In a city known for high prices on most everything, San Francisco also has a number of affordable Michelin starred restaurants. While the notion of dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant may seem out of reach for most people, the reality is that not all of these award-winning restaurants will cost a proverbial “arm and a leg”. Indeed, it may come as a surprise that a selection of local Michelin restaurants actually have many menu items that are priced under $25 or even under $10.
1499 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Located in the vibrant Mission District, AL’s Place was named the top new restaurant in America by Bon Appétit in 2015. Led by Chef/Owner Aaron London, AL’s Place offers superb Northern California regional cuisine yet in a cozy and relaxed environment. Open only for dinner, the 46-seat restaurant features a superb vegetable-centric menu, but also offers a number of exceptional omnivorous dishes. All items are priced at $22 or lower but also offers additional items as quote, with current items like Fish Mullet and 35-Day Aged Ribeye. Among the popular dishes are Baby Lettuce, Herbed Avocado ($18), Squash Tahini Burrata ($20) and Campanelle, British Curried Squash ($21). Last year, Sonoma County native Al London opened another “A-L” business – AL’s Deli, also in the Mission District and just one mile from his popular restaurant.
151 Third St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Hours: Lunch -Thursday-Monday 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Dinner Thursday-Saturday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Opened in 2016 to widespread acclaim, It Situ is an extraordinary concept restaurant inside the San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMOMA). Founded by Corey Lee, owner/chef of the Michelin 3-starred Benu located nearby, In Situ features a revolving menu whose unique dishes are made from recipes by chefs from around the world. All current menu items are listed at under $30 with the exception of the Roasted Filet of Beef and Smoked Bone Marrow ($48), provided by Chef Paul Cunningham of the Michelin 2-starred Henne Kirkeby Kro in Denmark. Among the other notable items currently listed are Shrimp Toast ($18) from Mei Lin at LA’s Nightshade Restaurant and Potato and Roe ($18) from Clare Smyth of Michelin 2-starred Core in London and the only woman in the UK to lead a Michelin 3-starred restaurant. Beginning March 13, the restaurant will offer a prix fixe menu for lunch and dinner, in addition to lunchtime à la carte items. In Situ’s Brandon Rodgers and Ian Scaramuzza are concurrent semifinalists for the 2020 James Beard Award Best Chef California.
55 Cyril Magnin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Hours: Lunch – Monday-Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dinner – Sunday-Thursday 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Located in a rear alcove of the upscale Parc 55 Hotel, Kin Khao is a casual and oft-lively Thai eatery serving what’s described as “…. not Thai food for beginners”. While items on the menu are what owner Pim Techamuanvivit says is “the kind of food I grew up eating”, the high quality spices has the potential to overwhelm an unsuspecting guest. However the menu items are as incredibly delicious as they are innovative, using high quality ingredients from local purveyors. Most dinner items are priced under $30 and suggested dishes include Khao Yum with Southern Thai-styled turmeric, rice salad and pungent herbs, Khao Kan Jin, a Chiang Mai-based street food and the spicy Namprik Long Rua, with umami-bomb Kapi shrimp paste relish. Kin Khao also offers a nine-course prix fixe menu, generously priced at $70 and served family style in a communal setting. The consistent recipient of a Michelin star since 2016, Kin Khao also has a cozy bar for additional seating, finely crafted cocktails and premium wines. Owner Pim Techamuanvivit is currently a 2020 James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef California.
888 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Hours: Sunday-Saturday – 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday & Sunday – 5:30 p.m to 9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday – 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
A consistent Michelin star recipient since 2010, Luce is well known for its globally inspired New American fare. Led by Chef Daniel Corey, Luce offers multiple affordable items, particularly from its brunch and lunch menus. For instance, an Avocado Toast is just $8 and house made Straus Yogurt is $11, while the Winter Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli lunch entrée is priced at just $21. Dinner items are priced higher but still a bargain for a Michelin-starred dinner. Popular dishes include Porcini and Truffle Ravioli, Blue Prawn ($25) and Gulf Snapper ($38). Additionally, a lavish Tasting Menu is available for $125 with optional wine pairing ($65). Luce also features an cocktail and wine menu, with exceptionally crafted cocktails and several wines from France and the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Located inside the recently renovated InterContinental Hotel San Francisco, Luce is one of the few restaurants in the City that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as one of the few within a local luxury hotel.
State Bird Provisions
1529 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Hours: Monday-Thursday – 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The 2013 James Beard Award winner for Best New Restaurant, State Bird Provisions was predicted then to “have a significant impact on the industry for years to come”. Yet despite that lofty (and spot on) prediction, husband and wife owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski have managed to keep menu items remarkably affordable at its extraordinary restaurant. Located in the Fillmore District, State Bird Provisions features current menu items refreshingly priced between $3 and $32. Although the elevated menu changes frequently, guests may enjoy standout dishes like Pork Belly & Citrus Salad ($8), CA State Bird with Provisions ($16 or $32), Garlic Noodles with Squid, Bok Choy ($23) and Big Eye Tuna ($20). A consistent Michelin-star recipient, State Bird Provisions was also recently one of Esquire Magazine’s 40 Most Important Restaurants of the Decade and on the new World’s 50 Best Discovery List. Founders Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski also won the coveted 2015 James Beard Award Best Chef West. As a testament to their industry success, the couple also opened the Michelin-starred The Progress, and for private events, The Workshop. Both are located adjacent to State Bird Provisions, in the historic Progress Theatre building. State Bird Provision’s Gaby Maeda is a semifinalist for the 2020 James Beard Award for Rising Chef of the Year.
About The Author:
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who has covered national/international travel for CBS Local and all things San Francisco for CBS San Francisco. His stories have also appeared in the Daily Meal, Examiner.com, CBS Radio and Radio.com, among others. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University.