Best Cheap Eats in San Francisco: 8 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 best cheap eats in San Francisco 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 food in San Francisco.
1. Menage a Trois Sandwich at Ike's Place
1650 Holloway Ave. | San Francisco St. University Campus
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. 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.
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. French Dip Sandwich at Mel's Drive-In
3355 Geary Blvd. | Inner Richmond
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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Mojado Burrito at El Toro Loco
1624 Francisco Blvd. | Pacifica
You'll find plenty of Peruvian delights here, including lomo saltado and aji di gallina, but for our list of best cheap eats in San Francisco we're sticking with this real value buy. Slathered in special sauce and topped with melted cheese, this gigantic burrito is about as hearty as meals get at this price point. $8.95.
8. 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.