Here at MUNCHIES, we embrace the lowbrow as much as we do the highbrow. That's why we've gone out of our way to put 17 of the best cheap eats in San Francisco in the MUNCHIES Guide to San Francisco. Sure, the Bay is known to be pricey, but it's also a paradise of affordable dining.
From Hanoi-style soups to spaghetti and meatballs to tortas and doughnuts, there is no shortage of places to fill up on a single-digit deals. San Francisco might be one of the most expensive cities in America, but these restaurants will allow you to live large on a small budget.
Check out the complete MUNCHIES Guide to San Francisco for the best places to grab a bite on a budget, get a great cup of coffee, have the best burrito of your life, or eat fancy, too.
Turtle Tower: Turtle Tower's pho is so good that Danny Bowien openly copied it (and many others have tried). What makes it different? This food is Hanoi-style (Northern Vietnamese) and the base is chicken, not beef, and the broth is light as can be. It's been rumored to cure virtually any cold, too.
Emmy's Spaghetti Shack: Beloved for its spaghetti and meatballs, cheap wine, and cocktails, Emmy's is another popular hang for local restaurant workers and broke musicians on dates. The menu is tiny but doesn't need to be bigger; get spaghetti and meatballs, duh, and split a bottle of wine to feel fancy about it.
Tartine Bakery: Tartine has the greatest bread in the world, and the longest line in the world to go with it. But it moves fast, and the store is always staffed by babes. Don't get the muesli, do get the lemon tart, and take home an extra baguette for later. You've earned it after inching your way down the block for 30 minutes.
Zante Pizza & Indian Cuisine: Indian pizza—need we say more? This glorious invention sounds too good to be true, but it's not—it's just good, as one would imagine chicken tikka masala atop a cheese slice with a sour, chewy crust to be.
The Pot's: If you've never had Chinese hot pot, oh boy, is there something in store for you. Have your whole squad tag along because at The Pot's, it's all-you-can-eat dumplings, noodles, veggies, and meats that you can submerge in a variety of fragrant, spicy broths. Arrive as hungry as humanly possible.
Tortas Los Picudos: The tortas here are fine, but that's actually not the point. The smoothies and juices here are incredible; the blood-red Vampiro Tropical will make you feel so rejuvenated, you might just grow fangs. Drink one and be exhumed from your hangover.
Bob's Donuts: Open 24 hours, this is the true egalitarian landing pad for late-night SFers. Are the doughnuts that noteworthy? Not really. But Bob's will always be there for you, and that's worth something. Be ready for some serious people-watching.
Saigon Sandwich: The crown jewel of the Tenderloin's thriving Vietnamese food scene, the banh mi here will make you cry in their perfection, and they're cheap as hell. It's hard to imagine a better meal for under four bucks than this spicy synthesis of meat, pickled veggies, jalapeños, mayo, and baguette. Fall in love with the roast pork or the meatball, but you can't go wrong with anything on their tiny menu.
For nine more places to get SF's best cheap eats, check out the complete MUNCHIES Guide to San Francisco.