what's the best lunch deal in town?
As a professional brokester this is something I've done a lot of research on. Sadly, my range is limited to the eastside (gas prices can kill a cheap meal) but here are a few recs...
Phillipe's - Skip the French Dip and get a heaping bowl of beef stew. Not exactly sure on the price but I think it's about $3.00 (and comes with crackers). Some folks also swear by the chili ($2.50/bowl) but I think it's kind of gray, gross and midwestern style.
Nam Thai Lunch Truck - Cheap banh mi truck at Alpine and Spring. I prefer it to Buu Dien which is similarly priced ($2-2.50 for most sandwiches).
Big Mista at Atwater and other farmer's markets - BBQ sandwich for $4 (Sundays).
The Sanamluang noodle bowl at Sanamluang on Hollywood. Heaping bowl of pork, pork stomach, shrimp and shrimp and fish balls - $6.50.
RoRo's Lebanese on Sunset - Falafel sandwich for $2.50. Also cheap schwarma and roast chicken lunch specials.
Yum Cha Dumplings Chinatown - admittedly it's no Din Tai Fun but so cheap you won't care. If you want to spend a little tiny bit more Won Kok nearby is tastier.
A better deal than Joe's and just around the corner is the Brickhouse Kitchen. They have a huge menu with items from breakfast to salads that run $8 - 9 with large portions. The dressing on their Greek Salad is the best and everything I've tried is good to great. A nice casual, unstuffy atmosphere as well.
i've always felt that sushi can be a real bargain at lunch (if you're willing to accept a fixed selection). not all places offer lunch specials (and i wouldn't want to eat at many that do). in addition to some that have been mentioned above, i would add (1) mori sushi ($mid-to-upper teens), and (2) R23 (about $13).
I haven't been there since October, so maybe things have changed, but Thai Patio -- the place that moved into the old Palms Thai space in Thai Town -- had a $3.99 lunch special. That was a bargain, although quality was, I'd guess, about commensurate with the price, maybe a bit higher. Still, if cheap is top priority, it sure beats Panda Express.
It's Indonesian food. Sticky rice with various stewed/braised meats and fried/braised tofu. I don't know a lot about this cuisine so I leave it to someone better informed - but, it's delicious, inexpensive and unusual. The curried chicken is especially great. The food can be moderately spicy, but make sureto also get some of the sauces in jars by the condiment table.
It's on National, 1 block west of Motor, in a mini-mall with Cheviot Farms.
Not a steal exactly, but Kiriko's lunch special--10 pieces of spectacularly good sushi usually including a blue crab roll and heavenly (and I mean that) home-made ice cream at $29.50 has to be one of the best deals taste-wise. Worth every penny if you want really high quality sushi at an affordable price. I would much rather spend the money at Kiriko than go to Echigo at less than half the price.
I love Japanese lunch specials,
You could "downsize" the Kiriko lunch special mentioned above to 8 select pieces of sushi (toro, yellowtail, albacore, shrimp, eel, house-smoked salmon, halibut and... forgot the last one... ) plus tuna roll for $18. No homemade ice cream though...
Sushi Don on Laurel Canyon and Riverside in Valley Village has six quality sushi nigiri (2 albacore, salmon, yellowtail, tuna and... I forgot the last one) plus your choice of rolls, including an excellent blue crab roll, for $9.
Sushi Gen on Alameda and 2nd in Little Tokyo has an AMAZING sashimi lunch platter with choice cuts of fish (toro, hamachi, etc.) plus soup, a few salads and rice for $13.
Izayoi in Little Tokyo has a great bento box with grilled mackerel, chawamushi, sashimi, soup, salad and rice for $9.50.
I Cugini in Santa Monica has a three course pris-fixe menu for $20.
Here's the menu (from the website):
Golden Beet Carpaccio
White Anchovies Marinated
Peppery Iron Skillet Mussels
adriatic style, grilled or braised
Grilled Chicken Salad
with walnuts, feta cheese, oranges & balsamic dressing
shrimp, basil pesto, tomoto sauce and mozzarela
Risotto of the Day
please consult your server
Ciao Bella Gelato
Coffee, Tea or Soda Included
Echigo in Santa Monica has a very well priced ($13 maybe?) omakase lunch special.
Does dim sum count? I have feasted at Empress Pavillion normally for about $8 a person. And there parking garage is probably the best deal in LA at 60 cents.
Anyone know of any burger deals?
One of them is certainly Joe's $15 three course prix fixe in Venice. Hard to match the quality for the price. Lily's next door does a $10 lunch if you're on a stricter budget but I'd go to Joe's. The Pink Pepper in Hollywood does great Thai and has a $5.95 lunch special. For something unique the self serve cafe at The Getty is excellent and, well, the art is free but then there is parking unless you bus it from the Sunset and Church area.