One of my favorite things about traveling is eating the local cuisine or specialties. In large urban cities that boasts some of the best food in the nation, like New York City and San Francisco, you can easily go broke by eating out. Of course, eating your own packed sandwiches is never as fun as eating at a great restaurant. So how is a traveling foodie going going to save money?

Tips for saving money on food and STILL eat well while on vacation (San Francisco suggestions):

1. Lunches and Happy Hours: Have your fancy meal during lunch. Many restaurants offer the dinner menu during lunch at a smaller size and smaller price. Eat your big meal out at noon and grab something cheap and light for dinner. Also, happy hours are a great way to test out a fancy restaurant/lounge. Some restaurants offer their appetizers for a super discounted price. Sure, portions are small, but have it tapas style and multiple things on their menu. Enjoy $1 organic Sweetwater oysters at San Francisco’s Hog Island Oyster Company‘s happy hour every Monday and Thursday from 4:30-7pm. Or take advantage of San Francisco’s well known Asian Fusion cuisine at Nihon Whiskey Lounge in all of its uber chicness and taste test 50% off their appetizer menu during happy hour.

Hog Island Oyster Company. Ferry Building Marketplace, One Ferry Building. San Francisco, California 94111.

Nihon Whiskey Lounge- 1779 Folsom St. San Francisco, CA 94103

2. Skip the drinks and dessert: AWWWWWW. Drinks and dessert really add up! I know, everyone wants a nice chilled beer after a long day of walking through the city. But drinks can really add up on the bill. Soda isn’t healthy for you anyway. Have ice water and be sober enough to really enjoy your meals. Think about it. Plus, chocolate cake not only wreaks havoc on your waistline, but it costs as much as tomorrow’s lunch budget. Skip it.

3. Love your buddy: Most restaurants serve dinner entrees that are big enough to share for two people. Why not share an entree and a side salad? Not only do you get your veggies while on vacation, you’ll get to try an entree and still be full . Plus, don’t let a food coma stop you from enjoying a night out in The City. Cut into cilantro, ginger, and soy glazed all-natural ribs cooked “San Francisco style” at Oola Bar and Grill with your friend. Better yet, visit during Happy Hour when you can get the charcuterie Plate for $9. Oola Bar and Grill 860 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA, 94107.

4. Look for your next great meal somewhere other than in a restaurant: Farmers Markets are a great place to get a local feel and EAT! One of my favorite things to do when i lived in San Francisco was to visit the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. SF is a foodie city that prides itself on fresh produce. It’s no surprise that the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market will boast some of the nation’s best produce. Freely graze from stall to stall “taste testing” 5 different types of apples, 6 types of peaches, salmon jerky, homemade hummus spread on homemade garlic pita chips, local cheeses, tomatoes dipped in locally made rosemary salt, and countless of other things. After, buy half a chicken and fingerling potatoes for $10 and share with your posse while enjoying a perfect day next to the pier. Farmer Markets open on Tuesday: 10am–2pm, Saturday: 8am-2pm.

5. Coupons: Okay, sure, I know that coupons in a nice restaurant are kind of tacky. But unless you want to eat salad and water for all your meals, suck it up. Luckily, Restaurant.com is a great site that allows you to buy $25 gift certificates at for $10. Gift certificates already sound nicer than “coupons”. I found some great restaurants that are in this network. So enjoy a nice cool SF day by having brunch ouside at Destino’s. At Tokyo Go Go, dig into a Golden Gate roll with tempura asparagus & avacado wrapped with salmon and shaved lemon while surrounded by SF hipsters. Destino’s 1815 Market St. San Francisco, CA 9410. Tokyo Go Go- 3174 16th Street, San Francisco, CA, 94103.

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