Best Cheap Food in San Francisco

July 25, 2016
·
by Zagat Staff

Zagat’s top-rated SF restaurants $25 and under.

b. patisserie
Patisserie · Lower Pacific Heights · $
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

"Even when compared with Paris standards" , this "charming" Lower Pacific patisserie/cafe is an "awe-inspiring" showcase for baker Belinda Leong’s "world-class" "array" of "decadent pastries" (the "buttery" "kouign amann reigns supreme" ); the space sports an "appealing" "European feel" , and while "the line can be daunting" , "dessert addicts" "pretty much can't go wrong."
Tony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Slice House
Pizza · North Beach · $
Food 4.7 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.1

Coal-fired NY- and New Haven–style pies are the main attractions at this "takeaway" North Beach pizza parlor via namesake chef Tony Gemignani that adjoins his Napoletana outpost next door; there’s no seating, but usually "no wait" , so many consume their orders across the street in Washington Square Park.
Tartine Bakery
Bakery · The Mission · $
Food 4.7 · Decor 3.6 · Service 3.7

"In a class by itself" for "sumptuous, buttery" specialties "fresh out of the oven" , this famed Mission bakery produces "last meal requests" including "spectacular pastries" ( "especially the morning buns" ), "the perfect croissant" , "spot-on delicious" hot-pressed sandwiches and "unmatched" country bread that quickly sells out; the cafe section’s "totally overcrowded" , "the wait can be grueling" and the "staff could be friendlier" , but "you’ll be amply rewarded."
La Taqueria
Mexican · The Mission · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.2 · Service 3.9

For over 40 years, this "true original" in the Mission has been churning out affordable, "delicious" Mexican meals including "awesome tacos" and burritos (they're "traditional" , so "they don't have rice" ); "seating is scarce" in the "no-frills" space, so prepare for "constant lines" – though the "speedy" counter staff keeps them moving.
Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick Cafe & Milk Bar
Sandwich · Embarcadero · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

"Silky, flavorful" "cheeses galore" are the main attraction in the "delicious" breakfast and lunch bites – including "amazing mac ’n’ cheese" and "decadent" grilled cheese sandwiches – at this Ferry Building "walk-up counter" from the namesake gourmet dairy; while "not inexpensive" for a nook with "no sit-down area" , it’s "unique" "for a quick snack" on the run.
Wing Wings
Chicken · Lower Haight · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.2

An "affordable go-to" for chicken wings, this Lower Haight storefront features free-range birds and "fantastic" housemade sauces that include "contemporary" variations (the "Angry Korean is worth noting" ); while seating is scarce, the counter service is "fast" and "reliable" for a bite on the fly.
Craftsman and Wolves
Pastry · The Mission · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.1

The "mind-blowing pastries" are a "feast for the eyes and taste buds" at these "ultrahip" patisseries from William Werner, where "totally fascinating" sweet and savory goods (the egg-in-a-muffin Rebel Within "is a revelation" ) are "curated" in "jewel-like" fashion; the "warehouse chic" surroundings are likewise "a total delight" , "but prepare to spend money."
Queen's Louisiana Po-Boy Cafe
Soul Food · Portola · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.2 · Service 4.3

"Great gumbo" , "delicious" fried chicken and some of the "most authentic" po' boys "outside of NOLA" are the draws at this Portola Cajun-Creole "hole-in-the-wall" ; the counter-serve setup’s nothing fancy, but it’s a "unique" local find for "casual" eats.
SO
Asian · SoMa · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.1 · Service 3.8

"Awesome" chicken wings, dumplings and noodles ( "any kind" ) along with "delicious" veggie options draw diners on a budget to this SoMa Asian-fusion outfit; regulars advise it's most satisfying if you "don't expect ambiance – just enjoy the food."
The Sentinel
Sandwich · SoMa · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.2 · Service 4.1

Lines run "long" at this SoMa "takeout-only" shop from Dennis Leary (Golden West) cranking out "superb" morning pastries and "incredible" "artisanal sandwiches" on "fantastic breads" ; "they frequently sell out" , but regulars "don’t mind spending a little extra" for the "tastiest lunch you can get" ; P.S. open weekdays only till 2:30 PM (with a break after breakfast).
Chloe's Cafe
Cafe · Noe Valley · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.3

This "perfect little" brunch spot in Noe Valley nook cranks out "flavor-packed" scrambles, "perfect" pancakes and other "unpretentious" , affordable American eats in small, "cozy" digs; there's "always a morning rush no matter the day, weather or time" , but the staffers "do their best to keep a smile" ; P.S. no dinner.
Dottie's True Blue Cafe
Cafe · SoMa · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.1

"A terrific breakfast" rewards those who arrive early to "get in line" at this SoMa daytimer known for its "outstanding" chili-cheddar cornbread with jalapeño jelly and other down-home brunch classics; despite being in a "run-down" part of town, it’s "full all the time" , but fans assure it's "worth the wait" ; P.S. closed Tuesday–Wednesday.
Arizmendi Bakery
Bakery · Inner Sunset · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.4 · Service 4.1

"Amazing" "fresh-out-of-the-oven" breads, "the best scones ever" and "tantalizing" pastries (including vegan/gluten-free "goodies" ) "tug at the heartstrings" at these individually run "hippie-dippie" bakeries; "there’s no decor" and only "limited" seating, but expect quick-moving "lines of people" queuing up for a cup of fair-trade "joe" and "generous slices" of daily vegetarian pizza that "never fails to be deliciously interesting."
Arizmendi Bakery
Bakery · The Mission · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.4 · Service 4.1

"Amazing" "fresh-out-of-the-oven" breads, "the best scones ever" and "tantalizing" pastries (including vegan/gluten-free "goodies" ) "tug at the heartstrings" of the socially conscious carb lovers drawn to these individually run "hippie-dippy" Bay Area bakeries; "there’s no decor" and only "limited" seating, but expect quick-moving "lines of people" queuing up for a cup of fair-trade "joe" and "generous slices" of daily vegetarian pizza that "never fails to be deliciously interesting."