My current job has taken me into the belly of San Francisco's Corporate Beast (so to speak), and I now find myself, during my 30-minute lunch breaks, wondering, “Where can a Cheap Bastard like myself find a good place to eat?”
The challenge, of course, is balancing my cheapness with my requirement for quality food. Sure, I could run over to that sandwich chain (begins with a “Q”), or settle for a Lee's Deli special, but that's just not going to cut it for me. And, then the question so “how cheap is cheap enough” enters the process. For my purposes, I'm going to have to say that a menu price of below $6.50 (not including tax) is going to have to hold. ($6.50 is the new $4.00).
That said, here are my Cheap Bastard lunch recs for the South of Market area from Market St. to Howard St. and 2nd St. and 1st St:
great sandwiches below $5
Cafe Algiers (50 Beale St.) — pretty standard sandwiches, but high quality and good prices, plus it's independent!
The Toaster Oven (2nd St. between Howard and Mission) — a chain with two locations (and the other one's in Utah(?)). Anyway, very tasty sandwiches, at least the “Italiano,” which is the one I always get
Tea Garden (515 Mission & 1st) — Taiwanese-style street food plus tapioca drinks. I guess the drinks are the main draw, but I usually get the noodles, either the house beef or the pork & pickled vegetables. Runs about $6.50.
Flames (88 2nd St & Mission) — main focus is burgers, but I've yet to get one. Falafel is very tasty, about $6 (more expensive than the $5 Niman Ranch burger), but this place is slow……
Ichiban Teriyaki (Stevenson & 1st) — this place is a bit of dive and reminds me of some of the sketchier restaurants I've eaten at in Japan, which lends to its strange authenticity. I usually get the veggie or chicken katsu-don (rice bowl) for about $5.
I'm not sure of this place's name, but it's a few doors West of Ichiban on Stevenson Alley. $6 even for a delicious pollo asado burrito with jalapeños.
Do you have any recommendations? Let us know here!