There are those who veer toward excess for the sake of excess — the Action Bronson-esque gourmands of the world — but, in a city as expensive as San Francisco, finding cheap pho and affordable sandwiches is just plain smart. Believe it or not, San Francisco is stuffed with financially accessible restaurants, cafes, and bars. Cheap churro waffles in the Bayview and Japanese noodles in the Financial District are here to prove the point for the naysayers in the back: this city can be affordable if you just search for it. Try any of these 15 businesses to confirm the possibly shocking news for yourself.Read More
15 Affordable Dining Options in San Francisco
Local diners are always hungry for a good deal
This Japanese noodle and takeaway sushi shop is little more than a tiny kitchen a few steps away from the heart of the Financial District. But it’s attracted a faithful following for its delicious, bargain-priced udon and soba, in particular. After nearly closing in April 2022, the shop is back on its feet. “Everything” includes crispy puffed rice, seasoned bean curd, and a little dab of wasabi. Stop by Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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Hot Sauce and Panko
This popular Russian Hill wing-slinger is a takeout- and delivery-only model, with a retail shop selling hot sauce. These are some of the most succulent, flavorful wings in town, available in a range of internationally-inspired sweet, savory, or spicy varieties — most priced around $8 for an order of five.
Kusina Ni Tess
Perhaps the friendliest and most delicious of the city’s Filipino steam table spots, Kusina Ni Tess is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s got a daily changing menu that you should check if you’re craving something specific — say, chicken adobo (available every day except Monday). Traditional breakfast silog plates are available all day, every day, and most dishes are priced at about $10 for an average order.
This Larkin Street go-to for Vietnamese food has an ultra simple menu: six sandwiches, each for $5, and two tofu plates for $6.50 each. Fans love this Tenderloin shop for its cheap, loaded bánh mi sandwiches, including the pork combination of grilled pork and pate.
Taking a walk to get a $5 sandwich at this Lower Haight mainstay is just smart. The “Poor Boy” sandwich, stuffed with rotating meats and cheeses to accommodate the deli’s needs at any moment, goes for just $4.49. In an ever-more-expensive city, Falletti’s top-tier ingredients and low prices are a crucial option for any savvy shopper.
Shanghai Dumpling King
West Portal is lucky to play host to Shanghai Dumpling King and its numerous items that cost less than $10. From the tofu thread salad ($7.95) to the green onion pancake (also $7.95) to the plentiful dumpling choices (almost all just shy of $10) this is the go-to place for dumpling and deal lovers alike.
Banh Mi Crunch
The Inner Sunset’s newest go-to for banh mi took over the former Midnite Bagel space and will give customers a bonus sandwich when they buy four. Already the store is littered with teenagers, boba in hand, looking for a relatively cheap sandwich and egg roll combo.
Kevin & Chris’s Noodle House
It’s hard to beat a tremendous bowl of noodles and broth for just $9.75. Most everything on the menu at this Irving Street Vietnamese restaurant costs about $11, too, including the brisket dish chín gầu and beef ball and rice noodle combo phở bò viên.
At this tiny, no-frills Burmese diner, everything on the menu — from the assortment of curries to the garlicky house noodles — will run you no more than $8, cash only. It might be the best bang for your buck of any restaurant in the city.
East Coast-style sandwiches aren’t ubiquitous in San Francisco for patently obvious reasons, which makes this Mission District shop all the more precious to its fans. The egg and cheddar sandwich goes for just $7.95, and many of its other options run just $2 more.
Tacos del Barrio
There are so many places to get affordable, excellent Mexican food in the Mission District. That said, newcomer Tacos del Barrio is sitting somewhere in the middle of the various price points. A barbacoa taco for $5 is nothing to scoff at, nor $5 consomé on the weekends.
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For a big weekend, one might blow a wad of cash and get the pricier items at this Bernal Heights’ restaurant. Or, one could purchase a plethora of pupusas, a timeless cheap eat. On average each pupusa is just $3, and, to wash it all down, the coffee is even cheaper.
This convenience store and sandwich shop is a Parkside staple, selling hearty sandwiches for just $8.50. In fact, there are 25 different sandwiches — including vegetarian options and an Italian offering with mortadella and salami — all for just $8.50. Breakfast sandwiches cost just $3.99.
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This 420-friendly Bayview waffle and coffee house has stellar prices. The house blend is $3 a cup, and the vegan waffles start at $7. With a 20 percent tip included, a lucky duck of a customer could find themselves spending less than $15 for a drink, a waffle, and a seat at one of San Francisco’s sweetest little parklets.
This Space-Age-themed, ’60s-style drive-in in Ingleside serves one of the best inexpensive burgers in the city. Even during shelter-in-place, Beep’s remained open for its regular hours, offering its Twinkie milkshakes, jalapeño poppers, and roughly $8 burgers to the true believers.