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
Updated: 22 Cheap Eats Destinations Around LA
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.
Ruen Pair Thai Restaurant
This late-night Thai Town haunt gets better with age. A revamped menu with all the classics and even some surprises (pork blood soup anyone?) makes this one of the best overall Thai restaurants in L.A. The salty turnip egg omelette, pak prik king (chicken preferred), stir-fried morning glory with crispy pork, and green papaya salad with raw crab are the things to order. It helps that dishes never cost more than $9. Cash only.
800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria
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.
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.
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.
Zam Zam Market
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.
Sapp Coffee Shop
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.
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.
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.
Known for cheap breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches, it's wise to call your order ahead. The best part might be the chili salsa that comes with the meal, the ideal foil to the rich burritos. Prices are dirt, but it's cash only.
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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.
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.
This tempura specialist inside Mitsuwa in West LA does an amazing bowl of fried tempura that's then topped off with an umami-rich eel sauce. One of the most satisfying meals that $10 could buy.
Tacos Punta Cabras
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.
Bill & Hiroko's Hamburgers
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.
Top Round Roast Beef
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).
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.
Mexicali Taco & Co.
The carne asada here is nearly unparalleled in the city. Get it via taco, tostada, or vampiro, then customize at the salsa bar, which is chock full of great toppings. No naked tacos!
The lamb barbacoa, available on weekends, is one of the cheapest meals anywhere, with the large portion easily able to feed two or three, for a mere $10. The agua frescas are also excellent.
Cho Man Won
This new Korean dumpling specialist has great fried, steamed, and boiled dumplings for less than $5 an order, making it easy to order a bunch and share with friends.
Pollo A La Brasa
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.