Watch CBS News

Finding Meals In San Francisco for Under $20

By Linda Bottjer

Whether you have two sawbucks, four fins, eighty quarters or just one Hamilton, an entrée with a salad, an appetizer, a drink or a dessert can be had for twenty dollars or less all across San Francisco. Enjoy culinary cost-conscious escapades at any of these eateries.

Photo Credit: Saori Takahashi


Type: Japanese
430 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Hours: Mon to Sat 11:30am-1am (415) 771-1280
Website & Reviews

Slurp to happy satisfaction at this tiny eatery close to Union Square. Appetizers like Agedash Tofu (fried tofu in tempura sauce) and homemade gyoza (pork pot stickers) can start the meal. Order the ramen with desired soy, miso or salt flavor and its density rich (pork fat) or light. Most of the menu items fit your budget from regular ramen to butter corn, spicy tofu and BBQ pork varieties. Udon or sorba noodles swim in a fish broth and are served both hot or cold. Add chicken or tempura (mixed and vegetable) for a low price. Complete with miso soup, even main entrees such as Katsu curry rice (fried pork cutlet) or sukiyaki with rice can be enjoyed with an appetizer. With Katana- Ya's late night hours you can stop by after a dull party, bad date or to sober up with food after a night out.

A La Turca Restaurant

Type: Turkish 869 Geary St
San Francisco, CA Hours: Mon to Thurs, Sun 11am-10pm; Fri to Sat 11am-11pm
(415) 345-1011
Website & Reviews

Lamb is the main meat here. You can find it roasted and on platters as kabobs seasoned with rosemary and garlic and accompanied with rice, salad and a yogurt sauce. The same sauce is found on the Beyti Kebab Platter with ground lamb wrapped in lavash.

Their baklava ends the meal on a sweet note every time.

Chef Brenda's shrimp and grits
Photo Credit: Adria Lo and Myleen Hollero

Brenda's French Soul Food Restaurant

652 Polk St
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Mon to Tues, Sun 8am-3pm; Wed to Sat 8am-10pm
(415) 345-8100
Website & Reviews

"Laissez les boons temps rouler" (let the good times roll) for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner as Chef Brenda Buenviaje presents a Bay City spin on her native N'awlins-styled fare.

Kick your taste buds into dinnertime high gear with appetizers like savory oysters flavored with Andouille sausage or blackened Voodoo BBQ sauce. Cayenne pepper provides the zest of the crawfish beignet. Hushpuppies or fried green tomatoes, each with a chipotle remoulade, are updated versions of Southern favorites. Replenish your joie de vivre by enjoying steaming plate of red beans and rice or plump shrimp swimming on creamy grits under spicy tomato bacon gravy.


Type: Vegetarian Japanese 762 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA
Hours: Mon to Thurs 5:30pm-9:30pm; Tues to Thurs 12pm-2pm; Fri to Sun 5am-10pm (415) 252-7825
Cash only
Website & Reviews

Shout "Hallelujah" for this Mission District budget friendly restaurant. Start with a salad like the Sunomono that combines cucumber and radishes with noodles and golden raisins, wakame and toasted organic soybeans served with an oil-free rice vinaigrette. For the main course try Tonchi Nasu, a tempura fried eggplant stuffed with Satsuma potato, corn and soybeans complete with a ginger sauce.

Really hungry? Both the Hosomaki or sushi combo dinners come with a cup of miso soup and a small salad. You can even splurge on dessert like deep fried banana with swirls of green tea and azuki bean sauces.

Photo Credit: Mazzet


Type: Mediterranean/Lebanese 501 Fell St
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Mon to Thurs 4pm-10pm; Fri to Sun 12pm-10pm
(415) 525-3901

Small, tasty tidbits will tempt your palate, sate your hunger and sooth your wallet at this spot in Hayes Valley. The Mazzat Platter lets you choose three hot items like falafel, beef and pine nut topped hummus and grilled Halloumi cheese with three cold items such as tabouli, Warek Enub (grape leaves stuffed with vegetables) or assorted pickles.

Wash the meal down with a Lebanese or domestic beer. Lazeez (delicious)!

Linda J. Bottjer is a full-time writer who loves to navigate San Francisco's culinary trails. Follow her adventures at Words 4 Sail.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.