With the Super bowl Just a few more weeks Sunday February 7th, the pregame frenzy is getting ready in San Francisco. (Yes, the game is technically an hour’s drive south at Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, but there will be plenty of events happening here in San Francisco.)
If you have tickets to the upcoming game, you’ve probably already spent a pretty penny. Sure, if you still have money to burn, there are plenty of high-end restaurants in our expensive city on the bay. But for out-of-towers (and even locals) wanting a taste of the best that San Francisco has to offer – for relatively little money – here are 13 must-have cheap foods you can’t miss.
Molinari delicacies: The 120 year old Italian delicatessen shop is world famous for its salami and sausages. Or you can get freshly made deli sandwiches perfect for picnicking in nearby Washington Square Park. molinarisalame.com
The Taqueria: Thanks to FiveThirtyEight’s burrito mount a while back, the lines in this decade-old Mission Street taqueria are even longer than they were before. It’s hard to go wrong with the order, but our favorite fillings for the rice-free burritos are carnitas and chorizo. (Cash only.) Facebook.com/LaTaqSF/
The Tonayense: Another top choice for mission-style burritos, as well as some potentially fine tacos, can be found in El Tonayense’s many mobile outposts around the Mission, including one next to Best Buy on Harrison Street. Some of the meats to order include the meaty lengua and the aromatic pastor. (Cash only.) Tonayense.com
Sam Where: Thanks to the move to a new location and much-needed renovation, this centuries-old Chinatown classic is enjoying a fantastic renaissance. The traditional chicken jook is calming and satisfying. Another popular dish at Sam Wo’s is the American tomato and beef chow mein. samworestaurant.com
Bi-Rite Dairy: For something sweet and creamy, it’s hard to beat the balls and serve at the incredibly popular Mission ice cream parlor. The fan favorite flavors include salted caramel and ricanelas, a cinnamon-based ice cream with pieces of Snicker Doodles mixed in. Biritecreamery.com
Red’s Java House: Originally opened during the Great Depression when it was called Franco’s Lunch, this classic waterfront dive is still one of the best places in town to get a delicious (and cheap!) Cheeseburger and beer. redsjavahouse.com
Tartine Bakery: Hands down, this is the most prestigious bakery in San Francisco. The lines for freshly baked pastries and bread by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson extend consistently out the door. Yes, their treats are more expensive when it comes to baked goods, but a loaf of Robertson straight out of the oven (available after 4:30 PM) bread bread is probably the best $ 9.50 price you’ll ever spend. tartinebakery.com
Saigon sandwiches: This gritty, takeaway tenderloin sandwich shop makes some of the best (and cheapest) Vietnamese banh mi in town. Order the meatball or the combination with pate and sliced pork. (Cash only.) Saigon-sandwich.com
SoMa Streat Food: The food truck craze is here and this three and a half year old food park, home to dozens of different mobile food vendors every week, is one of the best examples of a movement. Plenty of covered and outdoor seating, live music and games, and beer and wine make this space a take-away lunch spot. It’s a great meeting place for friends. Providers vary daily. somastreatfoodpark.com
The yard: Another great collection of outdoor food and drink can be found in this parklet down by the ballpark. The Anchor Brewing beer garden offers a wide variety of pints from the famous San Francisco brewery. As for food, there’s the smoked meat from The Whole Beast (order the lamb top!) And a selection of food trucks hosted by Off the Grid. themardsf.com
Golden Gate Bakery: The lines don’t lie. Locals know this is the right place in Chinatown to have egg custard tartlets. Other popular items are the dense and sweet moon cakes made with lotus seed paste. (Cash only.) Goldengatebakery.com
Great Duper Burger: Yes, New York has Shake Shack, but San Francisco has Super Duper. The Bay Area fast food chain prides itself on its slow food values, which include homemade pickles, man-raised beef, and freshly baked buns. The ostrich soft ice cream cones aren’t too shabby either. superduperburgers.com
Acme Bread and Cowgirl Creamery on the Ferry Building Marketplace: The historic Ferry Building craft market has plenty of dining options, but these two Bay Area food manufacturers have been feeding hungry San Franciscans for decades. Grab a loaf of bread at Acme and stop by the Cowgirl Creamery for some cheese. Tam Triple Cream and make your way to the nearby waterfront for an impromptu picnic. acmebread.com and cowgirlcreamery.com
Eat well and may the best team win!