San Francisco has some of the finest and most expensive restaurants in the world. The City also has a vibrant blending of cultures and personalities, resulting in ample opportunities for San Francisco cheap eats.
8 Great San Francisco Cheap Eats
1. Chinese food
Late one night I was a little hungry but not too hungry. A container of hot & sour soup hit the spot and cost less than $4. Almost 25% of San Francisco’s population is Chinese and it is easy to find great Chinese restaurants. I consulted Yelp for information about the place next door to my hotel and it was highly rated, convincing me that it was a place to try.
>>> Read the McCool Travel review of: 8 Great Fun and Quirky San Francisco Scenes.
2. Boccalone Meat Cone
McCool Travel note: Boccalone has closed. Please support your favorite independent restaurants so that they stay open. We need them.
Located in the Ferry Building, where Market Street meets the bay, are several mostly gourmet food options. Boccalone sells an item called a meat cone—a collection of sliced meats in a paper cone. Priced at $4, the meat cone is a perfect snack while strolling through the Ferry Building or along the waterfront.
>>> Read the McCool Travel review of: Petite Auberge hotel in San Francisco.
So many people said El Porteño had amazing empanadas that I made a point to try one. Luckily, it is located near Boccalone in the Ferry Building. I tried a carne for $4 (plus tax) and was pleasantly surprised that it had olives in the filling.
>>> Read the McCool Travel review of: 16th Avenue Tiled Steps: Things to See in San Francisco.
4. San Francisco Clam Chowder
Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl is one of my favorite dishes and San Francisco is a great place to get it. On an ideal sunny afternoon, I opted to get take-out from Boudin for under $7 and bring my clam chowder and bread bowl on a ferry ride across the bay.
5. Fish Taco
Visiting the gorgeous tiled steps at 16th Avenue helped me work up an appetite. Nearby is a place I heard about with incredible tacos. I went to The Taco Shop At Underdog’s and ordered a fish taco to go. When I got to the beach I discovered that it was not correct. Dang it. Always check the order before leaving the restaurant. It was still very, very good and under $5.
>>> Read the McCool Travel article: 8 Great Amazing Fish Tacos in US.
Even though I proclaim not to eat at chains, there are a handful I will visit. One of them is In-N-Out. In the time since I last visited San Francisco, an In-N-Out location opened at Fisherman’s Wharf. For a fraction of the cost of a single entree at surrounding restaurants, I ordered the typical burger, fries, and shake for about $7. I carried my to-go order over to the nearby pier and dined with unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Transamerica building, and Alcatraz. Blissful.
>>> Read the McCool Travel article: Great Burgers Around the USA.
7. Ice Cream
How can I complete my quest for the world’s best ice cream without trying them all? I went to two of San Francisco’s most highly rated ice cream places. I visited Humphry Slocombe in the Ferry Building and Double Rainbow near Union Square.
>>> Read the McCool Travel article: Great Ice Cream Places in US to Cool Off.
Another place receiving tons of hype, particularly for its cannoli, is Stella Bakery. While walking around North Beach after breakfast, but before lunch, I passed Stella. Too early? Nah, the time is always right for a pastry, especially with a bunch of hill walking ahead. It is not really my quest to find America’s best cannoli but I definitely have had better.
By no means are these the only eight San Francisco cheap eats. Do you have a cheap eat in San Francisco to suggest?
>>> Read the McCool Travel article: Scenic Drive From San Francisco Airport.