$10 and Under
Balompié Cafe, Mission
Once you discover Balompié's thick, filling, and oh-so-budget-friendly pupusas—a type of Salvadoran tortilla oozing with cheese and stuffed with everything from shrimp to chicharron—life will never be the same. The restaurant's all-day menu boasts more than a dozen pupusa options, each $3.50. The two per-person minimum is just enough for a single diner.
El Porteño SF, Mission and Market
For a bite that's fast, satisfying, and easy on the wallet, this Ferry Building food stand is the perfect go-to. Their recipe for handmade empanadas comes straight from Argentina, and each buttery hand-held pie costs just $6. Enjoy variations like the jamón y queso—loaded with prosciutto and fontina cheese—bayside on sunny days.
Kevin's Noodle House (or Pho Huynh Hiep), Outer Sunset
The decor—a bright room with densely packed tables and faux-wood wainscoting on the walls—is nothing to write home about—but it's the pho that draws crowds: steaming bowls of delectable broths and fresh ingredients for as little as $7.25. Kevin's is comfort food at its best, and it’s ideal for a gray Sunset day.
Red's Java House, Embarcadero
Located along the Embarcadero waterfront, Red's has been catering to hungry patrons since 1955 (before that it was named Franco's Lunch). The divey waterfront hut has a seafaring vibe and good, affordable food to boot. You can get a cheeseburger for less than $7 (one of the best deals in the city), and fries (normally $2.68) are free if you answer the week's trivia question correctly.
El Farolito, Mission
Not only can you purchase one of the best burritos in the Bay Area here without breaking the bank (they run from $7.15 for a regular vegetarian burrito and $11.25 for a “super shrimp”), but regular soft-shelled tacos are only $3.25. Food comes served in paper-lined baskets, and the Bay Area chain has four Mission District locations.
Eddie's Cafe, NoPa
This cozy, diner-style breakfast joint serves up one of the city's most affordable full morning meals—right in the heart of San Francisco's increasingly popular Divisadero Corridor. It costs just $7.35 for one egg, two strips of bacon, and two pancakes or for two strips of bacon and three pieces of French toast. Sit at the counter to admire the bobbleheads and outstanding collection of coffee mugs, or order a cuppa to see which one you’ll get.
Shangri-La Vegetarian Restaurant, Outer Sunset
Vegetarian meals are typically less expensive than meat dishes, but at Shangri-La most entrees top out at an incredible $7—and servings are large, especially for the price. The décor is fairly dated: think wood paneling, red carpeting, and a mirrored wall. Still, even meat-eaters rave about the faux meat dishes, and the kosher space has vegan and gluten-free offerings too.