All together now: San Francisco is really goddamn expensive. But, like any decent culinary capital, we are still home to plenty of cheap food options that still put other cities' food to shame. Last year we challenged ourselves to find the town's best menu items under $7. This year we're opening it up a bit — inflation and all — and rounding up some of SF's best foodstuffs priced at $10 or less, but further limiting ourselves by nixing all pizza, tacos, burritos, and burgers, even though some of those items, in these crazy times, actually top the 10-buck mark at some establishments. Naturally, the list below skews ethnic, but we've tried to mix it up since you ought to know already that you can eat pretty cheaply at any Thai/Vietnamese/Indian spot in the 'Loin. When you're totally broke after the holidays, you will thank us.

Lamb Gyro from The Whole Beast
Clocking in at $9, the lamb gyro from chef John Fink's meat-centric stand at The Hall is no ordinary gyro. The perfectly smoky, yogurt-marinated chopped lamb — which is, to be fair, not traditional processed gyro meat shaved off a cone — comes smothered in yogurt and harissa and topped with a huge pile of onion, cucumber, peppers, and cherry tomato. The Chron's Jonathan Kauffman described it as "a messy sandwich that defies both hands and forks," but it is well worth the mess. It is the ultimate lamb-lover's lunch, or dinner, and hopefully it will be just as easy to find when the Hall closes next year. — Jay Barmann
The Hall - 1028 Market Street between 6th and 7th


Chicken Jalfrezi and Tikka Masala at Shalimar
Potential sanitary issues aside, Shalimar is a divey gem of the Tenderloin serving some excellent and flavorful Indian and Pakistani food. Those on a budget, or those who live in the 'hood, likely know this place well for both their familiar (tikka masala, a great version) and unfamiliar (brain masala, goat karahi) dishes and low low prices, starting with a house specialty, the cinnamon-spiced chicken jalfrezi. At $7.95 it's definitely one of the best South Asian dishes in town, and is even worth a special trip up Jones Street after dark, with a companion. — Jay Barmann
532 Jones Street between O'Farrell and Geary

French Burger or Ribeye at Geneva Steak
Juicy, salty grilled steaks are not quite a dime a dozen here at Geneva Steak, but they're cheap and plentiful all the same. 1983 prices mean a $12 ribeye is yours with mashed potato and garlic bread. To keep things under $10, get the elongated burger sandwich known as a French burger at just $6.99, and that's for the meal. —Caleb Pershan
5130 Mission Street between Amazon Avenue and Rolph Street

veggie pho.png
Photo via Yelp.

Vegetarian Pho at Evergreen Garden
As winter bears down on us all, and predictions of a "Godzilla El Niño" suggest we're going to be soggy for months to come, it's good to keep the vegetarian pho at Evergreen Garden in mind. Served hot with a delicious broth, and full of huge chunks of tofu, the meal is a perfect go-to for cold and rainy days. Priced at $7.35, you can get in and out for under $10. — Jack Morse
3100 18th Street at Harrison Street

Photo: Yelp

Half-Tray of Nachos at Hi Tops
Not all nachos are created equal, and thus we provided you with a guide to the city's finest just last fall. But the nachos at Castro sports bar Hi Tops stand out because of their generous size and generous topping-to-chip ratio — and a half order for $10 is enough two people, or for a full meal for one very hungry individual. The whole tray is enough for four people. And it should be noted that they do 25-cent Buffalo wings on Mondays, and 25-cent mini corndogs on Wednesdays, so you won't break the bank there either. — Jay Barmann
2247 Market Street between Sanchez and Noe

"World Famous Sandwiches" (Photo: shellEProductions)

Any Junior Sandwich at Roxie Food Center
Roxie's makes one of the, if not the absolute best sandwiches in San Francisco. They're all priced the same, regardless of if you're seeking ham or meatballs or a veggie: $8.99 for a junior. And I'm telling you right now, a junior is junior in name only—this thing is a two-hander, quality bread packed with meat, veggies, and cheese. Service is fast, efficient, and friendly, with substitutions and omissions handled without a flaw. If I was ever convicted of a horrible crime and sentenced to death, a junior hot veggie (soft roll, provolone, no onions, extra pickles) would be my final meal. You're welcome, taxpayers! — Eve Batey
1901 San Jose Avenue (between Havelock and Santa Ynez)
(There's also a Roxie's at 500 Kirkham Street between 9th and 10th Avenues, but it's not that good. Make the trip to San Jose Ave.)

Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Special Black Pepper Pork Chop at New Sun Hong Kong Restaurant
There are way too many great and worthy cheap eats in Chinatown to list here, but I'll just call out one of my favorite dishes — and kind of a standout among some of the more standard Sichuan fare that you'll find — the "special black pepper pork chop" at this late-night spot on Columbus. The sauce on these skinny chops is kind of maple-y as well as peppery, and totally delicious, and this dish clocks in at $9.50. Also, don't miss the also delicious varieties of chow fun and fried rice dishes, most of which are also bargain priced, and do note that they serve until 3 a.m. — Jay Barmann
606 Broadway at Columbus

Look at those noodles. Photo: Tiffany D/Yelp

Perilla's Garlic Noodle Bowl
The folks who own Perilla also own both PPQ Vietnamese places in town, so you know they have garlic noodles down to a science. While you can get the noodles topped with meat or veggies, sometimes a simple bowl of noodles ($7.50) is all you need. Order them in-house, or take them to go and watch the dish expand (there's a lot of food packed in there!) as it's liberated from the carryout container. The knotty noodles demonstrate just the right ratio of butter to garlic, which means you might not be especially kissable tonight, but no one will be leaning away from you by tomorrow morning. — Eve Batey
510 Mission (between Ecker Place and First Street)
863 Irving (between Ninth and Tenth Avenues)

Ali Baba's Falafel platter with pita bread: Michelle C/Yelp

Falafel at Ali Baba's Cave
They aren't kidding when they say "Cave," as Ali Baba's dim, sometimes gritty interior is a far cry from its subway-tile/reclaimed-wood/Edison-bulb Valencia neighbors. But who cares about decor when their famed falafel is in reach? Served solo or in a lavash wrap with the standard hummus, cilantro, onions, parsley, and fried potatoes, their falafel are balls of chickpea delight. They have just the right balance of softness and crumble, moistness and crunch. You'll be ruined for "fast" Mediterranean after this, but that's OK. -- Eve Batey
799 Valencia Street between 18th and 19th Streets

Photo: Peter C./Yelp

Special Combination Banh Mi at Saigon Sandwich
A list like this would never be complete without perhaps the best sandwich deal in town, and the finest banh mi in Little Saigon, a.k.a. those two blocks of Larkin Street in the Tenderloin at Eddy. Not only has this little Vietnamese deli managed to keep prices ridiculously low — they raised them 25 cents like four years ago, and sandwiches still sell for $3.75 — but they come on nicely toasted buns with tender, tasty pork (or chicken), and a great balance of condiment, meat, veggies, and dressing. They aren't the most enormous sandwiches on the block, but I still think they're tops, and I always go for the $4.25 special combination, that has roast pork, "specialty pork" which is like Spam, and a smear of pate. — Jay Barmann
560 Larkin Street at Eddy

Photo: Joey DeRuy

A Half Meatball Sandwich at Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store
The whole sandwich (pictured) these days will run you $10.75, with some delicious, well seasoned meatballs and sauce, with Swiss cheese, served on fresh focaccia from Liguria Bakery across the park and oven baked. But a half is just $6.50 and more than plenty, for lunch especially. It is undoubtedly one of the most perfect sandwiches in the city, and ranks high on our Best Sandwiches list and many others before it. Find your way to this iconic spot on a rainy lunch break (be warned, service is not always the quickest), and you'll wonder how you never made it there before — assuming you haven't already been there many times. — Jay Barmann
566 Columbus Avenue at Union

Photo: Susy C./Yelp

Boat Noodles at Zen Yai Thai
Perhaps winning the prize for biggest price hike in recent history, the formerly "off-menu" boat noodles — a dark and spicy Thai-style pork blood soup with shredded pork and rice noodles — at Zen Yai Thai in the 'Loin went from $2.50 just three years ago to $8.50 today, thanks probably to the press this one dish got here, in SF Weekly, and elsewhere. For those who aren't squeamish about blood sausage and the like, this is a comforting, brain-clearing, gullet-warming "peasant" dish at one of the city's more unsung Thai spots, and it's arguably the best version you'll find in these parts. — Jay Barmann
771 Ellis Street at Polk

Photo: Kasa/Facebook

Kati Rolls at Kasa Indian Eatery
These Indian-style burritos on freshly made roti are one of the better deals in town, even though a single one for $5.50 might only constitute a snack for most adult males. They come stuffed with your choice of any of Kasa's well spiced and seasoned meat or veggie dishes, including their top-notch, smoky chicken tikka masala, the yummy keema muttar (spiced minced turkey with peas), or gobi aloo (cauliflower and potatoes), along with rice, onions, and chutneys. — Jay Barmann
4001 - 18th Street (at Noe) and 1356 Polk Street (at Pine)

Photo via Yelp.

Happy Hour at Mikado Sushi
Don't let the relatively drab interior scare you away, as the happy hour at Mikado Sushi is no joke. With deals on nigiri and sashimi, as well as select rolls for $3.50, the 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. happy hour is a great spot for a little late afternoon sushi feast — perfect for when you want to treat yourself, but can't really afford to do so. — Jack Morse
1684 Bryant Street at 16th Street

Photo: Facebook

The Frankaroni at 4505 Burgers & BBQ
4505's BBQ spot on Divisadero still has regular lines out the door a year and a half in, and the barbecue here is undeniably delicious but does not come cheap (2-meat plates are $16.50 and a half pound of top-notch smoked pork shoulder is $10). The signature cheeseburger starts at $9.75 for a single, $13.75 for a double, without bacon. But you can easily make a meal out of the amazing deep-fried mac-and-cheese patty known as the Frankaroni ($4.75), which is studded with bits of 4505's own bacon-studded hot dog. And you might want to add some chimichurri fries to that ($5.50). Definitely something to avoid on those post-New Year's diets, though. — Jay Barmann
705 Divisadero (at Grove)

Sisig Fries from Señor Sisig
All the sisig (sour snack) grilledness, but served on fries, uninhibited by a tortilla as in their California-style burrito option and priced at $9. The guac is fresh to death and I'm thinking about it now and always. Yep, this fusion Filipino food truck is where it's at, but you'll have to track it down — there's no brick and mortar. —Caleb Pershan

Wings at San Tung
No words, just wings. What, you haven't heard of these dynamite numbers at San Tung, where there's some sort of caramelized miracle occurring in every bite? Okay, what are you reading this for, get over there — the dry fried chicken wings are just $7.50. —Caleb Pershan
1031 Irving Street between 11th and 12th Avenues

Imperial Rolls at Turtle Tower
At $2.50 each, the golden-fried imperial rolls are a must-order from Turtle Tower, whose three locations (SoMa, Outer Richmond, TL) have sustained excellent, affordable vietnamese cuisine. Of course if you've got a few more bucks to spare, pony up for phở — but you'll be pretty happy as long as you don't get the bánh mì — that's fine, just not standout here like everything else. —Caleb Pershan
645 Larkin Street between Willow and Eddy Streets

Tea Leaf Salad at Yamo
This hole in the wall won't leave one in your pocket! Yamo is a Mission District Burmese/Chinese restaurant that's perfect if you like short-order cooks who yell at you and each other. Though the house noodles are more frequently ordered, for more flavor and an even lower price get the $6 tea leaf salad. Given the limited counter seating and the aforementioned pitched kitchen battles, get that to go, though do eat in at least once so we're on the same page. —Caleb Pershan
3406 18th Street between Mission and Valencia Streets

Pupusas at Panchitas Restaurant #2
Panchitas #2 is number one when it comes to late-night pupusa at the corner of Valencia and 16th. Though many will be adding a bit of drunk sauce to the delicacies served at the storefront and on the street operation, there's really no need — these rich, cheesy delights stuffed with loroco (an edible Central American flower), pork, chicken, beans, and more, are great sober and on their own or with a sprinkling of complimentary slaw and and a dash of salsa. I wouldn't call them greasy, but I would get a plate instead of just some foil. They're $3 a pop, and if you're starved and not picky just ask what's ready and get that. —Caleb Pershan
3091 16th Street at Valencia Street

Screenshot via Google Maps.

Very Vegi at Bite Me Sandwiches
While Bite Me Sandwiches has a range of meat-filled options, their vegetarian sandwiches (all coming it at $5.45) really steal the show when it comes to getting that delicious value. Try the Very Vegi on Dutch Crunch, and ask for some added jalapeno peppers if you're into that kind of thing. Most of the sandwiches at Bite Me are straightforward, which is appreciated when all you really want is a big, affordable sandwich that doesn't skimp on taste. — Jack Morse
2797 16th Street between Folsom and Harrison Streets

Photo via Yelp.

Tofu Banh Mi at Duc Loi Supermarket
While the Tenderloin's Saigon Sandwich is undeniably a San Francisco banh mi heavyweight, one should not overlook the tofu banh mi at Duc Loi Supermarket. Located in the back of the market, the deli counter serves up fat (and delicious) vegetarian banh mi sandwiches for under $6. The inexpensive sandwich is a favorite for many people in the neighborhood, and if you go by around the lunch hour you'll find a steady line of people hitting the Asian market for the sole purpose of getting one of their delicious tofu banh mi sandwiches (they're vegan if you skip the mayo). — Jack Morse
2200 Mission Street at 18th Street

Related: The 25 Best Bang-For-Your-Buck Restaurants in S.F.
The 11 Best Spots for Chinese Noodles in San Francisco & Oakland
The Best Cheap Eats In San Francisco Under $7
The 30 Best Sandwiches In San Francisco

The chicken tikka masala at Shalimar. Photo: Cuc L./Yelp