You’ll find some of the best affordable eating in the city’s outlying residential neighborhoods. Locals line up at San Tung in the Inner Sunset, just south of Golden Gate Park, for the Chinese dry-fried chicken wings ($16.50) with a sweet, sticky glaze or for plates of noodles with black bean sauce and seafood ($15). They’re worth the wait—and tastier than many Chinatown alternatives.
On the north side of the park, Richmond District favorite Burma Superstar is renowned for its tea leaf salad ($15), an addicting mélange of fermented tea leaves, dried shrimp, fried garlic, jalapeño, and crunchy legumes brought together with fish sauce and a clarifying squeeze of lemon. If you love your meal here, head a couple blocks up Clement Street and buy a copy of the cookbook Burma Superstar at Green Apple Books. The 54-year-old shop may induce a whole afternoon of bargain hunting.
Neighboring KoJa Kitchen, a brick-and-mortar offshoot of the popular food truck, combines Korean and Japanese culinary traditions in ways that satisfy cravings you never knew you had. You can’t go wrong here, but for an excellent starting point, pick the original KoJa: Korean barbecue short rib, aioli, and seasonal greens tucked between two garlicky buns made from crunchy toasted rice. You may appreciate the $9.95 check almost as much as you do your meal.