Los Angeles might not specialize in Michelin-starred restaurants or expense-account places as other cities, but it does boast some of the best cheap bites anywhere, thanks to a steady stream of ethnic options as well as some great Americana haunts. After a few revisions and updates, here are 22 of Los Angeles' best low budget dining picks, presented in map form.Read More
22 Cheap Eats Destinations Around L.A., Spring 2014
1. Sapp Coffee Shop
Los Angeles, CA 90027
The jade noodles (either dry and tossed or with pork broth) and Thai boat noodles are both phenomenal dishes that are must try items on the expansive menu. The roasted duck, beef fried rice, and crab-studded pad thai variant are also amazing. And, don't forget the excellent Thai iced tea. Cash only.
2. Mariscos Jalisco
Los Angeles, CA 90023
Just get the deep-fried shrimp dorados tacos and call it a day. Super cheap, topped with salsa and chunks of avocado, it's one of the best tacos in the city, period. The other items like tostadas and cocteles are pretty good too.
3. 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria
Los Angeles, CA 90024
This quick-serve Neopolitan pizza is bound to have lines for mealtimes, but it's worth it, especially for the price (a basic pie hovers around $7, with more for toppings). Customize each pizza and wait a few minutes before it comes out of the wood-fired oven, bubbling hot and ready to eat.
4. Tsujita LA
Think of it this way: to get a bowl of a ramen this good anywhere else would require a flight to Japan. So, to save up, just ensure a wait at this lunchtime ramen joint (which turns into an izakaya at night) and get a bowl of ramen or tsukemen. Great noodles, rich, flavorful broth, quick service. It's hard to beat.
5. Mini Kabob
Glendale, CA 91204
This mom-and-pop shop might look unassuming, but the cuisine more than makes up for it. Kabobs are always perfectly cooked and deliciously seasoned while hummus and eggplant caviar are spectacular. The couple running this place are here nearly every day of the year, so expect that charm as well. Cash only.
6. Zam Zam Market
Culver City, CA 90232
The hours and offerings are scattered, at best, at this Pakistani restaurant that features some of the most flavor-intense dishes in L.A. The biriyani is sure to blow out the sinuses while tandoori, kabobs, and house-fired naan are tops. Call ahead to find out hours and menu.
Roy Choi's bowl-driven fusion makes for some of the best gut-busting in the city at this recently relocated spot in Chinatown. The kimchi platter, grilled vegetables, and meatballs get you started while the Beefy T, Pork Belly, or Grilled Chicken rice bowls stand out.
8. Ichimi Ann Bamboo Garden
This soba specialist down in South Bay has no equal in L.A. Sure the simple zaru soba is satisfying, but adventurous types can delve into the cold and hot noodles, which come with a variety of accoutrements. Cash only, limited hours.
9. Pa-Ord Noodle
Los Angeles, CA 90027
This quick-service Thai restaurant focuses on noodles, though the standout is the standard-bearing Thai Boat Noodles with your choice of rice noodle. The broth is stunning, deep in flavor and spiced to your taste (always spicier than you expect though). Other highlights include the pad thai and crispy pork (which can be added to any stir-fry dish). Cash only.
The sandos run between $5-8 dollars each, which is pretty cheap considering they're designed by Top Chef Michael Voltaggio. You'll want to get at least two sandwiches, but for lunch or early dinner, it's a good deal. The Jose Andres is a miniature take on the classic deli sandwich. The pineapple and chile, bbq pork rinds, and cookie are also worth a try.
11. Dino's Chicken and Burgers
A true Angeleno creation of brilliant-red sauce that's immediately tangy, peppery and addictive, these grilled chicken atop french fries might make one of the single best dishes in L.A. for the money. Old timers can recount the days when a plate was less than four bucks, though these days it's upwards of five-six dollars for a plate, still an amazing deal. Insider tip - try the dish over rice instead of fries.
12. Tacos Punta Cabras
Santa Monica, CA 90404
This seafood taco and tostada specialist might be the best place for cheap Mexican food on the Westside. The ingredients are ultra-fresh and well balanced. And the cauliflower tostada is actually pretty good too.
13. Bill & Hiroko's Hamburgers
Van Nuys, CA 91411
This road-side hamburger stand is pure Americana at its best, with fresh patties sizzling on a flat-top grill and thick strips of bacon. Kraft cheese and crisp lettuce makes for one of the best cheap burgers in L.A.
14. Top Round Roast Beef
Los Angeles, CA 90019
This improvement on the classic roast beef sandwich comes in a snappy, retro form. The variations include blue cheese, barbecue sauce, or old-school cheese whiz, which should be a comfort to those missing the Midwest or East Coast. Think of it as Arby's, but perfected, and don't miss the concretes (frozen custard with mix-ins).
15. Leo's Taco Truck
The al pastor here, which can be found mostly on the weekends, is one of the best anywhere. Sliced carefully off a trompo and then topped with a pineapple sliver, it's tough not to order anything less than four at a time. The mulitas, using the same meat, are also tremendous.
16. Pollo A La Brasa
Los Angeles, CA 90005
This classic Koreatown Peruvian roast chicken joint has some new digs planned in an awkward looking building on the same triangle-lot on the corner of Western and 8th. The stacks of wood pile high outside while the perpetual smoke and aroma of chicken fills the streets nearby. Moist, juicy, addictive and perfect with the fries. The new location (on the same lot) will be opening soon.
17. Tire Shop Taqueria
Los Angeles, CA 90011
Tijuana-style carne asada tacos finally descend onto L.A., albeit in a far flung part of South Central that's really only a ten minute drive from Downtown later at night. Tortillas pressed by hand, to order, meat grilled over mesquite, everything prepared masterfully by a taquero who knows his craft. Don't miss the best new taco L.A. has seen in years. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday, open 6-11 p.m. other evenings.
18. Dr. Sandwich
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Falafel and shawarma are a little unsung in L.A., but a few standouts remain. Ta-eem on Melrose just got back after a hiatus, but Dr. Sandwich is making very good laffa and falafel sandwiches down in Beverlywood, a boon for locals looking for an inexpensive and ultra-filling handheld meal.
19. Ricky's Fish Tacos
Los Angeles, CA
This truck is now able to land on this map because of its semi-permanent location on Virgil after settling there for quite some time as a stand. After a health department shutter, Ricky's back to frying up the best fish tacos this side of the border. Don't miss the shrimp or lobster tacos when they're available, and be sure to dress with all the fresh sauces. Also, be sure to check Twitter to ensure that Ricky's around that day.
20. Murakami Sushi
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Cheap sushi is pretty hard to justify because the quality is usually so disappointing. However, Murakami's chirashi bowl at around $12 is definitely a worth a trip if you're able to take a long lunch. Packed with plenty of fresh fish atop a heap of rice, it's the perfect "light" lunch in L.A.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
With its new brick-and-mortar situation inside the Grand Central Market, Eggslut is an easy breakfast destination, with egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, bacon, and more, then placed between plush brioche buns. A meal hefty enough to carry through lunch.
22. Mapo Kkak Du Gi
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Koreatown is full of bargain meals that will run less than $10 for lunch or dinner, but Mapo is the Swiss Army knife among them. Soups, stews, noodles, grilled meats, and fish represent most of the standard Korean food canon. Come with a few other diners and you'll be shocked at how cheap it's all been. Closed Sundays.