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Spread of Sri Lankan dishes from Baja Subs in Northridge.
Sri Lankan dishes inside Baja Subs.
Wonho Frank Lee

17 Fantastic Budget-Friendly Restaurants in Los Angeles

It’s easy to spend less and still eat well in LA

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Sri Lankan dishes inside Baja Subs.
| Wonho Frank Lee

Eating well doesn’t have to break the bank in Los Angeles, considering nearly every neighborhood offers an array of casual restaurants serving reasonably-priced fare, from Mexican spots that specialize in bean burritos and pastrami to Sri Lankan specialists in the Valley and beyond. From noodle soups to tacos and dumplings, it’s truly an embarrassment of riches in the Southland. Here now are 17 affordable restaurants in Los Angeles.

Added: Baja Subs, Big Daddy’s Kickin’ Chicken, Baja Subs, Rodney’s Ribs, Guido’s, NOLA Cajun and Creole, Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop, the Village Mart & Deli

Removed: Daybird, Spoon + Pork, Me + Crepe, Kurrypinch, Dino’s, Zam Zam Market

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Baja Subs Market & Deli

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The Sri Lankan food is the star at the unassuming Baja Subs, which despite the name also leans into Mexican food, takeaway corner store items, and Southeast Asian food alike.

Lamprais at Baja Subs on a green plate.
Baja Subs.
Wonho Frank Lee

Tacos Los Palomos

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With numerous outlets across the LA area, Tacos Los Palomos consistently delivers the most delicious, freshly sliced al pastor in the city. Check Instagram for locations, and be sure to watch out for daily specials, like when they price fully packed tortas for $5 apiece.

Taquero shaves al pastor from a trompo at Tacos Los Palomos.
Tacos Los Palomos.
Matthew Kang

Rodney's Ribs

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North Pasadena staple Rodney’s Ribs looks like a simple takeout operation in a parking lot, but locals know that Rodney serves up some of the area’s best namesake ribs as well as a mean chopped brisket sandwich.

The brisket at Rodney’s Ribs is served between plush Hawaiian buns with a drizzle of tangy-sweet sauce.
Brisket sandwich.
Wonho Frank Lee

Golden Deli Restaurant

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It’s hard to think of a better price-to-excellence ratio than Golden Deli, a versatile Vietnamese restaurant with the crispiest, best-tasting chả giò in the city. The pho, rice, and other dishes are fantastic too, with meals coming out to $20 or less per person, either on-site or to-go.

Guido's Pizza & Empanadas Argentinas

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Rancho Cucamonga strip mall option Guido’s is the rare Argentinian-Italian specialist for greater Los Angeles. Find stuffed pizzas with lots of onion, cutlet sandwiches, empanadas, and more.

Shelves of imported goods at an Argentinian market during the day.
Inside Guido’s.
Wonho Frank Lee

Tacos Don Manolito

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Mexico City chainlet Tacos Don Manolito does tacos a la placha, using chorizo and cecina to great versatility. The key here to get as many things with the griddled cheese as possible, and make sure to load each taco up with the excellent, intensely flavored salsas.

Tacos Don Manolito.
Tacos Don Manolito.
Wonho Frank Lee

Virgil Village’s Vietnamese comfort food restaurant ensures that all of its stakeholders, from employees to locals in the neighborhood, win out against the forces of gentrification. This means reasonably priced food that still delivers deep, homemade flavors like banh mi, pork riblets, and popcorn chicken that you can eat every day.

Fried pork riblets served over steamed white rice with green onion garnish.
Pork riblets over rice at Bé Ù.
Wonho Frank Lee

The Village Mart & Deli

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The family-run Village Mart & Deli is one of El Sereno’s best gems. Over the last three years, staff serve an easy daytime menu with sandwiches, soups, and the king jewel: a pastrami breakfast burrito. The latter is in a more compact size and filled with avocados, eggs, pastrami, peppers, very crispy potatoes, and cheese. Before you leave, grab a six-pack of Modelo or craft beer from the fridge.

A center cut of a layered meaty sandwich.
Italian sandwich at the Village Mart & Deli.
The Village Mart & Deli

Falafel Inc

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The mission at Falafel Inc. so to make a super-affordable dish like falafel and use some of the proceeds to help in areas around the world. The $4-5 pita sandwich at Falafel Inc. is a healthy, quick snack or lunch that anyone from office workers to college students.

Falafel bowl at Falafel Inc.
Falafel bowl from Falafel Inc.
Falafel Inc.

Earle's On Crenshaw

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Classic South LA hot dog spot Earle’s has some of the best grilled hot dogs in Los Angeles, all served at an approachable price point. There’s plenty of variety here, from all-beef to vegetarian-friendly options.

Chili-slathered hot dog with pickled onions on a slate gray background at Earle’s on Crenshaw.
Chili dog from Earle’s On Crenshaw.
Farley Elliott

Nola Cajun and Creole

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Nola Cajun and Creole sits inside the newish BLVD Market food hall in Montebello as a beacon of flavorful and spot-on Creole dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, and shrimp po’boys from operator Keivan Cross. With reasonable prices and amble portions, it’s easily one of the best new Creole/Cajun restaurants in town.

Shrimp po’boy from Nola Cajun and Creole in Montebello, California
The shrimp po’boy.
Matthew Kang

Big Daddy's Kickin' Chicken

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Flame-licked and bright red, the chicken at this Inglewood takeout is a mix of spicy, juicy, and lovingly charred — and it’s very, very hard to put down.

Half-chicken at Big Daddy’s Kickin’ Chicken in Inglewood.
Big Daddy’s Kickin’ Chicken.
Farley Elliott

Skinny Dave's

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David Kuo of Little Fatty opened this handy LAX-adjacent sandwich shop specializing in banh mi an approachable, everyday price. Order one with extra pate for a big flavor boost.

Banh mi from Skinny Dave’s in Westchester.
Banh mi from Skinny Dave’s in Westchester.
Matthew Kang

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos

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Longtime food truck Tamales Elenas has a handy drive-thru and casual restaurant in Bell Gardens now, with some of the city’s best tamales, pozoles, and guisados that come in generous portions. Order ahead to see what’s available.

Three banana leaf tamales from Tamales Elena on a traditional plate.
Banana leaf tamales from Tamales Elena
Wonho Frank Lee

Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop

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Hawaiian and Japanese food hit new heights and diner staple Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop, tucked into an actual bowling alley in the heart of the greater South Bay / South LA region.

Loco moco at Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop in Gardena, California
Loco moco from Gardena Bowl.
Matthew Kang

Surati Farsan

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Tantalizing methai (sweets) and chat (snacks) are what it’s all about at Surati Farsan Mart, a stylish shop specializing in Gujarati-style nibbles since 1986. The pani puri are pitch-perfect — delicate whole-wheat shells filled with mung beans, potatoes, and jaljira, a cool liquid imbued with herbs and spices, and drizzled with chutneys.

For wonderful Indian sweets and snacks: Surati Farsan Mart.
Surati Farsan
Cathy Chaplin

Busy Bee Market

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Busy Bee may well be the most famous restaurant in all of San Pedro, owing to its giant and meaty belly-buster sandwich. Still, great deals can be had for at or around $10 a pop, from pastrami to roast beef and beyond.

A hand holds up a pastrami sandwich that is falling apart.
Busy Bee Market
Crystal Coser

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Baja Subs Market & Deli

Lamprais at Baja Subs on a green plate.
Baja Subs.
Wonho Frank Lee

The Sri Lankan food is the star at the unassuming Baja Subs, which despite the name also leans into Mexican food, takeaway corner store items, and Southeast Asian food alike.

Lamprais at Baja Subs on a green plate.
Baja Subs.
Wonho Frank Lee

Tacos Los Palomos

Taquero shaves al pastor from a trompo at Tacos Los Palomos.
Tacos Los Palomos.
Matthew Kang

With numerous outlets across the LA area, Tacos Los Palomos consistently delivers the most delicious, freshly sliced al pastor in the city. Check Instagram for locations, and be sure to watch out for daily specials, like when they price fully packed tortas for $5 apiece.

Taquero shaves al pastor from a trompo at Tacos Los Palomos.
Tacos Los Palomos.
Matthew Kang

Rodney's Ribs

The brisket at Rodney’s Ribs is served between plush Hawaiian buns with a drizzle of tangy-sweet sauce.
Brisket sandwich.
Wonho Frank Lee

North Pasadena staple Rodney’s Ribs looks like a simple takeout operation in a parking lot, but locals know that Rodney serves up some of the area’s best namesake ribs as well as a mean chopped brisket sandwich.

The brisket at Rodney’s Ribs is served between plush Hawaiian buns with a drizzle of tangy-sweet sauce.
Brisket sandwich.
Wonho Frank Lee

Golden Deli Restaurant

It’s hard to think of a better price-to-excellence ratio than Golden Deli, a versatile Vietnamese restaurant with the crispiest, best-tasting chả giò in the city. The pho, rice, and other dishes are fantastic too, with meals coming out to $20 or less per person, either on-site or to-go.

Guido's Pizza & Empanadas Argentinas

Shelves of imported goods at an Argentinian market during the day.
Inside Guido’s.
Wonho Frank Lee

Rancho Cucamonga strip mall option Guido’s is the rare Argentinian-Italian specialist for greater Los Angeles. Find stuffed pizzas with lots of onion, cutlet sandwiches, empanadas, and more.

Shelves of imported goods at an Argentinian market during the day.
Inside Guido’s.
Wonho Frank Lee

Tacos Don Manolito

Tacos Don Manolito.
Tacos Don Manolito.
Wonho Frank Lee

Mexico City chainlet Tacos Don Manolito does tacos a la placha, using chorizo and cecina to great versatility. The key here to get as many things with the griddled cheese as possible, and make sure to load each taco up with the excellent, intensely flavored salsas.

Tacos Don Manolito.
Tacos Don Manolito.
Wonho Frank Lee

Bé Ù

Fried pork riblets served over steamed white rice with green onion garnish.
Pork riblets over rice at Bé Ù.
Wonho Frank Lee

Virgil Village’s Vietnamese comfort food restaurant ensures that all of its stakeholders, from employees to locals in the neighborhood, win out against the forces of gentrification. This means reasonably priced food that still delivers deep, homemade flavors like banh mi, pork riblets, and popcorn chicken that you can eat every day.

Fried pork riblets served over steamed white rice with green onion garnish.
Pork riblets over rice at Bé Ù.
Wonho Frank Lee

The Village Mart & Deli

A center cut of a layered meaty sandwich.
Italian sandwich at the Village Mart & Deli.
The Village Mart & Deli

The family-run Village Mart & Deli is one of El Sereno’s best gems. Over the last three years, staff serve an easy daytime menu with sandwiches, soups, and the king jewel: a pastrami breakfast burrito. The latter is in a more compact size and filled with avocados, eggs, pastrami, peppers, very crispy potatoes, and cheese. Before you leave, grab a six-pack of Modelo or craft beer from the fridge.

A center cut of a layered meaty sandwich.
Italian sandwich at the Village Mart & Deli.
The Village Mart & Deli

Falafel Inc

Falafel bowl at Falafel Inc.
Falafel bowl from Falafel Inc.
Falafel Inc.

The mission at Falafel Inc. so to make a super-affordable dish like falafel and use some of the proceeds to help in areas around the world. The $4-5 pita sandwich at Falafel Inc. is a healthy, quick snack or lunch that anyone from office workers to college students.

Falafel bowl at Falafel Inc.
Falafel bowl from Falafel Inc.
Falafel Inc.

Earle's On Crenshaw

Chili-slathered hot dog with pickled onions on a slate gray background at Earle’s on Crenshaw.
Chili dog from Earle’s On Crenshaw.
Farley Elliott

Classic South LA hot dog spot Earle’s has some of the best grilled hot dogs in Los Angeles, all served at an approachable price point. There’s plenty of variety here, from all-beef to vegetarian-friendly options.

Chili-slathered hot dog with pickled onions on a slate gray background at Earle’s on Crenshaw.
Chili dog from Earle’s On Crenshaw.
Farley Elliott

Nola Cajun and Creole

Shrimp po’boy from Nola Cajun and Creole in Montebello, California
The shrimp po’boy.
Matthew Kang

Nola Cajun and Creole sits inside the newish BLVD Market food hall in Montebello as a beacon of flavorful and spot-on Creole dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, and shrimp po’boys from operator Keivan Cross. With reasonable prices and amble portions, it’s easily one of the best new Creole/Cajun restaurants in town.

Shrimp po’boy from Nola Cajun and Creole in Montebello, California
The shrimp po’boy.
Matthew Kang

Big Daddy's Kickin' Chicken

Half-chicken at Big Daddy’s Kickin’ Chicken in Inglewood.
Big Daddy’s Kickin’ Chicken.
Farley Elliott

Flame-licked and bright red, the chicken at this Inglewood takeout is a mix of spicy, juicy, and lovingly charred — and it’s very, very hard to put down.

Half-chicken at Big Daddy’s Kickin’ Chicken in Inglewood.
Big Daddy’s Kickin’ Chicken.
Farley Elliott

Skinny Dave's

Banh mi from Skinny Dave’s in Westchester.
Banh mi from Skinny Dave’s in Westchester.
Matthew Kang

David Kuo of Little Fatty opened this handy LAX-adjacent sandwich shop specializing in banh mi an approachable, everyday price. Order one with extra pate for a big flavor boost.