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Cheap dining recs for one on the Westside/MDR

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I have lived down here (from the Bay area) for just over a year (I live in Marina Del Rey), and I often find myself spending alot of time looking for a place to go grab dinner (I will frequently eat out alone but also with a friend). If you fellow hounds could help add to my list of "go to" places for good, affordable (<~$15/person) meals, I would greatly appreciate it. Preferably places that are not too far from me, though I don't mind driving for good food (places along the 10 and 105 are good too).

Some of my current defaults:
Phillips and Woody's for BBQ
Don Felix, El Taurino and Chema's (helluva drive but worth it) for tacos
In n Out & Carl's Jr for Burgers :( ?!*%@ (I have had and LOVE the Father's Office burger, but it's not a quick/easy eat. I also had Apple Pan and was underwhelmed; it cost almost 3x the price of an In n Out meal and was about the same quality)
Langer's for the pastrami, but this is for lunch only, but oh god is it good; but it's ruined all other pastrami for me now. I can't have pastrami unless it's Langer's.
Hungry Pocket & Zankou chicken for Falafel and Shawarma.
I just had Lamonica's and am pleasantly surprised (gonna try NY Pizza and Pasta tonite) - I had all but given up on pizza in LA.
Papa Cristos for greek.

NO Chinese on the westside.
Still looking for a good burrito (El Super Taco probably one of the better ones I've had,. but not great)

So that's my list, and as you can see, I often have to drive a ways for good food, so I'd like to find closer alternatives, but the quality is most important. Thanks for all your help in advance. (PS - I love most any type of food, EXCEPT SEAFOOD. I also love spicy food.)

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  1. Abbot's Pizza, Gaby's Mediterranean, Taste of India are all inexpensive and good in/near the Marina. I am partial to La Oaxaquena truck (Lincoln near Rose after 7.30pm) and another truck which parks on Rose near 4th during the day. La Playita is good too.

    1. J&J burgers and BBQ on Adams, 2 blocks east of fairfax. 3 blocks east of J&J on the same side of the street is an old Armenian bakery called Partamian's. It has the best Lahmajoun, armenian meat pizza, it is the only place my family has gone to get lahmajoun since the 1960's. They also have frozen boereg, armenian empanadas. The also have Monti, little boats with meat, like an open ravioli that you cover with garlic yougurt and carmelized onions. Try Taqueria Sanchez on Inglewood south of Culver. Enjoy !

      1. My close by go-to's around the Marina:

        Akbar--Indian, haven't been in awhile, but like their chicken tikka masala, bartha.
        Tajrish--Persian, good barg, kabobs, koobideh, fesenjan.
        Samosa House--I eat lunch here often, but believe they are open for dinner. Good samosas, etc. Lovely people.

        I bookmarked this thread and filed it under my list of westside places to try (Metro and Aroma Cafe). http://www.chowhound.com/topics/360850

        Have also heard positive feedback on Tender Greens in Culver City.

        Haven't tried NY Pizza yet. Please report back!

        5 Replies
        1. re: Rummy

          I have yet to try Akbar; the couple times that I wanted to go there, they weren't open... I will try em eventually. I have made the trek to Artesia for Indian a few times, as I've been thoroughly disappointed with Indian over here (with Ambala Dhaba's Westwood loc an exception; though even the Artesia loc is noticably better).

          I replied back in the Pizza thread about the NY Pizza and Pasta, but I will re-state it here too. I thought it was good pizza, but not up to par with Lamonica's. The crust was good; however the sauce disappointed and the cheese and pepperoni were just ~average for NY style pizza. I also had the spinach and ricotta slice, which was pretty good as well.

          1. re: mdpilam

            Thanks for your reply on NY Pizza. Too bad the sauce isn't up to par. I can get through so-so toppings if the sauce and crust are good.

            On Indian food, try Samosa House. While it's very clean, it ain't much to look at (also a grocery), but the food is good. It is vegetarian although quite satisfying. I always leave there stuffed (one samosa and rice with whatever entree I choose on top). Great option for take away dining.

            1. re: Rummy

              i LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, samosa house. wonderful food, amazingly low prices. ( i'd be willing to pay a little more, though, to have it served on real plates.)

            2. re: mdpilam

              Akbar is overpriced mediocre Indian food. I second the rec for Samosa House!

            3. re: Rummy

              i wouldn't call tajrish cheap nor a bargain. they charge roughly one and a half times the price as the persian places on westwood for the same dishes also, imho, their food isn't nearly as good. it is convenient, though

            4. If you haven't found good Chinese on the Westside you might try Hop Woo on Olympic, just west of Sepulveda. By San Gabriel Valley standards, they'd probably rate a mediocre, but it's a gem to us since it's on the Westside. Basically Cantonese with some good BBQ items. The portions are generous, and the dining room is actually not bad either. Otherwise, you're probably headed out at least another 20-40 minutes on the freeways.

              1. Try Cafe Brasil on Washington between Inglewod and Sawtelle. Great lunch for $7.00, Dinner for $11, nice people, colorful decor.

                1. Oh yeah, how's about barbeque? You're not too far - maybe 5-10 minutes from Baby Blues Bar-B-Q on Lincoln and Sunset in Venice. Great ribs and chicken... sides are pretty happenin' too. The ribs are dry-rubbed and smoked... I work with a guy from Memphis - says it reminds him of home...

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    Baby Blues has really amazing mac n' cheese too... *sigh*

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      I have been to Baby Blue's a couple times, and was never really impressed - I think I generally liked their sides better than their ribs/pork sandwich. And especially after finding Phillips and Woody's there is no need to go back to Baby Blues.

                      1. re: mdpilam

                        Try J&J's on Adams, really good Que, in the same league as Woody's & Phillips!

                        1. re: mdpilam

                          Great mentions - was thinking of recs in MDR/Venice though... Those two are Midtown - probably only about 10-15 minutes further taking the 90 to Slauson...?

                      2. They just recently opened a Panera Bread on LIncoln and (maybe) Mindanao Way. They good soups and sandwiches.

                        1. I agree with Gaby's. Alejo's at Lincoln and Washington is also one of my regular spots for casual, comfort Italian food. Definitely Antica Pizzeria in the Marina-- the only authentic Italian pizza I've eaten since living in Italy. Lares and Gilberts (both on Pico in SM) for pretty good Mexican. I haven't tried NY Pizza, but in addition to Abbot's give Bravo and Dagwood's (both on Main St in Santa Monica) a try. Also, Junior's Deli (on Westwood) and Factor's deli.

                          1. thai boom serves their extensive, inexpensive 'lunch menu' all day.
                            samosa house serves their excellent combination plate all day.

                            1. The restaurant attached tro the Best WEstern Jamacian Bay has good and reasonable breakfasts and lunches.

                              1. There are a few decent Chinese places on the Westside -
                                Hop Li (1 location on Pico by Westside Pavilion and a new one on Santa Monica) - I'd make reservations though because on Friday and Saturday nights, it's packed.
                                VIP Harbor Seafood (Wilshire/Barrington)

                                Some of my "go to" spots:
                                Lares on Pico
                                Gilbert's El Indio on Pico
                                Fritto Misto (6th and Colorado)
                                Library Alehouse (Main St. Santa Monica)
                                Asakuma (Wilshire and Barrington - If you get there before 7pm, they have a good 2 course special for about $17)
                                Tuk Tuk Thai (Pico and Robertson)
                                Versailles
                                Asahi Ramen in Little Osaka

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: umeakai

                                  There's an Asakuma in MDR too.

                                2. Don't pass up the Attari sandwich shop in Westwood. I forget the name of the cross street, but it's just off Westwood, entrance on the sidestreet, right across from Borders. You enter through a courtyard. Persian sandwiches, which are yet another international variant like banh mi and italian subs - prefect, crunchy french baguette with lettuce and pickled vegetables and fillings - my favorite is the kuku, which is kind of a green herby frittata. I also love their everyday lentil soup, I think it's called Ash or something similar; lovely golden lentils, oily and spicy with cumin or turmeric, and a blob of cream on top. I'm dreaming of it!

                                  1. Rinaldi's Deli in El Segundo

                                    Porky's in Inglewood for Golden Bird fried chicken and ribs and pulled pork.

                                    1. Tacomiendo, Gateway and Pico, should fix your Burrito problem.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Ciao Bob

                                        Another Tacomiendo is on Inglewood south of Culver - a little close but parking is a fiasco... park on the adjacent side street... great range of menu items and fresh tortillas for your tacos... The catering is very reasonable too - Hey Ciao Bob - we should get some freebies from them...