The first in a many-part series about eating on a strict $20 budget around Los Angeles for Cheap Eats Week. First up, Highland Park, by senior editor Farley Elliott.
In many parts of Los Angeles, dining out all day on just $20 total would seem like an exercise in futility. Not in Highland Park.
Despite a recent young influx (and the higher prices for everyday goods that tend to follow), Highland Park remains blissfully inexpensive for anyone looking to eat well. There’s a lot of relatively cheap, high-quality Mexican food of course, but also burgers, pizzas, craft beer, and more. Stretch your dollars right, and the mealtime possibilities become practically endless.
Here’s one way to live well on $20 a day in Highland Park.
Breakfast: Green juice from Bionicos La Palapa | cost = $4.50 | $15.50 remaining
Time: 9 a.m.
Post-Meal Hunger Level (10 is starving, 1 is fully satiated): 4
The jugos verdes here, or simple green juice, is a kale and leafy-green infused morning punch that is nearly as frothy and thick as a root beer float. It’s an intoxicating morning meal, really, priced at just $4.50 for the medium size, which offers 16 ounces of freshly-juiced, healthy-living bliss. Sure, it's just a morning juice instead of steak and eggs, but shouldn't you be eating a little healthier anyway?
Lunch: Via-Mar Seafood | cost = $7.70 | $7.80 remaining
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Post-Meal Hunger Level: 3
There’s always a daily special on rotation at Via-Mar, Highland Park’s premier fried fish taco and seafood spot. The cocteles are cheap and bountiful, but the weekday taco specials really seal the deal. On Mondays, that means shrimp tacos dorados priced at $1.75 apiece, while oysters sit at just over a buck a pop every day. Mix and match for a worthwhile lunch that’s not too heavy. And, if you just spring for the daily specials, you can save money and eat like a king.
(One note here: in the photo, you’ll notice that the Via-Mar folks for some reason gave me an extra shrimp tacos dorados for free. I didn’t complain.)
Dinner: Folliero's | cost = $6.80 (+ $1 tip) | $0 remaining
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Post-Meal Hunger Level: -1 (as in, extra stuffed)
Forget those newer pizza places over on York, it’s all about Folliero's. In business along Figueroa since the late 1960’s, this neighborhood classic still offers prices strikingly similar to those found on the menu decades ago. For example, a hand-stretched 10-inch pie with cheese and sausage is only $6.80, out the door. That's a bargain anywhere, and if you decide to eat the whole thing yourself (not that it's advised) you'll be stuffed until the sun comes up the next day.
Total expenditures: $20, on the dot.