In Seattle, we have a place called Malay Satay Hut that is fabulous. You can order appetizers and entrees (no alcohol) and get out of there, tax and tip included, for $13/person. The quality is great, rivaling the more upscale Wild Ginger that so many people like (and some dislike). I always refer to Malay Satay as Wild Ginger at one-third the price and atmosphere of Wild Ginger. (Malay Satay is not as much hole-in-the-wall as in the past. It's clean and comfortable - just no cloth napkins, etc.)
So... I'm looking for something similar in San Francisco. Want to go beyond the feel of a taqueria, but don't want to pay the price of Zuni Cafe (Zuni looks interesting, but I'm assuming it's going to cost $25-$30 per person to get oysters and a shared caesar salad and roast chicken).
Anyone with any suggestions? Prefer something unique and ethnic. We're splitting our stays in the Mission District and Union Square. Again, seeking good food and a clean place to sit, talk and be served - but not needing alcohol, cloth napkins, and service beyond bringing me the food, water refills, and the check as needed.