San Francisco has a way of grabbing hold of its visitors and taking them for an incredible ride, whether they're dangling off the side of a cable car or maneuvering the steep hillside curves of Lombard Street. But that doesn't mean they want to feel as though they've been flimflammed every time they get a restaurant check. Unfortunately, the stratospheric price of dining here is nearly as well-known as the city's iconic bridges. So we went to the people who know San Francisco's 3,500 restaurants best -- its residents -- and asked for suggestions on how to eat well on a budget. Our local experts include Gavin Newsom, the city's mayor; Jan Newberry, food and wine editor for San Francisco magazine; Patricia Unterman, restaurant critic and author; and Tannis Reinhertz, chair of the culinary arts program at City College of San Francisco. Their advice helped us develop this list of 20 great San Francisco meals for under $20, our fifth in an occasional series on getting the best value for your vacation dining dollar. Bon Appétit. -- Rosemary McClure, Special to the Los Angeles Times
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Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
Prices: varies The fog had lifted, giving way to a bright blue sky; the wonderful picture postcard that is San Francisco beckoned. So why hide out inside a restaurant and waste this beautiful day? We didn't. Instead, we hopscotched our way through the Ferry Building, a historic structure at the foot of Market Street packed with shops that celebrate food. We stopped at every stall that played a siren song: The Farm, where we bought heirloom tomatoes and grapes ($7); the fragrant Acme Bread shop for a sourdough round and olive rolls ($3.30); the Cowboy Creamery for a cheese platter ($12); and the Wine Merchant for a bottle of La Closerie des Lys ($9). We ate our picnic lunch outside, with views of Coit Tower and the Bay Bridge -- postcard perfect.
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Worried that your dining dollar won't go far in the notoriously pricey Bay Area burg? Fear not: A panel of notable S.F. residents has crafted a list of 20 meals for under $20. View this list in
. Did we miss your favorite spot? Share your top Bay Area eats