Cheap Eats San Francisco: The 10 Best Meals Under $15
These days it's rare to see "San Francisco" and "affordable" in the same sentence. But you'll find lots of great inexpensive meals around town if you know where to look. Our list of "Cheap Eats San Francisco" champions includes sandwiches, burgers, Thai food, and, of course, burritos, at places both well-known and often overlooked. Check it out and you'll be convinced: you don't have to shell out a fortune to enjoy some of the best restaurants in San Francisco.
1. Menage a Trois Sandwich at Ike's Place
This cheekily named item is as close as it gets to a consensus fan favorite at a restaurant with more than 50 sandwiches on the menu. It comes with halal chicken, three sauces (BBQ, honey, and honey mustard), and three cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, and Swiss), all folded up on Ike's signature Dutch crunch bread. Add the famous house Dirty Sauce for an extra kick. $12.
2. Dorado-Style Burrito at La Taqueria
2889 Mission St. | Mission District
At more than 45 years in business, La Taqueria was around to witness the rise of the now ubiquitous Mission-style burrito. Its take comes with meat, beans, cheese, salsa, and homemade hot sauce (but of course no rice), and you can get it grilled to a golden brown if you order it "El Dorado–style." $6.75.
3. Avocado and Bacon Bison Burger at Bullshead Restaurant
840 Ulloa St. | West Portal
Bullshead may not come to mind when you think of cheap restaurants in San Francisco, but considering the quality (and novelty) of their bison burger, it's a steal. Besides the avocado and bacon burger, variations include the "Morning Glory" with eggs and bacon and the Hawaiian burger with teriyaki and pineapple rings. $14.75, served with choice of side.
4. Bruce's Special Pizza at Gaspare's Pizza House and Italian Restaurant
5546 Geary Blvd. | Outer Richmond
The throwback setting—sea foam green booths, personal jukeboxes at your table—is a big part of the draw here, but the pizza holds its own, too. Start out with the Bruce's Special: linguica, ground salami, mushrooms, and garlic on a crust that's not too doughy, not too crisp. $22.50 for a medium, serves 2.
5. Wings & Waffle Combo at Hot Sauce and Panko
1468 Hyde St. | Nob Hill
You'll be hard-pressed to find many of Hot Sauce and Panko's 30 wing flavors anywhere else, particularly the Pad Thai Wings made with fried rice bits and chopped peanut and the Green wings made with cilantro, jalapeno, and ginger. Also rare is the opportunity to add a Belgian waffle to your wing order. Don't blow it. $10.99.
6. Lunch Special at Vanida Thai Kitchen
3050 Taraval St. | Outer Sunset
The value of this lunch special is pretty, um, special, considering it includes rice, soup or salad, and two dishes of your choice from a list of 14, all for less than it would cost to get just one dish of a similar size at most places. Choose from go-tos such as pad thai and garlic prawns, or try the prig khing: sauteed tofu with spicy green beans. $10.95.
7. French Dip Sandwich at Mel's Drive-In
Mel's retro diner vibe (immortalized in American Graffiti) still draws people in, but standout meals like this sandwich keep them coming back. It features thin-sliced roast beef on a French baguette, served au jus (ergo the "dip" part). $14.82, served with fries.
8. Beef and Lamb Shawerma Lavash at Baladie Gourmet Cafe
337 Kearny St. | Chinatown
Measuring about 10 inches and wrapped in foil, this shawerma sandwich resembles an enormous burrito at first glance. Inside you'll find tender slices of marinated meat, hummus, tahini sauce, and veggies. Talk about bang for your buck. $8.50.
9. Pulled Moroccan Lamb Sandwich at L'acajou Bakery and Cafe
498 9th St. | South of Market
L'acajou may be best known for its baked goods, but don't underestimate its food menu. Case in point: this sandwich of braised lamb shoulder, spicy cabbage slaw, housemade mayo, and spicy harissa. $11.
10. Kimchi Burrito at HRD
521A 3rd St. | South Beach
Kimchee, pickled veggies, and marinated meat combine to form one sweet and savory burrito at this jam-packed lunch-break destination. The spicy pork and tofu versions mix in house-made hot sauce, while the grilled chicken and bulgogi beef editions take their flavor from marinating in soy. $9.25+.
This article was originally published in 2017. It has since been updated.
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