Curry, chapati and cholle on the cheap: San Francisco's 3 best budget-friendly Indian spots

When chilly weather comes around, there's nothing like a hot and fragrant dish of curry, biryani or daal to lift the spirits. But the cost of living in San Francisco is creeping ever higher — so where to go without breaking the bank?

Hoodline crunched the numbers to find the best affordable Indian, Pakistani and Himalayan restaurants around San Francisco, using both Yelp data and our own secret sauce to produce a ranked list of where to get the best bang for your buck.

1. Pakwan

Photo: Winnie L./Yelp

Topping the list is Pakwan Restaurant. Located at 3180-82 16th St., this Mission District counter-order veteran is the most popular inexpensive Indian restaurant in San Francisco, boasting four stars out of 1,646 reviews on Yelp.

The BYOB policy is a hit with reviewers, as is the extra-spicy chicken achar (a curry with roasted peppers) and the murgh makhani (also known as butter chicken). And for diners who are extra hungry, there is a Sunday buffet.

2. Lahore Karahi

Photo: Ann S./Yelp

Next up is the Tenderloin's Lahore Karahi, situated at 612 O'Farrell St. (between Harlem Alley and Leavenworth Street). With four stars out of 1,345 reviews on Yelp, it has proven to be a local favorite for those looking for an affordable option. 

Yelpers love Lahore's tandoori fish, served with freshly cooked onions, cabbage, green bell peppers and lemon juice, as well as its classic curries such as chicken tikka masala and lamb korma. The restaurant also has an extensive list of vegetarian options — and it offers delivery.

3. Bini's Kitchen

Photo: Giulio C./Yelp

The Financial District's Bini's Kitchen, located at 1 Post Plaza (between Lick Place and Montgomery Street), is another top choice, with Yelpers giving the affordable Nepali food stand four stars out of 168 reviews. 

Though a more recent arrival, the takeout-only lunch spot has won plaudits from the Chronicle and SF Weekly, among others, for its Gorkha chicken and momos (Nepalese dumplings), filled with lamb, turkey or veggies. It also serves a fusion "Nepalito" — a burrito with chicken curry and jeera rice.

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