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The Best Cheap Eats in San Francisco

The San Francisco dining scene is one of the best in the country—and even though the city is home to plenty of world-class gourmet dining, it also stands up tall when it comes to cheap places to eat. But where are the smartest, savviest diners eating out? Welcome to our Tastemaker List. We’ve pulled data from thousands of restaurants to find the top spots among OpenTable's most expert, seasoned diners. You’ll find everything from neighborhood gems to tapas spots, airy brasseries to rustic Italian—all vetted by the types of tastemakers who know the best spots around the city. Impress your friends and family and score a table; we wish we could join you.

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The OpenTable Team
16 Restaurants
Updated October 01, 2021
Restaurants:Hayes Street Grill, Perry's - Embarcadero, Scala's Bistro
Price Range:$$ - $$$
Cuisines:Seafood, American, Italian
Neighborhoods:Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness, Financial District / Embarcadero, Downtown / Union Square
A photo of Hayes Street Grill restaurant

Hayes Street Grill

$$$$
Seafood
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
4.5
3570 reviews
The Hayes Street Grill is a neo-traditional fish house located in San Francisco’s Civic Center district. The restaurant uses a mix of recipes from all over the world, centered around the theme of fish and seafood. They focus on the freshness and quality of the fish above all else. The walls have autographed photos of artists who hang out at the club and the overall vibe is warm and welcoming. For a cheap meal, sit at the bar and order off the bar menu. They serve oysters, Caesar salad, a daily soup, Niman Hamburger and other specials for much cheaper than you’ll find them in the dining room.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Perry's - Embarcadero restaurant

Perry's - Embarcadero

$$$$
American
Financial District / Embarcadero
4.5
2070 reviews
Perry’s on the Embarcadero is a sleek waterfront outpost of the original Perry’s on Union Street. They have a winning combination of all-American favorite fare and comfortable, friendly service that first made the restaurant popular back in the 1960s. They have a warm energy, with a wood-burning fireplace and fantastic views of the Bay and the Bay Bridge. The menu includes a variety of sandwiches, salads, pastas, steaks, and fresh fish—and, of course, the Perry’s hamburger. Everything on the menu is affordable and you can get your fill of food without breaking the bank.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Scala's Bistro restaurant

Scala's Bistro

$$$$
Italian
Downtown / Union Square
4.2
5041 reviews
Scala’s Bistro has been open since 1995 and has a reputation for its classic, elegant dining. The restaurant in Lower Nob Hill is all warm earth tones, murals, and rich, mahogany booths that evoke a dramatic Old World cafe. The menu features fresh, innovative Italian- and Mediterranean-inspired dishes and the seasonal menus see little changes every day. Their lunch menu features appetizers, pasta, and pizza, and larger plates like the bistro burger and portobello sando that all offer a really great deal for food of this quality.

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A photo of Otoro Sushi restaurant

Otoro Sushi

$$$$
Japanese
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
4.7
896 reviews
Otoro Sushi is a hidden gem tucked away in the Hayes Valley. Sushi experts here are constantly on the lookout for the freshest ingredients to offer diners the best traditional sushi and tapas that Japan has to offer. Otoro has a large menu of everything from Japanese Tapas to noodle dishes to sushi and more. Their tapas dishes are very reasonably priced and if you go for lunch you can try one of their lunch specials, which includes a meat or vegetable main along with salad, miso soup, and rice.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Lupa Trattoria restaurant

Lupa Trattoria

$$$$
Italian
Noe Valley
4.7
899 reviews
Situated in the charming Noe Valley neighborhood, Lupa is an old-school Italian Trattoria with a cozy vibe, affordable prices, and fantastic cuisine. The kitchen uses the best available local ingredients to prepare a seasonal menu of seafood, poultry, meat, game, breads, pastas, and salads. The antipasti plates are a great place to start and are big enough to serve as a meal. Salads and pastas are also affordable and are big enough to share if you’re dining with a friend.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Sessions at the Presidio restaurant

Sessions at the Presidio

$$$$
Californian
Marina / Cow Hollow / Presidio
4.6
1536 reviews
Housed in the Letterman Digital Arts Center at the historic Presidio, Sessions is a dining destination serving craft beer, craft cuisine, and craft cocktails. The name refers to session beer, which means richly flavored beer with lower alcoholic strength so you can have more than one. They also have an outdoor beer garden that makes for a great place to meet friends after work or on a clear San Francisco day. For an extra discount here, check out the happy hour during the week when you can get half-priced local oysters, smoked tuna rillette, and select beer, wine, and cocktails for cheaper prices.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Barbacco restaurant

Barbacco

$$$$
Italian
Financial District / Embarcadero
4.7
2473 reviews
Barbacco is a modern trattoria with a casual dining experience featuring high-quality food recipes from all over Italy. They have a sleek setting with a rich, black marble bar and brick walls. They're a great place to come with groups and enjoy a festive meal and drinks. The prices are totally reasonable and you can indulge in delicious starters and salads like the little gem or salmon salad without spending a lot. They also have savory sandwiches and a large selection of pasta dishes if you want something more substantial.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Nopa - San Francisco restaurant

Nopa - San Francisco

$$$$
Californian
North Panhandle / USF
4.8
2958 reviews
Nopa is a San Francisco gathering place north of the Panhandle that serves urban rustic food and specializes in organic wood-fired cuisine. The restaurant is a beautiful, open space that fosters a communal vibe whether you are sitting at the bar or in one of the cozy booths. Their small plates, like mushroom toast, flatbread, and warm goat cheese, are great for sharing with the table. They also have a menu of bar snacks if you’re just having drinks.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Marlowe restaurant

Marlowe

$$$$
American
SOMA
4.3
2615 reviews
Marlowe is a market-driven neighborhood bistro housed in a rustic-chic and inviting space in the SoMa neighborhood. They feature a menu of classic bistro favorites with unique and flavorful twists. Stop in here to order a few small bites, like the crispy Brussels sprout chips, spiced jumbo gulf shrimp, and fava bean hummus. Starters are also affordable and include a Di Stefano burrata, charred octopus and grilled squid salad, and steak tartare. They also have a great cocktail list with a number of house creations as well as beer and wines.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Pane e Vino Trattoria restaurant

Pane e Vino Trattoria

$$$$
Italian
Marina / Cow Hollow / Presidio
4.6
713 reviews
Located on Union Street, Pane e Vino is the place to go for regional Italian-style cuisine that features fresh grilled fish and meats, thin-crust pizzas, and pasta dishes with fresh and flavorful ingredients. They're a kid-friendly place, so feel free to bring the whole family for a delicious meal! The prices are completely reasonable and you can enjoy antipasti like grilled octopus, bruschetta, beef carpaccio, and Caesar salad for a bargain. The space itself is warm and inviting—find a table and settle in for a delicious Italian mean that will feel like you’re eating homemade food straight out of a relative’s kitchen.

Not available on OpenTable
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A photo of Jackson Fillmore Trattoria restaurant

Jackson Fillmore Trattoria

$$$$
Italian
Pacific Heights
4.6
1165 reviews
Jackson Fillmore Trattoria is a local favorite for a casual, neighborhood meal. They feature Roman and Southern Italian food and have a small and cozy dining room that’s perfect for grabbing an intimate lunch or dinner with one or two other people. Try one of their antipasti plates, like the mozzarella fritti, portobello arrosto, or insalata verdure, which are all very affordable. The pasta dishes are reasonable too, such as the linguini vongole or the bombolotti sugo de carne, a specialty of the house.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Zuni Cafe restaurant

Zuni Cafe

$$$$
Modern European
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
4.6
6895 reviews
Zuni Cafe, located on Market Street, has been serving delicious Italian- and French-inspired dishes since 1979. The atmosphere is welcoming and convivial and there is a standing-only bar where people gather to drink and mingle after work and before dinner. The lunch menu features some cheap dishes that showcase the restaurant’s style of cooking, such as Manila clams, a mixed chicory salad, and escarole and onion soup. You can also try one of the pizzas from the wood-fired brick oven.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of B-Side restaurant

B-Side

$$$$
Contemporary American
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
4.4
461 reviews
Our perspective is coming soon. In the meantime, please enjoy the restaurant’s description: B-Side is located in the heart of Hayes Valley at SFJAZZ, the country's only free standing venue devoted to jazz. B-Side provides a warm and comfortable atmosphere, with a menu designed to be enjoyed in a lounge setting. Craft cocktails, focused wine list and modern-American food served in a music-focused environment.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Corridor - Permanently Closed restaurant

Corridor - Permanently Closed

$$$$
Contemporary American
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
4.3
829 reviews
Corridor Restaurant serves fine dining cuisine with a focus on global dishes. The eatery is warm and inviting and you’ll want to settle in for little while once you get a delicious glass of wine in front of you. Plates come out with an elegant, playful presentation and they place a focus on bold flavors and fresh ingredients. Even though it might strike you as an extra-fancy place, the dishes are actually super reasonably priced! Starters include spicy meatballs and falafel croquettes, and pasta dishes, burgers, and the pot pie are all delicious and affordable plates—you might even want to splurge on dessert!

Not available on OpenTable
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A photo of Arguello - Permanently Closed restaurant

Arguello - Permanently Closed

$$$$
Mexican
Pacific Heights
4.4
464 reviews
Located in the historic Presidio Officer’s Club, Arguello features Mexican cuisine and a contemporary bar with craft cocktails. Find a seat on the heated patio so you can enjoy outdoor dining in the Presidio and peruse the menu of amazing items that chef Traci Des Jardins has put together. Head here for Happy Hour to enjoy awesome specials on both food and drinks. Bites like chicken taquitos, quesadillas, and the Arguello Burrito are super cheap and you can get discounts on house cocktails like the Margarita or Paloma.

Not available on OpenTable
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A photo of The Commissary - Permanently Closed restaurant

The Commissary - Permanently Closed

$$$$
Spanish
Marina / Cow Hollow / Presidio
4.5
631 reviews
The Commissary is one of James Beard Award-winning chef Traci Des Jardins’ restaurants. They feature Spanish-influenced California cuisine focused on sustainable, locally sourced ingredients. You can order a variety of shareable, tapas-style dishes and larger “raciones.” You can save money by ordering tapas dishes and appetizers to share with your group.

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