It's easy to eat well in the Bay Area. Especially on, say, an expense account. But on a budget? For that, you need some suggestions — and who better to give them than Daniel Patterson, the man whose Alta Group includes some of our city's best spots, including the Alta in the Minnesota Street Project and the newly relaunched, nearly 100-year-old steakhouse Alfred's. Where does this man eat for under $10 in the Bay Area? See below.
Breakfast at Pizzaiolo
I’m not a huge breakfast eater, as I like to get a jump start on my day early, but if I do take the time — and am not hitting Locol for a breakfast sandwich — the pastries and coffee at Pizzaiolo are a great bet. They also have a dedicated toast section on their breakfast menu with options like Bellwether farms ricotta with almonds & honey on their housemade bread.
Lunch at Cosecha
Chef and owner Dominca Rice offers fresh, produce-driven Mexican cuisine at this spot in Downtown Oakland. Tacos are priced around $3 to $4 with offerings that include braised pork with pickled red onion, grilled achiote chicken and a vegetarian taco with grilled veggies, avocado and salsa; and you can also get a killer bowl of pozole for under $10 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Snack at El Paisa (no website)
For a more casual vibe, El Paisa is another neighborhood spot in East Oakland that offers great tacos (al pastor, lengua, suadero, etc.) under $3. There’s an impressive salsa bar — use a light hand with the delicious (and hot) guacamole habenero salsa.
Noodles at Shandong
The noodles at this spot in Oakland's Chinatown (named for the region in northeastern China) hover around $10 — there’s an extensive list of options, but for something on the simpler side, the spicy sesame paste noodles are a nice choice. There are also lunch specials available.
Dinner at Juhu Beach Club
Preeti Mistry’s Indian oasis is a charming spot with killer pavs (slider-sized sandwiches) that are around $6 or $7. There are vegetarian options like the vada pav with a fried potato puff, pickled onions and ghost pepper chutney, and a great pulled chicken curry pav with cilantro slaw. Mistry is vigilant about sourcing ingredients locally.