The Best Cheap Eats In Los Angeles
Even though traditional fine dining and white tablecloths are a thing of the past, it doesn't mean that eating in Los Angeles has gotten any cheaper. That said, there are tons of great options for food lovers looking to eat well on a budget. Here are some of our favorite options around town—as always, leave your own favorites in the comments.
Photo of the burger at Bill & Hiroko's by Krista Simmons/LAist
Bill & Hiroko's Burgers
Bill & Hiroko's Burgers in Van Nuys is a classic burger shack that's always packed to the gills with locals after their perfectly charred burgers, which are made on top of a well-seasoned flat top. There's nothing froofy about this place. They don't even serve french fries. It's all about the burger, which can only be edited by adding a pre-made chili brick or cheese. Keep it clean and don't add the latter. This is old school burger badassery at its best.
Bill & Hiroko's is located at 14742 Oxnard St in Van Nuys, (818) 785-4086
When it comes to grab-and-go sushi, Sherman Oaks' Farm Boy can't be beat. Not only are they affordable in their sushi offerings, but they also have fresh pressed green juices for $3.99 each—a steal compared to most trendy juice bars. They make hand rolls, cut rolls, and edomae chirashizushi bowls throughout the day, meaning you always get a fresh product. There's also piping hot vegetarian udon available at the register too for under $2.
Farm Boy is located at 14107 Riverside Drive in Sherman Oaks, (818) 501-5567
Guisado's tacos (Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist)
Bubbling stew pots of tender meat welcome you as you walk into this establishment that's known for a wet-style taco called Guisados. Try their spicy cochinita pibil or a vegetarian-friendly calabacitas taco made with squash blossoms. They also have excellent agua frescas, and the tortillas are made by hand multiple times throughout the day. What's more is that it's cheap. The prices fluctuate depending on the daily specials, but you'd be hard pressed to spend more than $10 including drinks. Can't beat that.
Guisados has locations in Boyle Heights and Echo Park
800 Degrees Pizzeria
Despite the presence of a large customer base forced to dine on a budget, Westwood has always been a void when it comes to affordable and tasty eats. This was remedied when, two years ago, the Umami Group opened the doors to 800 Degrees pizzeria, offering UCLA students an upscale take on a college classic but still on a Sallie Mae allowance. For just under $7—or about two slices at most places—you can get a whole 12-inch Neapolitan style pizza Margherita fresh out of a wood-fired oven. Fresh toppings, ranging from a variety of imported Italian cheeses to Manila clams, are all at your disposal, though we recommend trusting their specialty pies to avoid experimenting with topping combinations that could potentially go awry. —Carman Tse
800 Degrees is located at 10889 Lindbrook Drive, Los Angeles, (310) 443-1911 and 120 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, (310) 566-0801
The cold fried chicken sandwich at Michael Voltaggio's sando shop next-door to his more high end Ink restaurant is one of our favorites in the city. It's pretty impressive that you can snack on the "Top Chef" champ's food for a mere $5, especially when it's sous vide chicken topped with house made farm cheese, special sauce, and pickles. They also have Mexican chocolate chip cookies and BBQ pork rinds that are shockingly addictive. An added bonus is that now you can pick up sandwiches at the Tom Bradley terminal in LAX before you fly internationally. Sure beats plane food.
Ink Sack is located at 8360 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 655-7225
Tsujita's tsukemen (Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist)
Tsujita's Adachi-style tsukemen is worth the long waits during lunch hours, especially if you are in the mood for rich, dark pork broth. They only serve this signature dish — whose broth is delicately simmered for 60 hours — 'til 3 though, but you can also head over to the newer Tsujita annex for other styles of noodles. A massive bowl of their pork tsukemen is only $13.95, and you'll leave totally sated and ready for a catnap.
Tsujita is located at 2057 Sawtelle Blvd. in Sawtelle, (310)231-7373
Mario's Italian Deli
This Glendale Italian deli and marketplace might be small, but they make wicked sammies, fresh sausages and hand made pastas. They also have all sorts of olive oils, cured fish, and Italian table wines to pick from. If you're into burrata—and let's be honest, who isn't—they also make that fresh daily, too. The bakery makes wonderful Itailan pastries, but beware that during holiday season they get quite busy, so pre-ordering is a must.
Mario's Italian Deli is located at 740 E. Broadway in Glendale, (818) 242-4114
Food from the Koreatown Galleria food court (Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist)
Koreatown Galleria Food Court
The Koreatown Galleria has heaps of good eats that are not only affordable, but pretty freaking delicious. You'll find the food court on the third floor of the mall, a massive Korean supermarket with affordable produce and heaps of pickles on the first floor, and a restaurant supply store that allows public purchase of knifes, flatware, and more on the ground level. In terms of dining at the food court, you can easily get out spending under $15 and feeling incredibly full. Some of our favorites include beef hot pot from Daewon Bowl, fried pork at Galleria Tonkatsu, and of course ice cold boba from Bopioca.
Koreatown Galleria Food Court is located at 3250 W Olympic Blvd #400, Los Angeles, (323) 733-6000
Almost everything at Sushi Stop is $2.75, and we mean everything. Standard rolls, specialty rolls, hand rolls, mini udon bowls, salads, appetizers and desserts. A few items creep up to $4, but for the most part, you and a friend can sample numerous delights and walk away full for less than $20. Favorite item: The hand rolls with truffle oil. There are numerous Sushi Stop locations, but the one in the Franklin Village takes cards and has a bar where the drink prices mirror those of the food. —Juliet Bennett Rylah
Sushi Stop is located at 5917 Franklin Ave. in Hollywood (323) 468-2596
Beef on weck (Photo by Emma Gallegos/LAist)
Top Round Roast Beef
I have fond memories of eating roast beef sandwiches with horsey sauce and curly fries as a child, but I'm sad to say Arby's hasn't held up well in adulthood. That's where Top Round comes in. My favorite sandwich is the Beef on Weck, because as a grown-up I'm a sucker for the bun with salt and caraway seeds and high-quality roast beef that is not grey. It's basically fancy Arby's, but the sandwich will still only set you back $6.25. The Black and Blue is a decadent take with blue cheese, caramelized onions and pepper. I like the cheesy, sloppy sandwiches on the menu, but if you get one that's on the drier side (like the original that only costs $4.75), ask for au jus on the side. Not only can you get curly fries, but you can try out messy upgrades with cheese "wizz," gravy, provel cheese or caramelized onions. For dessert, they serve frozen custard that you can turn into a shake, malt or sundae. —Emma Gallegos
Top Round Roast Beef is located at 1000 S. La Brea in Mid-Wilshire, (323) 549-9945
Cheese rolls: the perfect food? (Photo by Emma Gallegos/LAist)
I challenge you to name something for 70 cents that can give you as much joy as the cheese rolls from Porto's. They're a little cheesy, a little flakey, a little salty, a little sweet. Science tells us that these are the qualities that make a perfect food (sure I just made that up, but it doesn't make it any less true). For something a little more savory, try the potato balls stuffed with ground meat and spices. If you need something more substantial, most of the sandwiches made with Cuban ingredients and served with plantain chips on the side won't set you back more than $5. If you want something sweeter, you can't go wrong with the tres leches cake or gooey dulce de leche kisses. —Emma Gallegos
Porto's has locations in Glendale, Burbank and Downey