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Affordable rent is hard to find in San Francisco. But cheap eats? No prob. With just a couple bucks, you can taste city classics (including clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf) and off-the-beaten-path discoveries (think Chinese fusion in The Mission). This is an indie city with character, so forget fast food and head to these deliciously healthy, budget-friendly and wholly original eateries.

SF street car shutterstock_93864763

For breakfast: Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery
Sweet or savory, you can’t beat the from-scratch crepes at this comfy, Union Square fave — especially at $6.25 a crack. Line up at the counter to place your order (banana, strawberry, apple, etc.) and the batter pourers will get to work. A little sizzling and a few flips later, your wafer-thin masterpieces arrive at your table. No long waits. No complicated menu. Just a classic breakfast à la francais. In addition to the $6.25 crepes, there are gourmet varieties like Miami Heat (cheddar, avocado, chicken, scallions, hot sauce) and Half Moon Bay (cheddar, tomato, mushroom, crab cake), if the ordinary just won’t do.

Photo courtesy of Honey Honey

Photo courtesy of Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery

For Lunch: The Crab Station at Fisherman’s Wharf

You have to try San Francisco clam chowder at least once in your life, and this bargain option won’t disappoint. One of Fisherman’s Wharf’s original seafood stands serves its clam chowder in a hot sourdough bread bowl for $6. This is true grab-and-walk food, best enjoyed on the docks where you can watch boats drift in and out. There are also benches on the Pier 43 Promenade, if you prefer to sit and slurp.

Bread Bowl _ shutterstock_89011093

For a Snack: Garaje

A list of must-eat tacos in SF could run as long as Market Street, but we whittled down the best to this ultra-affordable option. Garaje is a SoMa neighborhood taqueria-meets-burger joint with casual counter service (booths are abundant) and excellent food. Street-style tacos are just $3 each, but we recommend splurging (for a modest $5) on the Como Se Llama taco that has both hard and soft shells and is filled with refritos, pico, guacamole and chicken or steak. With old road signs and license plates as decor, you’ll be fooled into thinking this spot is a Route 66 pit stop.

Grilled fish and guac taco. Photo courtesy of Yelp

Grilled fish and guac taco. Photo courtesy of Yelp

For Dinner: Mission Chinese Food
If it weren’t for the lines that snake outside its door, this unmarked Mission neighborhood spot would likely go unnoticed (the awning actually reads “Lung Shan Restaurant”). A mash-up from both corners of the world, the excellent “Americanized Chinese food” is all $20 or less. Start with beer-brined Sichuan pickles ($5), move on to Kung Pao Pastrami ($14) or Salt Cod Fried Rice ($13) and go home with leftovers (portions are indeed that big). It’s a crowded, no-frills spot where the sound of heavy metal music drowns out conversation. No matter: You’ll be enjoying the food too much to care.

Kung Pao Pastrami. Photo courtesy of Yelp

Kung Pao Pastrami. Photo courtesy of Yelp.

Story by Kelly Aiglon

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, City, Food & drink, Last minute travel

Kelly Aiglon

Kelly Aiglon

Kelly Aiglon

Latest posts by Kelly Aiglon (see all)

One thought on “Eating cheap (and good!) in San Francisco”

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