The taxi driver had taken a 37-year-old man to the area of Waller Street and Central Avenue around 1 a.m. Sunday and the victim asked for his change back, leaving no tip for the cabbie, police said.
An argument ensued and the passenger tried to flee but the driver caught up to him and began choking him, police spokesman Sgt. Dennis Toomer said.
The driver then got back into the cab and drove off, Toomer said.
The victim described the taxi driver as a white, balding man between 30 and 40 years old who has a muscular build and was wearing a polo shirt and jeans, Toomer said.
The victim did not know what company the driver works for, but said the taxi was white with red lettering, according to Toomer.
He was taken to a hospital to be treated for neck pain, Toomer said.
Anyone with information about the attack is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.