I didn’t plan to visit San Francisco until I read Gary Kamiya’s ‘Cool Grey City of Love’. The book beautifully depicts life in San Francisco and what this incredible ‘City of Golden Gate’ has to offer. But what amazed me about the city, apart from hippies, techies, immigrants, gay scenes, Alcatraz are the cheap eateries in San Francisco.
San Francisco has some of the best Michelin-starred restaurants, but it is better to dig into the city’s local, traditional food culture when it comes to budget travelling. While other cities of the US boast the broadest range in their regional cuisines, San Francisco adds more flavor to its organic and seasonal food.
San Francisco hosts one of the largest gatherings of gourmet trucks, ‘Off the Grid’, where 30+ food trucks and pop-up restaurants place their stalls at Fort Mason Center. The event itself is an excellent opportunity to experience the vast culinary scene of San Francisco. From Asian dim sums to western tacos, the fair has the knack to suit each taste bud.
During my stay in San Francisco, I rounded up some of the cheap eateries that visitors highly rate but, at the same time, do not blow through your pocket as well.
Let’s find out.
Address: 2288 Mission St,
San Francisco, CA 94110
With massive burritos, a comprehensive choice of tacos, and Mexican beer Taqueria Cancun is one of the cheapest eateries in San Francisco. It is one such eatery where you can enjoy an evening grabbing the best Mexican tacos along with some beer, and it will not cost you more.
With a yellowish touch in their ambience, the guys at Taqueria Cancun are doing what they are passionate about- feeding good food.
I visited this place with my friend. We tried one taco stuffed with soft tortilla, pork, onions, cilantro, salsa, cheese, avocado, and sour cream; one burrito stuffed with beef, rice beans, onions, cilantro, and salsa and two Mexican beers. The taste was excellent, and it will just cost 6$-7$/person. Indeed cheap!
Address: 1101 Gary Blvd,
San Francisco, CA 94109
It was my last evening in San Francisco when I wanted to grab some beer, and good food, and Tommy’s Joynt popped up on my mobile screen. I went through the pictures, and the menu took my purse, and left for Tommy’s Joynt.
Tommy’s Joynt is San Francisco’s longest-serving affordable eatery and bar, offering 3.50$ beer, 6$ martini, 5$ drinks, and delicious food for less than 7$.
The daily dinner platter is something you can’t afford to miss.
Image source: sf.eater.com
Address: 2240 Mission St.,
San Francisco, CA 94110
Wes Burger ‘N’ More has the widest menu to host guests of every budget. This is the place where you will get the most inexpensive yet delicious burgers of San Francisco at just 2$ and a large chicken bucket, enough to serve 4-5 people at just 30$.
Topped with American cheese, pickles, and onions on Martin’s potato roll, the crusty burgers of this food joint is a must-try. The fine wine and good quality beer cost between 4$-26$.
Address: Pier 30, San Francisco, CA 94105
Located on the waterfront, Red’s Java House has served millions of guests since its birth in 1955. One of the oldest eateries that has been keeping beer and burgers as their signature dish. However, the current menu offers more choices sandwiches, rancheros, quesadilla, pancakes, fries, etc. but the hamburgers and beer steal the show.
Initially, the eatery served sailors, dockers, military persons, dock workers, yachters, and generations of families, but now this place is popular among San Francisco’s millennials.
5. Sam Wo
Address: 713 Clay St.,
San Francisco, CA 94108
Founded 100 years ago, Sam Wo is one of the oldest cheap eateries in San Francisco. Chinatown that has been feeding the city generation after generation. Although Chinatown has some of the best and cheapest restaurants in San Francisco, the heritage of Sam Wo is a class of its own.
Serving the community for more than a century, Sam Wo has a wide variety of Cantonese food on their menu. From BBQ pork Noodle roll to Yang chow fried rice cooked with BBQ pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts to relish, what I liked the most is wonton noodle soup and Singapore style stir-fried noodles.
San Francisco’s Food Culture
Although San Francisco is regarded as one of the most expensive cities in the US, finding cheap eats is not tricky. San Francisco has plenty of affordable food options that could put food from other cities into shame. San Francisco’s answer to a budget meal is the food trucks running throughout the city. The town hosts Off the Grid events across the Bay area, where one can quickly grab burgers or hot dogs or anything without spending a lot of money.
From Pier to Plate
Fisherman’s Wharf is a Valhalla for seafood lovers. With various traditional and gourmet recipes to drool over, Dungeness crab or clam chowder was my favourite among many.
Fresh fish or crabs directly from the pier to your plate- if that is what you are craving for, then Fisherman’s Wharf is an ideal place to visit when backpacking San Francisco.
Let me know if you are in SF. We can grab a burger and beer together.