Restaurants with the Best Value in San Francisco

More Bang for that Buck: Best Value Restaurants in San Francisco

Besides saving money, getting the most value out of a dining experience also includes that other important resource: time.

By taking some time right now to plan your dining experience, you'll insure that you get the most value out of that experience by considering our "Expert Tips" on each specific restaurant. Once you've narrowed down your choices, never forget that time is on your side in San Francisco: there are many, many restaurants vying for your business. Doing a little prep beforehand of what's really out there will leave you extra time to walk the lovely neighborhoods of San Francisco and let that one special restaurant grab you. There's nothing more important during a trip than that one memorable, signature meal.

To start you off, let us introduce you to a few of our favorites, such as Chapeau! and Mama's on Washington Square. They're low in expenditures and high in appeal. If you want the highest rate of return for your dinner dollar, be sure to check out the restaurants on our list.


Kabuto Sushi

This spirited Japanese sushi bar thrives on the quality of its fish and the variety offered to customers. Affordable maki, nigiri, and sashimi are beautifully prepared and presented, as much a visual delight as a gustatory one. Guests are also encouraged to try nasu dengaku, a delicious baked eggplant. With more than 90 sushi selections on the menu, it's easy to find a wealth of appetizing options. And Kabuchi is a great example of a budget minded restaurant not skimping on quality or inventiveness, offering dishes such as the Hamachi Pear, Yellowtail sushi topped with sliced pear and kabuto fruity mustard sauce. Full dinners are available.

Recommended for Best Value because: Sushi can be very expensive, but Kabuto doesn't skimp on quality to reach affordability.

Tom's expert tip: Exquisite sushi and cooked dishes satiate cravings for authenticity.

Read more about Kabuto Sushi →

Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

Simplicity and authenticity reign at this small, popular restaurant. Zinc tabletops and exotic hardwoods bear this out, as does the incomparable Italian fare with its top-notch ingredients. Treat yourself with grilled calamari salad, braised rabbit, steak frites, roasted chicken, or salmon with fresh vegetables. Although Delfina has garnered much acclaim since it premiered, the trattoria still delights with casual ambience, friendly service and satisfyingly reasonable prices â€" all boons to dining aficionados. Delfina is one of the more expensive of the "budget" restaurants on this list, but their attention to quality will insure that even the most penny-pinching guest feels like he got his money's worth.

Recommended for Best Value because: Delfina Restaurant is one of the most affordable of the high-end restaurants in the Bay Area.

Tom's expert tip: The Pizzeria Delfina on Mission is also a good choice for the budget conscious.

Read more about Delfina →

Golden Boy Pizza
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

If all you want to do in North Beach is eat pizza, head to North Beach's pizza institution, Golden Boy Pizza. Peter Sodini started his pizza enterprise in 1978, and it's expanded to several other locations. Sodini's sons have taken over the business, but they still keep to Sodini's simple approach to pizza: focaccia bread, cheese, and pizza toppings. The adherence to this simple recipe for over thirty years has been the secret to the place's success, creating a loyal, local fan base that spreads the word about Golden Boy Pizza like they're talking about their mother's kitchen. Get your hot slice here!

Recommended for Best Value because: Many locals in North Beach would recommend Golden Boy as their favorite "slice" place.

Tom's expert tip: Impressive beer list for such a small place.

Read more about Golden Boy Pizza →

Photo courtesy of used in book.

This charming bistro, happily ensconced in its small, friendly neighborhood, always issues a warm welcome. Its comfortably upscale dining room is busy but romantic, and patrons delight in Chapeau!'s well-executed French country fare. Classics like steak au poivre, roast chicken, cassoulet and duck a l'orange are served a la carte, but multi-course prix fixe menus and the early bird special are incredible deals. Crowning everything is a fabulous wine list that features more than 300 selections. And take advantage of Chapeau's location on Clement Street, an eclectic but often overlooked area of San Francisco that includes the city's beloved bookstore, Green Apple Books.

Recommended for Best Value because: Unlike most French restaurants in town, Chapeau will not drain your wallet for a nickel-sized portion of food.

Tom's expert tip: After your sumptuous French meal, get back to the basics with a pint of Guinness at the always fun-loving Plow and Stars Irish bar right next door.

Read more about Chapeau! →

Rosamunde Sausage Grill
Photo courtesy of used in book.

Within this small, bright eatery, you'll find some of the city's best sausages. Choose from kielbasa, knockwurst, Italian, chicken or weisswurst, or live boldly by sampling wild boar with chutney or smoked duck with figs. The variety is impressive and â€" served on French rolls with toppings like sauerkraut, spicy peppers and grilled onions â€" the dogs are incredible. Sodas and chips also find a place on the menu, and since the grill is small, most people place to-go orders or even take their selections next door to the Toronado Pub, which stocks great microbrews. On Tuesday, Rosamunde makes awesome juicy cheeseburgers as well.

Recommended for Best Value because: Rosamunde defines a classic budget restaurant: affordable, accessible and delicious.

Tom's expert tip: The Monday-Friday Happy Hour from 4-7 is a fun way to kick of a feisty night in the Mission.

Read more about Rosamunde Sausage Grill →

Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

First-time visitors to the Mission District of San Francisco will certainly be overwhelmed by all the restaurant choices. Traditionally known as the premier spot for Latino fare, the Mission has been ground central for the tech boom in the Bay Area. That extra cash has created so many estaurants so quickly that even longtime residents of San Francisco may feel like first-time visitors to the Mission. Through all this upheaval, one thing has remained constant: the enticing aroma of Chinese and Burmese food wafting out of the small, dark doorway of Yamo on the corner of 18th and Mission Street. What's also remained constant is the long line and impossibly tight quarters inside, so get there early and get takeout.

Recommended for Best Value because: One of the more affordable Middle-Eastern restaurants in the city.

Tom's expert tip: Be sure to sample the unique and unforgettable Tea Salad.

Read more about Yamo →

Arinell Pizza
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

For those who like their pizza with thin crusts and simply made, Arinell's is the place. Their flagship spot in the Mission, beloved by locals, is small and not fancy, but the time they saved in creating atmosphere they put into making simple, delicious pizza. If you're in the Mission and need something other than a burrito, slip into Arinell's and grab a slice (or two or three). You'll get a taste of Italy and some needed energy for your big night out in the Mission. (Also a great spot to swing by after your big night out in the Mission.)

Recommended for Best Value because: With three generations of family serving at Mama's, this place truly earns the "family-style" atmosphere description.

Tom's expert tip: Most bars near Arinell will let you bring in one of their slices to partner up with your beer.

Read more about Arinell Pizza →

If you value food over atmosphere in your dining experience, then HRD Coffee Shop might be the place for you. The location itself is as imaginative as its name, but the food is a daring and delightful mix of Chinese, American, Korean and Mexican favorites. You can try everything from Korean Loco Moco to Mongolian Cheesesteak, all under one old, unimpressive roof. But with all of San Francisco's Soma district waiting outside, from the cheers at AT&T Ballpark to a beautiful stroll along the bay, why would anyone want to be inside anyway? Order that Firecracker Shrimp for the road!

Recommended for Best Value because: HRD Coffe shop is a great value, and its location offers visitors a glimpse of real San Francisco life.

Tom's expert tip: Be sure to try the kimchi burritos.

Read more about HRD Coffee Shop →

One of three locations, the Valencia Street restaurant in the Mission District is where the magic that is Pica Pica first happened in 2010. Fitting in perfectly with its surroundings full of Latin flair, this Maize Kitchen is open for lunch, dinner and dessert. Most popular on the menu is the arepa (pocket composed of grilled corn and stuffed with vegetables, plantains, beans, cheese or meats. . .your choice). Also sample the ceviche or yuca fries as a starter. Don't leave without having a glass of sangria and a taste of dessert (yuca beignets or coconut quesillo). Bringing pure food, fantastic flavors and environmental awareness, all take-out containers are completely biodegradable.

Recommended for Best Value because: Pica Pica's popularity is growing by the minute, and you get unbelievable taste and quality for your money's worth.

Tom's expert tip: This is a small space with limited seating, so get your food to go during busy hours.

Read more about Pica Pica →

Outlying Areas
Photo courtesy of Aubrie Pick

The future of burgers is here! Creator, whose first location in San Francisco is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, has opened another location just south of San Francisco in nearby Daly City. Don't let the idea of burgers made by robots freak you out - the automated process allows for a more human touch as servers greet customers and take their orders as soon as they enter. (Or customers can create their own distinct burger via the Creator app.) From sauces measured by the milliliter to seasonings by the gram, the evolution of Creator's technology reproduces burgers that reflect a chef's vision consistently and cost-consciously, starting at $6 a burger. "This new restaurant is Creator's next step in fulfilling our mission of democratizing access to high quality food," explained Alex Vardakostas, the founder of Creator. "We have spent the last year jamming on a bunch of innovation. This new experience allows guests and chefs to actually take control of our machine, build their perfect burger and unlock their culinary genius."

Recommended for Best Value because: Creator's automated system renders a quality burger at a very affordable price.

Tom's expert tip: Creator gets its beef from Country Natural Beef, a source of cattle raised without antibiotics, added growth hormones, or growth promotants.

Read more about Creator →


Meet Tom Molanphy

The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.

Tom has lived in the San...  More About Tom