Despite San Francisco's expensive reputation, getting through three meals on one ten dollar bill is possible here. For Cheap Eats Week 2015, Eater SF contributor Andrew Dalton finds out how to eat in a town where breakfast costs $4.
Breakfast: Mercifully, coffee doesn't count against my $10 tab or this thing would be over as soon as it started. My breakfast consists of a bacon gougère that I absentmindedly ordered from the pastry case at Four Barrel and left in my bag for most of the morning. When I finally look at the receipt emailed from their Square terminal, I realize I spent 40% of the day's food budget on what is really just a muffin and I don't even remember there being any bacon in it. I take back every nice thing I ever said about living in San Francisco. I am part of the problem. Dollars remaining: $6
Lunch: It takes a couple hours to talk myself down from breakfast, but after weighing the pros and cons of a move to Modesto, I've decided on a late lunch: happy hour at Pancho Villa Taqueria on 16th Street, where from 3-5 p.m. two tacos cost the same as a cup of coffee around the corner on Valencia. Pancho Villa's al pastor is solid, especially considering how quickly the tacos move down the line. Pancho Villa also loads up their basic taco with beans to the point where getting them folded and into your mouth is often a problem. Maybe this is a cost-cutting measure, but it's a welcome addition when your goal is cheap and filling. The free chips are necessary for cleaning up the mess and taking advantage of the extensive salsa bar. By the time I'm finished I realize I just sat down in a restaurant in San Francisco and had an actual meal for $3. Pacificos, which don't count against my tab either, are another $3. Dollars remaining: $3
Dinner: With a late lunch and an afternoon beer, I just forgot to eat a real dinner until a craving for pupusas strikes and I head to Panchita's #2, where they're griddled on the street for $3 apiece. Panchita's currently sits atop my list of best pupusas in the city and their masa dough never dries out, but never gets too greasy with cheese either. Since the only vegetables I've seen all day were pulverized in some fashion, a basil or loroco pupusa would be a smart move, but I get the pork anyway and load it up with curtido, the cabbage slaw that sits on the table by the jarful. Add another $3 beer and maybe you can start to forget you spent $4 on breakfast. Dollars remaining: $0
In conclusion: The high cost of living is something we just seem to accept in San Francisco, but if you ever need to reorient your budget priorities and bring down your food costs: trying looking at your breakfast tab first.