Best Cheap Meal Before Dropping a Wad at the AMC 1000 Van Ness

Soup is a year-round dish in San Francisco's blustery climes, but few can touch the savory, filling bowl served up on the fringes of the Tenderloin at Pho Hoa. Pho is the Vietnamese beef broth redolent with anise and other unusual spices (you can request no cilantro). It comes with a thicket of rice noodles and the meat of your choice. Opt for pho tai, containing slices of rare steak that gradually lose their pinkness in the steaming liquid. Tart up your broth with the accompanying bean sprouts, fresh basil, jalapeƱos, or lemon wedges, and add a dash of the pungent bottled fish sauce found in every Vietnamese restaurant. A small bowl of pho is $4.50, while the megabowl goes for all of $5.25. Toss in a couple of iced coffees ($1.70) and you've still got a hearty dinner for two for under $18.

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