If you’re looking for affordable locavore food in San Francisco, CA, these are some of the best restaurants and markets to try. There’s so much delicious, healthy food in San Francisco!
There’s no place in the world quite like San Francisco.
I tried to explain it to my family before we traveled there, but you really have to see this place to understand. I lived in the Bay Area 20 years ago, and it’s remained one of my favorite spots for all these years. San Francisco’s extraordinary landscape, climate, architecture, and color palette work together to captivate the senses. I’m not usually a city person, but San Francisco is an exception.
Beyond its natural beauty and cultural attractions, San Francisco is a foodie’s dream. Northern California’s climate provides fresh bounty from land and sea all year round, inspiring chefs and diners to expect the best. Every neighborhood in San Francisco seems to have a wealth of great dining options.
Affordable Locavore Food in San Francisco
When I’m on vacation with my family, we tend to look for healthy counter-service food for most of our meals. On our recent week-long trip to the Bay Area, I set a food budget of $125 per day for my family of four (my husband and I along with our 13-year-old and 11-year-old children). We didn’t want to spend too much time or money at sit-down restaurants. We were able to stick to the budget by eating at several of the following places, and we didn’t feel restricted or deprived. San Francisco knows how to do good food at all different price points.
Off the Grid is a food truck festival that takes place twice a week in San Francisco. We went to the Friday night event at Fort Mason, and we loved the wide variety of food there. Everyone was able to pick out something they liked, and I couldn’t get enough of the fish tacos from the Taco Guy. We treated ourselves to fun drinks and a couple donuts along with our dinner. The total bill was around $50 for everything.
The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a massive collection of local food that takes place on the waterfront every Saturday morning. Farms from all over the area gather around the ferry building selling local produce and locally made products. Stone fruits were at their peak during our visit, and the many delicious samples inspired me to make this plum cake recipe when I got home. If you’re not visiting on a Saturday, you’ll still want to check out the specialty shops and bakeries inside the Ferry Building.
For a more basic, relaxed market setting, the Saturday morning Alemany Farmers Market in Bernal Heights is another great option. Locals refer to this as the “people’s market,” and you’ll find excellent prices here.
AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants, is a surprising spot to find locavore food. I was so impressed to learn that there’s a garden right at the park behind the outfield. Food from the garden is served at the ballpark, and school children from the city are able to visit this garden during the year to learn about how to grow your own food. My family enjoyed strawberry shortcake made with strawberries from the garden along with a homemade scone. I’ve never seen anything like this at another baseball stadium!
Blue Barn Gourmet is a neighborhood deli offering locally sourced salads, soups, and sandwiches. Much of their produce comes from Oak Hill Farm in Sonoma, along with other area producers. We enjoyed lunch at their Marina location on our last day. Most of the salads and sandwiches are around $12, but they’re well worth it given the quality of the food.
SeaGlass Restaurant at the Exploratorium is a great place to grab lunch when you’re visiting this must-see science museum. They offer a variety of food in this cafeteria-style restaurant, including freshly made sushi and healthy sandwiches featuring local ingredients. If you’re in a hurry, the Seismic Joint Cafe at the front of the museum offers quick, delicious sandwiches and baked goods as well.
Rosamunde Sausage Grill has a few locations throughout the Bay Area. All their sausages are free of hormones, antibiotics, and preservatives. They work with local farms that supply grass-fed beef and other free-range animals to make their high-quality sausage. It cost just over $30 for 4 sausages, making this one of the more affordable hearty lunch options in the city. Keep in mind that they cook the sausages to order, so it took about 15 minutes for us to get our order. These sausages were definitely worth the wait, though!
Super Duper Burgers offers “fast food burgers with slow food values.” Their meat and produce are sourced locally, pickles are made in house, and rolls are baked by an artisan baker in San Francisco. It cost $34 to feed my family burgers and fries from Super Duper for dinner one night. While it may be more expensive than cheap fast food burgers, I consider this a bargain for a higher quality burger meal.
Bread & Cocoa is a cafe near Union Square featuring several delicious breakfast sandwiches, omelettes, and a la carte dishes, as well as sandwiches for lunchtime. Menu items are handmade at the cafe using many local, organic ingredients. We enjoyed breakfast here for less than $30. I was impressed by the steel cut oatmeal with berries, nuts, dried fruit, and coconut. For just $6, it was an affordable, filling way to start the day.
There are also many healthy food markets throughout the city that are great for a quick meal on a budget. Rainbow Grocery, Bi-Rite Market, and Real Food Company are some of the markets that offer high-quality, organic food. Prices will usually be lower at these markets than at a restaurant, and you won’t sacrifice quality.
Where to Stay in San Francisco
Axiom Hotel is an ideal place to stay for a family vacation. Located right in the heart of downtown by the cable car turnaround, this hotel gives you easy access to anywhere you want to go in San Francisco. The BART station is right across the street, and there are lots of buses, streetcars, and cable cars going every which way from the hotel. Axiom’s recently renovated guest rooms are comfortable and efficient. The rooms aren’t huge, but my family of four didn’t feel crowded at all.
Turn Cafe is a nice spot to grab a snack or meal at Axiom. The menu includes locally sourced ingredients, and we enjoyed a light breakfast there one morning. You can eat in the cozy lounge on the mezzanine level of the hotel, where you’ll find retro video games available to play any time of day. I can’t remember the last time I played Pac Man. My family loved this feature.
San Francisco Between Meals
Part of why I love San Francisco so much is that it has several areas that don’t feel like a city at all. One of my favorite spots from this trip was Lands End, where the cliffs at the edge of the city are lined with hiking trails along the ocean. It’s a breathtaking place to visit, and you’ll get quite a workout going up and down the hilly trails.
Golden Gate Park is another beautiful place where you can escape the city vibe. We loved walking around the botanical gardens and taking a pedal boat ride at Stow Lake. The park is home to a wonderful playground for kids as well as a few museums. It would take days to enjoy all the unique areas of the park.
A trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without a boat ride on the bay. We took a Golden Gate Bay Cruise using the San Francisco Go Card, and it was a highlight for everyone in my family. The views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the San Francisco skyline from the boat were stunning. The cruise also included a headphone audio tour, which was a great way to learn lots of new details about the city and the bay.
We didn’t have a car during our time in the city, so we used the Big Bus Tour to visit the attractions one day. This was a convenient way to get around and see many of the tourist attractions without having to navigate public transportation. It was amazing sitting on the top open-air level of the bus while it drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in the fog.
In the end, we did actually stick to our food budget with a couple dollars to spare. We even splurged on a sit-down dinner at Copita in Sausalito on one of the last nights because we still had money in the budget. It’s great to know that with a little research ahead of time, you can enjoy delicious locavore food while staying on a budget during vacation.
If you’re planning a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, you’ll want to check out my post about locavore food in Berkeley as well as my reviews of Hotel Shattuck Plaza and the Lodge at Tiburon. For an insider’s look at the San Francisco food scene, you can book a food tour with Edible Excursions. You won’t believe all the amazing goodies you can find throughout the city. And don’t miss San Francisco Travel for lots of vacation-planning inspiration.