The Top 10 Best Cheap Eats in San Francisco (2023 Edition)

San Francisco has a world-class dining scene, but it’s easy to spend more than you’d like. Luckily for you, we will share our favorite best cheap eats in the city.

people eating in the restaurant

Are you tired of your wallet hurting whenever you want to grab a bite in San Francisco?

We’ve scoured the city to bring you the best cheap eats guaranteed to leave your taste buds satisfied and your wallet happy. From delicious dim sum to hole-in-the-wall establishments, we’ve got all the details you need to enjoy the best eats in San Francisco.

So, come with us on a culinary journey through the city and discover all the best deals available in the city.

1. Good Mong Kok Bakery

Courtesy of Michelle M., Yelp
Courtesy of Michelle M. | Yelp

Location: 1039 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Perfect for: Takeout, breakfast, lunch

Located on one of the busiest streets in Chinatown, Good Mong Kok sells inexpensive but delicious baked goods and dim sum. It is an authentic, no-frills Chinese bakery with a line out the door practically every day.

You can’t go wrong with the usual suspects, including har gow (shrimp dumplings), pork siu mai (pork dumplings)char siu bao (BBQ pork buns), and har cheung (shrimp rice rolls). Most of the orders are under $5 each and come in sets of 3-4 pieces (i.e. 3 har gows).

You can expect to wait at least 15-20 minutes to place an order on any given day, though the line moves quickly as Good Mong Kok is a take-out-only establishment. For the price and quality of food, there are few places that can beat Good Mong Kok.

Fun fact – I’ve been eating here since elementary school!

2. Yamo

Courtesy of Crystal C. | Yelp
Courtesy of Crystal C. | Yelp

Location: 3406 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Perfect for: Quick bites, dinner, takeout

If you want a filling, quick, and cheap dinner, Yamo is a must-try! Yamo is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant located in the Mission, serving authentic Burmese food for $8 or less per entrée — a rare gem in the city.

This spot is run soley by a mom-and-daughter duo, so be patient when you place an order. If you’ve never been here before, we recommend giving the Yamo house noodles and tea leaf salad a try, though many of their other dishes are tasty too. A neighborhood staple, Yamo is a cash-only establishment with generous portions for the price.

Quick tip – if you can’t find seating in the restaurant, order takeout and walk over to Mission Dolores to eat your food.

3. Hot Sauce and Panko

Courtesy of Hot Sauce and Panko
Courtesy of Hot Sauce and Panko

Location: 1468 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Perfect for: Takeout, lunch, dinner

If you love chicken wings and trying new flavors, stop by Hot Sauce and Panko for some of the best wings in the city. Hot Sauce and Panko is a tiny hole-in-the-wall spot nested in a corner spot on Hyde Street in Nob Hill.

The restaurant serves tender and juicy chicken at an affordable price, with an expansive menu of different wing flavors, including Chris’s, Fire Wings, KFC (Korean Fried Chicken), and Lemon Pepper. You can order 5 wings for $7.59 and add a waffle for $12.29. They also serve sandwiches at just under $8.50.

Note that Hot Sauce and Panko is takeout only and located on a hill, so wear comfy shoes if you plan on stopping by.

4. Saigon Sandwich

Courtesy of Lisa T. | Yelp
Courtesy of Lisa T. | Yelp

Location: 560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Perfect for: Takeout, breakfast, lunch

Saigon Sandwich is a family-owned Vietnamese banh mi (sandwich) shop located in the Tenderloin. It’s the perfect spot to get the best bang for your buck. The restaurant serves quick and cheap but high-quality lunches, with an affordable price of just under $5-6 per sandwich.

My favorites are the special combination banh mi and Fanci Pork Pate, though the other options are also delicious. Each banh mi comes packed with meat, pickled vegetables, and delicious sauce.

The sandwiches pull their weight, and the prices are unbeatable for the value and taste. Note that Saigon Sandwich is a cash-only establishment so bring cash to this hidden gem.

5. Basa Seafood Express

Courtesy of Basa Seafood Express
Courtesy of Basa Seafood Express

Location: 3064 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Perfect for: Quick eats, lunch, takeout

If you are craving fresh seafood with stellar price tags, stop by Basa Seafood Express. Located in the Mission, the store serves various dishes, including fresh seafood, poke, sashimi, sushi, fish and chips, clam chowder, and more.

The store is a no-frills establishment where you can place your order at the counter and grab your food for takeout. Some of my favorites include the spicy salmon poke, clam chowder, and shoyu salmon poke, though I’ve tried many of their other options and enjoyed everything I ate.

If you’re looking for the best and cheapest poke in town, Basa Seafood Express sweeps the competition. The food is simple, tasty, and traditional – perfect for those on a budget and the hunt for good eats.

6. The Italian Homemade Company

Courtesy of The Italian Homemade Company (IG)
Courtesy of The Italian Homemade Company (IG)

Locations: 716 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, 94133

1919 Union St, San Francisco, 94123

1 Franklin St, San Francisco, 94102

Perfect for: Quick bites, lunch, dinner

The Italian Homemade Company is a casual Italian spot with three locations in San Francisco – North Beach, Cow Hollow/Marina, and Hayes Valley. If you are craving Italian food and want a quick fix, this local staple is perfect.

The establishment is known for its fresh pasta made on-site and homemade sauces, but they also serve other dishes, including piadina, cassone, salads, and cold plates. If you decide to order pasta, you can pick what type of pasta you’d like and add a sauce to it for anywhere from $14 to $20. My favorites are the pappardelle with butter and sage sauce and the gnocchi with white sauce.

For the price, you get a lot of value from the flavor and freshness of the different dishes. I have yet to find another Italian spot with such affordable prices in San Francisco. 

7. El Farolito Taqueria

Courtesy of El Farolito
Courtesy of El Farolito

Locations: 2950 24th St, San Francisco, 94110

358 Beach St, San Francisco, 94133

2779 Mission St, San Francisco, 94110

4817 Mission St, San Francisco, 94112

Perfect for: Quick eats, lunch, dinner, late-night munchies, takeout

El Farolito is a no-fuss Mexican taqueria that serves savory burritos, tacos, quesadillas, nachos, and more. It’s one of the most famous taquerias in the city, particularly among locals. Their main location is on Mission and 24th, though they have several restaurants throughout San Francisco and across the Bay Area.

I’ve been frequenting this food joint for years and still regularly come here for the carne asada super burritos, tacos, and quesadillas, though you really can’t go wrong with anything you order. It’s perfect for cheap eats and low-key vibes, whether you’re stopping by for dinner or late-night munchies.

While I can’t speak for all the locations, the Mission and 24th spot is cash-only and is typically always busy with a line out the door. However, the service is quick and the portion sizes are huge. So, don’t be deterred by the wait.

8. Volcano

Courtesy of Volcano
Courtesy of Volcano

Location: 5454 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, 94121

Perfect for: Quick eats, lunch, dinner

Located in the Richmond, Volcano is a Japanese curry restaurant serving authentic Japanese-style curry for under $15 per plate. This neighborhood gem is the perfect spot to keep you warm during cold SF nights and satisfy your curry cravings.

If you have never been here before, I recommend trying the chicken or pork katsu curry, which are the standard options but still delicious nonetheless. My go-to orders are the pork katsu curry or veggie katsu at the mild spice level (unfortunately, I have a low spice tolerance). If you’re looking for a kick, opt for the medium or hot spice level, which most of my friends enjoy.

While the dining area is small, the portions are huge, the food tastes great, and the price is reasonable. Overall, Volcano is a reliable spot for Japanese curry without hurting your wallet or sacrificing quality.

9. Super Duper Burgers

Courtesy of Super Duper (IG)
Courtesy of Super Duper (IG)

Locations: 3410 California St, San Francisco, 94118

721 Market St, San Francisco, 94103

98 Mission St, San Francisco, 94105

2201 Chestnut St, San Francisco, 94123

2304 Market St, San Francisco, 94114

783 Mission St, San Francisco, 94103

Perfect for: Fast casual, lunch, dinner

Super Duper is a locally-owned, fast casual burger joint with several locations in Laurel Village, Downtown, Lower FiDi, Hayes Valley, Marina, and Castro, as well as restaurants across the Bay Area. Their burgers are filling for under $10 and come with your choice of cheese and/or bacon.

Similar to a couple of the other establishments on the list, I’ve been frequenting Super Duper since my high school days. My go-to order is a mini burger (4 oz. patty) with cheese and garlic fries. The burgers are always cooked to perfection and have a solid bun-to-meat ratio. You can also grab some pickles on the side for free.

Everything gets made to order and is organic, so you can rest assured the food is fresh. Many of their locations also have plenty of seating, allowing you to enjoy your delicious food on the spot.

10. Golden Boy Pizza

Courtesy of Golden Boy Pizza (IG)
Courtesy of Golden Boy Pizza (IG)

Location: 542 Green St, San Francisco, 94133

Perfect for: Grab and go, lunch, dinner, takeout

Golden Boy Pizza is a stand-out pizza spot in North Beach, serving Sanfrancilian®️style pizza in San Francisco since 1978. A neighborhood staple, this street-style establishment is famous among locals and tourists alike.

The restaurant has two lines – one for single-slice pizzas and one for whole pizzas. Popular options include the large clam and garlic pizza, combo, and pepperoni, though you can also make your own. A single slice comes out to roughly under $5 depending on which flavor you order. Alternatively, you can order a small pizza for about $12 to $15 and a large one for about $22.50 to $28.75.

If you want pizza with a quick turnaround, reasonable prices, and great taste, Golden Boy Pizza is the place to go. It’s a San Francisco classic institution and has been family-owned and operated for decades.

The Bottom Line

San Francisco is home to a diverse and delicious array of cheap eats, ranging from classic street food to international cuisine. From the savory burritos at El Farolito to slices of pizza at Golden Boy, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

We are not financial advisors. The content on this website and our YouTube videos are for educational purposes only and merely cite our own personal opinions. In order to make the best financial decision that suits your own needs, you must conduct your own research and seek the advice of a licensed financial advisor if necessary. Know that all investments involve some form of risk and there is no guarantee that you will be successful in making, saving, or investing money; nor is there any guarantee that you won't experience any loss when investing. Always remember to make smart decisions and do your own research!

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