Unfortunately they both also have inexplicably high prices during this downturned economy.
So what do you do when you are traveling on a budget and want to chow down on some local food without emptying your bank account and selling off your luggage?
Cheap eats. Many restaurant-bars run specials on weekdays -- an invitation to fill yourself with satisfying food and socialize with other patrons. But while $2 Taco Tuesdays are a great bargain, beware of the temptation to wash them down with a couple of drinks. Beer, wine, mixed drinks and sodas may be especially high priced to offset the food cost. Plus you may end up spending more than you thought if those tacos are mere morsels that require a dozen to fill you.
A better option is to look further than the popular tourist areas. Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco for example, is a must see, but eat before you go or you'll be subject to average food at above average prices. A better bet is to visit "the mission" first where a number of locales serve burritos as big as your head for a fraction of what you'd pay on the waterfront.
Chinatown is another option -- numerous small restaurants offer amazing cuisine for just a few bucks. Both Boston and San Francisco have a Chinatown, by the way.
If you have the time, seek out the restaurants near the colleges and universities. Pricing and portion size will likely be scaled to fit the college-sized budget and appetite. If your hostel or hotel has a refrigerator, save half your meal for the next day . . . unless you can eat it all on the spot, that is!
As always a little research goes a long way. Websites such as chowhound, Yelp, tripadvisor, and urbanspoon have numerous suggestions and reviews from users that have discovered food nirvana and want to share their knowledge.
If you don't have time to get online, try these local favorites: Galleria Umberto (Hanover st North End, Boston) stuff yourself with divine pizza and other Italian specialties for under $5.
El Farolito (Mission district, San Francisco) for burritos as big as your head -- and other Mexican fare.
Happy travels and Bon Apetit!
To get to Boston and San Francisco, check out our USA Expedition Cross-Country Adventure. See both coasts and everything in between on this trek across America! Happy travels ... and Bon Apetit!