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20 Dishes Under $10 to Live on for Eternity

Rebecca Flint Marx | October 27, 2014 | Story Restaurants

This is part of "Live Large, Spend Less," a comprehensive guide to surviving (and even flourishing) in America's most expensive city. See all of the stories here.

1. Golden Boy’s Clam Slice ($3.75) Between its focaccia-like crust and its generous blitz of clam, garlic, and gooey cheese, it’s a fat square slice of hot aquatic love. 542 Green St. (Near Grant Ave.), 415-982-9738

2. Hawker Fare’s Blistered Green Beans ($8) Nominally vegetables, they’re excellent vehicles for their smoky, spicy, funky cargo of bacon, shrimp, and chili paste. A deeply nuanced dish, this is basically a carnival fun house for your taste buds. 2300 Webster St. (at 23rd St.), Oakland, 510-832-8896

3. St. Vincent’s Pretzel ($5) A pneumatic beauty with a shiny crust and pillowy innards, it’s twisted into a piping-hot Gordian knot that’s solved only by smearing it with butter and mustard and gobbling it up immediately. 1270 Valencia St. (Near 24th St.), 415-285-1200

4. Yo Yo’s Soba ($6.25) This tiny lunch counter is generous in spirit and soba: The latter boasts perfectly cooked buckwheat noodles, cubes of fresh tofu, and a tangle of seaweed, all submerged in an umami-saturated broth. 318 Pacific Ave. (Near Battery St.), 415-296-8273

5. Yemeni’s Falafel Sandwich ($6.95) The falafel is robust in flavor, but the genius detail is the soft-crunchy tortilla that cradles it. Unconven- tional, yes. But you could spread rubber cement on it, and it would still be appetizing. 1098 Sutter St (At Larkin St.), 415-441-8832

6. Bi-rite Creamery’s Afternoon Snack ($8) Roasted banana ice cream. Caramel sauce. Whipped cream. Homemade graham crackers. Definitive proof that ice cream, in the right hands, can be a meal. 3692 18th ST. (Near Dolores St.), 415-626-5600

7. The Golden West’s Smoked Trout Salad ($9.50) It’s the smoked trout salad’s Platonic ideal: a generous heap of fish, shavings of fennel and apple, a springy bed of mesclun, and just enough mayo to lubricate it all without making you feel like a grease bomb. 8 Trinity Pl. (Near Sutter St.), 415-216-6443

8. ABV’s Pimento Cheese Burger ($9) Smaller than a burger, bigger than a slider, it’s a tour de force of umami, buttressed by a sweet potato bun unmatched at absorbing meat juice and blobs of pimento cheese. 3174 16th St. (Near Albion St.), 415-400-4748

9. Los Shucos’ El Shuco Original ($5.95) A mess of Spanish chorizo, avocado, cabbage, mustard, mayo, and sour cream, all wedged into a toasted bun, the Guatemalan hot dog is to a regular wiener what a maserati is to a Ford Focus. 3224 1⁄2 22nd St. (Near Potrero Ave.), 415-366-3868

10. Ark’s Beef Soup with Hand-Pulled noodles ($6.99) Possibly the Bay Area’s best version of Lanzhou-style beef soup, this one comes with fat, silky noodles that lie beneath the surface of a flavorful, long-simmered broth. 1405 Park St. (Near Central Ave.), Alameda, 510-521-6862

11. Devil’s Teeth Baking Company’s Breakfast Sandwich ($6.75) Composed of a buttermilk biscuit, scrambled eggs, bacon, and pepper jack cheese, this gentle giant will lift your soul as it adds 10 pounds to your ass. 3876 Noriega St. (Near 46th Ave.), 415-683-5533

12. Pisto’s Carne Asada Burrito ($7.50) This isn’t one of those bargain-basement behemoths. It’s just a very good burrito, filled with a generous amount of tender meat. 1310 Grant Ave. (Near Vallejo St.), 415-317-4696

13. Tacubaya’s Menudo ($9.25) Available only on weekends, it’s a hangover cure in a bowl: chili-infused beef broth swimming with tripe and hominy. Lusty and comforting, it will warm you from the inside out. 1788 4th St. (At Delaware St.)

14. El Porteño’s Acelga Empanada ($4.50) What happens when buttery, flaky dough is stuffed with Swiss chard, gruyère, and toasted pine nuts? Pure cheapskate ecstasy. Multiple Locations, elportenosf.com

15. The Pizza Shop’s Plain Cheese Slice ($3) If you seek wild nettles and lemon zest, keep walking. If you seek a New York slice high on flavor and low on frills, welcome home. 3104 24th St. (Near Folsom St.), 415-824-1840

16. Rumble Fish’s Rumble Fish Salad ($9) Greens tossed with a ginger-ponzu dressing serve as a verdant backdrop for eight pieces of very fresh sashimi. It’s a bright, green, fleshy taste of nirvana. 200 23rd Ave. (at California St.), 415-876-3474

17. 20th Century Café’s Russian Honey Cake ($6) It’s 10 layers, but addition will be the last thing on your mind as you lose yourself in this tower of cake and honey-cream frosting. 198 Gough St. (at Oak St.), 415-621-2380

18. Shalimar’s Bengen Bhujia ($5.95) Fast, hot and pleasantly greasy, this is drunk-food eggplant. Get it with the garlic naan, soft as a roll of Charmin and the diameter of a trash can lid. 1409 Polk St. (Near Pine St.), 415-776-4642

19. Chop Bar’s Eggs à la Cazuela with Grilled Veggie Mojo ($9) For some reason, a cazuela makes everything taste better. Especially these eggs, which bathe in a roasted pepper–tomato sauce that begs to be mopped up with chunks of grilled bread. 247 4th St., Ste. 111 (Near Alice St.), Oakland, 510-834-2467

20. Souley Vegan’s Monster Salad ($6 for a half order) A shaggy pile of falafel, tofu, avocado, greens, and tomatoes is anointed with vegannaise-based dressing. “Half order” is pure semantics: This is a vegan salad that could satisfy a lumberjack. 301 Broadway (At 3rd St.), Oakland, 510-922-1615

Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco magazine

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Email Rebecca Flint Marx at rmarx@modernluxury.com
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