From beloved San Francisco classics, like the legendary Mission burrito, to new refined appetizers from SF newcomers, these seven must-try dishes are just as easy on the wallet as they are on the taste buds. Behold the cheap eats that taste like a million bucks.
Pork Buns at The Chairman
The food truck that’s been drawing lines for years has finally set up a permanent brick-and-mortar in the Tenderloin, offering a sure thing to satisfy your bao cravings. While there are new menu items exclusive to the store, the pork buns are still the star here. Tender pork belly with turmeric-pickled daikon and green shiso is nestled between either steamed or baked buns. For an appetizer, get them steamed, which delivers the sandwich on a fluffy, slightly sweet clamshell-shaped bun. For a larger portion, the baked option comes on an Asian dinner roll–shaped bun baked with a light sugar glaze for a golden crust.
Price: $3.75 steamed; $6.75 baked
670 Larkin St.; 415-813-8800
Grilled Peaches at Myriad Gastro Pub
It doesn’t get more summery than this delightful, fresh appetizer at a new globally inspired gastro pub in the Mission. Peaches grilled to sweet perfection and toasted hazelnuts could be a dessert if it weren’t for the savory, yet refreshing, micro basil and the tangy goat cheese that’s been whipped into a light mousse.
2491 Mission St.; 415-525-4335
Seafood Chowder at Bar Crudo
A creative take on New England-style chowder, this upscale rendition at hip seafood haunt Bar Crudo offers an impossibly rich, tangy and creamy broth and comes loaded with fish, squid, clams and thick pieces of bacon. Get there early to take advantage of this exceptional chowder for a fraction of the usual price and pair the $6 cup with $1 oysters for the ultimate happy-hour meal.
Price: $6 during happy hour 5–6:30 PM daily
655 Divisadero St.; 415-409-0679
Burrito from La Taqueria
FiveThirtyEight’s highly scientific crowd-sourced bracket recently put to rest San Francisco's age-old debate on which taqueria burrito is best. Not only winning San Francisco, this rice-less rendition was crowned the best in the country, thanks to its intense juicy flavor, tender chunks of meat and perfect filling-to-tortilla ratio. Ask for the burrito “dorados style” to get the whole thing thrown on the grill for a few minutes until the tortilla turns a golden brown and the insides are a gooey, melty mess.
Price: Starts at $8
2889 Mission St.; 415-285-7117
La Phat Thok Tea Leaf Salad at Burmese Kitchen
Burma Superstar may have popularized the dish in SF, but the newer, cheaper and less crowded Burmese Kitchen has perfected staple. Soft fermented tea leaves contrast nicely with the the crispy peas, peanuts, cabbage and fried garlic. It’s a filling vegan dish that even devoted meat lovers will appreciate.
3815 Geary Blvd.; 415-474-5569
Tuna Melt from b. on the Go
Owners Belinda Leung and Michael Saus from the acclaimed b. Patisserie have responded to the masses that line up outside, doubling down on their success with a new small corner outpost serving up grab-and-go sandwiches, salads and pastries. The massive tuna melt is a clear favorite at this new haunt, featuring handmade bread sliced thin like a tortilla and folded over for a lighter, easy-to-carry sandwich.
2794 California St.; 415-589-7112
HECHO Hash from HECHO
This soaring upscale Mexican spot in the Castro recently expanded their brunch menu, essentially doubling their offerings and adding a slew of new brunch-friendly cocktails. The expanded menu gives new reason start your day with a spicy kick — especially since the new hearty HECHO Hash, featuring Yukon gold potatoes, roasted peppers and onion smothered in queso fundido with scallions and cilantro, is at such a price point, you won’t have any problem taking down an extra brunch cocktail that somehow costs more than the meal.
Price: $8 (add an egg for $2)
2200 Market St.; 415-926-5630