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Apr 25, 2007 12:56 PM

LA-Good eats on a budget?

Hello LA chowhounds,

This board has been a wealth of information for me in the past. I'm going to LA on business in 2 weeks and have convinced my budget-conscious husband to come along--as long as I promise not to spend too much money (we just bought a house)...Anyhoo, I'm looking for some recommendations for breakfast, lunch, dinner (and hey, if you've got a suggestion for a place to have a cocktail that'd be swell too!)--anything that is good eats, but won't break the bank (I would say lunch under $40 and dinner in the $50-$80 range). We're pretty open-food wise. Please help! I know there are hidden gems in LA, please help me find them!!

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Many people will undoubtedly give you this recommendation, but for lunch or dinner, The Nook on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Los Angeles. They take reservations for dinner (it's very small so you must reserve early to secure a table).

    1. Please clarify what area you will be in and if you are willing to drive and how far? That will give us a better idea on suggestions.

      1 Reply
      1. re: justagthing

        Agreed. What you spend on gas might better be served upgrading what you get on a plate. LA is huge.

        Either way I recommend making it to the LA Farmer's Market on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax. You'll get a lot of cheap eats, see locals and tourists mingling about in a large open air food court, and will also be in proximity to a variety of restaurants.

        It's also close to Koreatown, Little Ethiopia and Thai Town for some ethnic flair.

      2. Opus' tasting menu is a great value, I highly recommend it. 3 dishes/30, 6/60.

        1. 26 Beach Cafe if you are in the Venice area. Great, large menu, very nice ambience.

          Bossa Nova is great & inexpensive, and there are several locations. They are also open very late.

          25 Degrees has great burgers with a great selection of toppings and different cheeses. It's a little pricey for burgers, but still within your budget. It's also located in the famous Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.

          Luna Park for lunch (it becomes quite a crazy and crowded scene around dinnertime). Great comfort food. I love the "make your own s'mores" dessert. It's on La Brea, near Wilshire

          For a great lunch, Bay Cities has fantastic submarines (roughly $6-8 each). It's a small store & deli in Santa Monica. There is often a wait, but it is SO worth it (if you want, you can order online or via fax ahead of time). Grab some sandwiches (the "Godmother" is legendary), maybe some chips or potato salad, and eat at the beach.

          Last but not least - you should go to a McCormick & Schmick's for happy hour (Mon-Thurs 3:30-7p & 9-11pm, Fridays 3-11pm). No drink discounts, but they have crazy food discounts, like a huge $2 burger and fries. Locations in Downtown, Pasadena, Burbank, El Segundo, & Beverly Hills. I know for sure that the Downtown and El Segundo locations have this happy hour, but can't personally attest to the other locations, so you might want to call ahead just to make sure. It's VERY worth it! Just be prepared for slightly slow service, their happy hour is pretty popular as you can imagine.

          9 Replies
          1. re: LisaStitch

            I always like lunch at Clementine in Century City.

            1. re: Wolfgang

              We're actually staying a little bit out of the city, but will be spending our days doing the usual tourist-y things. As many have said before, I'm willing to drive a bit for a good meal.

              1. re: ktbear7476

                Oh boy... where are you staying? What kind of food would you like? I guarantee you that we'll find you GREAT but incredibly cheap places to eat, drink and be merry.

                1. re: ktbear7476

                  As Sauce says, LA's a huge city - or should I say a seemingly infinite number of towns that form our city. You say you're staying a little bit out of the city, but that would mean out in the sticks to the average Angeleno. If you have a rough itninerary for your stay, as well as where you're staying, you'll get a lot of great recs. Also, if we know where you folks are from, we can probably narrow down what you should try here that would be unique to you folks...

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    We are staying at the Renaissance Hotel and Resort in Agoura Hills, but like I said, we'll be getting up each morning and heading off to be tourists. It is my husband's first trip out west, so I'd like to hit:
                    Sunset Strip
                    Venice Beach
                    Griffin Observatory
                    Grauman's Chinese Theatre
                    Warner Bros. Studio Tour
                    Mulholland Dr.
                    Santa Monica
                    Plus, I'm investigating some beaches for a little picninc, probably either Zuma or Redondo.

                    1. re: ktbear7476

                      Sounds like 3 of the places I mentioned above would work great for you -

                      You should definitely try to hit up 26 Beach if you will be there around dinnertime. (During the day, you might just want to eat somewhere closer/on the beach if the weather is nice - there are a lot of little places along the Venice strip, Jody Maroni's sausages are great.)

                      25 Degrees is almost exactly across the street from the Chinese Theater.

                      Santa Monica - definitely Bay Cities for lunch sandwiches.

                      Zuma Beach is gorgeous. I was just there on Tuesday and it was not crowded whatsoever, and there's plenty of parking. If you get there by driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, there is a great cheap place to eat on the way there (or on the way back - they will also do take-out) - Malibu Seafood. My friends LOVE their fish and chips. They have a lot of seafood - squid, oysters, scallops, clams, & shrimp. Tons of space to sit and enjoy a bit of a view of the ocean. I don't even eat fish, but I'll have the only non-fish item on their menu - chicken fingers and fries which are really great - and enjoy the view and the breeze.

                      1. re: LisaStitch

                        Definitely second the rec for Malibu Seafood!

                      2. re: ktbear7476

                        Anytime you're in Hollywood ON Hollywood Blvd and looking for good eats without spending a lot, I would hop in a car (or the Red Line) and head east into Thai Town.

                        1. re: ktbear7476

                          Saddle Peak Lodge is in Calabasas - essentially the same neck of the woods that you're staying in... As the name suggests, it's pretty meat-intensive, but this place is one the best restaurants in the general valley area, and is considered by many to be a destination restaurant.


                          Zuma Beach is right over the hill from where you're staying. It's a very long beach area with the parking lot running most of the length of beach, making it convenient for picnics. There's also showers and restrooms.

                          However, if you want quiet and seclusion, you might try a little further up the coast. The Robert Meyer Beaches: El Matador, La Piedra, and El Pescador, are below the highway and have been used in so many movies, tv shows, and commercials - the most famous being the beach love scene in, "From Here to Eternity," between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr. The parking is much more limited, and I don't recall if there are any toilets, but the scenary and privacy (as long there's no shoot) is California-idyllic. These beaches lack the depth of a more typical beach like Zuma, so knowing when it's high tide can make or break a visit there...

                          Redondo Beach is very reminiscent of the kind of beach that would be seen in alot of tv shows and movies from the 70s and 80s, where everyone is tanned, built, and playing volleyball or rollerblading/riding bikes. Unlike Zuma, it's directly adjacent to major beach cities like Hollywood-Riviera, Rolling Hills, Palos Verdes, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach; therefore, many more people. If you want lots of options on top of picnicking, Redondo Beach would be ideal. You could easily do a whole day in this part of town.

                          If I had to rec five places to eat in Venice, I would choose (in alphabetical order) Axe, Beechwood, Chaya, Joe's, and Shima. These are all solid restaurants that do amazing things with food. It really comes down to what you desire and what kind of atmosphere is to your liking.





                          Shima is the only one of these recs that has no website. They serve sushi with brown rice that is milled in-house by Yoshi, the owner - this is to achieve the right texture and nuttiness. He also makes his own tofu. In other words, Yoshi is all about focus.

                          1432 Abbot Kinney Blvd
                          Venice, CA 90291

                          I don't know where you are coming from, but LA's ethnic groups have strong representatives in the Armenian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Middle East, Persian, and Thai cuisines - did I miss any? You should make a point in trying some, if not all of these varied cuisines if your town has little or no representation of them.