of @bayareaeatery.
Golden Boy Pizza
There’s no shortage of pizza-by-the-slice joints, but few garner the accolades of Golden Boy. The thick, square slices are buttery-tasting rather than greasy, toppings are generous, and with the combination (which is loaded with sausage, pepperoni, and vegetables), you can truly have it all. Most significantly, these slices taste just as good when you’re sober as when you’re...less than.

Golden Boy Pizza, 542 Green Street (near Columbus Avenue); 415-982-9738.
Photo: Courtesy of @solingphoto.
Kasa Indian Eatery
The flavor-packed kati rolls from Kasa Indian Eatery could almost be considered quaint — fresh-griddled roti is dolloped with your choice of filling, ranging from lamb curry to gobi aloo. Simple perfection — and dainty enough to warrant ordering at least two.

Kasa Indian Eatery, multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of @sandytangy.
House of Pancakes
Banish sticky, syrup-covered booths from your mind — House of Pancakes features savory, buttery specimens laced with scallions or peppered with sesame seeds, and rendered pliant and crispy on a hot griddle before being rolled around a variety of fillings. The best of these is the beef-roll pancake, featuring a green onion wrapper stuffed with a heady mixture of shredded beef and hoisin sauce.

House of Pancakes, 937 Taraval Street (between 19th and 20th avenues); 415-681-8388.
Photo: Courtesy of @ichisushi.
ICHI Sushi + NI Bar
Celebratory nights call for the omakase at ICHI, hands-down one of the very best sushi experiences in town. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be regulars at this lively, soulful Mission joint — their hand rolls feature the same stunning quality of fish, immaculate sushi rice, and deft skill of the chefs, at a decidedly more affordable price point. We love the umi masu (ocean trout) with shiso, but your best bet is to ask the crew for recommendations and daily specials.

ICHI Sushi + NI Bar, 3282 Mission Street (near 29th Street); 415- 525-4750.
Photo: Courtesy of @jicamafood.
La Palma Mexicatessen
Everyone’s got their go-to taqueria, but we can’t get enough of La Palma on 24th Street. The brightly hued “Mexicatessen” can be counted on for luscious, slow-cooked fillings (particularly those carnitas) and, most importantly, freshly made, pliant, and hearty corn tortillas. Be sure to get a still-warm bag to go for at-home taco purposes.

La Palma Mexicatessen, 2884 24th Street (at Florida Street); 415-647-1500.
Photo: Courtesy of @thelowe_down.
We know it’s cheating, but we can’t pick just one thing to recommend from Marlowe. The always-packed SOMA hotspot has our hearts — because of their deviled eggs, rich and creamy and topped with jalapeños and bacon and cheese; and their Brussels sprouts chips, golden-fried specimens of oily, nutty deliciousness brightened with a generous squeeze of lemon. Plus, the eggs-and-greens combination is a totally legitimate (and healthy!) meal, right?

Marlowe, 500 Brannan Street (at 4th Street); 415-777-1413.
Photo: Courtesy of @fattiestatus.
Lime Tree Southeast Asian Kitchen
Have you had martabak before? If not, prepare to have your world rocked a little bit — a flaky, tender roti pancake is stretched thin and filled with minced meat, egg, green onions, and spices, folded into a compact parcel, and griddle-fried. Served with a curry dipping sauce, it’s a Malaysian-food marvel just waiting to become a part of your regular rotation.

Lime Tree Southeast Asian Kitchen, 450 Irving Street (at 6th Avenue); 415-665-1415.
Photo: Courtesy of @caamedia.
Mekong Kitchen
We’re having a thing with the garlic noodles at Mekong Kitchen in the Castro. That thing includes eating them straight out of the container on our way in the door as we’re beelining for the couch to further bury our faces in their springy, deeply savory, so-loaded-with-garlic-your-boyfriend-will-be-sorry goodness. Obsessed? Perhaps. Worth it? Definitely.

Mekong Kitchen, 4039 18th Street (near Castro Street); 415-346-9700.
Photo: Courtesy of @simpsioni.
Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store
In addition to being one of the finest cafés in North Beach, Mario’s makes focaccia sandwiches that are the hearty, melty stuff dreams are made of. The olive-oil-rich green onion focaccia, baked fresh at Liguria’s just across Washington Square Park, is a fine vehicle for any filling, but we’re partial to tender-crisp breaded eggplant, which is generously layered with melted mozzarella cheese and fresh, bright tomato sauce.

Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe, 566 Columbus Ave (at Union Street); 415-362-0536.
Photo: Courtesy of @dyslexita.
Okay, Nopa isn’t exactly a cheap restaurant. But should you be lucky enough to snag a spot at its decadent weekend brunch, you’ll be richly rewarded in the form its completely ridiculous custard French toast, a half order of which involves a thick, butter-and-cream-drenched slice of brioche. The toppings change but almost always include seasonal fruit and, lately, honey-bourbon butter.

Nopa, 560 Divisadero Street (at Hayes Street); 415-864-8643.
Photo: Courtesy of @superspr1nkles.
We’ll take Indian food however we can get it, but we can’t keep from going back to Pakwan time and time again. Their saag paneer in particular is perfectly spiced and creamy; spooned on a hot round of char-spotted naan, it’s full-flavored, budget-friendly perfection. We appreciate that both of its San Francisco locations are BYOB, too.

Pakwan, multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of @eatcalifornia.
Pizzeria Delfina
Okay, you can’t get a full pizza and make it out under $10 at Pizzeria Delfina. But you can get an order of its delectably milky, fresh-stretched mozzarella, served with arugula, crostini, and buttery olive oil. Tutto bene!

Pizzeria Delfina, multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of @messymarvelous.
Rosamunde Sausage Grill
Whether or not we're setting up shop at Toronado next door (or enjoying one of the great beers on tap on Mission Street), it’s hard for us to come within a few blocks of a Rosamunde without making a stop at this veritable sausage institution. All of its meats are tops (as is its Tuesday-only Haight Street cheeseburger), but we love the sweet-and-savory duck sausage, studded with figs and laced with brandy — it’s taken to a new level when topped with grilled onions, sweet peppers, and a healthy dose of mustard.

Rosamunde Sausage Grill, multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of @brandiego.
Reveille Coffee
We’d eat this salad daily if we could (and sometimes we do). A massive pile of dark-green, curly kale is generously tossed with smoked-paprika-laced buttermilk-Caesar dressing, studded with creamy squares of avocado, and sprinkled with crunchy toasted pepitas. A massive shower of Parmesan cheese lends salt and the right amount of richness. Kale-haters, prepare to be converted.

Reveille Coffee Co., multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of @whatuprita.
Taqueria Cancún
San Francisco’s rich with tacos, but truth be told, we’re a burrito town through and through. We’re obsessed with the forearm-sized monsters at Taqueria Cancún on Mission Street, particularly filled with al pastor, which maintains the perfect balance of bright sweetness and tangy heat. Go for the super, which is generously loaded with both pork and avocado. This could, in theory, be two meals...but no judgment if it only lasts for one.

Taqueria Cancún, 2288 Mission Street (near 19th Street); 415-252-9560.
Photo: Courtesy of @sarahandsofialovefood.
Shanghai Dumpling King
The xiaolongbao at Shanghai Dumpling King may draw the crowds, but we find ourselves dreaming about the pan-fried pork buns on the regular. The thick but tender dumpling skins develop a marvelously crisp crust from their hot-and-fast pan fry; the crunch is a great contrast to the plump, slightly sweet pork within. Don’t be shy about using the accompanying vinegary dipping sauce, too.

Shanghai Dumpling King, 3319 Balboa Street (between 34th and 35th avenues); 415-387-2088.
Photo: Courtesy of @thesweetsofsanfrancisco.
The Boy’s Deli
Who says San Francisco isn’t a deli town? We’d like to direct all naysayers to The Boy’s Deli. This Russian Hill gem has one hell of a sando menu, all of which feature layers of sliced meats, cheeses, and special sauces. Our pick is The Pepper Mill, a sandwich made of strata of pepper turkey, pepper salami, provolone, and remoulade, all piled on a Dutch crunch roll, natch.

The Boy’s Deli, 2222 Polk Street (between Green and Vallejo streets); 415-776-3099.
Photo: Courtesy of @bayareachick.
The Whole Beast
However you pronounce it, the lamb gyro from The Whole Beast is a far cry from the mystery-meat tube of Greek-style wraps past. Melt-in-your-mouth, slow-cooked lamb-neck meat is wrapped in a warm, pliant pita, doused in harissa and yogurt, and brightened with fresh cucumbers for crunch. This is a sandwich that will make a big mess, and one that you will feel great about.

The Whole Beast, multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of @tiff.
Yummy Yummy
When we’re feeling feisty, we might opt for the extra-large pho xu lua at Yummy Yummy, an enormous bowl packed with rare steak, flank meat, tendon, tripe, and beef balls. But more often than not, you’ll find us keeping it simple with pho tai, a stunning bowl solely featuring thinly sliced, jewel-toned rare steak. As long as it includes Yummy Yummy’s wonderful, richly spiced beef broth, we’re happy campers.

Yummy Yummy, 1015 Irving Street (between 11th and 12th avenues); 415-566-4722.
Photo: Courtesy of @chloelist.
The Mill
We’ve had just about enough of the $5 toast hate that’s taken the city by storm. Hear us out: Toast, at its best, is basically the equivalent of San Francisco’s bagel. It’s filling, flavorful, and just the kind of carb bomb you need to get your day going. Our favorite stars Josey Baker’s marvelous, tangy-sour country bread lavishly spread with freshly made almond butter, modernist squiggles of local honey, and a sprinkling of flaky salt crystals. Less than $5 for a filling breakfast of bready perfection? Yes, please.

The Mill, 736 Divisadero Street (between Grove and Fulton streets); 415-345-1953.
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